If you have been a Brainzooming blog reader for any amount of time, you know how much we love creative thinking exercises and creative formulas you can revisit whenever you need them.

Sure, creative inspiration is great, but a creative formula is ready for action whenever you are ready and need to deliver many new ideas.

Creative Thinking Exercises at the Ready

As you gain command of various creative thinking exercises, you can combine and rearrange them to generate additional creative thinking formulas to inspire more and more varied ideas!

Here is a new example of this phenomenon we shared during the Idea Magnets webcast for the American Marketing Association.

TacosAt one point we used “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” the reality TV show where Guy Fieri visits unusual restaurants around the country displaying all sorts of food-oriented extreme creativity, to generate lists of extreme creativity questions and ideas.

We revisited that content for Idea Magnets and pulled out four creative formulas the chefs on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives seem to use quite frequently:

  1. Combine everything possible into one creation
  2. Repeat one thing in every way possible
  3. Do something huge, and then do it some more
  4. Create something small, focused, and completely stupendous

Stated in this general way, any of these four creative formulas is something you can revisit when you need new ideas or a new way of thinking about a challenge you are facing.

4 Creative Formulas, 15 Possibilities for Creativity

What’s even better, through the amazing power of mathematics, these four formulas result in 15 wonderful possibilities for creativity.

How is that?

You can use any one of the four individually. Or they yield six different combinations of two formulas and four possibilities to use three of them together. Finally, you could put all of them together.

In all, there are fifteen possibilities for creativity – ready any time you need them!

What can you do with those new creative thinking possibilities? – Mike Brown


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Productive strategic thinking exercises are at the heart of The Brainzooming Group methodology. Great brainstorming and strategic planning questions encourage and allow people to talk about what they know including factual information, personal perspectives, and their views of the future.

The Value of Strategic Thinking Exercises

I tell people who ask about how we developed The Brainzooming Group methodology that a big motivator was business people I worked with who didn’t know how to fill out strategic planning templates and worksheets.

They did, however, know a lot about the businesses, customers, and markets they served. We found we could ask them strategic planning questions and brainstorming questions to capture information to create strategic plans.

Since I could write the plan, knowing strategic planning questions to ask (within a fun, stimulating environment to answer them) was key to developing creative, quickly-prepared plans infused with strategic thinking.

And when you combine “creative,” “strategic thinking,” and “quickly-prepared,” you get Brainzooming!

Here is a sampling of more than 200 brainstorming questions and strategic planning questions that are part of the strategic thinking exercises we use with The Brainzooming Group. Yes, more than two hundred questions! Who could ask for more?


More than 200 Strategic Planning Questions for Strong Strategic Thinking

Creating Productive Questions

Strategic Thinking Questions for Developing Overall Strategy

Developing a Strategic Vision

Digital and Social Media Exploration

Creative Naming Questions

Innovation-Oriented Questions

Identifying Strategies and Assumptions

Extreme Creativity Questions

Strategic Marketing Questions

Sales and Business Development Questions

Questions to Perform More Effective Recaps

There you go with more than 200 strategic planning questions. Do you have any questions? Let us know! – Mike Brown


Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis


“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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I have been watching too much Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives again. Any time I am checking out Guy Fieri and his roving exploration of funky diners on the Food Network though, I am looking for valuable creative process twists to share on the Brainzooming blog.

Today’s extreme creative ideas adapted from Guy Fieri restaurant visits on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives all include a warning:

Caution: All of these extreme creative ideas contain a high-level of organizational, professional, and / or personal risk. Exercise caution as you consider implementing any of these extreme creativity ideas.

This note of caution is warranted because while the risks associated with these extreme creative process twists are not fatal, they could, if pursued, push you into uncharted innovation territory for product design and user experience.

5 Creative Process Twists for Product Design and User Experience

1. Create a new customer experience by making it impossible to pay attention to your product the old way

You frequently see Guy Fieri visit joints with sandwiches and burgers that are so big, so gooey, and so sloppy, a customer has to devote a new level of attention and involvement to consuming one of them. When a sandwich or burger cannot be eaten as an afterthought, eating becomes a brand new customer experience.

Creative Process Twist: How can you take your service or product design over the top to create a new, sensory experience for customers?

2. Do something so specialized only you can fulfill it

One restaurant owner insisted on using a specific type of Caribbean bread in his signature dish. Since no one could be found to make the bread exactly as he wanted, he made all of the Caribbean bread himself. With that level of detailed specialization, it’s difficult for a competitor to replicate what he’s doing.

Creative Process Twist: How can you make a component of what you do so specialized you will either scare off direct competitors or put them through a competitive cost or mistake-filled minefield if they try to copy you?

