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Marianne-Carr-PhotoListening. It is one of the best ways to get creative.

But listening seems to elude most of us during the day. We are busy talking, formulating thoughts, reading emails, and other activities such as looking at stuff, and tasting, smelling and touching. So why increase listening? And how? Here are some Creative Clicks that may help.

Remember to click on the headlines for these creative clicks to link to the articles. Enjoy! – Marianne Carr

What if Medium were a Podcast?

“There is one big problem on Medium for me: So many great articles posted every day, but so little time to read them all. I listen to a lot of podcasts, shows or talks in the background while I work or when I walk to the office, and I think it could be awesome to do the same thing with my saved Medium articleslisten to them as audio instead of reading them as text.”

I have become Podcast Crazy lately. It reminds me of something maybe you youngins don’t know too much about – RADIO!  I think this idea about listening to Medium Articles is just great. Listening is a gift we can use when doing something else. Of course, having the written word to go back to for quick reference is a real asset. Did you know you can read faster than you can listen? I like the way this can combine the advantages of both.

Magical Effects of Music

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“Effects of music include improving verbal IQ, aiding in heart disease treatment, evoking colours in the mind and even helping you see happy faces all around. Every fan knows the tremendous effects of music and the power it can have over both thoughts and emotions.”

Do I really need to add anything?

Messy mind? Clean it up with a tip about Listening

Five Ways to Declutter Your Body and Mind – “When I am particularly overwhelmed by negative thought clutter, and it seems as though the ruminations won’t end, I like to recite a poem. I literally recite my favorite poem (which I committed to knowing by memory for this very purpose), which happens to be Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver. I become so engaged in reciting the poem, mindful of both the rhythm and meaning of the words, that I let go of all other thoughts. My brain can’t both recite a poem and ruminate at once! You don’t have to use a poem…you can use a favorite song, monologue, etc.”

Listening to poetry is a great idea to take a break. Reciting it out loud, or in your head is the perfect way to combine speaking/thinking with listening to refresh. What’s your favorite poem? One of mine is “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost. After reading this tip, I am going to memorize it so I can listen to it when I need it.

Listening to an advisor, but be sure it’s a good one.

Why Every CEO Should Have at Least One Trusted Advisor – “Having a trusted advisor eliminates the risks associated with working in isolation or at warp speed. To accept the advice of your advisor, however, you must have a sense of humility. You must accept that you could be wrong, you might require course correction or you might even have to start all over again.”

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Sometimes listening to others, really listening, can save your soul. Or job. What works about this article is it outlines the kind of advisor to seek out. My Mother often has advice for my professional life, but is it worth listening to?

Listening to the Wisdom of the Ages

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“Get inspiration from the best in (this) SlideShare. The collection of 50 motivational quotes on what good leadership truly means will not only help you be a better leader, but a better coworker, mentor, manager, employee, and even a better person.”

Why re-invent the wheel? Those that don’t study history, are destined to repeat it. Etcetera, Etcetera.

Managing the Noise of Social Media: Infographic

“Chances are you spend a pretty substantial amount of your life on social media. Be sure that you are getting the most out of your experience.”

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It’s not a Creative Clicks without an Infographic. This one has helpful hints for managing your listening to and interacting with the top Social Media sites. Including muting on Twitter, a.k.a. not listening anymore.

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

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. 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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Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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When I’m asked what Brainzooming does, it’s always challenging to answer.

The Long Answer – Strategy, Creativity, and Innovation

The reason is that working from the incredible resource of strategic thinking exercises, creative thinking tools, and collaborative models The Brainzooming Group has created, what Brainzooming does can vary dramatically for each client engagement.

Given the client’s needs, we might look like strategists, community engagement specialists, innovation facilitators, creative thinking trainers, content creators, professional coaches, inspiring speakers, content marketing planners, or something entirely different.

That’s why it’s tough to give a short answer to the question.

Brainzooming-Group

A Short Answer

When asked how he tracks down fly balls hit miles from him, steals bases, forces defensive errors, goes for extra bases, hits inside the park home runs, and tags up to score on fly balls that would keep almost every runner glued to third base, Kansas City Royals Outfielder Jarrod Dyson’s answer is, “That’s what speed do.”

Putting the Two Together – That’s What Brainzooming Do

Since Jarrod Dyson can condense all the ways he uses speed into a few words, here’s a combination of a short and slightly longer answer about what Brainzooming does, with thanks to Jarrod for the inspiration!

What-Does-Brainzooming-Do

The Brainzooming Group would LOVE to do these things for your organization!

Strategy, creativity, innovation, or some combination – or something slightly different.  Which one or which combination is what your organization needs?

Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call at 816-509-5320, and let’s work together. You’ll find out first-hand, that’s what Brainzooming do! – Mike Brown



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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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A solid social media strategy can do many things for your brand’s results.

