About Linda Dudek

I stand in appreciation and wonder of the skill, talents and expertise people bring to their teams & communities. A trained chemical engineer/chemist (UMich ‘85, Kalamazoo College ‘84) who grew up in a household of educators, I naturally connect my love of science and learning, appreciation of others and facilitative leadership skills to inspire others to go for their dreams. As Co-founder of AH HA! and IdeaConnect I’ve put my graphic facilitator skills to work with teams that want to learn and create knowledge, especially through the LearningConnect® approach created by my partner, Lynette McCormack; I’ve harnessed my passion for personal development to share journaling workshops and a mother & teen daughter workshop, Women in Progress, to facilitate personal visioning that also deepens the mother-daughter relationship; I’ve managed the IdeaConnect product & printing business since 2009, which means I get to oversee the product development, creation and order fulfillment of our beautiful cool tools. I’ve enjoyed presenting at IFT, ASTM, ICSI, Pegasus Conference about experiential learning and facilitative leadership; and at my local elementary school about Sweden. Some of my favorite learning experiences have been at the Creativity Cruises, Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI), Structural Thinking Fundamentals with Robert Fritz and interactions with youth through science, art and reading. I relearn every day the importance of Generations to connect, listen to one another, and truly collaborate.

SO WHAT? – AN IDEATION CHALLENGE

‘SO WHAT?’ Two words that are a reciprocal challenge (dictionary term) to inspire people to identify what has heart and meaning for them.  A slightly irreverent, ‘what are you gonna do?’

‘SO WHAT?’ Two words that evolve team conversation to the next step – ACTION.  And it works so much better than asking ‘why?’ The word, ‘why,’ stops idea flow and causes people to defend their ideas rather than evolve them.

And so, we created a visual thinking tool that encourages ‘So What?’ conversations.

The So What visual thinking cool tool can:

  • Ground your team’s synthesis of information in its key insights to build knowledge.
  • Provide a forum for dialogue about what are the most important actions for the team to take.

You can play with what headings you want to use for the sections –  use product or service areas as titles, identify important areas to create ideas from your key learnings.

Think simple for your headings – sometime a simple approach for a team discussion when there are lots of ideas is to create headings such as:

  • Start Doing, Stop Doing, and Do More
  • What’s Working, What’s Not Working, Wishes

10.0-So-What_L-30 SoWhatFilledInTry a ‘SO WHAT’ approach at your next team meeting to enable the Facilitative Leader in you!

Inspire Breakthrough Action

Fire up your leadership and visibility in your organization by engaging powerful conversations about who your customer is and what are possible product, package, and communication ideas.

The Implications & Applications cool tool can:

  • Generate team energy to collaboratively create breakthrough ACTION ideas.
  • Immerse others directly in your team’s learning and enliven ideation sessions.
  • Engage key stakeholders through interactive deployment of team learning and enroll them to help build what’s possible.
  • Build acceptance of new knowledge and ownership of your team’s outcomes throughout your organization.

Enhance the ability of this template to fire up conversation by paying attention to the details –

  • Preparation – what is the goal for your work with this cool tool? What might you fill out before a meeting OR should sub teams create it during the meeting?  A tip – only fill out the left side beforehand and leave the right side for ideation.
  • Materials – make them available – colorful sticky notes inspire joy and creativity, sharpies and markers are a must. You might even consider pictures, images and quotes that represent your customers and their experiences and desires. Don’t forget any complimentary templates that support Implications and Applications, like All About Me and Gap Analysis.
  • State of Heart &  Mind – Enjoy your conversational journey, engage lots of ideas, and be open; expectant to make an impact that enhances your business. A tip – power dot ideas if you need to make priorities and discover where team energy lies.

 

JUST ADD PICTURES

“You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

We love to work with pictures in all sorts of ways!  Because truth be told, they can sometimes be worth even more than 1,000 words. They enhance our creativity to improve communication, generate new ways of thinking, jump-start stalled projects, and take us to places we didn’t know we could go to amp up our imagination.

We built pictures into our facilitation practice and the teams we work with asked for them, so we created the Let the Picture Pick You Deck, inspiring images that can transport you to new places of understanding and knowledge.

