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Innovation, Independence and Ideas for All

July 2, 2020 July 4, 2020 marks the 244th birthday for the United States. We’re not alone in our celebration of independence this month. Canada, Rwanda, Somalia, Hong Kong and Burundi have July 1 as their Independence Day. The French celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th. In total, 20 countries recognize days in July for their independence. Independence for any …

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Innovation in a Time of Crisis

April 9, 2020 There’s a scene in the Apollo 13 moviewhen the services module’s No.2 oxygen tank exploded and No.1 tank failed. The explosion forced the mission’s astronauts, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, to abandon the command module and squeeze into the lunar module. With no more space than the inside of a VW Beetle, the three found …

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8 Things Creative Thinkers Know that You Don’t

February 14, 2020 People say “creatives” have a natural knack for what they do. I think they do, to a certain degree. But mostly these original thinkers have a way of looking at the world that other people don’t. It’s not a hidden secret sauce. In fact, an article on Thrive Global listed the most important things that creative thinkers …

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77 Ways to be More Creative

January 9, 2020 Creativity is one of those things that sounds romantically easy to do, but often leaves you scratching your head. Even the creative geniuses get stumped from time to time. The key to getting your creative mojo going is practice. Consistent practice. Since January is International Creativity Month, I wanted to give you some ideas about how you …

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10 Ways to Spark Innovation on Your Team

December 5, 2019 The strength of bringing people together to innovate as a team is that each person brings their own experiences. They make different observations based on how they see the world and what they notice. As a leader, you may want more creativity, but your ideas will only stretch as far as your team’s experience. Team cohesion is …

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How to Become an Innovative Leader

November 7, 2019 Last year a CEO in a global organization asked me to dinner. We’ve known each other for more than a decade, and he’s had a steady ascent up the corporate jungle-gym. (We all know it’s not actually a ladder.) Now that he had the view from the top, I asked him what looked different. He was quick …

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Interview with an Innovator: Michael Brenner on why Mean People Suck

October 24, 2019 Many of the best innovators I know don’t carry an “innovation” title on their business card. They are people who understand that new ideas can happen anytime and anywhere. But that’s not how most of the world looks at innovation. “Innovators” are the design thinkers, the data scientists and the engineers. They’re the ones who have a …

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How Embarrassing Moments Lead to Creative Genius

October 11, 2019 I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was my first “real” job – I was the marketing director for a mid-size architecture firm. Every Monday started the same, with a meeting in the conference room. Just me and the five partners of the firm. I felt completely out of my league. They were well-traveled, experienced …

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The Rise of the Citizen Innovator

September 26, 2019 Plato once said that your archetype describes “your ideal self.” When a person embraces who they really are, that’s when they’re at their best. Archetypes are the secret forces behind all human behavior. They dwell in our unconscious and influence our every move, much of the time without us even knowing it. If we had to answer …

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Questions or Full Stops

June 13, 2019 There’s an ever-widening gap between what’s natural to us as children and what’s taught into us through the educational system and corporate culture. American author, educator, media theorist and cultural critic, Neil Postman says “children enter school as question marks and leave as full stops.” The same thing happens to employees as they enter the work world. …

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How to Build a Culture of Original Thinkers

May 30, 2019 Disruptive innovation celebrates the renegade brands that take an industry by storm. Other companies sit on the sidelines watching with envy as they grab market share and generate incredulous revenue. “Why can’t we be like them?” they ask. People believe true innovators are a rare breed. But in reality, most people are original thinkers. They just need …

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Is Management the Enemy of Innovation?

May 2, 2019 A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden about how to bring new ideas into an organization. At the end, a woman in the audience raised her hand and asked a question: What do you do when management kills your great idea? Hands down, when I talk about innovation and how to …

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Who Owns Innovation?

February 14, 2019 It’s not easy to create an innovation track record like Amazon or Google. But companies that hope to outperform their competitors and shake up their industries are pouring money into innovation programs – labs, hubs and design thinking tanks. But are they successful? Several years ago Booz & Co. (now part of PwC) conducted a Global Innovation 1000 report. …

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How to Conduct a Brand Transplant

January 31, 2019 There’s a story of a young boy who showed great promise as an artist. His father, an art teacher himself, sent the boy to schools to hone his talent through rigid academic exercises. A natural finesse had him easily mastering difficult techniques. Instructors entered his work in competitions against more established artists and the student quickly gained the attention …

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Why You Have Brand Detachment Disorder

January 17, 2019 In the world of great ideas, there’s iconic brands that get all the credit. Take LEGO, for example. This is a company that sells little rectangular pieces of plastic. But they consistently churn out great idea after great idea. Go to their website and besides ordering products, you can build things, share them with friends and watch videos. Five …

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4 Archetypes of Innovators

January 3, 2019 When I give talks or workshops about how to bring new ideas into a company, one of the first things people ask me is how their company compares to other businesses. They’re curious about where they fall on the innovation spectrum. This is how I explain it to them. Who’s allowed to contribute When it comes to innovation, I …

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2 Phrases That Inspire Courageous Marketers

June 5, 2018 by Carla Johnson Between bosses and teams, we’re caught in a conundrum. Bosses tell their teams, “I want to see more creativity! More innovation! Where’s all the great ideas?? Our competition is killing us!” Teams say, “I bring you great ideas five times a day! And all I hear is we don’t have the budget, we’re not …

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Customers are Key to Innovation

May 29, 2018 By Carla Johnson Lynn Bonge was a larger-than-life executive with a scant shock of salt-and-pepper hair who grew up in a small Nebraska town not far from where I did. Twenty years my senior, Lynn had an enviable reputation in the architecture industry for the wacky ideas he brought to the table and how, somehow, he got …