Category Archives: Best Practices

Out of the Box, In the Box

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ED NOTE: I just checked the stats/hits on the last eight years of Heart of Innovation blog posts and was surprised to see that the following article about my father's death got the most attention (30% more views than anything else!). I've always assumed I was "supposed" to be writing about innovation and creativity, but maybe there's something else more essential I need to be writing about...

There is a time of life when the time of life is about to end -- the time of last breaths, the time of saying goodbye to everything you have ever known or loved, the time of letting go.

This is the time my father now finds himself in.

He is flat on his back in a hospital bed, but the hospital bed is in his bedroom in West Palm Beach which is where he has chosen to die -- and will.

ANONYMOUS REVEALED

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I have a confession to make. Actually, it's more like a revelation than a confession. You know all those fabulous quotes and articles you've read over the years with no attribution other than "Anonymous"? It was me. It's true. I have written thousands of things I've never signed my name to. I couldn't. I mean -- the writing just came through me. Like a storm. In fact, I was in such a state of presence as these pearls of wisdom appeared, there wasn't even a "me" involved, so how could I sign my name?

So I did the only thing I could do -- and that was to sign what I wrote with the now all-too-familiar word "Anonymous".

Skillset vs. Mindset

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Yesterday, as one of my favorite clients introduced me as the day's presenter at one of her company's leadership development programs. something she said caught my attention: Innovation skills. That's what she was telling the 41 business leaders of the future they were going to learn from me.

Yes, it was true. I was going to help these people become more skillful at innovating. But that was only half the story. Actually, less than half. Much less.

If there's one thing I've learned these past 25 years of working as an innovation provocateur, it's this: mindset -- not skillset -- is the name of the game in business these days.

When a person's mindset (i.e. receptivity, curiosity, adaptability, enthusiasm, focus) is in the right place, skillset becomes secondary.

The Six Sides of the So-Called Box

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Unless you've been in a coma for the past 20 years, I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "get out of the box." It's everywhere. Whole industries have sprung up around it, including mine.

No one can deny that getting out of the box is a good thing to do. Seems like a no-brainer, eh? Kind of like helping little old ladies cross the street. Or tearing down the Berlin Wall.

But before you start planning your heroic escape, answer me this: What the heck is the box, anyway? What is this so-called thing that keeps us so contained, confined, caged, trapped, claustrophobic, and otherwise unable to create?

Let's start with the basics. A box has six sides, including the top and the bottom.

VALIDATION

Ever feel invisible, unappreciated, unacknowledged? Ever feel the need to be seen, recognized, and validated? (Or maybe this is more of an issue for other people in your life: your friends, family, or co-workers.) No matter where you fit into this phenomenon, methinks you will enjoy this thought provoking video.

Thanks to Fazeel Arain for the heads up!

Idea Champions

Understand What Lean Six Sigma Is Without Getting a Huge Headache

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Ten years ago, my company was a vendor to a Fortune 100 company devoted to SixSigma. So devoted, in fact, that they required all of their vendors to take a two-day day Six Sigma training. While I never liked thinking of myself as a "vendor", I took the course. My experience of it? Like taking a geometry test while doing my taxes in a DMV office.

Yes, during those two days, I realized there were lots of useful tools to learn to make my business more effective. But I didn't learn them. Nor did I ever apply a single one of those tools on the job. The lunch buffet was memorable, but that was about it.

Fast forward to a few months ago. That's when I discovered a company who changed the way I thought about all this stuff. With a light touch, a deep understanding of how people learn, and a large dose of humanity, they have found a way to make the essence of SixSigma accessible, relatable, and enjoyable to learn. While they totally get that process is king, they also get that it is people who use processes and unless those people are actually learning process improvement methods in a memorable way, nothing much will change.

GoLeanSixSigma's online trainings draw on 25 years of success helping the world's leading organizations create happier customers and save millions of dollars. Click here if you are curious and want to kick their proverbial tires. For free. As in nada, zero, zippo, zilch.

Just for fun, here's the lyrics to a funny blues song I wrote about Six Sigma in an attempt to gain back my humanity after my first exposure to the SixSigma world.

The difference between Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma

What Appears to be Strategy Often is Not

I regularly engage in hansei (reflection) after each of my facilitation engagements. It’s a simple learning mechanism, essentially an after-action process of asking: what I expected to happen (my hypothesis if you will), what actually happened, and what explains the gap, if there is one. And there invariably is. The gap is where learning and insight live. ...