One of my favorite things is when clients, blog readers, and Brainzooming workshop attendees use our strategic thinking exercises to explore new ideas. They often end up creating new formats and adapting tools in ways we hadn’t envisioned!

The most recent example came our way this weekend.

Diane Bleck of Discovery Doodles  and I were tweeting each other a couple of times in the past few weeks about innovation.

Early yesterday, she alerted me to expect a custom drawing heading my way via Twitter later in the day.

Imagine my surprise when Diane’s drawing turned out to be a representation of an innovation strategy formula we shared on the Brainzooming blog a year earlier. Diane took the simple 5-step innovation strategy formula and brought it to life via this infographic.


What’s particularly cool is step number five. The original step was “Revel and Repeat.” This was meant to encourage celebrating successes and incorporating new learning into future innovation strategy.

Diane modified “Revel” to become “Reveal,” which creates an additive impact to the formula since you definitely have to let the world know about your innovation!

Thanks, Diane, for expanding the range of Brainzooming tools with your creativity and skill! – Mike Brown


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your success!

Continue Reading


I needed a new way to express myself last night. That’s why instead of typing out nine strategic thinking questions from various business conversations (and contemplations) so far this week, I decided to Sharpie marker and share them with you in this image. (Thanks Diane Bleck for inspiring a different approach to expressing my thoughts!)

It’s still early. Are you looking a little behind, a lot ahead, and sufficiently minding what’s going on right now to exceed your expectations for this year?

Do you know . . .

These are strategic thinking questions our clients are asking. We’re also asking them ourselves – while there’s still time to influence this year’s results!  – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation

Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Continue Reading


I’ll admit my surprise that fun strategic planning activities are generating so much interest among Brainzooming readers right now. You would think everyone would be finished with strategic planning – or they decided not to pursue it for this year.

4 Fun Strategic Planning Activities to Always Have Ready

Suppose you have responsibility for strategic planning – no matter what time of year it is. What, beyond carting in a bunch of toys and pre-planned activities, can you always have ready to introduce to create fun strategic planning activities?

Here are four ideas we use:

1. Have jokes suitable and germane for work environments ready-to-go

I’m not a big joke teller. It’s advisable, though, to have a few clean jokes you can go to when things are tense, boring, or mind numbing – or all of the above. Pick jokes that fit your personality, whether you are better as a storyteller, punster, or one-liner person. I love puns you can relate to typical words that surface during strategic planning activities.

2. Create ad libs for typical situations during strategic planning activities

There’s a line in a Rod Stewart song about ad lib lines being well-rehearsed. Even if you aren’t a strong ad libber, you can develop impromptu lines fitting typical situations and issues in planning workshops. Some ideas? A projector not working, nobody wanting to answer questions, somebody keeps going back for more food, etc. All of these (and more) are ripe for laughs.

3. Introduce physical humor to add surprise

Physical humor generates laughs. For me, when an audience won’t participate, I’ve been known to crumple to the floor and stay there for a few moments until people get into it. When things are going well, I may get up on a chair and do some shtick from there. Anything physical to generate a little attention and interest is fair game!

4. Learn to doodle

Being able to suddenly doodle something funny is a quick go-to for humor. Think you can’t draw? If you can write the alphabet, you can draw things. Or better yet, go check out Diane Bleck, the Doodle Girl, for tips on doodling more effectively.

Need More Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning Activities?

If you have time for pre-planning and want more ideas at the ready, download our eBook on 11 Fun Strategic Planning Activities. Follow those ideas and you’ll never bore anyone during strategic planning again. – Mike Brown

fun-ideas-strategic-planningNeed Ideas to Make Strategy Planning Fun?

Yes, strategy planning can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Continue Reading


When I have a TOUGH time coming up with blogging topics, I scour my blogging notebooks for junk ideas to turn into blog post treasures. I also push my creative thinking skills and look through newspaper or magazine articles to inspire ideas.

This latter method uncovered a Wall Street Journal story featuring Ki Nassauer, junker and author of “Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers” (affiliate link). It followed her as she pursued junk at a rural South Dakota hoarders house to look for ideas to fit into her twice-yearly magazine, “Flea Market Style,” and annual “Junk Bonanza flea market festival.”

15 Creative Thinking Skills to Turn Junk Ideas into Treasures

Within the story, there were fifteen creative thinking skills demonstrating how KI Nassauer turns “junk ideas” into treasures with potential.


Infographic by and courtesy of Diane Bleck – DoodleInstitute.com

Combing through the story and looking to generalize what she does, here are fifteen ways any of us can turn junk ideas into treasures when we need a creative kick start:

1.  Space out the deadline for when you need to come up with an idea to give yourself more time

2.  Take care of your rich idea sources

3.  Take advantage of high probability idea sources

4.  Spend more time looking for other ideas

5.  Have a creative partner to stimulate ideas

6.  Always say “Yes” to new ideas initially

7.  Go where others won’t to look for additional junk ideas

8.  Change the angle from which you’re considering the idea

9.  Look at just part of  junk ideas and throw out the rest

10. Turn the junk idea upside down

11. Stack or put junk ideas together

12, Consider outlandish ideas you’d typically overlook

13, Turn the idea around to its opposite

14, Apply different support or resources to the idea

15. Pretty up marginal ideas any way you can

What creative thinking skills do you use when you’re stuck creatively?