3. Keep only one identifiable element in your product category and change everything else

When you ask anyone to describe a burger, you’ll hear a familiar list of items that “define” what a burger is. Creative ideas on Triple D often mean a restaurant owner keeps only one item in the definition constant (say, a burger’s bun), while changing everything else. That is how you get a breakfast burger with a full breakfast shoved into a hamburger bun.

Creative Process Twist: How can you take one element of your signature offering and change everything else about it to create a familiar, yet entirely new category?

4. Do something in the hardest way possible

I’m huge on taking the easy way out whenever possible. Okay, maybe not the easy way out, but at least making repetitive tasks continually more efficient. Extreme creativity twists on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, however, suggest that is not always the way to go. As the guys who run the Guerrilla Street Food (truck) in St. Louis, which makes ALL its own noodles, told Guy Fieri, “We like to make it hard on ourselves.”

Creative Process Twist: How can you create extreme value for customers by picking one aspect of your product and making it in a much harder way that delivers exponentially more value?

5. Take your standard product and introduce one distinctive, high-end feature

If your organization focuses on mundane, cheap-to-produce products, you are asking to be boxed into an untenable market position. Instead of targeting the lowest common denominator in product design, take a Triple D approach: Remove one standard element of your product and replace it with a distinctive, high-end feature to set it apart. One Austin, TX diner offers pastrami sandwiches, as any deli does, but instead of beef pastrami, its signature sandwiches are made from duck pastrami.

Creative Process Twist: How can you twist one aspect of your product so that single element makes your product unlike any other in its product category?

What creative process twist would you show Guy Fieri?

If Guy Fieri were visiting your company, what creative ideas would you show him where a unique twist has yielded a dramatically different product design or user experience breakthrough? And if you don’t have one to show, what are your thoughts about applying on of these twisted creative ideas to what you do? –  Mike Brown


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


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creative boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Extreme creative ideas are fascinating, and I always wonder about the processes people who consistently display extreme creativity use to come up with what they do. This fascination with extreme creative ideas prompted a series of “Extreme Creativity” Brainzooming blog posts starting back in 2010 to identify some of the lessons we can learn from these folks for how to dramatically improve creativity.

We now have 50 extreme creative ideas sprinkled across 10 articles on the Brainzooming blog. You will notice a definite reality TV theme to these extreme creativity sources. Included in these 10 articles with extreme creative ideas are also some focusing specifically on where extreme creativity can fits as a strategy and drawing your team into the possibilities.

Overview of Extreme Creative Ideas

Extreme Creativity and Creative Playmaking – Both Are Important

Extreme creativity implies being able to implement your outrageously creative ideas. Fall short of that, and it’s just playing around.

Create an Extreme Creativity Makeover Project Team

There is a Bugs Bunny cartoon where every time someone had a different type of hat on their head, they immediately took on the personality of that profession. Similarly, if you want your team to come up with and implement extreme creative ideas, give them titles that SCREAM “extreme creativity.”

50 Extreme Creative Ideas

7 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss” and 5 More Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss”

Buddy Valestro, the Cake Boss and owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ, prompted the early posts on this list with his outrageous cake creations. In Buddy’s world, cake is not necessarily what you would think of as cake. In the world of Buddy Valestro, cake can be wood, pipe, and Rice Crispy treats. And he is getting even more extreme now!

Extreme Creativity – 6 Lessons from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives

I’ll admit to watching many, many episodes of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Good thing I’ve only visited a handful of the restaurants featured, though. Guy Fieri and the proprietors of dives across the country are an incredible wealth of extreme creative ideas that start with food, but can extend to other areas as well.

4 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour”

Lady Gaga’s HBO special got me interested in her extreme creative vision and how she seems to continually reshape her creative palette. As the post acknowledges, I don’t agree with her on many of her perspectives, but you can’t argue she’s a force for outrageous creative ideas. BTW, sorry the video in this post was pulled down, but I’ve left it in the post just in case they are able to get it reinstated at some point.

2012 TED – 8 Takeaways on Extreme Creativity and Amazing Innovation

The TED conference is always good for dramatic ideas. The 2012 TED conference was especially ripe for extreme creative ideas in healthcare, energy, and music, among other topics.

9 Extreme Creativity Questions from Peter’s Laws

When I first saw a poster with Peter’s Laws in a New Orleans poster shop, I realized it described the operating philosophy of one of the extreme creative forces in my life. This post takes some of Peter’s Laws and turns them into questions you can use to dramatically improve creativity in your career.

Extreme Creativity – World’s Largest Van Gogh Sunflower Painting

This video of the world’s largest Van Gogh sunflower painting in Goodland, KS plays to one of the core extreme creative idea lessons – GO BIG! – Mike Brown


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


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creative boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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There’s been a great reaction to the Brainzooming article on 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the Food Network celebration of off-beat restaurants hosted by Guy Fieri.

