1. i-Sparks

    Help build workshop on “Leadership, Happiness and Project Success”


    Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on a new interactive workshop called “Leadership, Happiness and Project Success”.  The good news is that a first draft is done.  :-)

    Please help build an interactive workshop for you and your projects

    The realistic news is that a draft is just a draft is just a draft.  This is why I want to reach out to you and ask you for your help refining this workshop for you and your projects. For this purpose please take a few minutes and read the syllabus of the workshop below and post your comments at the end of the page or contact me directly.

    I can ensure that I will listen to every one of you and, of course, keep you in the loop.

    LHS Venn DiagrammWorkshop Summary:

    Project success is such an exciting, exhilarating and rewarding experience. Alas, most projects these days still fail.  This workshop presents two crucial ingredients for project success:  empowering leadership and happiness.  It explains and explores why and how leadership can help you grow successful projects by actively accounting for happiness on the individual, group, project and organizational levels.  You will learn how to find a clear focus of what you really want to achieve, create a strategy with the best tools possible, resolve project conflicts and align your priorities for happiness and project success.

    Target Audience:

    Individuals who are sincerely interested in finding new and transforming ways to project success. These can be individuals, project managers, project team members, line managers, line organizations, companies or social groups.

    Group Size:      5 – 30 people (more can be arranged)

    Format:             Highly interactive workshop with individual and group exercises

    Duration:          2-5 days for full workshop (recommended); ½ or 1 day workshop with limited scope can be arranged

    Location:            There should be sufficient space for the group, i.e., one large room and ideally several smaller rooms for breakouts. Offsite:  The best workshop experience can be achieved in an offsite location that allows the integration of outdoor activities into the program.

    Preliminary Workshop Agenda

    The workshop agenda can be customized to meet the special needs and interests of participants.  A sample agenda for a full workshop over 2-5 days may look as follows:

    I. Find a clear focus of what you really want to achieve

    1. Introduction: The project and you
    2. Project management approaches for project success
    3. The MVP for project success: Motivation, Vision, Project(s)
    4. Develop a first MVP for the issue(s) at hand [breakout exercise]
    5. The happiness advantage
    6. Build a three-dimensional MVP [breakout exercises]
      1. 1st dimension:  What’s your personal MVP?
      2. 2nd dimension:  What is the MVP of your team?
      3. 3rd dimension:  Develop a compelling project MVP
    7. Review

    II. Create a strategy with the best tools possible

    1. Critical factors for project success
    2. Project leadership principles
    3. Set up your project for success [breakout exercise]
    4. Build a prototype [breakout exercise]
    5. Continuous learning and performance
    6. Team and community building
    7. Review

    III. Resolve conflicts and align your priorities

    1. Resolve any and all inner conflicts, fears and obstacles
    2. Align your priorities
    3. Practice holistic leadership
    4. Review: Align and prioritize your project(s) [optional breakout exercise]
    5. The meaning of empowering leadership, happiness and project success
    6. Next steps
    7. Closing


  2. i-Sparks

    Failure can be liberating and the doorway to success


    stairs_of_opportunity_11033Why is it that failure is perceived as a bad thing?  Put differently, why is it that we punish mistakes or being punished for our mistakes?

    Simple? Ok, then tell me all about the rationale for this abstruse pattern.  For I believe it is a pattern.  While it may have its purpose in some place, it is certainly out of place whenever you try to create something new, whenever you are or work in an innovative environment.

    An oxymoron: Punishing mistakes in an “innovative” environment

    I have worked in and for quite a few projects in different companies all over the world.  Most of them consider themselves “innovative companies”.  The good news: lots of projects fail.  The bad news: lots of people get blamend and/or punished for it.  How ludricous!  For, how do you want to be creative and innovative if you don’t have the freedom to fail – and learn from your mistakes.

    Don’t mourn but CELEBRATE your failures!

    Instead of punishing failures, let’s see what we can learn from our failures.  Let’s take a deep breath, seize the moment, mourn (if you want to and need to), and then CELEBRATE our failures.  Yes, you heard me right: let’s celebrate our failures.  For it is or can easily be the best thing that happened to us because now we may know how not to proceed.  Correct your path and proceed.  Simple?  Yes.  But, why are we not doing this more often?!

