Let’s Simplify Innovation


  • What’s your biggest challenge?
  • Remember the Rule of 3 to 5
  • Start small

Innovation. Big, complicated subject. Let’s try to make it just a little simpler together, with a few easy steps…

1. Know Your Biggest Innovation Challenge
It’s not some break-the-rules start-up, or a 14 year-old who invented the latest app. Nor is it an established powerhouse, poised to eat your lunch.

Nor is it your teammates’ reluctance to come up with ideas or to think “outside the box.” They’ll blow you away with amazing creativity if they are able to catch their breath long enough to do so!

It’s time and attention. Your people’s.

A snapshot of your employees’ typical day:

  • 80% of their time is spent working collaboratively, often virtually.
  • 3 of their top 5 timewasters relate to that collaboration and communication. (See the problem?!)
  • Each individual loses 2-4 hours per day due to those timewasters. (There goes all the time to innovate!)

If you want to simplify innovation — as well as help everyone work smarter, not harder — don’t focus on innovation! (Initially.)

Instead, focus on two major barriers to innovation — overload and time poverty:

  • Meetings: Your people not only need more help in knowing how to conduct them, but they also a need culture where they feel it’s OK to opt out of them more often.
  • Email: A recent MIT study found that helping just 20 managers get better at deleting emails as well as writing them can save an organization up to 1,500 hours per week! (By all the time they save others downstream from those emails.)

2. The Rule of 3 to 5
No one reads emails anymore. No one. Everybody skims. 3 to 5 seconds. That’s how long most people (including you!) spend on emails before deciding to ignore, delete or respond.

3 to 5 minutes: That’s how long people will pay attention in face-to-face meetings before they start daydreaming, multitasking or searching for funny cat videos.

What that means for communication: We all need to get better at capturing and competing for our people’s attention. Shorter, snapier emails that still deliver high-value content. Less text, more bullets. Understanding that an hour-long meeting is actually twelve 5-minute segments. Training more managers to be clear and get to the point, a lot faster…and more.

What that means for innovation: The great news is that your employees are getting better at creating and collaborating in short bursts! You don’t have to free up days and days to get

their creative juices flowing. If you’ve got skilled facilitators, you can achieve a lot, super fast!

3. Start Small: Create Time, This Week
Three years ago, HBR detailed the crucial dimensions of a collaborative culture which drive innvotion: Shared purpose; a culture that values contribution; a culture that rewards and recognizes creativity and contribution; and putting in place enabling processes and tools.

All crucial. And all those take a while to build and sustain.

Let’s think epic and big, but start a lot smaller. Let’s innovate the structure of just one week.

This week or next: Cancel, condense or combine a couple meetings. Help your teammates do the same. With the newly-available time, get together and ask: What could we create that would make our business better? Our customers happier? Our workflows easier? Something we could start work on within the week?

And watch all that pent-up creativity explode!

Innovation and creativity are already sparking all around you! All they need to catch fire is the oxygen of a cancelled meeting or two, and a moment to dream and play.

Those are the first steps of simplifying innovation.

Sources: Gartner Research (80%), Extreme Individualization. MIT (1500 hrs), Sloan Management Review. All other: Jensen Group’s Search for a Simpler Way ongoing study.

Bill Jensen has been simplifying business’s toughest challenges for three decades. He makes it easier for everyone to do great work.

His latest and seventh book, Disrupt! Think Epic. Be Epic, is all about simpler, faster, easier innovation. Bill is an internationally-known thought leader and speaker on changing the way we work.

There’s more he could list here, including many kudos and credentials about how he’s saving the world one simple day at a time — but that wouldn’t be simple, would it? Check out his site, www.simplerwork.com

Why You Should Treat Laughter As A Metric

03-24-2014I was following the same yoga video I had followed more than 30 times in the past. Because I know the routine well, I usually have little trouble breathing rhythmically through the postures, feeling the subtleties of each movement, and sliding gently into a mind-body meditation.

This time, though, was drastically off. Not only did my mind wander, I was clumsy and confused. I did “Warrior 1” twice on the same side instead of switching legs. I lost my balance in eagle pose. And, at one point, looking up at the video from my standing split, I found myself two postures behind the leader.

The worst part wasn’t my poor performance though; it was my attitude and mood. I felt stressed, annoyed, and anxious – hardly the outcome I was looking for from yoga.

The problem? I wasn’t only doing yoga. I was watching the TV show Revolution on my iPad mini — perched next to my TV screen – at the same time.

It was an experiment that I started after a conversation with my mother. She and I were talking about her dinner plans and she mentioned she was going out with a couple she really enjoys. I asked what she enjoyed about them.

“They laugh a lot,” she answered, “and I love that. People don’t laugh so much anymore.”

Her comment stuck with me. She’s right: We don’t laugh as much as we used to.

