Teams

Want Better Ideas? Then Stop Brainstorming!

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I used to be a fan of brainstorming. What could be better for generating ideas than gathering your team around a table, presenting the challenge, and then letting the ideas flow! No bad ideas here! Just open the mental floodgates and let the brilliance pour out! Each idea sparking another, and another! Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Except it doesn’t work.

Brainstorming—despite the positive press it’s gotten, and still gets—doesn’t work. Why? Two words: human nature.

As humans (sorry puppies, I’m speaking ...

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3 Steps to a More Collaborative Team

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I was just listening to an interview with one of the world’s top leadership experts, my friend and colleague Mark Sanborn. He was asked how leadership has changed over the past several years. Here’s what he said:

“The biggest change I’ve seen in leadership is not among leaders but among followers…. The principles by and large haven’t changed, but the people whom we lead really don’t think of themselves as followers. They think of themselves as team members or collaborators.

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Stop Treating Creativity as an Option

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Turning creativity into money.

That’s how I sometimes described my job as the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle.

Turning creativity into money.

See, our job, week after week, was to be creative—on demand. BUT, that creativity had to lead to profit. If what we created—jokes, comedy sketches, parodies—didn’t draw an audience that advertisers would pay to reach, our creativity would have gone nowhere (and our careers would have quickly followed). But we did draw that audience, ...

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Are You Solving the Right Problem?

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Albert Einstein once said, “If I only had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” And while I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Einstein about the ratio, I think his quotation does highlight a common mistake that leaders and their teams make in the creative thinking process, and it’s this:

If you jump to solutions too quickly, you may find you’re solving the wrong problem.

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The Smartest Thing You Can Do as a Leader

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As a leader, the smartest thing I ever did was hire people better than me.

For 15 years, I was the Executive Producer of a comedy TV show in Seattle. I was also a writer and performer for the show, but my main job was being “the boss.” And as the boss, I was responsible for hiring the rest of the team.

Now, let’s understand something. When you’re on TV, there’s generally a fair amount of ego involved. I don’t ...

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Are You Ready for the High Winds?

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Hurricane level winds.

That’s what they’re telling us here in the Pacific Northwest. As I write this, there’s a storm coming, and they’re telling us to prepare for hurricane level winds. So I prepared. I bought extra food and water. I put fresh batteries in my flashlights and smoke detectors (my power almost always goes out in high winds). I made sure I had candles. And wine. Because, you know, high winds.

Now, what if the forecasts prove wrong? What ...

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Are You Playing “Monkey See, Monkey Do” Leadership?

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“Bill’s been to a seminar!”

I was a new leader, barely into my twenties, and the TV station I worked for had sent me to a leadership seminar. I eagerly returned to the office the next day, head and notebook brimming with ideas, recommendations, and “best practices.” In a classic mistake, I just as eagerly shared nearly all of these ideas with my staff, excitedly telling them about all the great changes we can now make.

Silence.

They all just looked ...

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How Are You Filling Your Idea Pipeline?

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I’ve just been reading a terrific new book called High-Profit Prospecting by my friend and colleague Mark Hunter. Mark is a consummate sales professional, and his book is about how to keep your sales pipeline full so that you never run out of valuable prospects.

I’m not a sales professional, but I am an idea professional. And, just like I think it’s vital for people in the sales business to keep their sales pipelines full, I think it’s ...

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What Does it REALLY Mean to Be a Producer?

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“So, what does a producer really do?”

During my 15 years as the Executive Producer of Seattle’s hit comedy TV show Almost Live!, I was asked that question a lot. Many times by members of my own staff.

“What does a producer really do?”

I used to answer that question from a very specific, TV-centric focus. Made sense, right? I mean, I was a TV producer, after all.

But after working with thousands of leaders in hundreds of industries, I’ve realized that what I ...

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Are You About to Lose One of Your Best Employees?

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I’m angry at Janie’s boss.

I don’t know Janie’s boss. I’ve never met Janie’s boss. But I do know Janie. Janie is one of the most diligent, hard-working, eager-to-learn people I’ve ever met. But because Janie’s boss doesn’t understand one of the basic rules of leadership, Janie is being made to feel like a failure in her job, and is thinking about leaving. So what’s the rule that Janie’s boss doesn’t understand? It’s this:

It’s a leader’s job to create an environment ...

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