FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

Inspiring thoughts on innovation, growth, leadership, creativity, transformation, and disruption. Quick reads, powerful results.

Choosing the Best Ideas: Value Mapping

Once you’ve brainstormed a long list of powerful new ideas, the challenge becomes choosing the best ones to pursue. We all know that great ideas without execution is about as productive as protesting the rules at the DMV. One of my favorite techniques for idea selection is *Value Mapping*. In this case you are scoring […]

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Zapping vs. Sapping

There are two types of people in the world – Zappers and Sappers. When you are with a Zapper, you feel energized. You become engaged, you lean forward, you feel stimulated. This enhanced state is ideal for creative expression. On the other hand, there are the Sappers. These are the folks that drain your energy. […]

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Imaginary Barriers

Think of all the stories we tell ourselves that hold us back. “I’m too old”, “I didn’t go the right school”, “I’m too short”, “I’m not good-looking enough”, “I can’t take the risk”, “I don’t have the right connections”, “I’m not creative”. We all have fears and doubts. Even Ghandi. Even Steve Jobs. Even Barack […]

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Are Schools Killing Creativity?

My daughter, Chloe, recently had an unfortunately all-too-common experience in school. Chloe’s 4th grade art teacher asked the students in her class to draw a bear. Chloe went to work and came up with a cool purple, odd-shaped bear. She walked proudly to the teacher and handed over her work, anticipating great praise and admiration. […]

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The Age of Creativity in Action

Shadan Malik is an Age of Creativity entrepreneur. His company, iDashboards , provides exactly the type of value people seek today – aesthetics and insight as opposed to raw data. Shadan started out as a game developer, and also has a deep engineering background. He realized the businesses trend around a concept called Balanced Scorecards, […]

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The Creativity Gap

The cover story of Newsweek (July 19, 2010) reports on the state of Creativity in America. The findings, unfortunately, point to the first measurable decline in our collective creative abilities in our country’s history. While we are still the beacon of imagination on the world stage, there is now a leak that could significantly damage […]

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What’s Your Color?

If you wanted to start a groundbreaking business in 1981 where you could express your creativity and beat your competitors, I bet you wouldn’t have chosen the nail polish industry. At the time, it was a mature industry with deeply entrenched leaders such as Maybelline and Max Factor. Going head-to-head with these giants who were […]

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Rocket Science, Brain Surgery and… Art?

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do that!” the common phrase goes. “C’mon man, this isn’t brain surgery after all.” I started wondering why these two disciplines – rocket science and brain surgery – are so highly regarded. They both involve tremendous precision, years of study, mathematical calculations, complex directions, excessive memorization, […]

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What’s Your Idea Schedule?

Take a quick look at your schedule for the next two weeks. If you are like most people, your calendar is packed to the gills with endless appointments, meetings, conference calls, and deadlines. When, in this insanely-busy schedule, are you planning to come up with your best ideas? In the always-on, 24/7 business world we […]

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Now That’s a Prezi!

Bad Power Point presentations have reached the same punch-line status as lawyer jokes, yet most of us still use this ubiquitous tool. Some have moved to Apple’s Keynote, which has cool transitions and flaming bullet-points, but it is still essentially the same thing – a linear presentation system. A hot new company called Prezi finally […]

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The Weekly Roundup – June 19, 2010

10 Signs that Innovation Will Go Horribly Wrong Big companies – and even modest-sized ones – depend on innovation. But how can you tell when things are about to horribly wrong? This list of 10 danger signs is very helpful for spotting the problems early: http://bit.ly/cuvQUy The Innovation Life Cycle It’s extremely difficult to foster […]

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The Mind of a Jazz Musician

Jazz musicians are a curious breed. They study for years to master the rules, only to break them as quickly as possible. They approach their craft with intensity and purpose, but then can let it go and just groove when the feeling is right. I’ve known musicians that are bold and expressive on the bandstand, […]

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The Mismatch

In most free-market economies, there is a supply/demand equilibrium. In other words, if people want to buy potato chips or electricity or sporting goods, suppliers generally emerge to fill these needs. It strikes me as odd, however, that there’s a mismatch going on in the business world. According to an IBM study last month of […]

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The Weekly Roundup – June 12, 2010

How’s Your Health? Tackling a creative challenge or trying some new creative activity can help you stay healthy. Your emotional health benefits, of course, but so will your physical health. Here are some simple suggestions for creative activities that will keep you in the pink: http://tinyurl.com/dfug7w Sometimes, the little things make all the difference Game-changing […]

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Where’s Waldo?