Social-network-icons

At the same time, there are many things social media won’t do for a brand.

Social media WON’T:

  • Deliver business results if you can’t articulate a business objective you expect it to support
  • Fix a brand problem – in fact it will call attention to a brand problem
  • Make your brand suddenly intriguing to its audiences
  • Stop talking negatively about your brand if you decide to retreat and not participate in the conversations
  • Let you get away with the same poor customer treatment your brand could get away with twenty years ago
  • Give you more points for the quantity of content than it will take away for poor quality content
  • Tell you what content topics to address . . . but it will give you all kinds of hints
  • Make sense if you can’t stop talking about yourself all the time
  • Ever completely ignore the things you hope it will ignore
  • Automatically make the things you want to go viral go viral
  • Change the world as we know it . . . even though it will shake up a lot of things beyond recognition

If your brand is still on the social media strategy sidelines (or is in the game without a strategy), these are all reason it is better to create a solid social media strategy first before just starting and seeing what happens. – Mike Brown

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Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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You know you need to start a strategic planning process for next year.

Starting, however, has been delayed amid everything else you have had going on recently. If this sounds like your situation, what can you do right away to jump start strategic planning?

8-ball

5 Things to do if You Haven’t Started Strategic Planning Yet

Here are five steps you can take right away to catch up some time and make it seem as if you are completely on top of next year’s strategic planning process.

1. Inventory Historical Info

Inventory what you know about your customers, markets, and competitors based on whether you know / think it’s still relevant or not. Then see how much of the out-of-date information you can start updating.

2. Broaden Your Sources of Planning Input

Figure out a way to quickly reach out as broadly as you can inside and outside your organization to understand new perspectives on customers, markets, and trends. If you’re unsure about doing this, email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320; we can help make it happen efficiently and effectively.

3. Get a Team Together

Assemble a team of smart, diverse people to help get your strategic planning process going. Even if it’s only one or two people, their strong participation will be a HUGE help.

4. Update the Strategic Foundation

Gather all the documents and strategic pronouncements your organization has already created addressing your organization’s direction the last 1-2 years. Organize these based on whether they align or don’t align to what has actually been happening the last 1-2 years.

5. Schedule Time Now

Book time with you organization’s leadership NOW for when you’ll need individual input, when you’ll want them to meet as a group for strategic planning, and when you’ll want them to review the preliminary planning work.

It’s Just Five Things

See, tackling just these five tasks this week will give your strategic planning process an incredible boost toward next year.

Want more tips to simplify strategic planning? Subscribe to the Brainzooming blog as we share more tips during the weeks ahead! – Mike Brown

10 Ways to Effectively Engage Employees in Your Strategy for RESULTS!!!

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Suppose you’re on the hook to create a vision statement for a new organizational initiative. This seems like an assignment that is simple, complex, and fraught with potential missteps – all at the same time.

That’s especially true if the organization has already launched an initiative before recognizing the need for an over-arching vision statement.

When that happens, what visioning exercises make sense? How do you develop a vision statement when it is trying to catch up to an initiative that is already underway.

4 Visioning Exercises to Rework a Faulty Vision Statement

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Your strategy for selecting visioning exercises depends, in part, on what type of direction has been already communicated about the initiative. Here’s our quick advice on potential first steps for visioning exercises based on various starting points:

1. An initiative already has a slogan or catchphrase, but little else behind it

This describes a situation where a senior leader has coined a phrase or been mentioning a favorite new concept. This can lead to confusion and consternation in the organization as everyone tries to interpret what the senior leader means.

Visioning Exercise Approach: In these instances, extract significant words from the slogan and work on defining what each of them could mean in describing the initiative’s vision. Try to imagine several possibilities for each of these words. Using this approach, you’ll create a menu of strategic possibilities which you can mix, match, combine, and simplify to state a more defined vision statement.

2. There is already something resembling a vision statement, but it’s too generic

We’ve all seen a jargon-filled statement that seems as if it were spewed fresh from an all-purpose business jargon generator. It may seem sound impressive initially, but no one has any idea what it really means for the organization that’s touting it as a vision statement.

Visioning Exercise Approach: Your first step is to pull an existing statement as close to the organization’s real world as possible. If took out all the jargon, is there anything left in the statement? Suppose average employees were saying this (and trying to remember it); how would they be describing it in real, understandable words? Are there words used in the statement that could be easily translated or modified to link to strategic foundations the organization already has in place?

3. A current big statement focuses completely on aspiration with no ideas for implementation

This type of statement sounds like it came from the organization saying it, yet it seems so audacious and far off, it’s difficult to know what the organization should be doing to turn it into reality.

Visioning Exercise Approach: When you need to translate organizational aspirations into concrete actions, start asking outcomes-oriented questions. How will we know when we reach this vision? What will have had to happen to help us get there? What would be the potential first steps to reaching the desired outcome?

