Follow the Ye____ Br___ Ro__ To Collaborative Innovation

31 07 2013


When you put it all together, innovation is not a solitary endeavor.  You need collaboration.  But how do you do that?   Where does it fit in the process?  Most importantly…HOW DO YOU GET THERE?  The road is laid out in front of you today.  Simply put one foot in front of the other, and soon you will be walking towards Eye-Cubed greatness.  Do not trip along the way!

  1. Own the idea/innovation or solution.  This is the toughest step but necessary to get your innovative idea into the pipeline.  Use all of the resources available to you to evaluate the innovation, analyze the cost structure and strategize about the implementation.
  2. Develop the innovation as far as you can on your own.  Run with it.  Map out the plan.  Come up with as many obsticles as possible.  Overcome as many objections as you can foresee.  What technology will you need?  What resources are anticipated?  How long will the solution take to implement?
  3. Meet with individuals/ key execs (one on one) to get buy-in and gauge the reaction or objections to your idea. If you think about the solution day and night, you will have made the ‘Kool aide’ and have been drinking it all along.  Others need to be brought up to speed to where you are.  Tell the story with energy and conviction.  You need to sell the innovation.  Then do the hardest thing possible…. SHUT UP and listen.  Remind yourself that everyone has the power and capability to enhance your idea, uncover real concerns that can be overcome and add tremendous value to the innovative process.  This buy-in is a critical step in getting your innovation to the drawing board.  Do not come up short here.
  4. Listen to others for enhancements, add-ons that build on original thought.  Take all of the ideas and bring them forward with you to the next meeting.  Your innovation will take incredible shape and breathe a life of its own.  Momentum will build along the way as your team joins you on the Yellow Brick Road.
  5. Pull team together for a green-light thinking/brainstorm session.  Guide the discussion with strategic participation.  While everyone has participated individually, this is a time for the team to own the project.  Everyone will have an opportunity to build upon and enhance the idea further.  Avoid the common pitfall of doing this step too early.  You will end up with a watered-down version of your idea or concept.  What your company needs is the direction necessary to lead through the innovation process.
  6. Gain commitment from leadership to pursue innovation.  You need resources and time to execute the plan.  Agree on both and you are on your way!  Make sure you uncover the hard costs ($$$) needed as well as the softs costs (time and personnel from other departments within your company) that will result from the project.

Successful green light sessions have direction and a plan.  When you follow the Yellow Brick Road towards collaborative innovation, you already know the objections, enhancements, concerns and interest level.  You are way ahead of the game when you do the necessary work ahead of time!

Innovation needs direction, leadership and strategy.  To be considered an Eye-Cubed leader with the “Innovator” quality, you need to have the answers, not just the questions.  Everyone knows the questions.  To find the answers, simply Follow The Ye____ Br___ Ro__!


Are You Aware of The Social Media Golden Rule?

24 07 2013



Applaud Twitter who has made it easier for us to follow the Social Media Golden Rule by eliminating the “Auto-Followback” option!

Of all of the many lessons out there we learned about social media, perhaps one of the greatest lessons of all is:


While I tried a few along the way, there was one short-cut that had been out there in the Twittersphere that I had avoided, perhaps by luck or perhaps due to something in my gut that had told me “NO, DON’T DO THAT”.   Ironically, this feature has just been removed and is now forbidden forever.  The tool is the “auto-followback” feature that was available as part of many Twitter applications.  It automatically followed anyone who happened to follow you.

While it is the goal of many (including myself) to have an ever-expanding network of followers to influence, bring value and thought, there has never been any virtue to having tens of thousands of followers if 95% of them are garbage, useless, spam and fake. And for you to follow folks just because they are following you is an easy way to build a network with a porous foundation.

As a result, I always looked at my followers and made sure that I was only following those whom I felt were legitimate individuals and valuable additions to my network.  I manually selected followers both in my searches and as part of my follow-back process.  This took more time but was well worth it.  For now, my network is significantly more valuable to me than it otherwise would have been.  The ability to gloat about a huge network has never been my goal.  Sheer numbers can be very deceiving.

There is no doubt that I have a broad definition of acceptable followers to whom I would welcome the follow and gladly follow back.  However, I am actually making a decision on each one of them.

Similarly, we do this in “real life”, face to face.  We would never blindly support someone and be a part of their personal network if we don’t have some kind of connection to them.  We need to have a reason to continue the acquaintance.  We need to know something about them that validates the relationship.  And like I mentioned earlier, while our standards can be very broad, they must exist.

So like many days, while I opened my Twitter account with the desire to automatically and systematically “unfollow” those who I have followed and have (for some reason) not followed me back.  Let’s applaud Twitter for their “big news”.

If you follow social media’s Golden Rule, you will surely find great success:


Please take a moment and follow me on Twitter.  I am sure we have a lot to share and even more to learn from one another.  @Suss33

SUBJECT: Urgent! Important To Do item

17 07 2013


The email read:


I’m on the plane and just finished reading Leadership and Self Deception. I’d like you to read it over the next 2 weeks, so I can discuss it with you when I return. It will help you deal with me when I’m driving you crazy.

