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Something I’m trying to improve is being deliberate about what I agree to do that could end up distracting from what’s important. After consciously pursuing many new avenues the past few years, it is evident some very fundamental business capabilities aren’t receiving the attention they need. I’ve been thinking about what strategic thinking questions could help me stay more focused.

In the midst of that personal reflection, kick ass business person and cycle instructor, Kate Crockett, posted “2016 – The Year of No” on Facebook. Kate’s strategic thinking questions resonated with me, and I asked her for permission to share them here.

I suspect you will find them valuable as well. Here’s Kate!

2016 – The Year of No by Kate Crockett

I challenge you to make 2016 the YEAR OF NO.

Before you agree to anything, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I want to do this?

We all need to stop doing things we absolutely do not want to do or things that cause us stress and anxiety just because we feel it’s what others want us to do or it is perceived as the “right thing to do.” The right thing to do is to care for yourself so you can care for others when needed.

Will doing this make me feel satisfied?

kate-crockett

Kate Crockett and her daughter, Olivia

Would the person asking me to do this do the same for me if I asked?

We all need to stop bending over backwards and going out of our way for people who wouldn’t help us even if it weren’t out of their way.

Would you allow a friend to say “Yes” to whatever it is if you knew they didn’t want to do it or it caused them stress or emotional anxiety to do it?

Why would you treat a friend better than you treat yourself?

Is this time well spent?

We all need to learn to set our boundaries with those in our lives so that we aren’t the ones driven to stress and anxiety while the others in our lives skate around us caring very little that they’ve have put us in an inconvenient situation.

All of us are extremely talented, caring, generous, loving and amazing humans who allow those around us to exploit those admirable qualities to their advantage with little care for what it does to us. Spend your time this year on those who support your physical, emotional and mental well-being and lift you up. At the end of the day, it will make us less stressed and happier people for those that really matter to be around. – Kate Crockett

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Here’s a Blogapalooza post from Max Utsler’s class at the University of Kansas. Kayla Foley, a Marketing Communications Specialist at P1 Group, Inc., shares ideas on shaping a successful innovation strategy through exploiting two-dimensional diversity in an organization.

Innovation Strategy and Exploiting 2-D Diversity by Kayla Foley

Kayla-Foley-KUOnce upon a time a group of people established an entity called Swissair. Together they ruled the skies. Swissair was deemed so financially stable in fact, it earned the moniker the “Flying Bank.” Then egos got the best of them, and they fell into the trap of groupthink. The result was eventually bankruptcy for Swissair. In hindsight, you can bet they wish they followed the advice of ancient philosopher Socrates: “Think not those faithful who praise thy words and actions, but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”

The question inevitably arises, “How can we avoid this insidious groupthink crippling our innovation strategy?”

The answer is diversity. Let’s say you need a problem within your company fixed. Half the solution could be floating around in one employee’s head. The other half of the idea that would complete and transform it into a game changing innovation may exist in the mind of someone else with an entirely different outlook on the problem. Until you get them in a room together to combine their puzzle pieces, your solution will never be born.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies should look at diversity in two ways: inherent and acquired.  Inherent diversity includes demographics such as gender, age, and ethnicity. Acquired diversity focuses on experience related traits such as working with niche markets, or overseas experience. Companies that exhibit at least three traits in each category attain two-dimensional diversity. From a numbers standpoint alone, the impacts of 2-D diversity on innovation speak volumes. One study cited in the Harvard Business Review article found that 2-D companies are 45 percent more likely to show growth in market share and an astounding 70 percent more likely to capture a new market.

Examples of companies successfully utilizing diversity as part of an innovation strategy include:

  • Google – A Google R&D center in India with over 1,100 employees speaking different languages and practicing separate religions are to thank for the creation of Google Finance.
  • Pepsico – With a 50 percent hiring requirement for women and minorities, PepsiCo doesn’t play around when it comes to diversity. They claim that one percent (around $250 million) of their 7.4 percent revenue growth is directly related to their diversity efforts.
  • Procter & Gamble – In the last decade, P&G delivered an average of 6 percent organic sales growth due to innovation from diverse teams.

Analysts at Ernst & Young (EY) have stated that, “Most large corporations today have a diverse workforce that is scattered all over the world, and the enormous diversity of culture and viewpoints is fertile ground for innovation.”

When companies encourage diversity within their organizations, they dispel the negative effects of groupthink. Diversity does so much more than that though. It empowers employees to share and create new ideas. It pushes people past their comfort zones to go places they otherwise would not. It paves the way for innovation to occur. – Kayla Foley

 

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Today’s Blogapalooza article from a student in Max Utsler’s Innovation in Management of Communications class at The University of Kansas comes via Allison Dollar. Allison is a Local Business Account Executive at The Kansas City Star Media Company. Her article for today on personal leadership lays out 10 keys to hustle . . . every day.