4. There isn’t anything close enough to resembling a vision statement

Visioning Exercise Approach: In this case, start asking questions about aspirations, emotional words that describe a hopeful future, and possibilities customers would like the brand to deliver. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
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There was a Brainzooming posse in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday as Marianne Carr and I attended ConfabuLarryum, the Lawrence festival of creativity. In just its second year, Ben Smith’s brainchild increased its attendance 4x to more than 5,000 adults and kids.

What a fantastic event celebrating creative thinking skills of all kinds!

ConfabuLarryum-Wideshot

The only disappointment was I didn’t get to spend any time with the incredible array of activities and demonstrations. With a noon time slot to speak, I stayed in the auditorium to see the presentations before mine, getting a read on the audience, the room, and what content would work most effectively.

I presented a mini-workshop on Busting Creativity Barriers. One of the audience questions from a fourth grade teacher was on  how to help kids stop editing their creativity and new ideas for fear of being wrong.

My response was that’s clearly a challenge in a school environment where we are grading kids on their academic performance and monitoring all their actions and behaviors for conformity to expectations. Talk about a recipe for teaching children to edit their creativity and curb their creative thinking skills! It takes a full-blown creative rebel to survive creatively in that environment. And that survival will likely be VERY rocky because a student putting up enough of a fight to hang on to their own creative thinking skills and instincts will be going dangerously against the grain.

How about establishing a grade-free zone to cultivate creative thinking skills?

My spontaneous idea and response to her question was to create a grade-free zone in the classroom. This would be a spot where children could go to experiment, imagine ideas, and explore their creative thinking skills without ANY grading or correction.

Thinking about it, the grade-free zone might be a physical location in the classroom, a condition (i.e., a certain day or days), a situation (i.e., a child could call for grade-free zone time to create), or maybe all three of these.

Grade-Free-Zone

What else might need to be in place for a successful grade-free zone?

Those are some initial thoughts from someone who ISN’T a childhood educator; they are based, however, on how we try to create what are essentially grade-free zones inside creative thinking workshops. It would be interesting to see how my friends at the Boulder Journey School would address the question!

Two other thoughts emerged later:

  • Perhaps rather than being grade-free, the zone should be an all-A zone. That would be akin to conductor Benjamin Zander’s statement that he only teaches A students.
  • Even though ConfabuLarryum WAS a grade free zone filled with all kinds of creative outlets, I heavily edited my workshop presentation before starting, inserting stories that weren’t part of the presentation when I walked in the building and taking out a number of pieces.

I guess being grade-free is harder than it initially sounds.

What do you think of the idea, and how would you approach helping students to stop editing their own creativity? – Mike Brown

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

 

ebook-cover-redoBusting Creativity Barriers with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. 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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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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How important is your job description? And is it more important BEFORE you take a new job than after you start?

I was working with a senior executive on a career strategy change. After an initial interview with a potential employer, the executive had perceptions about the new job’s responsibilities, sphere of influence, and reporting relationships to the CEO and the department team.

The perceptions formed via conversations; nothing was in writing. In a subsequent conversation, however, the CEO unveiled other organizational and position changes underway. Following this second conversation, the new job’s responsibilities and reporting relationships seemed different than originally portrayed – different enough, in fact, to make the new position unattractive.

Question-Marks

How Important Is a Job Description to Your Career Change Strategy?

At that point the question was whether the next move should involve demanding a written job description before confirming acceptance of the new position. The thinking was that forcing the CEO’s hand about a job description would clear up all questions.

Discussing the concerns, it was clear there were two BIG factors necessary for success up in the air. Each issue involved a reporting relationship:

  • Did the new position report to the CEO or not?
  • Would a key supporting capability within the organization report up through the new position or not?

Answers to these two questions were sufficient to know whether the new position could create the type of impact the CEO SAID he wanted it to have.

While a written job description would typically address these questions, it wouldn’t be a guarantee of the new job being exactly as promised. That understanding would come from having a strong sense the CEO does what he says. If there was an underlying uncertainty about whether the CEO says one thing to please someone yet actually do something else, a job description wasn’t going to address that.

The best strategy was having another conversation with the CEO about the two open questions. This strategy positioned the job seeker as a legitimate senior level executive that didn’t need everything spelled out to make a decision.

The conversation answered the two questions. Yes, the position definitely reported to the CEO, and the important function within the organization would report to the new position.

Questions answered and the best career strategy change was decided, all without a written job description.

The conversation, however, provided greater assurance the CEO will follow through on what he says. And at a senior level such as this, knowing you can trust someone is typically more important than spelling out a bunch of job duties in a job description! – Mike Brown

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ebook-cover-redoDownload 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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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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