Management Training and Innovation Guru
Mitch Ditkoff is the co-founder and President of Idea Champions, a highly acclaimed management consulting and training company, headquartered in Woodstock, NY. He specializes in helping forward thinking organizations go beyond business as usual, originate breakthrough products and services, and establish dynamic, sustainable cultures of innovation.
Educated at Lafayette College and Brown University, Mitch has worked with a wide variety of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies who have realized the need to do something different in order to succeed in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. These clients include: GE, Merck, AT&T, Allianz, Lucent Technologies, NBC Universal, Goodyear, A&E Television Networks, General Mills, MTV Networks, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a host of others.
At the heart of his work lies the fundamental belief that a company’s most important capital asset is the collective brain power, creativity and commitment of its work force and that this asset can be significantly leveraged when people are provided with the appropriate setting, systems, tools and techniques to think (and act) out of the box.
Mitch has been an adjunct faculty member for several esteemed leadership development programs, including GE’s Crotonville Management Development Center, Duke Corporate Education, Fuqua School of Business, Chubb Business School, University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, and Bell Atlantic’s Marketing Institute.
In addition to his consulting work, Mitch is also an accomplished keynote speaker and large group workshop facilitator. In 2010, Mitch was acknowledged as one of the “40 Hottest Business Speakers on the Association Circuit” in Association Meetings magazine. In 2013 and 2014, he was named one of the TOP FIVE speakers on innovation by one of the leading speaker’s bureaus in America.
The Heart of Innovation
In 2010 and 2011, he was voted as the #1 innovation blogger in the world and is now a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. His widely read blog, The Heart of Innovation, is a daily destination for a global audience of movers and shakers.
Additionally, Mitch is the author of the award-winning book, Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Idea Rolling (in an uphill world) and the forthcoming WISDOM AT WORK: How Personal Storytelling Sparks Insight, Inspiration, and Lifelong Innovation.
Mitch lives in Woodstock, New York, with his wife, Evelyne, and their two amazing teenagers, Jesse and Mimi.
Creating a Culture of Innovation: When, Where, Who, Why and How
All business leaders want the same thing — and that is an organizational culture that is agile, adaptive, and conducive to sustainable innovation. Easier said than done, however. When you think of how difficult it is for just one person to lose five pounds or stop smoking, imagine how difficult it is to engage an entire workforce in the effort to innovate. But just because it's difficult, doesn't mean it's impossible. You've got to start somewhere. And Creating a Culture of Innovation is the best way to start — a highly engaging wake up call that demystifies innovation, sparks creative thinking, and provides an easy-to-adapt model that each participant can immediately apply on the job. Face it. The days of depending on R&D to ensure your organization is innovating are over. The times have changed. Now, everyone needs to get into the act. Includes: • Best innovation practices of leading organizations • A robust business case for why innovation matters • Hundreds of actionable culture of innovation ideas, sorted into eight categories • Three culture-building tools and techniques • A free, one-month license of Free the Genie
The Seed of Innovation: How to Foster Extraordinary Possibility in Others
Let's cut to the chase: Innovation doesn't begin with processes. It begins with people — inspired, committed, and collaborative people. When people are in the right mindset, your company has thousands of daily, spontaneously occurring opportunities for innovation to take root. All too often, however, these opportunities are missed. Why? Because they are usually invisible to people. Like the rarely seen white arrow in the FedEx logo, people have a hard time seeing what's right in front of them — the opportunity to identify, spark, and co-develop promising new ideas. The Seed of Innovation teaches people how to create the conditions that radically increase the odds of bold, new ideas being identified, nurtured, and developed on the fly. It does so not by requiring people to add another initiative to their already maxed out schedule, but by leveraging the countless interactions they are already having on the job — in hallways, elevators, parking lots, lunchrooms, bathrooms, conference rooms, and cubicles. Includes: • The art of listening • Best innovation practices from leading organizations • Teaching and practice of LCS (idea feedback tool) • Seven ways to maximize the seed of innovation moment • Free annual license of Free the Genie (online brainstorming tool)
Blue Sky Thinking: When Incremental Improvements are Not Enough
Some organizations are afraid of disruptive innovation. It spooks them. And understandably so. Disruptive innovation can be extremely challenging — replete with the unknown, the unknowable, and seemingly endless meetings no one has the time to attend. Innovation, in these organizations, takes place on the incremental side of the equation — tweaks, cost cutting, and process improvements. That's all well and good. But there are other organizations who know their future depends on a purposeful effort to challenge the status quo and generate breakthrough ideas — ideas for new products, new services, and new ways of doing business. If this describes your organization, then Blue Sky Thinking is for you. This highly energizing, interactive, two-hour keynote not only gets the creative juices flowing, but provides senior leadership with an extraordinary variety of newly generated business-growth ideas they can evaluate, post-session. Includes: • Pre-session "innovation opportunities" poll • Teaching and practice of the Blue Sky Thinking technique • Small group brainstorming • 16-page Blue Sky Thinking guidebook • Sorting of newly generated ideas into TBD categories
