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Authentic Innovation
A Word About The Wise
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Twitter Highlights
I send 15-20 tweets per week with links to useful links and research. Here are a few of my latest, including links:

Why Trust Matters More Than Ever For Brands - Deepa Prahalad - Harvard Business Review:

"Jugaad" is making sense - Use Jugaad To Inovate Faster, Cheaper, Better - Harvard Business Review:

Of course - link incentives to sustainability goals. "Jugaad Inovation" looks like an interesting book.

'Love the tool here for encouraging "truth-telling" in meetings - So, Your Idea Hit a Brick Wall. Congratulations!"

Fascinating: "Why We Lie" - via @WSJ Reinforces the importance of visible moral codes and values

Wise advice about navigating integrity at Anna Bernasek's Blog: "Integrity Comes Before Loyalty" -

A thoughtful, provocative blog: "We're Broken As Leaders" - via @thoughtLEADERS See my response.

Innovation - use of the word is up 64%, but are really more innovative? You Call That Innovation? via @WSJ

Encouraging: Google's in-house philosopher: Technologists need a "moral operating system"

Liberal arts and career preparation - it's not an either/or Colleges Get Career-Minded

Can't beat a mission with meaning and a code you can live by - RT @HarvardBiz: The Secrets To Geat Leadership -

Good examples of transparency and leading by values here: In One Adjective, Please Tell Me Who You Are

Example of how costly and damaging infighting and lack of alignment is - Discord At JP Morgan Unit Faulted In Loss -

It is those who summon serendipidy rather than squelch it, who succeed today." The Age of the Inspired Riff @WSJ

Highly recommended: Putting Integrity Into Finance - A Purely Positive Approach @ssm

Marketing to socially responsible consumers in the Mideast and globally

"Be true to your work, your word, your friend." (Henry David Thoreau)

Manufacturers report hiring qualified workers and training as 2 biggest 2012 HR concerns

Teamwork and leadership wisdom here - getting real and getting your team to speak up via @SBLeaders

P&G example of purpose that matters and alignment with customer values - The Case For The Brand Ideal via stratandbiz

Will the US own the world economy or become a dude ranch fr rich Chinese? The Future Is More Than Faceboook via @WSJ

Agree: sustainable job creation requires engagement and entrpreneurship, in short supply in China

Ouch! Capitalists and Other Psychopaths Recommended treatment:

Great article: The Amygdala Made Me Do It Agree: "Self-awareness sets us free."

What is your favorite meeting strategy?

Are we discriminating against talkative women at work? via @WSJ

Apple's "Little Dutch Boy" CSR strategy via @HarvardBiz

A look at leaders undone by resume inaccuracies

An interesting strategic thinking exercise: Seven Steps To Find Your "Uncommon Sense" via @mitssr

9 Lessons on Power and Leadership From Genghis Khan @sharethis Who would've thought?

What employers want: via @MPR

Are you an "informer" or "meformer?" When You Text Till You Drop

'Wonder if J.P. Morgan knew about this? How To Beat The Odds At Judging Risk -

China - on increasing 'likability', forgoing Confucius and learning western etiquette - Life and Arts

Read if you're frustrated with automated
customer service - Press 9 for More Options @WSJ Let's start a movement!

"If the primary aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever." - Thomas Aquinis

This is pretty good: productive "hacking" to improve organization culture - The 3 Best Leadership 'Hacks' - via @CBSNews

Chouinard & Patagonia - a CEO and corporation to emulate. "Benefit corporation" - interesting concept

10 good pieces of advice for all, not just graduates at commencement

How integrity lapses erode engagement - Employee Petition Demanding That WalMart CEO Step Down via @HuffingtonPost

If you missed it, below is a copy of my last blog: Authentic Innovation. Since some may not have seen April's article, A Word About The Wise, its introduction follows; you can access the entire article by clicking the link at the end.  Be sure to enter the "Who Said This?" contest at the bottom of this newsletter to win an autographed copy of Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best.
Authentic Innovation

Is anyone getting tired hearing about "innovation?" A recent WSJ article ("You Call That Innovation?" - May 23, WSJ Marketplace) suggested that might be the case.  Among other signs, it referenced how a search of Securities and Exchange filings yielded 33,528 mentions of  

Innovation bulb"innovation" in some form - a 64% increase over five years ago. I used "double buzzwords" for this title intentionally; unfortunately "authentic" and its variations are also getting worn out. Whether we're talking about innovation, authenticity, quality, process improvement or other hot topics, a problem is that when we tire of the words we often "throw the baby out with the bath water," then latch on to the next big deal.  (Hey, I still think that "MBO," or "management by objectives" is a good idea!)


It's refreshing then, as we begin to tire or burn out on a concept, when someone or something comes along to fire us up again, remind us why it's important and renews our thinking about it.  That was my reaction to a great new book: "Imagine - How Creativity Works," by Jonah Lehrer.  I don't often come right out and say "buy this book," but seriously, go out and buy this book!  Lola Fredrickson of Fredrickson Communications, a creative force in its own right, introduced me to it.  (Thanks Lola!)  I was impressed by Lehrer's command of how creativity actually works, copious references to neuro and social science research, fascinating examples ranging from Bob Dylan and Yo Yo Ma to Apple and 3M, and a very engaging writing style.


