Tag: leadership

New Thinking for the New Era of Business

Albert Einstein famously noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” In our post-COVID world of skyrocketing inflation, supply chain meltdowns, the great resignation, geopolitical turmoil, extremist politicians, and an impending recession, there’s never been a more important time to rethink our thinking. The mindset that […]

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When an Astronaut Needs a Pen

Ever get stuck on a problem, only to realize you’re solving for the wrong thing? That’s exactly what happened when the rocket scientists at NASA were trying to make astronauts’ pens to work in the zero-gravity environment of space.   According to Scientific American, “During the height of the space race in the 1960s, NASA scientists […]

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How Shake Shack Drives Innovation

Do you prefer the crispy mozzarella, tempura watercress, and black garlic mayonnaise cheeseburger or the pumpkin mustard, bacon, cranberries, and sage hot dog? For something sweet, would you rather try the black sesame milkshake, the pancake and bacon frozen custard, or stick with a cold brew float? What sounds like a scene from the Culinary […]

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Lady Gaga’s Secret to Creativity

Just before she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, I watched Lady Gaga dazzle the live audience with a pitch perfect performance of her hit “Shallow.” From her stage skills to her vocal ability, the talented performer made it all look so easy. When we see people performing at the top of their […]

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Creativity: Does Size Matter?

For some reason, we’ve been taught that for creativity and innovation to count they need to have a magnitude the size of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. As you may recall, earthquakes are measured on something called the Richter scale. According to the American Heritage Scientific Dictionary, the Richter scale is “a numerical scale for expressing […]

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The Lexicon of Creativity

There’s more confusion around the meaning of the word innovation than the chaos at the airline ticket counter after a cancelled flight. Is there a difference between creativity, innovation, and imagination? Let’s start with imagination. Imagination is the raw material that can be formed into creativity and innovation. Think of imagination as our ability to envision anything new. […]

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The Brain Science of Becoming More Creative

When we hear stories about iconic leaders like Salesforce.com’s founder Marc Benioff, or widely celebrated virtuosos like Lin-Manuel Miranda for that matter, we immediately think these people must have some special gift that we normal folk are missing. As if the skies opened for a brief moment and the gods anointed the chosen few with […]

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Correct the Overcorrect

When the misguided leaders at Enron, Tyco and Worldcom committed fraud and marred their shareholders with huge losses, the Securities and Exchange Commission rightfully swooped in to prevent future cons. The problem is that the corrective measure came in the form of legislation known as Sarbanes-Oxley, which became a stranglehold on business. It was a […]

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Learning to Color

Fact: Creativity has become the most needed skill in business. It’s gone from a nice-to-have to becoming mission-critical. Fact: Creativity is a learnable skill. All humans have enormous creative potential and can unlock a reservoir of dormant capacity. Fact: Most of us don’t feel all that creative. Most of us have radically underdeveloped inventive thinking and creative problem-solving […]

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Playforce

As kids, we go out to play. Later in life, we play sports or play music. But then, in sharp contrast, we leave our homes each day and go to work.  The term “work” implies uninspired, tedious and generally yucky things. Parallels of going to the dentist, waiting in line at the DMV or filling out endless forms come to mind. Trading […]

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If You Want to be a Leader, Start Acting Like One

People are constantly asking me for advice on how to get promoted. They want to move up the ranks at their company, take on more responsibility, and expand their spheres of influence. While the notion of being a leader seems nice (but possibly far off), you’ve got it backward. It’s not suddenly that you’re anointed […]

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An Inside Job

The New Normal. Unprecedented. Great Resignation. Ugh. We’re all sick and tired of these COVID-inspired buzzwords, and even more frustrated having to actually navigate their implications. With a global reset, people are viewing work and jobs and family and geography very differently than the innocent bygone years of the 2010’s. As leaders, it’s no small […]

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Dare to Suck

I’ve long wondered… why do some people consistently generate unforgettable creativity, while others simply never get out of the gate? The research on creativity and imagination is crystal clear: all human beings are capable of creative expression, which shows the problem isn’t natural talent. It’s also fascinating to see someone shine creatively after changing jobs, […]

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What a Japanese Word Teaches us about Creativity

Those of us who seek – and study – human creativity are besieged with overused tropes. “Think outside the box” and “color outside the lines” are right up there with words like “disruption” in the cliché Hall of Fame. But I recently stumbled on a Japanese word that made my Corporate Lingo Bingo card fall […]

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What’s Your Training Schedule?