Humanizing the Workplace: How to Bring Out the Best of People on the Job
A recent national survey has revealed a disturbing fact: 62% of all Americans are dissatisfied with their work. And while the reasons for their dissatisfaction may vary from person to person, the resulting affect, on the job, tends to be the same – low morale, high complaint, and a general sense of disengagement. People may be showing up for work on time, but not on fire. Increasingly stressed with the challenge of having to do more with less, the work experience for millions of people is fast becoming depersonalized. Bottom line, people are feeling more like human doings, on the job, than human beings. The cost to big business? Billions. In absenteeism. Low productivity. High turnover. And ultimately, the headache and high cost of recruiting, retraining, and attempting to reinvigorate the workforce. Ask employees what they’d like to see change and they won’t tell you higher salary, bigger benefits, or faster computers. They will speak of the softer side of things – more trust, more respect, more listening, more appreciation for the effort they are making, more opportunities to learn and grow, and a feeling that the corporate culture in which they work is humane. That’s what Mitch Ditkoff’s Humanizing the Workplace keynote is all about – what your organization can do, starting today for no cost – to infuse the workplace with the kind of meaning, mojo, and motivation that brings out the very best in people. Each participant – regardless of their pay grade – walks away from this highly engaging keynote with the kind of insights, inspiration, and commitment they need to turn things around, including a practical game plan for what they can do – within their individual spheres of influence – to transform your company culture from the inside out.
Catalyzing the Creative Mind
There′s a lot of talk these days about the need to raise the bar for innovation and creativity. Understandably so. These are challenging times we find ourselves in. The game is changing, big time. Talk, however, is cheap. What your workforce needs is more than talk. What your workforce needs is a way to activate, accelerate, and apply their innate creativity on the job. So they can intelligently respond to changing times. So they can solve old problems in new ways. So they can generate new ideas — both incremental and breakthrough — that grow the business. Your workforce doesn′t need to be taught how to be creative. (They already are.) What they need is a simple way to catalyze their creativity. Enter Catalyzing the Creative Mind — Mitch Ditkoff′s engaging interactive keynote that dramatically increases the odds of each member of workforce becoming proactive innovators on the job. Not next month. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Now.
Let′s cut to the chase: Your team is under the gun and stressed to the max. You want it to accomplish great things, but finding the time to reflect, innovate. or even plan seems like a pipe dream. Your team has all the talent and expertise to work smarter, but lacks the connectedness, vision, tools, and alignment to make the necessary shift. Team Innovation — a highly engaging keynote or workshop — helps teams get their act together. A lively hybrid of reality check and all “hands on deck” pow wow, Team Innovation weaves together the very best of what Mitch Ditkoff does: open doors, open minds, and help people rally around a compelling, collaborative goal. Team Innovation is not a magic pill, but it will work magic. How? By creating the kind of learning environment that allows real behavioral change to happen. If your team (or department) lacks an inspired vision, needs to tackle business challenges more creatively, or needs to explore better ways of working together, Team Innovation is for you. HOW IT WORKS: Weeks before the session, we forward you a link to our online, Team Innovation poll, which you then forward to participants. The results of the poll will provide us with the input we need to customize your session accordingly – a session that will be blend of experiential problem solving, norm setting, awareness building, group discussion, and brainstorming. People connect. Fences are mended. Everyone gets on the same page. New ideas are generated. And all without participants feeling self-conscious, lectured to, or in the middle of some kind of kumbaya waste of time.
All Mitch Ditkoff Books
Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World)Purchase Book
"Mitch Ditkoff offers pragmatic tools and insights that enable innovation. His approach is engaging, encouraging and creates an impetus for participants to apply the learning immediately."
- Michael Serino | Senior Director, Merck
"Mitch Ditkoff's Awake at the Wheel keynote presentation was both entertaining and informative. Over 1,030 Merck employees attended and rated the session a 4.8 out of 5.0. In just two hours, Mitch not only got participants out of the cave, he also helped us understand what it takes to establish a sustainable culture of innovation.”
- Jim Aubele | Associate Director of Organizational Learning, Merck
"Your techniques and style left our people better with a better understanding and working knowledge of the most valuable tool we all possess - the creative mind."
- Tom Gowan | VP Communications, Emmis Broadcasting
"Mitch Ditkoff is creative in his approach, experienced, willing to share his expertise readily, easy to work with, and delivers exactly what he promises."
- Peter Clist | Head of Management Institute, Allianz