It’s an easy read and written in the “story” mode.  Please order the book by Monday.  Enjoy the upcoming holiday!





B#(!  $#!+

When Bill addresses you this way, you must oblige.  However, you are unable to send the reply until you had read the email about 30 times.  By the end, you had it memorized.  And you were muttering the words to yourself as you went about your day. “It will help you deal with me when I’m driving you crazy.”  Talk about reverse psychology!  C’mon. What is Bill thinking?  He is talking to YOU!  You can see right through that one.  So while Bill is enjoying himself on vacation sipping a cold frosty, you will reluctantly and defensively read the book! (great attitude, right?) Of course not!

You consider yourself a student of self- improvement.  you pride yourself on personal reflection coupled with an honest assessment.  You have read dozens of books, spent countless hours with your business coach and performed mental yoga to get where you are today.  You are an Eye-Cubed Leader with the ability to inspire, innovate and implement with the best of them.  “Self-Deception” my @$$!

But why did this email flatten you the way it did even before you opened page one of the book?  You were not in the mood for the lessons but had to think.  That is what Eye-Cubed Leadership is all about.  You would have loved the book from the outset if you selected it yourself and read it in the comfort of your bed, the privacy of your plane seat or on the cushion of your couch.  You didn’t want anyone thinking that you were leading in a world of self-deception.

So on Monday, having read the book, you stormed into Bill’s office,  didn’t say good morning to anyone and then saw him for the first time in over two weeks.

“Welcome back!  Good to see you”  You were hoping your boss couldn’t see through your anxiety and frustration.

“I have one question for you that will clear up everything for me and set me in the right direction for the rest of the day.  That book……something about self-deception…….Did you have our entire Sr. Management team read that or was that just for me?”  Could Bill see the vein in your neck pulsating?

“No.  Not at all.  I got that for all of my direct reports.  I loved the book and was wondering if others felt that way as well.  I don’t push books out to the entire management team anymore unless I get positive feedback first.  Why do you ask?”

Your heart calmed down.  The heat behind your eyes chilled.  Your anxiety disappeared.  And now you could laugh!  And you did.

As you were about to walk out of Bill’s office, you contended, “Bill, you have no idea what I went through since you sent that email.  I bet all of us felt that way.  While I haven’t heard from anyone about this book, I can imagine that each of us have been stressing about this over the past couple of weeks.  How funny is this!”

“I guess I blew it.” Bill exclaimed. “ Now you know that I need to read more of these books!  I have a lot to learn.”  He said with that grin going ear to ear.

“So do I!”  You thought to yourself.

It was all cool now.  You found out several of Bill’s reports felt the same way you had when you got the email.  Each of the direct reports handled it a little differently.  However, in the end, Bill simply wanted to expose his team to an interesting way of thinking.  He never would have predicted the outcome.


  • LESSON 1:              Be careful about the email directives that you send!  Eye Cubed Leaders consider the audience as well as the possible miscommunications that may arise.
  • LESSON2:            The most” URGENT:  Important to do item” may be to pick up the phone and ask what is going on.  Eye Cubed Leaders control their frustration by communicating openly and directly keeping it far from the boiling point.

Why You Should Act (in social media) Like The Top 0.5%?

9 07 2013

Since Sept 6, 2012, I have been a fully engaged power user in LinkedIn, Twitter and WordPress.  Having posted hundreds of updates on LinkedIn, tweeted 1500+ tweets and written 53 blog posts, I was asked two questions last night:


  1. Why are you doing this?
  2. Are you getting anything out of your efforts?

I knew I had his attention for about 15 seconds yet my answer was much longer than that.  As a point of reference, out of the five men sitting around the small table having a discussion, three of them read my work regularly.  That’s 60%!  (including me….see how numbers can play tricks on perception?)  I started to answer him but tailed off as he drifted to another conversation.  So I challenged myself to introduce the question and answer it over the next 325 words. (I try to keep my posts below 500 words…now I only have 297 words left). 

Why am I doing this? (And why you should be inspired to do it as well)

  • Thought Leader:

I want to be more than a legend in my own mind!  I need credibility.  My consistent presence and quality content will do just that.  If it is truly “good stuff” (you will be the judge of that), I will be looked at as the thought leader I wish to become.

  •  Value Generator to enhance my company’s image to clients and prospects:

We are reminded constantly that without value, we have no chance for business continuity.  CEOs and “C” level executives want to be engaged and I refuse to be considered a “vendor” to our client-partners.  Intellectual discussions about business challenges (coupled with solutions) bring the value for which I envision.  My presence on the web addressing critical Eye-Cubed issues reinforces the value added.

  • I’m more than an “owner”or SVP of PFP:

I have had a plethora of experiences since 1996.  However, keeping the lessons within my company limits the audience.  Others can gain perspective from my path.   Through speaking, writing and consulting, I can build my impact and influence. 

Am I getting results? (What is in it for you too?)

  • Thought Leader:

New opportunities have been uncovered as my reputation builds. 

