November 2017

Creating Ideas: Think The Way You Think

2017-09-06T12:33:26-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, think|Tags: , , , , , |

Do you sometimes wish you had an easier way to organize or gather your thoughts? Ever been working on a presentation, proposal, or to-do list and didn’t know where to start or where you were going to go? A map would have come in handy in these situations…

Mindmapping (also known as brainwriting or concept mapping) is a technique which allows you to rapidly organize, gather thoughts, as well as lay out a presentation, proposal, to-do list or anything else you need to think through.

What makes mindmapping especially helpful is it allows you to think in the same way your brain organizes information…. allows you to think the way you think.

How do you ‘mindmap?’

The concept is simple – and you can get as fancy as you’d like.
Here are the basics: (I’ll follow along with a relevant example).


  • Grab a sheet of blank paper and a favorite writing instrument.
  • Start with your central idea, problem, or thought in the middle of the page. Write it down…. like below… items we’ll serve for Thanksgiving dinner…


  • Surround your central idea with sub-ideas. Draw lines radiating from the center to your surrounding sub-ideas. To generate your sub-ideas, ask questions about the central such as… How do we do this? What are the key parts? What are the steps?

And then…

  • Use each of these sub-ideas as a central idea and build additional thoughts.


  • Keep building… add ideas as they come to you… It doesn’t matter where… You may come up with new sub-ideas, want to change your central idea…


  • Whoops, don’t want to forget the apple cider and my pies are going to be pumpkin and pecan.
  • Here’s the finished mindmap for Thanksgiving Dinner. This helped me make sure I didn’t forget any items…


You can get as fancy as you’d like… But, you can just as easily mindmap on the back of a napkin as you can with an expensive piece of software… Here are resources to help you learn and do more..
While there are many choices, Idea Sandbox recommends…

Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Visual Mapping by Nancy Margulies and Nusa Maalx. An awesome resource if you’re just getting started and think you may use mindmapping often. (Once you get started it comes easier and easier to you).

Mindmapping by Joyce Wycoff – Joyce does a great job – taking you from the basics through advanced techniques and applications of mindmapping. “Your personal guide to exploring creativity and problem-solving.

While there are scores of software titles out there, I’ll make some recommendations for you. (Click titles for link to software site).

  • Mac/PC: PowerPoint by Microsoft – while not my preferred software-based method, nearly all of us have PowerPoint on our computers.
  • Favorite for PC: MindManager by Mindjet – a flexible program designed specifically for mindmapping. It is worth reading and learning how to use this application as you can capture ideas pretty quickly if you know how to use the software. (Also available on Mac).
  • Favorite for Mac: OmniGraffle by The OmniGroup – diagramming application with a very easy to use interface. Not solely for mindmapping, I find it a breeze to use.

No matter how you use or draw them, I hope you enjoy this technique and you find it useful.

September 2010

Toxophilite Guide to Innovation

2010-09-17T14:56:19-04:00 Categories: create, SandBlog, think|Tags: , , |

Successfully doing something that has never been done before (innovating) is sort of like shooting an arrow at a target while blindfolded. You know where you want to go but until you draw back on the bow string and launch, you can’t be certain where the arrow will land.
You get psyched.
Relax your shoulders.
Dry your hands on your pant legs.

Take one last look at the target.
Secure the blindfold.
Grip the handle and pull back on the bow string.

Take a deep breath.
And release!
Whoosh…. Fump!

Pulling off your blinders, reveals… ???

You missed.
The arrow only made it about 70% of the distance. Failure.

When we put a new idea into action through successful implementation, we declare it an innovation. A success. If we miss the target, we call it a failure.

Success or failure.
On or off.
No or yes.

We’re pretty black-and-white about this.

But wait, in reality you don’t pack your quiver and go home… THAT would be true failure. Because indeed there IS a gray area… It’s that space between the new idea and success. The place where your arrow landed. However, it is so overlooked we haven’t even had a word for it. Until now.

The folks at New Shoes Today have dubbed this a nearling. A nearling is “something new we undertake with the right intention but which has not (yet) led to the desired result.”

Nearling is a great word. It sounds like cross between “nearly there” and “yearling.” Something that surely needs a bit more care but is on the right path.

Best practices come from applying what someone else has done to what you’re doing. When you do something that has never been done – there are no best practices. Nearlings provide you with “next practices.” This first attempt doesn’t make your archery project a failure – it’s a nearling. You have learned something. Perhaps taught someone else something, too. You now know to aim a bit higher and put more tension in the string. Try again.

What nearlings do you have? Visit the Nearling website at Be inspired by others and share your own.

tox*oph*i*lite |täkˈsäfəˌlīt| – noun, a student or lover of archery.

May 2008

April 2006

New Ideas: Pause Before You Pounce

2017-08-20T17:46:17-04:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: , , , |

New ideas can lead to innovations. Often the speed in which we conduct business causes us to make rapid decisions. As a result, we may be robbing ourselves of good ideas.

New ideas can be fragile things. We’ve all experienced it… In a meeting, you muster up the courage to offer a new or unique thought that you feel will make a difference. The idea immediately gets quashed by a cynic or someone playing “devil’s advocate.”

“We tried that before…”

“That’ll never work.”

“Good luck!”

As quickly as it was described, the idea is killed. A way to prevent the premature ruin of ideas, consider pausing before you pounce.

Matt Kingdon, in his book “Sticky Wisdom: How To Start a Creative Revolution at Work” calls this pause “greenhousing.” This behavior “protects young ideas when they are at their most vulnerable, and nurtures them into healthy growth.” Greenhousing requires three key steps…

  1. Suspend – It doesn’t matter if it’s a good idea or not, don’t evaluate it at first. Hold your judgement. Be positive.
  2. Understand – Put yourself in the shoes of the person suggesting the idea. Listen. Ask questions if you don’t understand. (Supporting questions not barbed questions).
  3. Nurture – Add or build on the idea. Brainstorm more on how to make the idea even stronger. Add value.

(A way to remember these is that they form the acronym S.U.N.)

Next time you find yourself about to pounce… consider replacing the negative comments with positive comments. For example…

“That won’t work…”
“That’s impossible…”
“It’s not good enough…”
“We don’t have time for this…”
“Yes, but…”
“What could work?
“What is possible?”
“Forget perfection.”
“What could we stop to make time?”
“A build on that idea would be…”

By replacing judgement with building you allow an idea to grow into something better or even transform into something completely different.

Admittedly, this change in behavior requires practice. But if you integrate this into your daily interactions, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover the ideas you’ve been missing.

Related and Suggested Reading:

I give each of these books my highest recommendation. In fact, I’m so confident… if you buy any of them and don’t like them… I’ll repay the cost of the book!

Change the Way You See Everything: Through Asset Based Thinking
by Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak

Kathy and Hank outline the philosophy of approaching people, places and things from an “have” vs. a “have not” perspective. I’ve purchased 15 copies of this book just to give to folks who I think could use the knowledge!

Sticky Wisdom: How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work
by Matt Kingdon

I could NOT put this book down. It helped inspire the topic of this newsletter. Matt outlines six key behaviors (including greenhousing) that make creativity “accessible to everyone.”

The Ten Faces of Innovation
by Tom Kelley

Tom describes ten roles (faces) people may possess and outlines the value each role contributes to the innovation process.

Have more, better ideas by nurturing them and avoiding hasty judgments.