These 15 creative thinking skills to turn junk ideas into treasures are definitely worth considering, in my view, to help get you unstuck creatively. – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Find New Resources to Innovate!

NEW FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

Continue Reading


While traveling recently, I met with two online friends I’d never spoken with before. We’d chatted, messaged, and emailed, but had never spoken in person.

All I can say is I highly recommend turning online friends into IRL ones whenever possible.

A New Business Collaboration in Dallas

In Dallas, I met and spent two days with Mess Wright. We originally met on Twitter several years ago. I think Mess reached out online after reading some Brainzooming articles. I have been reading her multiple blog sites the last few years chronicling her career and life. I’ve said multiple times that I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone online that’s written about their personal successes and challenges in such a real, raw way.

Leading up to the Dallas trip, we were discussing her new role as a Communications Animator at The Grove, a social impact-focused co-working space located across the street from what was the Texas School Book Depository.


We spent time together seeing “Mess Wright’s Dallas” and attending the Social Media Strategies Summit. Our conversations led to us pursuing a new business collaboration we’re currently defining. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about collaborating with Mess!

A Chicago Creative Nudge

While in Chicago following the Dallas trip, Diane Bleck of The Doodle Institute met Anthony Vannicola (our Brainzooming intern) and me. Diane has graciously created a couple of infographics for Brainzooming articles. Nevertheless, we didn’t have any particular plans for our meetup.


To put it succinctly, Diane came in and kicked my creative and content marketing ass in the nicest possible way. She dropped a strategy and business model on me that both makes so much sense AND runs wildly against the balance I’ve tried to create between The Brainzooming Group brand and how visible I am in the mix. We did a Periscope video (my first). She also kindly shared one of her Innovation Think Pad kits and issued a creative nudge to create a visual vocabulary for Brainzooming.

Being the dutiful student, I spent the flight home starting to craft a set of doodle icons for Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.


As an introvert, meeting online friends IRL has definitely extended my social boundaries in incredibly positive ways. It’s made me more open to meeting new people. That includes sitting down and talking with complete strangers in airport restaurants on both trips. When I got back to a flooded-out Kansas City after the Chicago trip, I gave the guy across the aisle on the plane a ride home. Our introduction stemmed from a mutual friendship with Paula Holmquist. I met Paula at a copy shop years ago while preparing for our first big community collaboration event.

San Francisco and the SMS Summit

In late September 2016, I’ll be co-presenting and hanging out with Whip-Smart Wordsmith, Emma Alvarez Gibson, at the Social Media Strategies Summit and Marketing Conference in San Francisco. I met Emma in 2009 via an introduction from Jan Harness. Emma’s helped develop the initial Brainzooming brand messaging. We collaborate online frequently, and Emma co-facilitated an in-person workshop we did for CompTIA in San Diego several years ago. Additionally, she’s been editing our eBooks this year.


And btw, if you’re focused on marketing in general or social media and content marketing specifically, you should join us at this great event!

Want to Meet IRL in Your Town?

Introverts can grow and gain comfort with going from online to IRL friendships. Every time I’ve done this, it has led to learning more about online friends and about myself. In multiple cases, these meetings have fostered further collaboration.

So if I’m coming to your city (including Evansville, Indiana, San Francisco, Denver, St. Louis. Las Vegas, Indianapolis, and other locations before the year is done), are you interested in meeting IRL? Let me know! – Mike Brown


Conquer Fears of Business Innovation!

FREE Download: “7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears”

3d-Cover-Innovation-FearsWhether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for innovation involving any significant level of risk.

This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:

  • Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
  • When it is smart to call attention to even bigger fears to motivate progress
  • Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground

Download your FREE copy of 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears today!

Download Your FREE eBook! 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization's Innovation Fears

Continue Reading


We were on a call with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting.

7 Important Creative Thinking Skills


Infographic by and courtesy of Diane Bleck – DoodleInstitute.com

These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:

1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another person’s concept.

It’s helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another person’s idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well.

2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else.

When it comes to your own ideas, it’s easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: don’t become somebody known for doing this!

3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea.

Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.

4. Letting someone else take “ownership” of your idea in order to build support for it.

This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea you’re willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it.

5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree.

It’s tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective – and can do it more appropriately than you can.

6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense.

There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea you’re advocating is on the mark strategically.

7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you.

Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, it’s in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didn’t see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.

How are you doing on these 7 creative thinking skills? How about your team?  – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

New Call-to-action

Continue Reading