  1. Radio Interview on implementing change. 
  2. Corporate Briefing interview on Collaboration with a strategic partner. 
  3. Speaking engagements to industry leaders on succession, growth and innovation
  • Value Generator:

At a high level meeting with one of our top three clients, a senior executive introduced herself to me and said: “Yes, we have connected on LinkedIn.  I read your blog.  It is good.  I get a lot of stuff thrown my way but I like your work.  I read it.”  We then talked about strategy and the future.  They wanted to know how PFP can help them reach their goals as an organization.

I went into this project with a long-term view and did not expect to have such measurable results so soon.  Businesses are evolving and the Eye-Cubed leadership needed to excel could not be more pronounced.  With the goal of continuing to add value every day, Eye push forward!  The results speak for themselves.

Collaborative Inspiration (Can This Really Be Done?)

3 07 2013

There is nothing more empowering than to be inspired.  And in our lives, we have experienced it many times.  In fact, to be an Eye-Cubed leader, inspiration must be part of your wheelhouse and in the very fabric of your persona.  Without it, you will be void of innovation and with nothing to implement.  Inspiration is clearly the first hurdle to clear when achieving Eye-Cubed greatness.  However, have you ever considered taking a collaborative approach to this very personal phenomenon?  It is my contention that collaborative inspiration is not only possible, it is preferable.  It will lead to a greater number of innovations with targeted results for the operation, performance and sustainability of your organization.   Follow this four-step approach towards collaborative inspiration and evolve:

collaboration team

Step 1:  Create an environment that is open to inspiration

Solidify the culture: 

How are people treated when they are inspired?  Make sure that inspiration is embraced and rewarded.  Regardless of the results, if it is not openly encouraged, you can be sure it is discouraged. Make sure your organization openly expresses the value that stems from positive inspiration.  The best way to do this is to model this behavior at the highest levels within your organization and to practice zero tollerance for any deviation to the culture.

What will happen when inspiration takes place?

Make sure you have a clear process that analyzes the innovations spurred from the inspirations.  How do you know an idea is worthy to pursue?  How do you judge competing ideas?  (You Don’t Need A Plumber, You Need A Process) Make sure that inspirational ideas can be built upon by others in the group.  The result will most often be a more complete and robust innovation.

Step 2:  Encourage ideas that solve a specific issue

Why are we here?

There is a clear issue that needs resolution.  This should be expressed and presented at the outset.  A focused approach using collaborative inspiration towards this process will lead to the Promised Land.  Where should our inspiration take us?  We have to know where we are going in order to have a chance to get there.

What is lost without inspiration?  What is gained with inspiration?

Is your organization losing money as part of an existing process or looking to add a new stream of income?  At the end of the day, “This aint a hobby!” and we need to make money.  How much money is at stake?  The bigger the dream, the more inspired the team!

Step 3:  Allow for the time necessary to “feel it”

Inspiration on demand does not work.

“Hurry up!” is not an effective charge for the team.  Unfortunately, inspiration does not have an “on” and “off” switch.  Allow the feeling to permeate the team and create an inspirational build-up that releases incredible concepts and innovations.  A pressure cooker will result in a dinner for the team, not an innovation for your organization.

Stay with the plan. 

If at first you don’t succeed, chill out!  Do not give up on the team.  They will deliver.  Encourage them to get “unstuck” in old thinking.  Change the focus if necessary.  However, do not give up.  You never know when inspiration will strike.  And when it does, BINGO!

Step 4:  Facilitate conversation that promotes inspiration

Safe environment

It is never “bad” to be inspired.  And inspirations are never “stupid”.  So don’t even joke about it.  It is hard enough to let one’s guard down and communicate openly about ideas that reside squarely outside the box.  Never chop off someone’s neck when they are brave enough to stick it out.

Open dialog free of legacy ideas and personal agendas

Your team will remain closed to inspiration if they feel there are “white elephants” (unsaid issues), protected groups or untouchable ideas.  There cannot be a hierarchy within the group.   All members are created equal and any topic is fair game during a collaborative-style inspiration session.

Research and knowledge of what is out there now – cross industry solutions

Work needs to be done either by the group or for the group geared towards educating the participants of the existing playing field.  Look outside of the organization’s industry or niche.  Others may have solved your issue already and your team may simply need the requisite inspiration to connect the dots between what they do and what you do.


“Think Tanks”, “Incubators” or programs with inspirational dynamics are formalized endeavors that trigger innovation.  Most companies cannot afford them.  Few innovators, leaders or executives have ever participated in them.  In the most ideal setting, they work brilliantly.  However, there is no reason why you and/or your organization cannot reap the benefits of collaborative inspiration by creating the environment described above.    With the requisite attention to the four steps toward reaching collaborative inspiration, Eye-cubed excellence is well within your reach.

Sign up for my once-a week posts and get an email directly to you when I do.  You will be sure to get part III of the series focused on collaboration with implementations.

This post is part II of a series of VII posts on collaboration.

Part I:  Collaborate To Be Great.  Work With Me Here!