Pic_Deck_l.jpg_1

Here’s some Team Activities to get your started with pictures:

“Getting to Know You’ Warm Up – Invite each team member to choose a picture that represents something about themselves. Ask them to find someone else they don’t know very well. Then instruct everyone to share with their picture and how it represents them to their partner (share only what they want to). Invite everyone to switch partners and share again. Repeat one more time, then have everyone share one thing about themselves to the whole group.

Pulse Check – Invite each team member to choose a picture that captures how they are feeling and/or what they are thinking.  Ask everyone to share in pairs, clusters or with the full group.

Envisioning Success – Invite each team member to choose a picture that represents their personal BEST and BRIGHTEST expectations for the meeting or project. Give everyone a few moments to think of a title for their picture.  One by one, ask each person to share their picture, title and what Success Looks Like for them.  After everyone has shared, as a team, identify the common elements of success and capture on a chart pad or graphic template such as Circle Around or Success Looks Like.

Just add pictures and enjoy the boost in team CREATIVITY!

CREATIVITY IN A CIRCLE

Circle Arounds are one of our favorite visual thinking tools. When we bring them to a team work session, creativity sparks, connections are discovered, and deeper understanding happens in a short period of time. It is the holistic, simplicity of a circle that supports gathering themes, brainstorming ideas, mind mapping. It also allows freedom to choose where to go deeper into connections to engage the group.

The BIGGER the BETTER for a Circle Around. Wall size is what we like to use, 4′ x 3′ – on the walls or on the tables. With one circle around there is a focal point and with several, there can be a conversation cafe.

Imagine what you and your team of ideators will learn if the work in small groups with a circle around, then step back and see the patterns, move from table to table (or wall to wall), have discussion about the common connections and themes, bring your seed ideas into focus, and converge on the top most intriguing or most stretching ideas … and then create action steps.

We just love CIRCLE AROUND templates. Magic!

Fast, Powerful, Incredible

I just had an overwhelmingly powerful team experience in my small town community.

Over 5 weeks,  8 core team members met with 25 people a total of 6 hours face to face;  connected with 50 people by email; and inspired 100 volunteers to support a dinner fundraiser that raised $28,000 (the goal was $10,000).  Why was this so FAST and POWERFUL?  We

  • HAD VISION AND AN OUTCOME – support a local family in need financially, emotionally and physically.
  • SHARED OUR UNIQUE GIFTS – we had facilitative leaders that created structure, inspired others to give, followed their own passion and hundreds of others followed – and Super Cool T-Shirts really helped people get involved.
  • SPENT TIME TOGETHER, reflectively and actively – Our first informal get together to discuss how to support our friend instantly became once a week work sessions, one hour at a time.  We split our time together between REFLECTION and ACTION.
  • DIDN’T SKIP THE TEAM & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT WORK (REFLECTION).  This is important.  Some wanted to skip it and they pushed hard, but we gently asked them to participate. This is how you speed up your process!  Don’t let your busyness, your GO FAST energy lead you down a path that skips this part.  This is when and how people get to know each other, begin to trust each other, begin to know they are connected even if they didn’t feel a connection before. We made it easy, something different each week —  draw a picture from the Let the Picture Pick You Deck to represent a successful fundraiser,  pick an Angel from the Angel Deck to hold during the week as you approached the work,  pick a quote and share your own awareness of yourself right now.  Not too hard and very powerful.
  • COMMUNICATED ORGANICALLY — There were amazing communicators and they came forward, fully.  They are the people that share and build ideas in the moment with others that then share and build ideas with more people, who then think, link and build ideas into action.  There was no ego or turf owning, just pure desire to accomplish the vision and outcome.  Communicating involved a email, texting, conversations during walks, shared documents online – if you haven’t used dropbox or google drive you might want to try them.

REAL RESULTS:  Dinners were served to the family every weekday night, the first fundraiser brought in $28,000.  8 core team members met together with another 15 people for only 6 hours over 5 weeks, communicated out and gathered 100 volunteers (including kids!).  We served 800+ dinners, auctioned 100 baskets and 12 big ticket items, and inspired real community.  We also spent time together in gratitude by writing 200 thank yous!

Our friend and her family are feeling our love!  We all enjoyed the power of an aligned team!  I got to continue building my facilitative leadership mastery and I made some new friends along the way. As I said, overwhelmingly  powerful team experience.