Personal Leadership – 10 Keys to Hustle . . . Every Day by Allison Dollar

Allison-DollarIn the words of Mos Def, “Focused. I’m a hustler. And my hustle is trying to figure out the best ways to do what I like without having to do much else.”

Well-said Mos Def. Well said.

A hustler is defined by Merriam Webster as, “An enterprising person determined to succeed; go getter.”

Are you a hustler?

You don’t have to be in sales to be one but you do have to commit to the following ten steps if you want to be successful. While I consider myself a hustler in constant training these are 10 keys to hustle, every day. You have to practice them daily, get better at them, and enjoy.

  1. Love your Hustle

Whatever it is, love it. And I mean with all of your heart. If you don’t enjoy what you spend most of your life doing then it’s a waste of time; time is the one thing we can’t get more of so…again I say, Love your hustle.

  1. Listen

Most people like to talk sometimes, no, most of the time, and they talk too much. Listen more, and speak less, I promise you will hear something that will lead to a business lead, idea or relevant knowledge. If you find yourself in a situation where listening is difficult, leave. It’s not worth your time. This brings me to my next point.

  1. If it’s dead, leave it on the ground and walk away

This could refer to anything, a client that will never be happy and who takes too much time, a peer who complains all the time about the same old things, or my favorite, a manager who has no idea what he/she is doing or saying the majority of the time. If you run into any of these situations leave them immediately and do not look back, it’s not worth it.

  1. Swagger

Confidence is a non-negotiable for any professional hustler, you better be able to own whatever it is you need to own. The presentation you just gave to high-level decision makers, the smart-ass comment you dealt to a high performance peer or the stare down you delivered in the boardroom full of talented professionals just like yourself trying to get ahead. Whatever you do, get and keep your swagger. Without it, you are just like every other professional “insert your title of choice here” working day in and day out. Your swagger is just that Your Swagger. It is as unique as you are, use it to your advantage.

  1. Learn Something

Learn something every day. It’s as easy as that. Each day approach it so you learn something new, no one can ever take your knowledge away from you. Believe in your abilities and reward yourself with the knowledge it takes to come out on top every day.

  1. Be the Expert

Ensure that whatever it is you know just as much if not more than the senior level manager/sales representative/vice president or whoever it is in the room. Be able to speak in a healthy fashion no matter what the topic. Set yourself apart by showing you have taken the time to educate yourself on the topic at hand.

  1. No Fear

Period. Fear paralyzes you and has no room in the mind of a true hustler. If you have it, do not show it. Get a plan together on how you can keep it to yourself then toss it away after your mind has processed the situation. Fear is a private thing that everyone experiences but a hustler never shows.

  1. Love yourself

No one can love you like you. Sounds weird but it’s true. No one knows you better than you. Give yourself the time to process demanding information; strategize your next move or whatever it is you need. Also take care of yourself, even a proper hustler needs to eat right, exercise, and get some sleep. Know when to shut it down and take care of you.

  1. Never ask Permission

A hustler just gets it done. Don’t ask permission, ask forgiveness. Like I said, a hustler gets it done, and anyone who knows a hustler realizes this from the moment they are introduced.

  1. Network

A hustler knows everyone. The new business owner around the corner, the new employee on the second floor and even the new CEO hired to work for the competition. You can’t be successful being a recluse. It just doesn’t happen. Know your people.

Think you got what it takes to hustle? Use your cane if you need to, but get your hustle on or at least get it started. – Allison Dollar

 

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Customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle is back today taking another swipe at big data with help in thinking through how to monetize it (vs. just parking it in the cloud and praying for rain). Here’s Woody!

Strategic Insight – Monetization Is the Real Big Data Dilemma – Woody Bendle

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for several years, you’re aware Big Data is a big topic! Just look at this Google Trends graph depicting search volume for “Big Data” the past five years.

Woody1

That’s one incredible upward trajectory wouldn’t you say!

But have you ever wondered why this topic is so hot right now?

In my opinion, we’re hearing so much about Big Data because of several related factors:

However, I feel the primary reason we continue to hear more about Big Data is due to very few companies actually realizing the purported Big Data promise – or what I call the Big Data monetization dilemma.

If you were to listen all of the sensational Big Data spiel out there, you’d have to believe that by simply having Big Data, your organization would automatically (almost magically) be smarter, faster (agile), more competitive, and ultimately, more profitable. And that’s just not the case.