Here are just a few of my take-aways from "Imagine:"

  • Creativity is not one thing, but distinct brain processes that modern neuroscience technology can now monitor. Loosely, it typically begins with attempts to solve problems analytically, dominated by our left-brain hemisphere.  Then there's a stumped, or frustrating, stage when the brain is forced to make all kinds of new connections in search of a solution.  If we're lucky as our brain "rummages through the obscure file cabinets of its right hemisphere," it makes a right connection.  Neuroscientists have observed that this "aha moment" is accompanied by high electrical activity in a small fold of tissue in our brain's right hemisphere.
  • The three distinct brain functions are important because they play different roles in the creative process and can be leveraged in different ways.  Attention (and in some cases obsession) comes into play initially, as the mind gathers in any and all information and senses surrounding a focal point.  The "stumped" and frustrating stage is necessary since that is what literally fires our imagination (random brain searches and connections.)  That is why persistence is a partner of creativity (and why some of our most creative inventions originate from very persistent - a.k.a. "stubborn" or "obsessive" people.)
  • Diversity in all forms is a creativity catalyst - diverse experiences, novel locations and cultures, diverse teammates and diverse perspectives.  There are strong arguments here for surrounding ourselves with the unlike-minded, time traveling and living in foreign cultures, and cross-disciplinary activity.  (Lehrer tells how Steve Jobs insisted on clustering all bathrooms at a central location at their headquarters to force interaction across specialties.)
  • Outsiders are gold; because they are not used to seeing or doing things as we do, they are natural sources of creative ideas.  Their "ignorance" about what we know, or na´vetÚ, gives them an advantage.  (How this point was graphically driven home for me on a sailing adventure was the subject of a past article: "In Praise of Outsiders" at
  • "Brainstorming" isn't always as good as it's made out to be.  While it can be a useful tool used properly, I was surprised to learn of numerous experiments where the quantity and quality of ideas generated by individuals on their own were superior to the results of group brainstorming (including Alex Osborn's - brainstorming inventor - original experiment!)  As it turns out, criticism - banned from brainstorming - while not always pleasant, is a necessary ingredient for both quantity and usefulness of ideas.
  • Not to discount solo geniuses, but the vast majority of creative, useful ideas are products of teams, not lone inventers.  Not just any teams, but certain compositions of team members are best; research demonstrates that teams with a medium amount of "Q" (a measure of social distance) perform best.
  • Teamwork is important for innovation, but so is alone time (the subject of another past article: "Getting Away To Get At It" (  Lehrer recounts several examples, including 3M, Apple and Google, of companies that stimulate creativity by encouraging behaviors that to casual observers would appear a waste of time (pin-ball, coffee breaks, long walks, "bs-ing" in the halls . . .)
  • "Imagine" even helped me change my perspective on distractions.  I've always been easily distracted and annoyed by outside sounds and activities; they're still distracting and annoying, but Lehrer helped me realize that they are also likely the source for ideas.  That's partially why, and Lehrer supports this with research too, densely populated cities generate a significantly higher rate of per-capita innovations than non-urban areas.



There's much more in Lehrer's book "Imagine;" I hope that you get your own copy.  You can order one directly from Amazon at - my web page with book recommendations.  You probably know that I collect and use quotations; let me close with a couple of my favorites from "Imagine:"  


"Hell is a place where nothing connects with nothing."

                          T. S. Eliot (Introduction to Dante's Inferno)


"Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."

                          Anton Ego (in Pixar's Ratatouille)




When have you been at your most creative?



How can you apply some of these concepts in your own life / work and organization?

A Word About The Wise
by Al Watts and Lola Fredrickson

Who's the wisest person you know?  Why does that person come to mind, and what are some characteristics of other wise people you know?


Competency, skills and expertise are desirable, but cannot take the place of wisdom.  There are competent, highly skilled and even expert sailors, for example, but not all of them are wise.  A saying among Lake Superior sailors comes to mind: "The Superior sailor uses superior judgment to avoid situations that require superior skills."  For examples closer to home, think of organizations getting bad press lately that have no doubt been run by smart people;  if they had exercised more wisdom, they likely would have saved a bundle on legal fees.

As we think of truly wise professionals that we know, here's what comes to mind:

  • It's not about them; they are relatively ego-less.  Whatever the profession, it's not about proving knowledge, displaying expertise or being right; there is a genuine focus on whomever they are helping and on arriving at the best solutions.Wisdom Owl, Alice Poplorn, Flickr
  • They do more asking than telling, and ask great questions.  They are great listeners.  They ask questions that cause us to think, reflect on our goals, diagnose a situation properly and often arrive at the best solutions ourselves. 
  • They've "been there and done that," usually multiple times under many different conditions and circumstances.  An article not long ago described the false confidence that golfers  


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Enter the "WHO SAID THIS?" contest on our blog to win a free autographed copy of Navigating Integriity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best

"In this new book, Al Watts does a masterful job articulating how to live with integrity in our organization, on your team and in your life. A highly practical guide for leveraging the power of integrity."
(Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner Korn Ferrry)


Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings. Click "Services" on our home page to learn more, including inTEgro's array of professional organization, team and leader surveys.

All the best,

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc