I am continually amazed by people who take a vision and attempt to turn it into a business reality. Of course, this requires passion, intelligence, insight, and commitment. However, it also requires something else – the realization that the effort is an experiment.

As Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble teach us in “The Other Side of Innovation,” “… the innovator’s job cannot be to deliver a proven result; it must be to discover what is possible, that is, to learn by converting assumptions into knowledge as quickly and inexpensively as possible.”

One such innovator who is in the throes of running an innovation experiment is 34-year-old Ashley Poulin, CEO of SharpHeels. Ashley’s vision with the website is to provide professional women a forum to learn, share and obtain knowledge and services that will help them enjoy, as well as advance in, their careers. She started this as a hobby while working as a marketing leader at a leading computer-hardware company and now dedicates herself full-time to the effort. (read more…)

It still hurts to think about it. It was early in my career and I was facing a big challenge. How do we involve a large group of manufacturing employees in a new and unpopular strategy? People were counting on me, and I had nothing. My boss said “Come on Gretch, just be creative.” I smiled but my stomach turned another notch.

The truth was we were trying to be creative. We had already rejected a lot of ideas because they seemed too far out, too much work, too bold. We were running out of time and corporate kept asking, “What’s your plan?”

Finally during one of those long team conversations, someone said the word “passport.” Believe it or not, with that one word, everything changed. We riffed around the idea of a passport being a way to get to somewhere new and exciting. The thought of multiple stamps generated the idea to create special events tied to the coming changes. (read more…)

“I’m going to begin to collaborate more with the stakeholders outside of my organization — clients, cross-functional partners and others.”

I asked the leader who made this statement what “collaboration” meant to him and his organization.

“I see it as a way to get more buy-in into the mission of our organization and to learn a bit more about them in the bargain,” he said.

This isn’t really collaboration, a term that has become a buzzword in business and politics. True collaboration is not about what you can get from others.

A continuum of interaction that I learned many years ago helped me to understand what collaboration is. It can help you to understand what you really want to do in the situations you deal with and therefore direct your attention, intention and behavior when you choose to collaborate.

Three words that begin with “C” broadly describe the types of interactions and relationships you may have with others. (read more…)

Creativity breeds fresh ideas, but the stigma that creativity is an indefinable and unattainable quality steers us toward old processes that yield predictable answers.

Brian Stone is a principal partner in the international consultancy Latitude 40 Design, as well as an associate professor in the design department of Ohio State University. He found that many of his students believe real creativity is elusive, saying things that allude to the idea of a magic bullet or some kind of potion you can take to make yourself creative.

Innovation is not only for those seemingly blessed with innate innovative talent — we can all have it. And smart organizations and teams are countering the traditional methods of ideation in order to develop new ways of thinking and approaching business challenges. To inspire your team to be innovative start by debunking these common myths of creative thinking:

Myth No. 1: “I’m not a creative person.”

Misperceptions about creativity are common, especially this one. (read more…)

An article this summer in The New York Times quoted extensively from a research study conducted by Silicon Valley psychologist Stephanie Brown which refers to our collective fear of slowing down. Brown found that people who are alone with their own thoughts for more than a few minutes become agitated and seek any kind of stimulation they can find in order to avoid thinking.

“There’s this widespread belief that thinking and feeling will only slow you down and get in your way, but it’s the opposite,” she said.

Case in point: A study by Benjamin Baird and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shows that daydreaming and fantasizing unleash fantastic amounts of creativity and allow people to problem-solve because they feel free to look at problems and challenges without deadlines and outside pressures.

Have you had a creative daydream lately? Would you like to? Here’s how to get started. (read more…)