What many organizations are quickly realizing is not all data are created equal.  Having a lot of this digital Big Data stuff being captured and stored doesn’t mean you can readily access it, analyze it, or provide useful answers to meaningful questions.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for most Big Data out there in the cloud today – much of it simply is not configured in a manner that allows for analysis. And, there really are no magical short cuts; there is a tried and true (but not necessarily easy) approach that will help you to realize its promise, however.

Three Strategic Questions for Monetizing Big Data

Just because storing your Big Data is relatively inexpensive doesn’t mean your Big Data strategy should be “Fire, Ready, Aim!” Have you heard anyone say something like this? “Let’s keep pumping all of our Big Data into the cloud and we’ll figure it out as we go.” If this is your approach, you will find monetizing your Big Data to be very costly!

If you expect to monetize your Big Data asset, there are three fundamental questions to continually ask, answer and address:

  1. What questions do I want/need my Big Data to answer?
  2. What types of analysis will be needed to answer our questions?
  3. How do our data need to be structured in order to perform the required analysis?

These questions might feel like a blinding flash of the obvious, but you’d be surprised by how few organizations actually start here.

By first defining the questions you want your Big Data to answer, it will be easier to determine the most appropriate type(s) of analysis your organization will need to perform – and there is a wide range of analytical complexity that can be employed (see below).

Woody2

Once you know the types of analyses you need (or want) to perform, it will be easier to define how best to structure your Big Data.

When performing statistical analysis in particular, your data need to be (or need to become) numbers that represent meaning or measure (structure).  This frankly is one of the biggest challenges with Big Data – most of it is typically unstructured (e.g., text comments, videos, website browsing streams, etc.).  While nearly all unstructured data can be transformed into structured data (numbers), it is really important to understand that not all numbers are created equal either (see below).

Woody3

Numbers can have very different meaning depending upon the level of measure they represent. Different types of measures are also better suited for different types of analyses. Given this, you can see why it is important that your Big Data are transformed (structured) in a very thoughtful and purposeful manner.

Will you monetize your big data?

My intention with this discussion was not to provide a detailed playbook for monetizing your Big Data. Rather it is to acknowledge the real and increasing challenges many are currently dealing with and offer insight for addressing some of the more fundamental problems.

As you start/revamp/update/overhaul your Big Data strategy, remember to ask, answer and address these foundational questions:

  1. What questions do I want/need my Big Data to answer?
  2. What types of analysis will be needed to answer our questions?
  3. How do our data need to be structured in order to perform the required analysis?

If you do, you can be sure that you moving your Big Data strategy in the right direction.  If you don’t, just keep in mind what happens when you try to stand on quicksand! –  Woody Bendle

 

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It’s the first post of 2015 from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle. Today, Woody takes on performance metrics and a strategic look at how the measures you use with dramatically new and different strategies need to also be dramatically new and different themselves. Here’s Woody!

Performance Metrics – What Gets Measured? by Woody Bendle

woody-bendleWe’ve all heard the axiom, “What gets measured gets _________.

You can fill in the blank: done, fixed, improved, managed.

The point is if you want to accomplish (fix, improve, manage) something, you need to:

  • Have some idea about the desired outcome you’re seeking (vision or objective)
  • Establish an identifiable target – or series of targets (goals)
  • Do things that help you move toward the goals and desired outcome (activities and processes)
  • Have ways to determine if you are making progress toward achieving your identifiable target(s) and/or desired outcome (measures)

If you’ve spent any time in the business world, you know there is certainly no lack of performance metrics (or measures) for determining how a business or unit is performing and whether or not you are making progress toward your desired goals or objectives.

Most of these performance metrics – or “Key Performance Indicators,” aka KPI – are tried and true and have been around for decades.  And, many businesses have achieved success by adopting standard measures and employing well-known programs, processes and procedures for collecting, reporting, and monitoring activities and progress.

The more familiar or standard your desired outcome (or end state), the easier it is to be successful by employing standard activities, processes and measures.  But if your desired end state is very different from your current state, it is highly unlikely that standard activities, processes, and measures will suffice.  If you want to be very different, you need to do things very differently and you probably also need very different measures (or metrics) to get you there.

To help make my point, let’s take a look at these four illustrative “current state / end state” scenarios.

Woody-current-end-state

The current state, represented by the yellow “Here” circle, is identical for scenarios A through D but the end state varies in how different it is from the original yellow circle.

Scenario A is understandable for many in business. The end state here is basically the same as we currently are, but bigger.  In the business world this might be analogous to growing by selling more of our existing products to existing customers or to new customers in new territories.