 

We GRReW!

One of the things I love about managing the IdeaConnect E-store are the practices we’ve created to give our customers the best service ever.  One of those processes is something I call GRReW, stands for Give, Receive, Reflect & Wonder. Basically, when an employee comes to work, they take 10 minutes or so to be really HERE, be available for customers.

The important steps…

  1. GIVE something that recently captured their attention or represents a recent life experience- a picture, a quote, a note, a thing and put it in the GRReW box.
  2. RECEIVE  (Pick) something from the box that attracts their attention.
  3. REFLECT or Journal for a few minutes to the prompt, RIGHT NOW I AM AWARE OF…
  4. WONDER, write a question on a sticky note to put on the WALL calendar.

It connects us to ourselves, the present moment and to each other in a way that fosters amazing work.

I was very touched by a recent journal entry and wanted to share.  Here’s an excerpt from Mallory’s GRReW (she agreed to share)….

Beaded Star

‘I took something from the box today that I normally wouldn’t: a beautiful flower made of wire, covered with beads. I’m almost certain that someone in this house made it…The flower is red and has gold beads at every meeting/crossing point. I wonder who came up with the design for the flower. When I think about the meeting points…I think about people being together. When people meet, their lives are sometimes intertwined and a new life is created. In the flower, there are several places where the solo strands continue on by themselves after the connection with another strand, but are reconnected at the end of it all…’

Her subsequent question about relationships and connections was one for all of us to sit with and discuss, I appreciated she started the day aware of beauty and connections.  Needless to say, the packages we shipped that day and that week were beautiful and full of anticipation how the products connected the receivers with others.

Here at IdeaConnect we all GRReW as individuals and as a team.

Where do you go to do inspired work?

Water is a Place of Inspiration

When focused, creative, deep thinking work is needed, where do you go to be inspired?

I find my routine office space just doesn’t fit the bill when I’m trying to synthesize information and knowledge.  That’s when I find a new place or time to empower my highest skills.  I …

  • take my work to the park. Of course, this really only works in the summer here in the north, if you want to be outside.  If you have a small team, consider renting a lodge for the day or a pavilion.
  • find another space at a different building within my company. If you work for a large company, they likely have rooms to reserve in different buildings.
  • go to a friend’s house, one that has their business in their home. Chances are they may have a space just right for spreading out for the day to do your deep thinking, alone or with a small team.
  • work in a different time of day, just for a specific project.  For me, it is early, early morning or late at night after everyone in my house has gone to sleep.
  • break the work into chunks and inspire my creativity with seemingly unrelated activities that activate my right brain, such as taking a walk, collaging with magazine pictures, listening to Mozart, baking.  Those are my ways and you probably have different ways to activate your right brain.

Don’t be shy about making the space or time fit the important work you want to get done;  that is what keeps your business moving forward.

Let us know how you inspire your own magic,  we like to be inspired to take our own magic to higher and higher levels.

Are you Accessing the Power of NOW?

Recently I’ve really been tuning in to conversations I’m part of and conversations around me.  And, I became acutely aware that I’ve not been accessing the Power of Now … a lot of us aren’t. So, here’s what I asked myself:

What is our fascination with reliving our past stories, mostly those that are not our favorites?  And, why do we let the emotions of fear and anxiety of the past creep in and cloud our current experience?  How does our this focus on our past (particularly the negative past) impact and influence our communities, our organizations, our teams, even our families?

My awareness led me to reconnect with the teachings and writings of Eckhart Tolle. I started with the books I had.  A little search online gifted me with even more – a whole website of Tolle teachings with present moment reminders, free stuff and Tolle TV – a really cool place to go to create a renewed awareness that “NOW: is the space in which life happens.”

So, I started looking at all aspects of my life including my work as a graphic facilitator. And you know what?  I realized what I love most about graphic facilitation and graphic templates*. I realized how those BIG beautiful pieces of paper with an image of a mountain or a house or a circle, magically bring us to NOW in our conversations – what we know NOW, what we vision NOW, what each participant in the conversation is aware of NOW.  And the best part is through these visual tools, we create a record of the NOW so when we are in the next NOW we can simply be fully present there … NOW.  Woooo Whooo!

