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This was Sunday’s Dilbert cartoon. Dilbert’s world is a great example of the complete opposite of Brainzooming! Watching too many brain shutdowns in the corporate world was a significant trigger for developing the Brainzooming approach as an antidote to help people think more quickly, with both creative and analytical perspectives. The right mix of creative and analytical thinking provides the best ideas with a clear path to get them implemented.

If this Dilbert hits to close too home (or office), let us know. We can expand your theoretical work limit (T.W.L.) and provide the antidote for brain shutdowns!

Dilbert.com

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you devise a successful innovation strategy for your organization.

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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6

I frequently invite intriguing people I meet (online or offline) to write guest blog posts for Brainzooming. The first follow-up question is usually on what to blog about for the Brainzooming community. My somewhat general answer is, “Anything you want relating to strategy, creativity, and innovation.” While this broad description works for me in writing the blog, it’s clear from the number of people who never actually write a post that more direction could help prospective guest bloggers figure out what to blog about:

What You Could Blog about for Brainzooming

Here are 15 potential topics in answer to the, “What to blog about for Brainzooming?” question:

1.    How you express creativity in your career or areas of personal interest

2.    What you do for creative inspiration

3.    Your perspective on strategic moves within an industry or team

4.    How you’re employing innovation and innovative techniques in your business

5.    An innovation or strategy lesson you’ve learned in your career

6.    Reactions to a conference or presentation on strategy, creativity, or innovation-related topics

7.    Reactions to marketing-related events or developments

8.    Creative places or creative work environments you’ve experienced

9.    Ways you keep your innovation or creative perspective sharp

10.  A strategy example or innovation lesson from daily life

11.  Your reaction to an article already appearing in the Brainzooming blog

12.  Your reaction to a relevant article appearing elsewhere

13.  Reviewing a book on strategy, creativity, or innovation (let me know on this one, I may have a standing request from someone to get their book reviewed)

14.  Guidelines for how you approach being more strategic or innovative in your career

15.  An appropriately-targeted rant (keep the language clean!)

Remember – your post doesn’t have to be written. It could also be a video!

Some More Topics You Could Blog About

These subjects are also all really relevant for Brainzooming, but for a variety of reasons, they just haven’t been covered adequately:

  • Search engine optimization strategy
  • Creative, visual depictions of analytical data
  • How business models are having to become more innovative based on social networking
  • Profiles of cool, innovative people making an impact outside the spotlight
  • Remarkable displays of creative expression
  • Calling BS on the hype of social media (and social media rock stars)
  • What will develop to replace the important roles publishers and editors have played in making sure information is reliable
  • First-hand accounts of innovation and strategy lessons learned in businesses and organizations
  • Counterpoints to things I’ve written

Meet Tom – The Brainzooming Blog Persona

We’ve talked before about the importance of a persona to focus creating blog content. To help guest bloggers, here’s a brief recap of the persona I’ve been using for Brainzooming. You can always think about “Tom” and what might be of benefit to him:

  • Tom is 35, married, and has two children. He has an MBA in marketing from a well-known university. From his schooling, he has built a strong network domestically, and to some extent, internationally. Currently, Tom works as a corporate brand manager, although with the downsizing that’s taken place the past few years, he has had to assume broader and non-traditional responsibilities in his corporate role.
  • While Tom has traveled extensively previously, he’s more geographically stable right now as his attention turns to raising his family. Tom is an interesting mix of traditional professional objectives and eclectic personal interests, including extreme sports, alternative music, sustainability, etc.
  • Tom’s become active in producing social media content through his own business-oriented blog and Twitter. Tom’s audience is growing through demonstrating his expertise online. He’s making connections he hopes will pave the way for the next phase in his career. Since he’s ahead of where his company is on social media, it’s an area where his personal experience is being called upon to help shape the company’s thinking on the topic.

Please Share Your Perspective in a Brainzooming Guest Post!

This post is way too much to tell somebody in a tweet or when talking with them at Panera. I hope it’s helpful, however, in encouraging more of you to share what you know (or what you’d like to know) about strategy, creativity, and innovation with everybody else on Brainzooming! Mike Brown


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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

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

If you are like me you find yourself reading a lot every day. But most of my reading, and I imagine yours, is in short bursts. An email here, a blog post there, comments on a message forum, ten pages of a PowerPoint deck, etc., ad infinitum. So when I find something that I read for hours at a time, that is noteworthy.

That happened to me recently with the book, The Goal, A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt. First off, it feels pretty geeky to say that I found a book on process improvement a page turner. But Goldratt’s book has two very strong things going for it.

One is that it presented what was to me a new way of thinking about process improvements that he calls Theory of Constraints. What he has to say about process improvement goes beyond industrial engineering and offers learnings for marketing, sales and organizational communication.

(Very short version: If you trying to get more output from your office/factory/restaurant, don’t try to make everything more efficient and productive at once. Find the bottleneck and either fix or improve it first before wasting your effort and resources elsewhere. Also, understand the bottleneck could be the market(ing), and you may be calculating productivity really badly.)

