Hit upon more winning ideas by capturing more ideas in the first place. New communication and online mechanisms can help. Example: Starbucks gathers and codifies ideas with www.mystarbucksidea.com, and uses decision-market approaches to evaluate them. Meanwhile, innovative companies such as Apple or Google make generating ideas an informal part of everyone’s job and motivate employees largely with nonmonetary recognition. Result: A call center representative who notices a pattern among customers’ complaints is just as likely to think of an inspired way to fix it as the marketer.

— Adapted from “Are you killing enough ideas?” Zia Khan and Jon Katzenbach, strategy+business.

Navigate a difficult conversation by asking a question when you’re not sure what to say, says Peter Bregman, CEO of management consulting firm Bregman Partners. “Even if that question is: ‘Can you tell me more?’ That gets the other person talking and in a difficult conversation, it’s always useful to let the other person go first,” Bregman says. “It reduces their defensiveness, so you might learn something that could change your perspective or at least help you frame your perspective so they could hear it.”

— Adapted from “The Martial Art of Difficult Conversations,” Peter Bregman, Harvard Business Online.

Conduct your team like a maestro by remembering that it’s not about you. “It’s very easy for a conductor to personalize the orchestra’s behavior and see it as reflection on him or his abilities,” says conductor Roger Nierenberg, author of Maestro: A Surprising Story About Leading by Listening. “But the orchestra is not so concerned with what a conductor does as with how they sound.”

— Adapted from “Leadership secrets from a maestro,” Roger Nierenberg, The Washington Post.

Devote 18 minutes a day to time management, says Peter Bregman of Harvard Business’s “How We Work” blog. The breakdown: Spend five minutes planning goals for the day; one minute every hour to re-evaluate; and five minutes at day’s end to review.

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