Want to access the power of NOW in your teams and groups? Try a graphic template or two (you can get them at the Grove or IdeaConnect stores) or hire a graphic recorder or a graphic facilitator or get out some big paper and draw a guide for conversation yourself.

Let us know what works and what you’re aware of NOW?   We promise, we’ll respond from our NOW.

* You know! Cool Tools – big paper on the walls with a graphic or metaphor to engage guided conversation!

Spring Cleaning for Your Team

Add some extra Team Performance with some “Spring Cleaning.” Try it, you’ll like it!

I was looking at Martha Stewart’s Spring Cleaning Checklist and it inspired me to do a little spring cleanup with my teams.  Here are 5 ideas that have the power to create a stronger, more successful team for you.

1. Clean the Windows Reconnect to & Re-Clarify your Team Vision, Goals and/or Desired Outcomes.   Schedule  time together to focus on your team vision or outcome.  Has it evolved?  Is everyone working toward that same outcome?  What would make each team member feel successful at the end of the team’s work together or even at a intermediate step? Special tip!  Have each member imagine their success as part of this team and write down 1-3 things personally and professionally to share with the team.  This engages the whole person and connects them personally to the work.  By sharing with others they see common ideas and can support each other.

2. Clean Out the Clutter – Identify Priorities and Key Steps toward each Goal.  What are the team’s priorities, member priorities?  Are there key steps toward the Goal?  One of my team’s recently started working with PICK FOUR by Seth Godin using Zig Ziglar’s wisdom.  Kinda fun, hard work … definitely a way to get through the clutter!

3. Dust & Vacuum Bring clarity to your landscape.  It’s always good to keep up with dusting and vacuuming, ie checking your assumptions and hypotheses, adding new questions and checking  off old ones,  understanding your team challenges and even team supports.  Another way to bring clarity is through the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model.  Where is your team on the model, what is working well, anything unresolved?

4. Ensure Fire Safety – Engage external support and Review alternate scenarios.  I love this idea!  Are you actively working with your external stakeholders?  Is everyone in the team keeping their external supporters engaged in the work the team is accomplishing?  And,  are team members communicating a unified story outside the team?  Does the external environment require you to have alternate plans?

5. Organize, Organize, Organize – Make your work as a Team EASIER.  What would make the work easier?  Start with a conversation about how each team member gets their work done best will spark some ideas.  I did a little ‘spring cleaning’ with my IdeaConnect printing group and through our conversation we had some great ideas to inspire EASE with some added some efficiency, and a little magic! (And, We love magic!!)

So what’s your favorite approach to Spring Cleaning?  And, how might you apply to the teams you lead or participate in? Please share!  We’d all benefit from your tried and true approaches and ideas!

PS – If you’re wondering how to bring a visual element to team spring cleaning, try the Team StartUp kit (or should I say Team Re-StartUp Kit)

BIG Brainstorming

Every time I print, pack and ship our magical Circle Around templates I’m almost giddy with excitement, wondering how they’ll be used this time.  I just love Circle Arounds.  I love the simplicity of a circle for gathering themes, brainstorming ideas, or discovering connections. I love the complexity of a circle to go deeper into connections, provide a holistic view, engage creativity.

Recently, I shipped ten wall size Circle Arounds, they’re BIG, 4’ x 3’ in size.   I learned they’ll be used for Brainstorming Ideas.  YAY!  I imagine a room full of people coming together to brainstorm and make new, innovative connections.  The room itself is prepared to enhance the power of people’s hearts and minds — colorful markers, sticky notes, sharpies, and other cool tools that encourage creativity.

For perspective, ten wall sized Circle Arounds collectively take up 120 square feet.  On a wall it might be 20ft x 6ft, or 40ft x 3ft.  WOW, that’s BIG brainstorming!  Hmmm … Or maybe they’ll be used on ten tables with people sitting in a circle having a brainstorming conversation.

I happily imagine what the brainstormers will learn when they step back and see the patterns, move from table to table (or wall to wall), have discussion about the common connections and themes,  bring their seed ideas into focus,  and converge on the top most intriguing or most applicable or most stretching ideas … and then create action steps.

I just love CIRCLE AROUND templates. Magic!