Remember when you were a kid and you read Where’s Waldo books? “Where’s Waldo? Where’s Waldo? Where’s Waldo ?!?” The fun of the books was not in the story line, but scanning the complex illustrations to find your friend in a red striped shirt hiding in the crowd. During the process, your level of awareness […]

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The Weekly Roundup – June 4, 2010

Amazing Buildings Some of the most amazing buildings in the world demonstrate the creativity of architects all around the globe, from Chicago to Vietnam. Check these buildings out and you’ll definitely want to move to more interesting digs! http://bit.ly/9d8zhe Found Creativity Need to get out of a rut? Often the best way is to take […]

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Ford’s Secret Weapon – Innovation

The last five years have been a nightmare for the US car industry. General Motors, once the largest company in the world, declared bankruptcy. Chrysler also hit Chapter 11, and then was sold to Fiat in an effort to save the company. Major brands such as Pontiac and Saturn have been shunned altogether, and will […]

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It Can’t Be Done

It was widely accepted that a computer could never beat a grand master at a game of chess. Until, of course, when IBM’s Deep Blue computer bested the reigning world champion, Gary Kasparov, in 1996. What was once unimaginable had become reality. A new game from Matel called Mind Flex allows you to use your […]

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The Weekly Roundup – May 21, 2010

Chimps are to humans as humans are to ______ ? Dr. Neil Tyson, the brilliant director of New York City’s Natural History Museum, speculates on what extra-terrestrials would be like if they were as much smarter than us as we are than chimps. It’s a very clever and fascinating speculation…. http://tinyurl.com/ll78v7 What’s the most innovative […]

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Threading the Needle

In business (and life), you are constantly faced with challenges that seem insurmountable. Your inner voice says “it can’t be done”, and your may give up before even trying. The thing is – obstacles often have a creative solution if you take the time and effort to approach them in an unconventional way. When a […]

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The Weekly Roundup – May 15, 2010

Five Ways to Boost Your Creativity Are you looking for a quick creativity boost? A shot of creative adrenaline? These simple techniques will have you bubbling over with ideas in no time: http://bit.ly/bZDUy0 How to Create a “Hunch Friendly” Environment How do you get the most out of your employees? How do you ensure that […]

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Dagnabbits!

Ross Sanders is the Executive Director of Bizdom U , a not-for-profit entrepreneurial academy to help promote hope and economic prosperity in urban centers. He asks his students, partners, and contributors to keep an eye out for “dagnabbits”. These are moments when you are frustrated about a situation, product, or service. A dagnabbit is akin […]

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The Weekly Roundup – May 7, 2010

The Power of Lego to Inspire If you didn’t play with Legos as a child you missed out. The good news is that it’s never too late. Lego – and any tactile construction-type child game like it – can help adults jump-start their creativity no matter how old or uninspired. This short moving will get […]

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Urban Farming

Detroit, Michigan is in trouble. What was once a vibrant city is now overrun with crime, unemployment, and despair. In its hay-day, it was one of the top five cities in the U.S., and had over two million residents. Today, the landscape is marked by abandoned buildings, burned down houses, and vacant factories. The population […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 30, 2010

Your mind has hidden superpowers! What does the power of placebo pills have to do with realizing your dreams? Both depend on your mind. Your mind can take a sugar pill and cure cancer. And it can take an idea – say, a personal computer in everyone’s home – and make it a reality. It […]

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Flood the House to Catch the Mouse

Imagine you had the challenge of inventing a better mousetrap. Literally. A typical brainstorm session may yield incremental improvements in the spring on a mousetrap, or the bait, or the construction materials. The whole essence of igniting your curiosity is to question and challenge everything. Why does a mousetrap need to use a spring at […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 23, 2010

Overcoming your fears – 7 secrets from the ages All of us must deal with our fears, and often they are what stand between us and greatness – or at least making the attempt. Clink on this link to see what the experts have been saying for 2,000 years are the best ways to overcome […]

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Heads Up vs. Heads Down

We’ve all heard people in the business world proclaim that they are “heads down” on a project. Or that they are unable to explore new opportunities since they are “heads down in execution mode.” Consider, for a moment, the advantages of being “heads up” instead. Let’s compare the two states of being: Heads Down Focused […]

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The Weekly Roundup – April 16, 2010

Creative Intelligence – sometimes it is life or death Creative approaches to tough problems show up in unexpected places. When the US Special Forces first parachuted into Afghanistan after 9/11, they found themselves adopting some unusual martial techniques to manage the terrain and gain respect in the eyes of the local people. They succeeded because […]

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The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

Remember the old TV spots: “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! Delicious!” Two great tastes brought together to create something remarkable, as the slogan goes. Combining two distinct concepts in order to form an entirely new one is the root of The Reese’s Peanut […]

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