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imageWhen it comes to creative thinking exercises, I’m typically a proponent of introducing people to incremental creative thinking before trying to dunk them into extreme creativity.

That preference is predicated on getting people more familiar and comfortable with smaller creative steps. In that way, the first creative step you ask them to take isn’t such a doozie.

Sometimes, however, when it comes to creative thinking exercises, starting small is not the best strategy to follow.

We were using a combo creative thinking exercise recently. We had asked creative thinking session participants for three progressive creative leaps. For the first step, it was okay for their response to be a conventional idea. We wanted to stretch the creative thinking, however, for steps two and three, with the third answer being a strong example of extreme creativity.

While that was the plan, the mindset we first set was too incremental creatively and too lasting.

Our initial question got them too stuck on what’s happening today.

Subsequently, absent very strong and clear extreme creativity inducing questions for steps two and three, we had to work extra hard to move everyone toward more outrageous ideas. We eventually pushed toward extreme creativity in their responses, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

The lesson?

While it’s not always the case, sometimes you do need to go big creatively right from the start before you are forced to go home with overly familiar ideas. – 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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2

A topic among my Friday lunch partners was whether a blog post would emerge from our conversation about strategic planning and creating strategic impact.

They were pretty sure one would, and they were right.

Tic-Tac-Doe-MatrixWe were discussing strategic planning challenges within a matrix organization. Issues emerge when multiple groups with line responsibilities (i.e., product lines, business units, geographic units, etc.) need to coordinate separate planning activities.

Ideally, one group goes first and the other follows to coordinate their strategic plans. This requires more time, however, since groups are planning one after the other instead of concurrently.

Additionally, if actual planning falls behind, the departments supporting the line organization that also need to plan and prepare for line organization activities are even further behind.

Another alternative is for the two line groups to plan at the same time. That can result, however, in plans that do not fit together well, expect more resources than are available, or simply are not in sync strategically. Typically then, it falls on support organizations (i.e., marketing or finance) to try reconciling the discrepancies that surface.

3 Strategic Planning Ideas in a Matrix Organization

What are potential approaches in a matrix organization to both increase strategic planning coordination and minimize how long planning takes?

Here are three strategic planning ideas The Brainzooming Group tries to implement in these matrix organization situations:

1. Create meaningful strategic conversations between line units

While line units may be talking throughout the planning process, that talking is likely NOT speeding up planning appreciably. Facilitating meaningful strategic conversations gets them discussing issues that will provide the insights each unit needs to better coordinate its plan with others for the coming year.

2. Provide early, simple strategic planning deliverables to signal strategic directions

Important strategic decisions are discussed and made well before the final strategic plan is written. There is no reason these decisions should be new news when the plan document is done. Creating interim planning deliverables that are simple to complete and designed to be shared before the plan is done can boost important strategic coordination.

3. Concentrate on big plan differences

Much of what goes into a strategic plan seems important. Incremental changes in plans from one year to another, however, likely have little material impact on the decisions and plans of other units in the organization. As a result, if separate parts of a larger organization can share their major strategic plan changes earlier, much of the incremental detail is fine to be shared later.

Turning Strategic Planning into Creating Strategic Impact

Getting ahead of the typical strategic planning cycle allows you to refine, simplify, and shorten planning and place more emphasis on creating strategic impact.

Are you thinking about what needs to happen with your next plan?

If you are not sure which strategic planning direction is best, let us know you would like to talk about the topic. We have lots of ideas for making strategic planning better! – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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It’s wonderful to feature four important brand strategy questions from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle. In the course of his typical daily routine, Woody has a more than healthy commute by Kansas City standards. Woody texted me about this brand strategy lesson on the way home one recent evening and followed it up the next day with this post reminding those responsible for brand strategy to think about what will happen when our ideas actually meet up with customers. Here’s Woody!

woody-bendleBrand Strategy – When “Good Enough” Isn’t by Woody Bendle

“The enemy of the good is great.”

Have you heard this expression before? 

If you haven’t, the sentiment behind this expression is this: If you are continually reluctant to move forward until you have something that is great or perfect, you might sometimes fail to make valuable progress by getting something out there that is pretty darned good – but not great.

In many situations, I wholeheartedly subscribe to this philosophy.

But, there are occasions when you absolutely need to be better than “good enough.”

One of those occasions involves your brand strategy and every time you are presenting your brand.

Brand Strategy Isn’t the Place for Good Enough

I recently pulled off the interstate to fuel up at a truck stop. As I was fueling, I happened to notice, for some reason, a display attached to the pump about never paying full price for gas again.

Shell-1

I really didn’t think too much about this display until I went around to the end of the pump to grab the squeegee and clean off my windshield. This is what I saw.

140410-Shell3

OOPS!

The original message that got my interest about never paying full price again didn’t come through on the Shell brochure holder.

There, thanks to the application holder lid’s placement, the “Never pay full price again” card became the “pay full price again” card.

I actually did a double-take, shook my head and wondered to myself if anyone had even thought about trying to stick some brochures in the holders to see what it looked like before they had a gazillion of them printed and sent all over the country. The sad thing is if they had just taken the two logos at the bottom of the brochure and moved them to the very top and shifted the rest of the content down,  the message would’ve been read very clearly.

Lessons learned, and it’s a great reminder that design and layout matters.

