April 2006

New Ideas: Pause Before You Pounce

2017-08-20T17:46:17+00:00 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.

March 2006

How Would *They* Solve It?

2017-08-20T17:42:46+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: |

When you’ve got a problem to solve if often helps to get advice from various friends, family members, mentors, and colleagues. But there are other resources you can call on as well. You may use what you know about famous people or businesses to solve problems.

If you know enough about a business or person, you may look at your problem through their personality, style, brand or way of doing things.

For example, you may ask, how would Oprah solve this issue? What would Ben Franklin do? How would Nordstrom or 7-Eleven execute this if this were their challenge? By applying what you know about their ethics, attention to detail, business style, personality, interests, and so on… you will be presented with insight and perspectives you may not have discovered on your own.

Particular People (Real or Not) you may want to consider may include…

Bugs Bunny, Dr. Seuss, Katie Couric, Lance Armstrong, Lucile Ball, Oprah Winfrey or even Santa Claus.

From a business perspective, how would these companies approach your problem?

7-Eleven, Amazon, Coca-Cola, FedEx, Google, In-N-Out Burger, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Starbucks Coffee, The Apple Store, The Disney Company, The Gap, or others…

The more un-related the company or person is to your business, the better. If you’re a clothing company, don’t compare to Nordstrom or The Gap. Use Disney, Apple or Coca-Cola as your filter – you’ll get more interesting solutions.

I’ll give you an example… Let’s say I’m the person in charge of improving Drive-Thrus at Starbucks. Since I know Disney is great at providing an excellent Guest experience I’m going to use Disney as my filter…

  • Turn the experience into a ride… I pull up, put my car in neutral, and like a car wash, the cars are pulled through the drive-thru lane.
  • I can tune my radio into a short-range FM broadcast and can listen to the same music playing inside the store.
  • The drive-thru is completely enclosed, like a mini-tunnel. The walls are covered with digital panels showing videos of the journey of coffee from green cherry on the farmer’s plantation, through the roasting process and into your cup. There are props relevant to telling the story including, coffee trees, burlap bags of coffee, roasting machines, etc. You either tune into the radio station mentioned above or open your windows and listen.
  • Instead of speaking into a speaker, an audio-animatronic barista takes my order at the beginning of the drive thru.
  • The smell of freshly roasted coffee is blown into the drive-thru lane – I can smell the aroma in the car.

If there are people or companies you want to utilize on a regular basis, I would suggest you create your very own Imaginary Board of Directors… Click here to read a blog post that describes more about an Imaginary Board of Directors.

Explore the resources below to learn about some great minds…

  • Wikipedia.org – an excellent, free online encyclopedia.
  • Biography.com – allows you to search over 25,000 of the greatest lives past and present.
  • Mental Floss” magazine – the current March/April issue cover story is about American Genius features Ben Franklin, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Richard Pryor, George Lucas, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and more…
  • Discover Your Genius: How to Think Like History’s Ten Most Revolutionary Minds book by Michael J. Gelb – he features… Plato, Brunelleschi, Columbus, Copernicus, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Jefferson, Darwin, Gandhi, and Einstein.
  • Radicals & Visionaries: Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the 20th Century book by Thaddeus Wawro features short biographies about 90 men and women who have shaped the past 100 years. Including… Akio Morita, Berry Gordy, Bill Gates, Clarence Birdseye, David Ogilvy, Desi Arnaz & Lucille Ball, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, George Lucas, Henry Ford, Howard Schultz, Hugh Hefner, Jim Henson, John Johnson, Martha Stewart, Michael Dell, Oprah Winfrey, Ray Kroc, Ron Popeil, Sam Walton, Steve Jobs, Ted Turner, Thomas Watson Jr., William Hewlett & David Packard, and others…

Try this tip, check out these resources, and let me know how it works for you.

February 2006

Expand Your Brain Storage Yard

2017-08-20T17:37:31+00:00 Categories: create, Sand for Your Inbox, think|Tags: |

To help you keep a record of your thoughts and ideas, I previously suggested using an idea journal. Many readers let me know they started journals – nice work. Keep it up!

With the tip in this article, I will help you expand your creative capacity, enjoy!

Creativity can be described as the ability to use your imagination to develop new, original ideas. When you need to be creative your imagination pulls from your brain “storage yard” – the place filled with experiences you’ve seen, heard, tasted, smelled, and felt (both physically and emotionally).

The more experiences you expose yourself to, the larger your storage yard. The larger your storage yard, the more inventory you have from which to spark and build new ideas.

You can expand your brain storage yard immediately by exposing your senses to new, different and unfamiliar material.

Here are some suggestions…

  • Head to your local bookstore or newsstand and purchase a magazine on a topic you know nothing about. Read it from cover to cover – even the advertisements and classified ads.
  • Try a cuisine you’ve never experienced before. Or, if you’re not that adventurous, order something you would usually never try at a familiar restaurant. New tastes and textures add to your list of descriptions.
  • At your favorite music store – or even better, a music store you’ve never been to – find a music genre you’ve never listened to and purchase a CD.
  • Visit a farmers market, a local natural foods grocer, or the produce department of your local grocery store and take in the scents. Focus on your sense of smell, but get in close and pay special attention to the scents. For example, have you ever smelled the green stems on tomatoes? Very grassy and clean smelling.
  • Pick a specific color for the day… and look for that color throughout the entire day. You will see the world with a different filter.
  • Take a whole roll of film (or at least 36 digital shots) of details. Nooks, crannies, corners, shadows… Take the time to notice what’s typically overlooked.
  • These tasks each provide your brain with input from your various senses in ways perhaps you haven’t experienced before. Try these out-of-the-ordinary experiences and increase the power of your imagination!

Quotable Quote

One little spark of inspiration,
Is at the heart of all creation.
Right at the start of everything that’s new,
One little spark lights up for you.

Journey to Imagination” Attraction
Walt Disney World

January 2006

Have More, Better Ideas: Start An Idea Journal

2017-08-20T17:30:46+00:00 Categories: Sand for Your Inbox|Tags: |


If you want to be more creative and develop better ideas, one of the first steps should be to start an idea journal… your place to jot down ideas, questions, and observations… anything that comes to mind.

Your journal could take any form ranging from 3×5 cards tucked into a pocket or purse to a computer-based system. No matter which system you choose… the secret is selecting something you can keep with you at all times that allows you to write down thoughts whenever they come to mind.

Having your idea journal handy when you have a neat idea, inspiration, or a question it will allow you to capture ideas before they slip away.

Michael Gelb in his book How To Think Like Leonardo writes…

“Busy lives and job responsibilities tend to drive us toward hard conclusions and measurable results, but the exploratory, free-flowing, unfinished nonjudgmental practice of keeping a notebook encourages freedom of thought and expansion of perspective.”

Well put.

Below I’ve listed potential approaches for your journal.

Low Tech

Do It Yourself Planner – From the D*I*Y Planner website, download and print templates to create your own planner system.

The Hipster PDA – The Hipster PDA is a fully customizable organizer for your data. Settings are easy to customize, never needs rebooting, and costs pennies to operate.

Levenger 3×5 Solutions – Low tech, but high class… Levenger offers really cool tools supporting the use of 3×5 cards.




  • Curio by Zengobi
  • Personal Information Managers – via Pure Mac website

Voice Recorders

Digital Recorders – via Amazon Search

iPod Voice Recorders – via Google Search