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.

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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!

Working Visually – PPCO (creativity lingo:)

We love all things visual and creative!  An all- time favorite template, Top of the Mountain, is simple yet empowers conversations that create knowledge and inspired action.

The “Top of the Mountain” graphic allows you to use visual thinking to refine, develop or assess what’s working/not working about an idea. Working as a team you quickly and visually sort out what’s working, see what other potential it might have, articulate any problems or concerns and then immediately apply solutions (or opportunities). The visual metaphor allows groups the freedom to explore the good, knowing they’ll have a chance to play the critic and voice their concerns to build it into something better.

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This versatile template can hold the space and focus conversation to make things better, improve an idea, and provide constructive feedback. Here is one way to work with Top of the Mountain in the Development phase of innovation. Often referred to in the creativity field as PPCO, here’s how we make it visual:

  1. Focus on the Positive, what works or the benefits (represented by the reaching the “Top of the Mountain”). Encourage everyone to stay open to how the idea might be great. The team identifies all of the things that are good about the idea or address the challenge, to reach the goal*.
  2. Then, identify the Possibilities or other things that might be peeking out from behind the cloud like a ray of sunshine. What aren’t you sure about, but see as potential.
  3. Next (and this is crucial) – air all Concerns (on the mountain range). Play devil’s advocate about all of the reasons the idea might not work, make notes of what needs to be overcome in order to reach the summit.
  4. The final step is to utilize the pathway for all possible solutions and Opportunities. Work with the team to identify one or more possible solutions to each of the concerns on the mountain. What information do you need or what additional features need to be included?
  5. Now step back and look at the bigger picture, what do you notice and where does passion and creativity lead the group, where does it inspire you? It’s time to converge and move forward with the refined and improved idea (plus a bunch more new ideas too).

This favorite tool is simple and so effective. Who’s ready to give it a shot and see some amazing results?

*(we love to use sticky notes – with one idea on each. More about this on our website)

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 a Tourist or a Traveler?

“The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is a great difference between the beholders.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s this tourist and traveler comparison I love when I think about consumer research approaches. Here goes:

As a tourist I go to some far off exotic land and I have an agenda of activities, I observe the culture at a safe distance, go to the must-see places, maybe a museum or two, eat at restaurants recommended by the hotel concierge or chain restaurants familiar from home, look for newspapers and TV from home, take lots of beautiful pictures of beautiful things to post on FaceBook, and I probably only spend a day or two or maybe three in each city – you get the idea. I’ve had a great experience, but how much new did I learn about myself, about the culture, about the people who live there? I feel like I just touched the surface. This is parallel to my experience in a traditionally formatted (really good) consumer research process.

As a traveler, I immerse into the culture. Move into the rhythm of the place, slow down, spend some time, learn some of the language, wander maybe even get lost in the city, meet regular people doing regular everyday things, have totally unplanned unexpected experiences And, if I’m lucky I may even be invited for a meal at someone’s home. I connect. I know when I leave I have been touched by my experience deeply. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the culture, about the individuals I’ve met. I have stories to share that make me laugh and cry and desire more and more and more of that! This is what we need – this is what the human heart longs for. This is GREAT Consumer Research.

At IdeaConnect (and our alter ego Ah Ha!), in our practice of consumer research (aka LearningConnect), we love to be travelers and guide our clients into the learning experience of a lifetime. Our workshops are face to face (no backroom) and whenever feasible we send our client team out to visit people in their homes, to shop with them, to get to know them, to travel into their world.

And yes, sometimes if they’re lucky, they’re even invited for a memorable meal at someone’s home. Each team member is touched in a different way. They come back with pictures and treasures and stories that make us cry and laugh and want more and more and more of that!

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!

Venturing into the Land of OnLine Workshops

Wow! We’ve been training LearningConnect, our super revolutionary Qualitative Research and Team Learning process, live and in person for over 10 years. Hundreds of people around the world have attended our trainings and we’re getting ready to take the next step – On Line! While this won’t replace our highly regarded 3 step LearningConnect certification, we think this will be a great place to add to your knowledge, enable your facilitation arts and enhance your emerging practice.

This is your chance to learn from us from the comfort of your home or office as we share the inside scoop, the secret ingredients, the magic principles and practices that are the future of Collaborative, Creative Work.

Here are a few topics we’re considering.  It’s not an exhaustive list  because we’re hoping you’ll help us build it!

The 7 Stages of LearningConnect
New to LearningConnect? Has it been awhile since you’ve attended LearningConnect Training? Wishing someone on your team knew what you were talking about? Join this session (and invite others along) for an overview of the full LearningConnect process with some fundamental tips and techniques for facilitating your team in an immersive learning process (yep, this is where we’ll serve up some of our secret ingredients).

Making the Most of Team Start Ups
Learn simple (yet super important) practices to orient and ground your team as you step into your next project or research project. We’ll share the magic principles and practices of the Team Start Up, Success Looks Like and Speaking Our Minds templates and explore other fun and powerful activities to enrich and enliven your sessions.

Yikes! Which Template is Best?
We’ll dish up the inside scoop on the how to’s for our most popular templates (aka Cool Tools) and review the wide array of choices available. Not sure what all the options are? Which template is best for what during Data Collection? Have a favorite you use a lot and want to branch out to try new ones? This is the session for you.

 

Okay, now for your input. We’re seriously interested in YOUR ideas for topics. So what’s attracting your attention? What topics are you wishing for, hoping for, just plain want right now?

We look forward to hearing from YOU!!

Foam Core — We’re Obsessed

Back by popular demand … a previously printed and still seriously relevant blog posting from 2009!

You know from time to time we do get excited about seemingly strange things here at IdeaConnect! The latest? We just love foam core — 40″ by 60″ foam core to be more specific (we like the 3/8th inch although it is also available in 1/2 inch).

We’ve found these thin white boards to be magnificent tools in our facilitation of LearningConnect sessions. The 40″x 60″ size is perfect for our wall sized templates and with the assistance of a flipchart or even an easel, we can work effectively in rooms that have less than wonderful wall space. And, WOW! these foam core walls have 2 useable sides (yes they are magical)!!

Remember, an important element of grounded facilitation is taking care of the Operational physical details. Sometimes all the stuff required for LearningConnect even overwhelms me! So recently we’ve prepped our very portable, very light, yet surprisingly strong “walls” well before DataCollection sessions. This allows us to be more relaxed and attentive to facilitating and being with the team and workshop guests.

And when we travel, we arrange for a local art supply store to deliver 10 or so boards directly to the facility, conference center or hotel where we’re working. When we arrive our foam core boards are waiting for us to get to work. It doesn’t get better than that =)