A Brand Strategy that is “Good Enough” Isn’t

I have no idea if anyone at Shell is even aware of this issue. It did, however, serve as a valuable reminder that every time you are putting your brand in the marketplace, you need to ask yourself several important brand strategy questions:

  1. What am I trying to convey / communicate about my brand or my brand’s promotion?
  2. Is the message clear and compelling – not to me but to the customer?
  3. How will the message be put in front of the customer?
  4. What exactly will the customer see, hear, think, and feel when my message is put in front of them?

And finally, as you are working through the above questions, you’d be well served to think like my Missouri neighbors and just say “Show-Me” a little more often. Woody Bendle

 

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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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3

WritingWhen you write, how do you write best?

If you’re writing when you are by yourself, it can be great. You might be more productive and experience stronger creative thinking with fewer distractions, no drop-in interruptions, and extended opportunities to focus.

This is non-friction writing, and these types of writing situations CAN BE incredibly productive.

The challenge of non-friction writing for me, however, is the friction of interacting with others creates problems, issues, opportunities, and challenges that all beg for resolution.

In the resolution of these situations you develop new learning, creative thinking, and the impetus to write.

That’s why I’m definitely a friction writer when it comes to generating new ideas and creative thinking.

But then maybe I’m a non-friction writer when I can get away and just write, with the memories of friction inspiring my creativity.

Which do you prefer?

Friction or non-friction writing? -  Mike Brown

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Is your social media strategy missing the mark?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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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imageAre you interested in pursuing a corporate career? Are you in the midst of a corporate career already? Or maybe you are wondering how in the hell you get out of a corporate career and land on your feet?

Corporate Career Success – 35 Articles for Arriving, Thriving, and Surviving

If you find yourself in one of those situations, here are thirty-five articles from the Brainzooming blog archives to help you in arriving, thriving, and surviving for corporate career success.

Launching Your Corporate Career

Developing Your Skills for Corporate Career Success

Sustaining Corporate Career Success

Dealing with Mid-Career Stagnation

Troubleshooting Yourself

Troubleshooting Your Career Situation

Mike Brown

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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.

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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Audio-recorderUnless something has happened to prevent it, I have audio recorded every presentation I have given since 2005.

That date coincides with starting to more aggressively search out presentation opportunities and build my repertoire of content. The overall objective was to gain as much speaking experience as possible before leaving corporate life.

7 Reasons to Record Every Presentation

You may ask why you should record every presentation you give.

Here seven reasons why you should record presentations:

  1. The recording will allow you to hear your presentation in a relatively similar fashion to how the audience members heard it. This gives you a much stronger sense of the experience for the audience.
  2. Being able to review the audience reactions to the content provides a better sense of what worked and didn’t work throughout the presentation.
  3. You can revisit specific content where audience members sought clarification or more information, providing opportunities to deepen or refine your content in future presentations.
  4. You can confirm audience questions and your answers so you are able to more easily develop them into online content.
  5. You can edit the audio into small segments to share through a podcast.
  6. You will be able to detect the bad speech patterns you use (i.e., ummms, slang, mispronouncing words) so you can begin to work on eliminating them.
  7. Before the next time you give the same presentation, you can listen to previous versions to refresh yourself on the content and all the things you say that aren’t on the slides.

That’s really just a start to the list.

Another benefit for me is that the recordings capture unplanned stories I drop into presentations based on the interaction with the audience. Being able to listen to the presentations later helps turn those stories into more permanent fixtures in the content.

If you’ve been recording your presentations, what other advantages do you find? And if you haven’t been recording your presentations, what else will it take to get you to start doing it? 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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There are many incredible authors writing compelling books on improving career success.

Yet instead of immediately running from one book and point of view to another, ask yourself this basic question:

Before trying to learn and adopt someone else’s personal success story, what more can I do to understand my own personal success story?

imageAs so often happens, this message came together over the course of a day from multiple directions. The common theme with each piece of the message was the importance of knowing what creates success for you before rushing to adopt an external view of success.

It’s a lot easier for many people to look for answers by bouncing from one author’s 5 tips for success to another’s 5 lessons of success. 

It’s vital, however, to know what success means for YOU. And right after that, it’s important to have a solid handle on how you improve your own likelihood of success by finding, adapting, and/or creating the work and personal situations to  support achieving personal success.

5 Questions to Revisit Your Personal Success Story

You simply have to KNOW what will lead to improving your career success.

If you struggle with this, work through these five questions to help you get a handle on this:

  1. In the instances where I’ve enjoyed the best career success previously, what were the situations, themes, types of people, relationships, opportunities, and challenges involved?
  2. How did the characteristics I just identified work together to pave the way for success?
  3. In situations where I have not enjoyed success, what things got in the way of creating success?
  4. In those same situations, what things weren’t in place that appear necessary, in retrospect, to support my career success?
  5. From the exploration in these questions, what’s my short list of personal critical success factors?

We actively use the concept of critical success factors with clients to ensure we’re improving the likelihood of organizational success. You can and should use the concept personally as well.

Think about critical success factors in two ways:

  1. What needs to be in place to maximize the likelihood of success?
  2. What things need to be avoided, prevented, or eliminated because their presence will minimize the likelihood of success?

See what I mean about your inability to READ your way to critical success factors?

Your knowledge of them comes from reflection and exploration of your past and deliberate experimentation in your future.

Improving Career Success

So put down the popular author’s personal success story, and spend some conscious and quiet time if you haven’t already, to revisit and learn from your own personal success story.

Ultimately, it’s the only one you’ll earn a grade for in this crazy thing we call life. - Mike Brown

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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.

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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