There’s an old saying among professional boxers: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring; they are merely recognized there.” The implication, of course, is that the hard work of winning happens during an intense training regimen. The blood, sweat, and tears on the gym floor; the relentless planning for every possible scenario; the sacrifice and […]

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Effort vs. Results

Imagine that a loved one is on the operating table in a life-or-death situation. You and your family gather in the waiting room waiting with bated breath for the doctor to communicate the results of this life-saving procedure. When the surgeon finally arrives, you don’t want to hear about how hard she and her team […]

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Simulate to Stimulate

Pilots are required to invest hundreds of hours in simulated flight scenarios before taking command of a live aircraft. Race car simulators help drivers prepare for the unexpected, so that they’ll be fully ready for unforeseen circumstances. Astronauts first experience weightlessness in a simulation chamber so they can become accustomed to a gravity-free environment. Simulations are […]

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Fear and Creativity Cannot Coexist

As business leaders, we know that innovation is the only way to grow. We demand inventive thinking, but are we creating the right conditions? It sure would be nice if we could order up a family-size bucket of innovation in the same way we order food from a mobile app delivery service. But human creativity […]

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The Five New Faces Of Leadership

In the context of seemingly endless volatility, the pandemic has led many of us to pause in order to reassess what it really takes to win in this new era of business. What leadership attributes are needed right now to create a sustainable competitive advantage? In the past, it was enough to be a thoughtful and deliberate […]

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Invent Your Own Language

I’ve often wondered why some organizations enjoy a disproportionate share of the wins. It’s easier to explain in business when a company might have a bigger war chest or better real estate or more efficient software. But it gets more confusing in sports, when teams must play with the same number of players by the […]

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Are You a Thermostat or Thermometer?

While these two temperature-related instruments may be easy to confuse, they’re actually surprisingly different. Thermometers can report the current temperature with remarkable precision. Your shiny new digital thermometer will ensure you know that your family room is exactly 69.3 degrees. Or if your five year old daughter seems warm, it will only take a couple […]

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Ditch the New Year’s Resolution; Try This Instead

By the end of this second week of January, 29% of us will abandon our New Year’s resolutions. By the end of the year, only 9% of resolutions will remain resolute. Sobering. So many of us resolve to change, only to have those commitments meet an untimely death. A single, small temptation can lead us astray, causing us to […]

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Question Everything

Progress only occurs when we challenge assumptions and question the world around us. Here are 27 questions that’ll really get you thinking, questioning, and wondering: If you describe something as indescribable, haven’t you already described it? If bald people work in a restaurant, do they still need to wear a hairnet? Do you think if […]

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The No Decision Trap

When we have an important decision to make, we often fall prey to a most insidious trap. Wanting to make the right choice, we carefully weigh all our options before finalizing a decision. We gather information, solicit opinions, read articles, receive coaching, and consult with trusted mentors. With high stakes, we mistakenly believe that delaying […]

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Sent is not Received

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to fly on a small, owner-operated plane while listening in on the conversation between the pilot and air traffic control. Besides geeking out as both a tech and aviation nerd, I observed a powerful communication technique that can be a game-changer for us all. ATC: “989-Foxtrot-Echo, ascend to […]

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Flood the House to Catch the Mouse

Imagine you were tasked with inventing a better mousetrap. Literally. A typical brainstorm session may yield incremental improvements in the spring or the bait or the construction materials or the packaging. One common innovation mistake involves an over-commitment to a particular solution type. We envision a typical mousetrap and search for ideas to optimize the existing approach. But […]

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Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 3 of 3)

For the last entry in my three-part series featuring the creativity techniques of jazz musicians, I’m excited to share two more approaches to sparking ideas and unlocking your creative genius: Technique #5: Isolated Substitutions Great jazz musicians love to substitute one thing for another. Like a chef who decides to swap out red pepper for […]

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Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 2 of 3)

As a music geek and a student of jazz for over 40 years, I’m obsessed with the intricate, dangerous, soul-filled improvisational skills of legends like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald. Which is why I’ve decided to share some of the inside approaches that have delighted audiences and made history. Last week, we covered two techniques: Trading […]

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Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 1 of 3)

Having studied jazz improvisation for nearly 40 years, performing thousands of times all over the world, I can tell you that instantaneous creativity is the language of jazz. Jazz music is a real-time art form; there’s no going back to re-do or touch-up your work. The improvisation is intense, fluid, and dangerous. Let’s take an […]

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