I thought a lot about it and arrived at a hypothesis I chose to test: It’s not that we’re depressed, it’s that we’re distracted. And laughter, it turns out, is not something that happens when we’re distracted.

I’ve written about the productivity downside to multitasking in the past. As my yoga experience and countless studies show, we pay a steep price in efficiency for spreading our attention so thinly.

But my mother’s observation points to a more nefarious consequence of multitasking: its emotional impact.

It’s impossible to feel joy or pleasure when our attention is fractured. Anger, frustration, annoyance – sure. Those emotions rise to the surface easily. In fact, multitasking encourages them. But laughter? It’s nearly impossible.

Why is this important? Does it really matter whether we’re laughing more or less? What does this have to do with leadership?

Everything, it turns out. My yoga experiment wasn’t the first I’d tried. Before that, I watched television while processing my credit card bill on an Excel spreadsheet — a seemingly mindless task that involves nothing more than dragging numbers from one cell to another. Not only did it take four times as long as when I did it undistracted, but I grew increasingly irritated as I worked. When someone walked into my office with a question, I growled.

That’s a leadership issue.

Not laughing is a symptom — a lagging indicator — of an ill that’s creating havoc in our lives and our organizations.

We aren’t laughing anymore because we aren’t fully present anymore. Physically we’re in one place but mentally, we’re all over the place. Think about some recent phone conversations you’ve had — and then consider what else you were doing at the same time. Were you surfing the web? Reading and deleting emails? Shooting off a text? Sorting through mail? Or maybe you were thinking about any number of problems — a renovation, a recent argument, a never-ending to-do list — unrelated to the topic at hand.

Unfortunately, being fully present in the moment has become a casualty of our too full and harried lives.

“But don’t some people get intense pleasure from the challenge of focusing on more than one thing at a time?” a friend asked me when I shared this notion with her. “What about complex multi-dimensional activities, like doing a presentation?”

She’s right. I love doing presentations. And when I do a presentation, I’m thinking about innumerable things at once — the content, my delivery, the energy in the room, my timing for a joke, that person in the front row who seems disgruntled, the amount of minutes I have left, etc.

But the reason I love the excitement of all those variables is precisely because they keep me laser-focused. I’m battle-ready, all my senses alert, prepared for anything. Yes, I’m holding a lot of things at once, but they’re all related.

Complex multi-dimensional activities hold so much pleasure precisely because they require singular focus. Everything we’re dealing with is connected. It’s when we’re focused simultaneously on things that are disconnected — like a conversation and an email — that we struggle.

Here’s the good news: The solution is fun.

As an achievement-driven guy, I’d like to suggest a personal challenge: Try to increase the number of times you laugh in a day. I don’t mean chuckle — that’s not a high enough bar — I mean really laugh. Choose a number: 3? 8? 20? Then try to achieve it.

On the surface, this seems a little nuts. But think about it: We measure all sorts of things in organizations that supposedly drive results – why not laughter? At least until we get the hang of it again.

The interesting thing about laughter is that you can’t force it. It just happens when the conditions are right. And the conditions are right when you’re focused on what you’re doing in the moment.

So how do we get our laughter numbers up? Create the conditions that make laughter more likely: Do one thing at a time. Focus on it entirely. If a distracting thought enters your mind and you’re afraid of forgetting it, write it down for later when you can focus on it exclusively. Don’t spread your attention beyond what’s right in front of you right now.

We already know those things will make us more productive. It’s nice to know they’ll bring us joy and laughter too.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., has used his approach to improve leadership & performance at some of the world’s premier organizations, including Morgan Stanley, NASDAQ, JP Morgan Chase, Victoria’s Secret, Converse, Katz Media Group, Passlogix, and FEI, among others. He has worked with companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia and has served as adjunct faculty with Columbia University Business School and the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done and Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change, Peter also writes a weekly column, How We Work, for HarvardBusiness.org and is a regular contributor to Fast Company, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), Psychology Today and CNN.

For more information on Peter Bregman, please visit: https://bit.ly/1ji10Yc

Shine a Light on Your Fears

03-17-2014I believe that many of us spend our lives running wildly through an endless pitch black corridor desperately searching for a light switch.

The dark consists of all our fears. Suddenly we find a light switch and frantically turn it on. Light! Relief! Our fears are gone. We are happy. Whew!

But then the bulb dies, or the power fails, or worse — someone turns the light switch off — and oh no — we are plunged into the unhappiness of fear again. If this happens, fear returns and hopelessness can follow.

If we stand in that darkness long enough and breathe, when we resist the panic of fear, we see a light shining from somewhere. We look around and realize that light is shining out of us!

And the longer we look at it, the brighter it becomes. That’s our joy! You carry that joy with you 24/7, it’s yours. You will never be in the dark again — it’s the ultimate fear eradicator.

