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Does it work? Does it suck? What is everyone arguing about?

There are several rites of passage for white-collar work, but probably none is more controversial than “brainstorming”. The mere mention of the term elicits equal number of exasperated eye rolls and hopeful eyebrow raises.

“We may just solve this problem!”

“We may just have lost a perfectly good afternoon.”

Over the years, I’ve been on both sides. I’ve had strong feelings about the exact some thing which as this point contradict either other. In one case, I’ve greatly enjoyed hearing the discussion of potential ways to attack a problem. …


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Just two folks using the same word two different ways.

Which is a cop out, so here are 4 things to do if that person is you

In the storytelling world, there are things called “tropes”, which is a fancy way of saying “a set of circumstances that seem to happen enough for us to notice”. There are plot tropes, character tropes, narrative tropes, even literary tropes for the snooty intellectuals among us. As you might imagine, the term “tropes” is not meant as a compliment. Tropes are crutches, they keep stories moving when maybe said story should be sitting this one out.

One of the biggest tropes in the world of work is the Person-Who-Doesn’t-Wanna. For fans of trying out new ideas, or experimenting with new…


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Yes, I drew this.

Here’s how to look back, look forward, and make both worthwhile

If you’ve ever been an employee, the term “annual review” has probably ignited your anxiety and taken from you a chunk of time you would have been happier to spend on something more worthwhile, like waiting in line at Starbucks or mistakenly sharpening your plastic pencil.

At one of my previous full-time jobs, I was asked to assess myself for an annual review and draw up 3 goals for myself. Then I met with my supervisor, who also wrote 3 goals for me and asked me to adjust mine…


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and The Idea Enthusiast Weekly, July 17 2019

“That’s one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong

There’s a scene in “Knocking Down the House”, the Netflix documentary that just happened to catch the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where AOC the candidate talks about promotional fliers. She holds up an example of a flier put out by her opponent, then-incumbent Joe Crowley, then holds up her own and walks through the differences and her thinking behind those differences. You don’t have to agree with a single strand of her politics to appreciate her approach.

Does…


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and The Idea Enthusiast Weekly, July 3 2019

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Why we have fireworks

In advance of the 4th of July, I’ve been reading up on the origin of fireworks. You’d think it would be an American story, seeing as how we love our rockets and bombs (as George Carlin used to say, we have the only national anthem that mentions them). However, not the case!

The earliest documentation of these “recreational explosives” dates back to the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty in China. That discovery owes it’s history to the development of gunpowder, from experimentation in Chinese alchemy by Taoists in the pursuit of…


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and The Idea Enthusiast Weekly, June 26 2019

“I don’t look to jump over seven-foot bars. I look for one-foot bars that I can step over.”
Warren Buffet

My little “June Jaunt” continued last week with a trip to Lansing to work with the Michigan Dental Association and its Foundation board on two consecutive days. It’s been interesting this summer getting questions and feedback on the Sprint creative process. This has lead to a new talk or “preamble” to my workshops, which I’ve titled “The Idea-Driven Organization”.

Essentially, it’s a distillation of the 5Ds in the lower part of the newsletter. Orgs that are able to nurture new…


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Board members of APSIA in stage 3 of a creative spring

and The Idea Enthusiast Weekly, June 19 2019

“Death is the price you paid for being born.”
Gloria Vanderbilt

Thanks to the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs for having me present a design sprints workshop (“The Idea-Driven Organization”) as part of their annual member meetings. Happy to report that with 3 teams, 2 decided to do their final demo (presentation) of their prototype idea as a group skit. Medium risk, high reward.

This is a great option that not enough teams use, especially in a case like this where the product was a training video. Even with the dramatic time constraints of a design sprint, both…


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From The Idea Enthusiast Weekly, June 12 2019

“Any place is good for eavesdropping, if you know how to eavesdrop.”
Tom Waits

The second lives of ideas

Culture House is historic neighborhood church in the southwest quadrant of Washington DC that was relaunched as a psychedelic arts collective a few years back. Built in 1886, it’s one of the oldest buildings in SW and was home to the Friendship Baptist Congregation for almost a century. When the congregation moved down the road to a newer building, the 1886 building was marked for demolition numerous times. There were years when it sat vacant and unused. But, it survived. …


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Best reads for experiments and creativity, June 5 2019

“The creative adult is the child who survived.”
Ursula Leguin

Here’s what’s underappreciated about drawing

Just imagine if you were able to draw your thoughts. You have an image in your mind, but the words don’t quite do that image justice. Being able to translate that image from visually in your head to visually in the physical world is a gift. A well-earned gift since people go to school for years to learn that skill.

This week, I stumbled onto an academic paper from 2015 about communicating visually in the field of biology. (Unless you’re a PhD, you probably won’t want to read it, pretty…


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Best reads for experiments and creativity, May 29 2019

“If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
Ryan Blair, author

Cleaning up ahead of the “big move”

Before every big group project or new initiative, there’s a moment when a little cleaning would make a big difference.

This “cleaning” comes in alot of forms:

  • Talking about prior efforts that weren’t successful
  • Asking questions no one else has seemed to raise
  • Clarifying what the overall target is
  • Getting rid of stuff that won’t be helpful
  • Imaging and planning for what may get in the way

In the design/creative world, this is commonly referred to a “pre-mortem”. It’s not necessarily…

Greg Roth

Speaker, facilitator, creative consultant. Founder, The Idea Enthusiast LLC.

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