    Sparking projects for success – from project failures

    The idea of i-Sparks is to offer you a playground where you can share your project failures.  Express all your frustration, all the “shit” you experienced or was loaded on you, mourn  – and then invite others to celebrate this chaos, identify weak and strong links, generate new ideas, put them together and thus build something new.  This way failure can become liberating.  And it can become a door opener to success.  However, you have to embrace failure, acknowledge it, celebrate it for it is, or at least can become, the one and only opportunity you have been looking for.

    What are you waiting for?!

    Seth Godin on failing until you succeed

    Bestselling author Seth Godin talks about why it is so important to fail and do so more often than others – if you want to succeed.  Take a few minutes and watch this inspiring video:



  3. i-Sparks

    50 Most Creative Anti-Smoking Advertisements


    Researching for our new project initiative Reduce Tobacco Consumption Worldwide we have come across a number of websites worth mentioning.

    50 Most Creative Anti-Smoking Advertisements

    Many anti-smoking ads in the past are rather gruesome with rotten body parts that terrified people. Those messages are straight forward in showing the final consequences if continue to smoke. Now these ads have gone into a different approach where they are creative and inspiring to look at. In your opinion, which is a more effective method?

    Top 45 Creative Anti-Smoking Advertisements

    Anti-smoking ads have gotten increasingly graphic, even gruesome in the past few years. If you have tried to quit smoking and failed before, take comfort in the fact that most smokers fail several times before quitting successfully. The images below will ease your way and help insure that this is the last time you ever need to go through the quitting process.

  4. i-Sparks

    i-Sparks participating in InnoCentive Challenge: Reduce Tobacco Consumption Worldwide


    suggestedImage72InnoCentive, the global leader in crowdsourcing innovation problems to the world’s smartest people, has recently posted a new challege which we would like to support.  The challenge:

    Create an effective crowd funded project with the aim of discouraging tobacco consumption globally. This will be implemented in multiple countries, in multiple languages, simultaneously.

    It must meet the requirements for submission on Kickstarter:

    Source: InnoCentive      Challenge ID: 10300000032

    i-Sparks will participate in this challenge.  For this purpose we invite you to help set up an effecitve crowd funded project.

    InnoCentive has posted an AWARD of $500 USD for the best project idea. Here is a short presentation that outlines this Brainstorm Challenge.

    Please visit our project site to learn more about our project ideas. Click HERE.

  5. i-Sparks

    Why project failure can be a wonderful opportunity


    Project failure can be a great thing.  Indeed, it can be the foundation and even requirement for innovation to take place.  How come?  Well, we are made to believe that project failure is always a bad thing.  But why?!  Why not take a second look a project “failure”, express our frustration, find out what really didn’t work as planned or desired and why?

    hand_help_flag_400_clr_10897This is what we did with i-Sparks during the last couple of weeks. i-Sparks has been up and running for a couple of months now.  While online traffic is quite high considering that we are not actively promoting i-Sparks and we have more than 200 registered users, actual progress, i.e., results or outputs of i-Sparks have been minimal at best.  This was not enough.

    Now, there were a number of options.  a) continue as usual, b) bury i-Sparks, or c) celebrate our struggles and invite the i-Sparks community to build a new business model for i-Sparks.  We thought that option c) was and is best.  What does this mean?

    We have been revisiting the original inspirations and vision of i-Sparks and its first steps towards this mission and have been openly sharing our problems. Based on the results of this exercise we started developing ideas how to proceed.  Remodelling our business model will be at the core of this exercise.  Last but not least, we want to realize the new business model.

    What has changed?

    1. Rather than inviting community members to share their new project ideas for social change, i-Sparks is shifting its focus to motivating and helping individuals and organizations turn project failures into projects for success.
    2. Projects for social change still inspire us.  However, we realized that focusing on social projects only we missed out so many other promising project ideas we decided to widen the scope.  This means we now welcome virtually any project idea.  Social change will remain one (out of many) important project category.
    3. Audience:  i-Sparks is open for anyone facing a seemingly insurmountable project challenge or having just experienced a project “failure” and wants to talk about it and ask the community for feedback and advice how to proceed.

    More to come?