Since becoming a fan of this Food Network show, I’ve made it to three featured restaurants. The most recent was RJ’s Bob-Be-Que in Mission, KS earlier this week for Buck-a-Bone Tuesday, which means $1 per rib. That’s good eating!

But in the interest of turning my fascination with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy Fieri into something other than extra pounds, it’s time for more reality TV-driven extreme creativity! To the earlier 10 brainstorming questions, let’s add these 6 extreme creativity lessons gleaned from a recent Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathon:

1. Go be a fish out of water

Maybe extreme creativity is tough for you. If it is, one way to turn yourself into an extreme creativity force is taking your talents and applying them in a completely unexpected and new environment. There are a variety of “Triple D” stories where a chef radically changed geographic location or work environment to trigger extreme creativity. Put a Louisiana-influenced Cajun cook in Minnesota, and you have a fish out of water recipe for extreme creativity. Where can you be a fish out of water?

2. Fuse unrelated creativity channels together

It seems like there have been several stops lately on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives involving a parked food truck supplying the kitchen facilities for a bar or restaurant. There’s an idea for you. How can you fuse two or more apparently unrelated creativity channels together to create something people don’t expect?

3. Do your extreme creativity old style

Despite modern innovations available to cooks, many manifest extreme creativity by foregoing new ways of doing things. For instance, despite the availability of incredible industrial food mixers, there are many instances where cooks are mixing things by hand because it provides closeness to the work and an awareness of quality variations. Do you have a similar opportunity to apply old style techniques to your creativity to turn it into extreme creativity?

4. Figure out the equivalent of deep frying in your area of extreme creativity

Watching any episode of “Triple D,” it’s clear you can deep fry any food, and it has a high probability of being very good. The more outlandish the food, the more outrageous the success. There’s got to be something to this. What’s the equivalent of deep frying in your focus area? What’s the one thing you can do to make your creativity extremely crispy, crunchy, and incredibly tasty? Whatever it is in your field, pursue your own version of deep fried extreme creativity!

5. Smash different parts into one

Most meals are served in separate courses: appetizer, entrée, side dishes, dessert. It’s not surprising to see all those courses smashed together into one menu item at restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. How can you employ the same idea? How can you take what would normally be separate creative pursuits and smash them together into one colossal creative feast?

6. Don’t clean up after you’ve gotten all creative

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of places on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives aren’t all that clean. Some of the chefs even take pride in how the flavor of the cooking builds up over time on utensils and cooking surfaces. While that’s a little disconcerting, there can definitely be something to it creatively. Having the afterglow of past creative highlights on your tools might be just what you need to inspire some extreme creativity. – Mike Brown


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.



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Photo by: -steve- | Source: photocase.com

My new reality TV guilty pleasure is Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, a Food Network show hosted by Guy Fieri. In every half-hour Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode, Guy Fieri visits restaurants around the US serving up food with a generous helping of extreme creativity.

In the ongoing Brainzooming quest to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths of strong questions and exercises to instigate extreme creativity, here’s a delicious treat. These brainstorming questions are based on examples of extreme creativity in the culinary arts pulled from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathons we’ve been watching on recent weekends.

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Extreme Creativity

Take your humdrum, status quo business or personal situation and drive it into extreme creativity territory by brainstorming what it would be like if you were to:

  • Incorporate and smash together multiple, diverse influences no one in their right mind would ever consider putting together?
  • Add many more ingredients than you could ever imagine incorporating?
  • Combine ingredients nobody would ever expect to be thrown together?
  • Act like Bubba Gump and use a single ingredient in EVERY way possible?
  • Use authenticity for all its worth and return to doing some things like they ALWAYS used to be done before things got all modern?
  • Spend way more time than anyone would ever expect to prep something before you work on or sell it?
  • Exaggerate the portions so they’re 2 or 3 times (or more) larger than normal?
  • Cultivate, curate, and celebrate total mash-up eclecticism in your surroundings?
  • Completely ignore what your surroundings look like?
  • Do WAY too much of a good thing . . . and then do it some more?

If you’ve been watching Guy Fieri’s show, what extreme creativity brainstorming questions have you pulled from his travels to restaurants around the US? Let’s keep building on the list, along with sharing your favorite dive restaurant for great eating!

American Marketing Association Virtual ExchangeREMINDER – Free presentation on “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” Is Today!

Join me today for a free session on “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” at 1:45 pm CST (US) during the American Marketing Association Virtual XChange program, “Changing the Game: Innovations for Future Success.” There’s still time to register this morning to take part in the Virtual XChange half-day event from the American Marketing Association. Jump online, ask a question during “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation,” and let me know you’re a Brainzooming reader when you do! – Mike Brown


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.


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