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“Hitting a Creative Brick Wall” by @Pretty_Awkward


Work work work work, short break,
work work work work, potty break,
work work work, quick snack,
work work work, BOOM! Creative brick wall.

Yet another delightful example of the incredible creativity being shared on Twitter, if you know where and when to look for it. This one appeared in the middle of the night earlier this week.

Here’s a question: Can any of us come up with a comparably elegant and simple word depiction of getting around a creative brick wall?

I’d love to share your creations here. Maybe @Pretty_Awkward might even favor us with an answer post!

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Ted Williams voice as a baseball expert was unparalleled. As a kid, I was a huge baseball fan, reading anything I could on baseball strategy and how the game could be played better. One of my favorite books was “The Science of Hitting” by Ted Williams. As one of baseball’s greatest hitters (and the last person to hit .400 for a season), Williams had plenty of innovative advice and strategic insights to pass along.

The lesson that’s stayed with me to this day was depicted on the book’s original cover. It was a photograph of Ted Williams in the batter’s box with the strike zone depicted as 11 baseballs high and 7 baseballs across. And each color-coded baseball had a batting average listed on it corresponding to Williams’ expected batting average for pitches throughout his strike zone.

Belt high and over the plate, and he was a .400 hitter; low and away, and even the great Ted Williams knew he’d only hit .230. Williams’ point was he knew in what situations he’d be great (his “happy zone”) and in which he’d be less than average. As a result, his strategy was to only swing at pitches where he had a high probability of success.

That’s a great strategy well beyond baseball. Do you actively evaluate your strengths, your areas with the highest probabilities of innovation success, and strategically concentrate efforts on those areas? If not, maybe now’s the time  to make sure you’re only swinging at good “innovation” pitches day in and day out. – Mike Brown

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Even amid positive energy from activities during World Creativity and Innovation Week, we all may experience times when we become self-destructive to our innovative instincts by telling ourselves, “No, I can’t _____________.” You can fill in the blank with whatever negative self-talk you usually use.

One way to fight this tendency is to ask, “If I tried _____________, what’s the worst that could happen?” When viewed in this light, so many activities that initially fill us with apprehension show themselves to have far more dramatic upsides than negatives.

Try this approach as another way of “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and creating a sense of “InYESvation.”

InYESvation? I’ve been talking about “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for 4 years and had never finished the idea by replacing the “NO” with a “YES.”

Credit for this new word goes to @rainesmaker (Glenn Raines) who tweeted this great word to me last Friday. Yet one more example of the benefits of being hooked up with so many wonderfully creative people on Twitter. Thanks Glenn for doing my work for me!

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“Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” touches on eight perspectives and approaches to enhance innovation in you and your team. And on May 14, I’ll be presenting it at the Kansas City American Advertising Federation- KC (AAF KC) Get Charged Up symposium along with author Sally Hogshead who will be rocking the place with her afternoon session!

If you’re anywhere near the Kansas City area, and you’ve read or heard me talk up Sally since I met her 4 years ago, take advantage of this opportunity to see her live. In case you can’t make this Kansas City event, here are the 8 perspectives that can help you realize more innovation by personally being:

1. Introspective: Be more introspective and understand your creative strengths.
2. Diverse: Embrace diversity & build a creative team with complementary strengths.
3. Forgetful: Figure out how to selectively forget conventional wisdom to refresh your perspective.
4. A Borrower: Borrow thought starters & ideas from new sources & put your own twist on them!
5. Open to Possibilities: Open yourself to all kinds of possibilities by finding new ways to look at situations.
6. Inquisitive: Become more inquisitive and ask great questions to bring out new ideas within you and your team.
7. A Creator: Prioritize ideas and bring them to fruition – actually create something with your creativity.
8. Persistent: Be persistent & tenaciously pursue possibilities since “No’s” can provide insights to help you change & get to a “Yes.”   – Mike Brown

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Today’s post for World Creativity and Innovation Week comes through a Twitter connection with Gwen Ishmael, Senior VP, Insights and Innovation at Decision Analyst in Dallas. Gwen has worked across a variety of industries in branding and marketing, with leadership roles in new product and service development. She spoke at the marcus evans Open Innovation conference last week, and shares her perspectives on themes from the conference:

This month’s 3rd Annual Open Innovation conference in Las Vegas saw B2B and B2C firms coming together to share open innovation (OI) best practices and tools. Unlike other events I’ve attended, these companies embraced the concept of openness and spoke candidly about how they had achieved their successes and where they’re trying to improve.

Headway is being made in addressing OI resistance. For some, the quest for external inspiration and contribution is actively promoted by executive management. Chris Thoen, Director of Innovation and Knowledge Management at P&G, says CEO A.G. Lafley’s long-standing direction for “50% of P&G’s initiatives to have at least one significant external partner” has helped change the “not invented here” mindset to one of “proudly found elsewhere.” Other efforts, such as the Alcan Packaging customer-centric Idea Factory, have been championed by those further down in the organization.

The quest for meaningful and relevant measures of OI return on investment continues. Director of Capital Investments and Innovation Strategy at Embarq, Jeff Stafford, shared an interesting approach based on Monte Carlo simulation in which potential sell scenarios and associated cash flows were used to determine the viability of an idea. And Brian Johnston, Director of External Alliances for Kodak, presented a six-question evaluative framework Kodak and its partners used to jointly define success.

Yet for me one theme rose above the others, which Jeff Bellairs, G-Win Director for General Mills, captured in a wonderfully simple phrase: “Open Innovation is not about being external. It’s about being connected.” Jason Husk, Group Manager Technology Brokerage for Clorox, supported this stance and presented a symbiotic relationship between technology, consumers, and business results as a model for connection. And Chris Thoen announced P&G’s launch of Connect + Develop 2.0 OI model through which the company will focus on collaborating with partners for mutual value creation.

It appears companies are successfully working through initial OI issues related to internal sell-in of OI as a good idea and decisions on the right partners to consider. Now they’re progressing to the next stage and addressing the kinds of relationships to have with partners and the appropriate ways to foster them.

With connection as the tactic for implementing an OI strategy, true collaboration between a company and its partners – whether they’re universities, other firms, customers, or consumers – becomes more possible.


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World Creativity and Innovation Week (WICW) starts today (the anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s birth) and runs through next Tuesday, April 21 (although we’ll extend it one day around here until April 22 to cover Jan Harness’ birthday).

I was introduced to it several weeks ago on Twitter by Marci Segal. The week is intended to honor “our distinct human capacity to create, adapt, and innovate to make the world a better place and to make our place in the world better too.”

Started in 2002, there are activities planned in 46 countries this year among more than a hundred communities, businesses, and schools.

To dive in and get involved, here are a variety of WICW links to check out:

Here on Brainzooming, we’ll have posts throughout the week specifically focused on innovation and creativity, including a guest post on Open Innovation tomorrow.


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It was a pleasure to do a segment Monday on High Velocity Radio with hosts Stone Payton and Lee Kantor talking about a variety of innovation topics. I met Stone initially via Twitter back in January, and appearing on Stone’s show was part of the prize for winning the IDEF140 contest he sponsored.

We covered a range of issues, so beyond a link to the radio show, here are links to many of the topics we discussed during our conversation.

Thanks again Stone and Lee for the opportunity to be on the show, and I look forward to being able to do it again in the future!

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