    You bet.  We will keep you in the loop as new project challenges will be entered.  For the time being visit the latest project challenge “Lost & Found ID” and, of course, our own project challenge “Celebrating Failure“.


  6. i-Sparks

    Failing and Liberating Innovation


    Oops, we failed!

    keyboard_help_key_400_clr_8838i-Sparks has been up and running for a couple of months now.  While online traffic is quite high considering that we are not actively promoting i-Sparks and we have more than 200 registered users, actual progress, i.e., results or outputs of i-Sparks have been minimal at best.  This is not enough.

    Now, there are a number of options.  a) continue as usual, b) bury i-Sparks, or c) celebrate our struggles and invite the i-Sparks community to build a new business model for i-Sparks.  We think that option c) is best.  What does this mean?

    We will revisit the original inspirations and vision of i-Sparks and its first steps towards this mission and openly share our problems and ask the community to share their thoughts and comments. Based on the results of this exercise we want to develop ideas how to proceed.  Remodelling our business model will be at the core of this exercise.  Last but not least, we want to realize the new business model.

    Visit our new project page to learn more. Click here.

  7. i-Sparks

    Loneliness, Wrong Decisions, Violence – Top 3 Fears of Young Europeans


    Loneliness, wrong decisions and violence – these were the fears most often expressed by students of the Carl-Benz-Gymnaisum in Ladenburg, Germany.  As part of the project “Fears and Hopes of Young Europeans” of the Comenius Programme of the European Commission students of the Carl-Benz-Gymnaisum were asked to express their fears in drawings.  The results were presented in an exhibition on March 15, 2013.

    A total of 99 pictures were presented to the public.  Loneliness, wrong decisions and violence were the most common fears.

    The question is what can we do about these fears.  The first step toward an answer is to ask what the real issues are, who is affected and what the impacts are?  In other words, we need to get a better idea about the underlying problem.

    For this purpose we have prepared a mind map where will capture all answers to these questions.  We encourage you to visit the project page to learn more about these fears and invite you to submit your ideas how to solve them.

  8. i-Sparks

    99 Fears of Young Europeans – a project by students of the CBG Ladenburg


    One of i-Sparks’ first pilot projects “Fears and Hopes of Young Europeans” has been been going on for some time now.  Even though blog posts and other public updates have been scarce, the students of the Carl-Benz Gymnasium (CBG) have been quite active during the last couple of weeks.  On Friday March 15, 2013 the Comenius Project at the CBG presented its drawings about what they are afraid of.  Have a look at the pictures below for some impressions.

    This is what CBG students are afraid of …

    We noticed that our fears are very similar [to those of students from other countries].  Most of us fear death, decisions, not being free, being alone or not being able to achieve our goals.  It’s scary that time flies, faster and faster.  When we were little a day was so long and today, what’s a day? – Nothing.  And we can’t influence it, like death.  We are afraid that someone will no longer with us and of life’s uncertainty.  At our age we have to take many important decisions, so we are afraid of taking the wrong ones and of not achieving our goasls.  A German proverb says: “We only appreciate what we have when we have lost it”.  Many of us fear being left alone.  Being alone because nobody accepts us or because we have lost somebody.  Besides, we are afreiad of not being free due to our many social roles, our limited free time, school or becaue we think our journey through life has already been determined.  But freedom is in our minds, freedom means accepting restritions and there is a saying that “Ultimate freedome is only when there’s nothing left to lose”.

    On the other hand there are some individual fears.  Some of us are afraid of themselves, maybe because thy sometimes don’t know what’s goin on with them.  Others are afraid of failing, for example of losing their social environment.  Another student even fears making others fall with him.  He doen’t want to e a milstone around somebody’s neck, … Fear of God, is also a special fear.  Why are we afraid of God? – We have done something bad and will he punish us? We no really know wht God will do? Or …

    What’s next?

    The pilot project is not over.  To a certain extent it hasn’t even started yet.  For, what we have now is a list of fears, issues, concerns young Europeans have.  It is one thing to identify them.  It is another to do something about them.

    This is why i-Sparks will continue with a select group of CBG students, pick 1 or 2 concerns and then develop solutions to them.  We then want to grow this solution into a concrete project.  What this will be, is too early to tell at this point.  Please contact i-Sparks if you want to actively particpate in this exercise.

