Become a More Creative Listener in 30 Minutes

July 7, 2014 — 13 Comments


Typically, the soundtrack of Fourth of July is the deafening boom of fireworks. You can barely hear yourself think, let alone have meaningful conversations with family and friends. This year, why not try something different and hone your creative listening skills in the time it takes to fire up a grill?

IDEO’s New York studio recently put together a short “Creative Listening” course in the form of a podcast for the Aspen Ideas Festival. Designed to help conference goers maximize their experience, the four bite-sized segments can help anyone develop better creative listening habits in 30 minutes. Here are a few things you’ll learn:

How to utilize your intuition: Sometimes too much information is just that. It can be overwhelming and logic can only get you so far. That’s when you need to trust your gut and ask, “What’s really important here?” “What’s going on behind the surface, the unsaid versus the said?”

How to hone your interpretation skills: Industry jargon and wordy explanations often mask the true value of something. Learning how to distill a message down to its essence, into simple, understandable language isn’t “dumbing it down,” it’s giving it wings.

How to find inspiration in unexpected places: Looking outside your normal, go-to sources can be a great creativity boost. For instance, one of our teams was working on new membership program for a credit card company. Instead of looking at the competition, they spent time with a rabbi who encouraged people thinking about changing religions to experience different types of synagogues to find the right “fit.” That extreme, analogous experience helped the team turn the corner.

And finally, learn how to amp up your curiosity: Curiosity pushes us beyond what we know and challenges us to look at long-held beliefs in a new light. Staying curious—always asking “Why?” like an earnest preschooler—is a critical muscle that needs to be continuously flexed if you want to have new, game-changing ideas.

Best of all, the course is free to download on iTunes.

Creative listening is a great tool to help you solve tough problems at work. But this holiday weekend, you might want to apply what you learn to tackle a more pressing challenge: keeping everyone happy on vacation.

Happy Fourth!


What’s the most surprising thing you learned when you listened creatively?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Tim Brown


13 responses to Become a More Creative Listener in 30 Minutes

  1. Noel Clinton Feik July 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Mr. Brown,

    Hello. I must work for IDEO! I have cut and pasted my resume below. I recognize this is a bold action, however change happens with action!


    Noel Clinton Feik
    28 Walnut Street
    Cooperstown, NY 13326


    Award-winning healthcare management professional with MBA in progress and 25-year background demonstrating progressive leadership and innovation at increasing levels of responsibility and impact;
    • Includes departmental and divisional assignments, physician and non-physician services.
    Experienced in the following key areas:
    As Network Administrator, Emergency & Trauma Services:
    • Managed six Emergency & Trauma Centers.
    • Re-opened and managed two additional existing care centers; reformatted for scheduled appointments to increase public accessibility and significantly reduce wait time.
    • Created clerical revenue cycle for patient experience; drove increase in collection of co-pays from 34% to 72%; raised rate of patients remaining in system for follow-up visits from 48% to 85%. Earned national award (see Awards/Recognition, page 3) for project. Gave presentation at annual meeting of the National Association of Urgent Care Medicine held at Disney World.
    • Co-implemented division’s EPIC System.
    As Health Center Director:
    • Developed analytical tool to identify services needed, based on the individual community, for Center serving 60,000 patient visits per year.
    • Enabled creation of contracts for allocation of shared resources allowing delivery of multiple simultaneous services utilizing same facilities.
    As Manager, Women’s Health & Specialty Services:
    • While managing Women’s Health, intervened to also manage Specialty Services.
    • Successfully mentored new managers and advanced to director of third health center.
    As Director, Housekeeping (33 sites):
    • Responsible for environmental services to healthcare network comprised of 180-bed acute care hospital and main campus, six affiliate hospitals and 26 satellite locations.
    • Directed two Managers overseeing four Supervisors, with 90 FTEs; 25+ contract workers.
    • Earned Innovation Award for LEAN Project performed under supervision of Black Belt; successfully engaged non-clinical staff in cost-saving “green” initiative yielding significant ongoing savings in labor and materials.
    Offering complementary skills in short/long-range strategic planning, fiscal management, process improvement, IT, systems analysis, inter-organizational networking, and setting the bar for service excellence. LEAN Training; Green Belt.


    Basset Healthcare Network, Cooperstown, NY – 1989 to present
    • Currently serving in fifth successive management level position for university-affiliated teaching healthcare network comprised of 180-bed critical care hospital, six affiliate hospitals and 26 satellite locations in eight counties.
    Director: Housekeeping
    Network Administrator: Emergency & Trauma Services
    Director: Herkimer Health Center
    Manager: Women’s Health, Oneonta Specialty Services

    Noel Clinton Feik, page 2


    MBA, in progress
    St. Joseph’s College, Standish ME

    BS: Business Economics, 5/1991
    State University of New York, College at Oneonta


    Financial Management
    Spearhead the delivery of fiscal objectives at the departmental and divisional levels; where appropriate, institute corrective actions, including reallocating resources, reprioritizing, and/or recommending modification to established plans.
    • Designed and implemented process resulting in more positive patient and financial outcomes.
    • Facilitated significant increase in productivity by streamlining the registration process.
    • Identified and implemented initiatives to measurably improve revenue cycle, no-show, and co-payment collections.
    Human Resource Management
    Supervise support staff, develop mutually agreed upon standards of performance, appraise performance, and provide direction ensuring effective performance of department or division responsibilities.
    • Co-developed staff and patient satisfaction survey tools in an electronic environment.
    • Developed outline and system for management corrective action plans for survey document.
    • Recognized for consistently selecting staff that embrace organizational philosophy, excel in complex work environments, take on increased levels of responsibility, and improve team performance metrics.
    Operations Management
    Develop and accomplish division/department objectives, strategies and tactics, with special emphasis on Annual Operating Plan.
    • Where appropriate institute corrective actions, including reallocation of resources, reprioritization, recommending modifications to established plans.
    • Ensure compliance with Federal, New York State and JCAHO regulations.
    • Identify and implement effective communication processes (upward, downward, horizontal) within division/department on all matters including operations and performance as necessary.
    Integration Management
    Proactively develop relationships with affiliate locations; ensure spread of best practices and standardization of operations. Measure resource deployment and develop plans to optimize ROI.
    • Track record of adopting philosophies that continuously improve process and performance across a system.
    • Developed central system for monitoring complaints resulting in the establishment of cross-functional performance improvements.
    • Created partnership proposals for acquiring capital equipment at group rates, directly resulting in organizational process standardization and financial savings.

    Noel Clinton Feik, page 3


    Association for Healthcare Environment June 2014
    Health Facilities Management:
    Applying LEAN Principles to ES Operations

    Association for the Healthcare Environment June 2014
    J. Owen Flynn Award Nominee

    Bassett Healthcare Network November 2013
    Innovation Award: Centralized Trash and Recycling

    American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors August 2011
    2011 Gold Award: Best Case Study

    Urgent Care Association of America May 2010
    Journal of Urgent Care Medicine
    Author, “The Case for Relationship-based Clerical Care”


    Family Service Association, Oneonta, NY 2011 to present
    Board of Directors; Chair, Helping Hands

    Jail Ministry of Otsego County, Cooperstown, NY 2011 to present
    Volunteer Staff

    Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, Oneonta, NY 2011 to 2014
    Volunteer Caregiver

    Toastmasters International, Oneonta, NY 2008 to 2010
    Active Member

    Cooperstown Youth Baseball, Cooperstown, NY 2000 to 2006
    Board of Directors; Team Coach

    Otsego & Delaware United Way, Oneonta, NY 2000 to 2004
    Board of Directors


    Excellent professional and community references available

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