Scenario B also isn’t much of a stretch. The end state remains a circle, gets a little bigger, and becomes a little more different by  doing something different (i.e., adding blue) to turn the circle green. In business, this may be growing by adding a new product line and selling more to new and existing customers.

Scenario C is clearly a different end state. The end state is bigger, changed color, completely changed shape, and added a new dimension.  The business analogy might be a combination of Scenario B as well as an acquisition of a business either up or downstream in the value chain and/or possibly even another totally unrelated business.

For Scenarios A-C, there are thousands of real world examples (or business cases) managers can leverage for how an organization can get from here to there.  These suggest the types of things you need to do, and what the types of measures you need to employ in order to monitor and ensure your progress.

For Scenario D, however, all bets are off.

In Scenario D the desired end-state is frankly something that bears no resemblance to the current state. Think Apple Computers in the 1980s vs. the Apple we know today.  Scenario D’s end state looks pretty unique, complex, hard to describe and quite possibly, very difficult to duplicate.  Scenario D is actually illustrative of the types of conversations occurring at many companies today with business model innovation or business transformation.

To achieve the transformative end state in Scenario D, you will likely have to do many things very very differently.  And, you will also likely need to create and utilize completely different measures or performance metrics to help get you there.

So yes, what gets measured gets done, fixed, improved, managed, and possibly changed.  But allow me to modify the oft mis-attributed Einstein quote on insanity:

“If you are expecting to achieve radical transformational results by employing (or tweaking) existing processes, procedures, measures or metrics, you’re completely nuts!   

If your desire is to transform your business or organization, do yourself, your shareholders and your entire organization a favor. Clearly envision, define and articulate:

  • Where / what you want to be
  • All the possible paths you might take to get there
  • How long it might take to arrive at different points along the path
  • What you need to do to know if you are making progress, and if you are nearing your desired end state

If you are having a hard time getting started with this, I’m betting Mike and the folks of The Brainzooming Group have well over 100 articles that can help you out! – Woody Bendle

 

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This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

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It’s fantastic to have Woody Bendle back on the Brainzooming blog after too long away with an admonition to consider going opposite with your new product innovation strategy. Here’s Woody! 

New Product Innovation Strategy – Go Opposite by Woody Bendle

If you are a student or practitioner of new product innovation strategy, you are undoubtedly familiar with the “Go Opposite” strategy.  If you are neither however, the Go Opposite new product innovation strategy is a specific example of an innovation technique sometimes called “Challenge Existing Conventions” that seeks innovation opportunities by going after sacred cows – or purposefully diverging from the herd.

I have recently come across a terrific example that really drives home the Go Opposite new product innovation strategy in running shoes. Consider this depiction of 40 years of running shoes:

Running-Shoe-Trends

From the 1970s through the late 2000s, the prevailing trend in running shoes was the evolution and advancement of materials and technologies.  Shoes became more constructed with better out and midsoles that were designed for runners with different gates and foot-strike patterns.

In 2009, Christopher MacDougall’s book Born to Run (affiliate link) unleashed the “Go Opposite” trend of minimalism and for the next five or so years, nearly every running shoe company introduced an array of minimalism innovations that were designed to emulate the feeling of being barefoot – without actually being barefoot.

Right about the same time as the release of Born to Run, a completely different type of running shoe company started up called Hoka One One.  Rather than following the prevailing trend of minimalism, Hoka (affiliate link) innovated by Going Opposite and produced running shoes with maximal cushioning.  And, for going opposite when it comes to its new product innovation strategy, they have been rewarded with a ton of awards and accolades.

Regardless of the market that you happen to compete in, it is always important to understand the prevailing trends driving your industry.  But just remember, chasing the prevailing trend is usually a pretty crowded space and some terrific innovative opportunities regularly exist by exploring the opposite direction! – Woody Bendle

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.


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woody-bendleThe last few days, I’ve been enjoying some incredible BBQ ribs from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle.

And let me tell you: as smart as Woody is about branding and innovation, he’s just as great making ribs! I paired Woody’s ribs with barbeque sauce my wife makes from the recipe at the restaurant my parents used to own, and WOW!

Even though I can’t share the ribs with all of you, they inspired me to put together a retrospective of Woody’s blog posts on Brainzooming. He’s always a popular guest author, and since he hasn’t been able to write as much for the Brainzooming blog this year, I wanted to make sure our newest readers knew about all of Woody’s great content.

So without delay, dive in to Woody’s great strategic thinking, while I have one more meal of diving into Woody’s great barbeque!

Brand Strategy

Customer Focus and Customer Experience

Innovation

Strategic Thinking and Creative Thinking

Business Rants

Potpourri

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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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