  9. i-Sparks

    i-Sparks and StartSomeGood

    Comment we have submitted an application to be listed as a venture on Start Some Good one of the leading online communities for open social innovation.  If approved we would like to help our project owners to start their crowdfunding campaigns through StartSomeGood.  This way we not can offer you to grow your ideas into a project but also to help fund it kick start it.

    On this token we encourage you to visit StartSomeGood and support some of the really innovative campaigns that will create positive social change.


  10. i-Sparks

    Inspiration for “Our School in India”


    Learn what inspired Purnima, the initiator of the project “Our School in India”, to start this project.

    “So, why am I so inspired to open this school? Well, part of it because I was always motivated to do something for the community, was involved in some or the other activities with organizations enabling underprivileged children. Looking at Indian Schooling system (sigh!!) and never ending competition of which rich parent could admit their child to the best private school pouring billions of dollars for tuition, starting IIT education from 6th grade…I mean, these children barely know what IIT is – honestly, it’s a circus out there.

    With all these, the gap of opportunities between the public & the private school becoming wider than ever. Not to mention, the offerings for the underprivileged children are going down the drain.

    With a country of open corruption from top officials to lowest paid employees, you can see activities in open eyes, the underprivileged are not priority. Little souls are often engaged in child labor to support their family, often little siblings …they can’t afford to dedicate their time to study when they have to provide for the family.

    When we were little, we always used to have servants at home. They were almost our ages or perhaps 1 or 2 years older. At that time, I barely understood what it all meant by education or making money or supporting family or siblings…I used to be bothered by one thing the most. I remember fighting with my parents at many different occasions as to why don’t they go to school with us? We used to have fun time in the evening singing dancing…used to wonder why don’t they sing & dance with us? We used to go for so many competitions and win cool prizes. I wondered, why they never won anything like us. And of course conversation never went anywhere.

    One time, we had a trooper in our house. Her name was ‘Kamala’ – beautiful young girl, couple years older to me, the best one we have ever had…she is the one I can relate & remember the most. I was old enough to understand she is a servant and she makes money by working at our house and she gets paid monthly. If she does not work, her family would be in trouble. Her mother worked at someone else’s house too. So, one day, I proposed to her that I would teach her. I remember after school, after we all had a chance to eat some snacks & play a bit (of course she would play with us too – from hide and seek to counting with stones to running in one leg)…I used to sit with her with the alphabet book – teaching her letters. We were not wealthy, perhaps more of upper middle class. Now I know, how fortunate I was to have a home, to have parents that had govt. jobs, to have education & higher education opportunities, moreover, parents provided for education. We could afford a servant like that. She was always there for us. She would run from one end to another end getting everything done. She was extremely efficient. From puja work to cooking assistance, she was an A class. I don’t know how her house was, where they lived. But was always wondered how it was. Before long she was too old for that time, her mother wanted her to get married, off she went. With whatever I could teach her those days, …Kamala di became my lifetime inspiration.

    I want to end that war or at least start something so I can contribute to my own cause to end that war. I may not be able to do everything…but I want to do one little thing that may help one step at a time to the road to completely wipe off inequality, provide education & remove poverty. Every child should have a right to get proper education. Our society does not provide equal education. There is no time for anyone to revamp the system. Middle class is busy making their life better. Rich is getting richer. Even with government effort, poverty has not improved. I want to provide opportunity for equal education, on par with the Indian Govt. standard for private/public schools, for those who cant afford to. I want to ensure they have a clean facility to learn & grow. Teachers would focus on providing basic skills from health awareness to education thru project work. A fun environment, where kids are encouraged to be part of day in and day out. I also want to engage the parents of those students so they know how their children are learning so they can make their future better. 

    I am from the far east corner of India – That’s the area, at the time I was growing up, didn’t get much help from Indian govt. We somehow made it, however, other than capital of the state, interior areas still under developed. There are many such programs in southern India.  However, not much in my state. My intention is to open a school there.

    So, who is with me?”

About i-Sparks

i-Sparks is an online community that motivates and helps individuals and organizations turn project challenges and failures into projects for success.  
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Through i-Sparks, community members can share, discover, develop, test and perform new and borderless ways of problem solving, idea generation, successful project creation and execution.  Membership is free and registration only takes a minute.