As a little girl, for some reason I don’t understand, I was afraid of the dark. I was particularly afraid of the ‘scary monsters’ that lived under my bed.

I let my fear become so overpowering that I gave into hopelessness and stayed in bed, too scared to move. It was always amazing to me that as soon as the light was turned on, the room was “safe” again.

Most of our fears are like that — they dissolve when light is shone onto, or into, them. When all appears dark, we aren’t always aware that we have just closed our eyes! We are not seeing the light shining from within us! Nor are we seeing true reality. We are only seeing our perceptions and judging them.


Unfortunately, it can seem easier to let fear rule the day and research indicates that some of us may have “fear loops” operating in our brains automatically. These then drive our patterns and habits. To change them we have to wake up and become conscious of them.

Just believing hope exists can increase it! Hope gives us courage, persistence, willpower, resilience, strength and joy. Hopelessness takes them away. How you choose to think makes all the difference.

Source: Huffington Post | Healthy Living

About Amanda Gore | Health, Performance and Communication Author:

As a communications and performance expert, Amanda Gore believes success in business is always about feelings – the the way we feel about a product, organization or person influences how we behave and informs our decisions about how we spend, or who we conduct business with.

Taking the stance that business has been paralyzed by its own over-analysis, her presentations break down the barriers that separate people in an invigorating, action-packed ride towards self-discovery and ultimately, real and lasting change.

She demonstrates how people can re-connect to the energy and emotional layers that really drive performance, innovation, relationships, engagement and creativity in their business and personal life utilizing positive psychology, epigenetics and emotional intelligence.

For more information on Amanda Gore, please visit: https://bit.ly/1nUWi5E

3 Tips for Helping Employees Take Ownership In Their Jobs

03-10-2014Are your employees owners or renters?

Studies have shown that employees who take an ownership in their jobs are more accountable for their performance, helping lead the company to greater success.

A leader’s first step in building accountability in a company’s culture is making sure everyone owns something. Everyone needs to be an OWNER.

You can’t expect accountability out of your employees if you don’t allow them to own what they do. If they don’t own their jobs, then they are merely RENTERS — renting a job.

What does a company full of renters look like?

  • Turnover is high and consistent
  • There is low employee engagement
  • There are poor working relationships and little to no socialization outside of work.

I remember how exciting it was to move out of my college dorm for the first time. Moving into the dorm was one thing, but that first apartment in college was another level of excitement. I still remember my first shower curtain, which had a spread of aces from a deck of cards. It was so cheesy, but it was mine — in my apartment.

However, before we could move in there and hang that curtain, there was a minor business transaction that had to be executed. We signed a one-year lease and was informed that after a year it goes month to month. We lived in that apartment for exactly one year and moved out. We moved into another apartment for a year and then moved out.

Renting for most is a short-term relationship. It NEVER crossed our minds to upgrade or improve the apartment. After the initial excitement wore off, we just lived there. We actually left the apartment in worse shape than when we moved in. It was a miracle we actually got our security deposit back.

But we all know what happens when we buy our first home. We get crazed and have a totally different attitude and approach. I don’t care if you build it from the ground up or bought an existing home. Our attitude and engagement are totally different as OWNERS versus RENTERS. We care! And we care a lot! Our hearts are in it from Day 1.

It’s the same in the business world. Some companies have a culture where employees are merely renting a job. No wonder they have high turnover and poor employee engagement. The building is full of RENTERS.

And those companies lose top performers too easily. Top performers are OWNERS, and need to be surrounded by OWNERS.

3 tips for creating a company full of owners:

  • Clearly lay out the expectation of ownership when you hire new employees.
  • When you become an owner, you take the credit and blame. So you want to hire people that love to perform under pressure.
  • Always show your employees you have confidence in them and trust them publicly and privately. The confidence you give them will encourage them in their ownership efforts.

Source: “3 tips for helping employees take ownership in their jobs”

Walter Bond is Mr. Accountability because of his ability to inspire, engage and entertain audiences with his stories that will touch every emotion.

Walter has catapulted as one of the world’s most preeminent thought leaders on personal and corporate accountability with a presentation style that is in a class all by itself. Through his keynotes, training systems and product resources, he travels the world transforming organizations into a culture of accountability. Walter teaches how accountability creates engagement, assists in teamwork, and increases productivity which ultimately drives results.

Walter is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). Walter has received many accolades within the professional speaking industry such as: Speaker of the Year by Minnesota Meetings and Events Magazine, Program of the Year by Meeting Professionals International’s Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter and more recently listed by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as one of meeting planners’ favorite speakers listed alongside speaking legends such as: Colin Powell, the late Stephen Covey and the late Zig Ziglar to name a few. Speaking.com listed Mr. Accountability in their top 5 for motivation.

For more information on Walter Bond, please visit: https://bit.ly/1febB2J