The second was that it was written not in a regular nonfiction format but as a novel. Its primary setting is a mythical (but totally plausible) electrical components factory in the Northeastern US. The protagonist, Alex, is the factory manager who is battling backed up orders at the same time he is seeing stagnant or falling product sales. His problems are compounded by corporate demands for greater productivity and a personal life that is steadily falling apart. There is also a cigar smoking, globetrotting physics professor named Jonah who . . . maybe you should read it for yourself.

The book was a concrete illustration of the impact of telling a story. It also shows how looking at problems without being bound by others preconceptions and their standard ways of evaluation and then presenting the answers you find in an unexpected format can produce dramatic impacts. – Barrett Sydnor


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 brainzooming@gmail.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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10

Numbered list posts are popular with blog readers according to both internet discussions and my own experience on the Brainzooming blog. Analyzing recent posts with PostRank demonstrated nearly all the most popular blog posts on Brainzooming incorporate a numbered list and feature the number in the blog title.

There are some pundits who even recommend making blog posts with a numbered list as long as possible to increase the impact they have with readers.

It was this point Barrett Sydnor and I were discussing one day about whether it’s true that people really want to read long numbered lists. While I’ve had outstanding response to some long lists of strategy articles, there was a Stepcase Lifehack post I wrote with 15 steps which a commenter said was too long and should be simplified.

In answering the question, Barrett hit on two great points:

  • When it comes to a set of sequential things to do, people want short numbered lists with as few steps as necessary to accomplish a result.
  • When it comes to an array of options to pick from, people want long numbered lists with as much variety as possible.

While there are obvious exceptions (since too much variety can simply bog down decisions), these two general principles are helpful whether using numbered lists in blogging, business, or personal life. They’re also a great add on when considering the best ways to aggregate long lists to make them more usable for others.

Is there anything else you’d add to these two reminders? Mike Brown

 

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320, and we’ll list out 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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4

I’ll be up in Iowa next week, April 14th for CreativeBloc 2011, sponsored by the American Advertising Federation: Cedar Rapids-Iowa City. This year’s conference is billed as “CreativeReFresh,” and I’ll be doing a couple of presentations in keeping with the theme.

And those are just two of the many sessions scheduled throughout CreativeBloc 2011 on creativity, innovation, social media, SEO, and blogging.

If you’re located in Iowa (or are interested in traveling further to come!), it would be great to see you, hang out, and enjoy a great day of creativity at CreativeBloc 2011!Mike Brown

For an additional creative boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational 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 brainzooming@gmail.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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16

Some weeks, it’s easy to feel foolish because it seems impossible to predict what are popular topics for blog posts. That’s when I start nosing around more to discover apparently popular topics on other blogs. In the interests of sharing, here’s a completely unscientific study of what seems to work for other bloggers in creating highly popular topics:

  • Admit you’re failing or incapable of performing a task
  • Use a lot of curse words
  • Put a number in the blog post’s title
  • Express outrage for the sake of expressing outrage
  • Be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous
  • Say something ridiculously contrary to what everyone knows and understands
  • Write an opinion that’s obviously misguided and off the mark
  • If you’re an attractive woman, work your most prominent physical characteristic into the blog (extra points if it’s a pictorial reference)
  • Go out on a really shaky limb with a point of view
  • Share something intensely personal, that really is TOO much information
  • Get all preachy about how you’ve gotten screwed over (even when it’s clear you haven’t been)
  • Write about your family pet dying
  • Cover social media topics every single day
  • Promise outlandish success with very little work
  • Self-aggrandize on an epic scale
  • State the obvious – as if you discovered it before anyone else did

That’s my starting list of what makes blog topics popular on other websites.

Unfortunately perhaps, most of these popular topics won’t ever work here because they’re not things I’d experiment writing about even in a creative pinch.

For those of you kind enough to share your time with the Brainzooming blog, what types of topics are popular with you? Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours, and let you pick the blog topics that work 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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13

Whether outside agencies or social media interns should be responsible for corporate tweeting and Facebook updating is in the news again. Recent problems faced by Chrysler and a (now former) tweeter at a (now former) social media agency and a social media intern tweeting for Marc Jacobs both reflect situations where young, conceivably social media-savvy individuals, took a real “walk off the ranch” – as a senior executive I knew would have put it.  In the Chrysler case, it was using the F-bomb and impugning Detroit drivers. For the Marc Jacobs social media intern, it was a mini-rant blistering the CEO.

These cases re-raise the issue of what’s really important when deciding who will create and send social media status updates for an organization?

Even if you believe youth is closely aligned with preparedness in using social media, there’s much more required to be successful. Possessing a fair degree of emotional intelligence is obviously just one other critical factor.

Importantly, it’s also essential for your corporate tweeter to be a strong representative for the brand OFFline before trying to be one online. That requirement alone would suggest, “Let the intern do it,” probably isn’t the right answer when deciding who should handle corporate social media accounts.

While there are plenty of tests online for emotional intelligence, what can you do to check for the right degree of brand advocacy skills? How about a test for the offline brand attributes a corporate tweeter needs as well?

Here’s my suggestion for an “Is Your Corporate Tweeter Ready?” test.

Using a scale where 3 is “Completely trust them,” 2 is “Somewhat trust them,” and 1 is “OMG! I’d never trust them to do that!” ask yourself if you’d depend on the person you’re having (or considering having) do your corporate tweeting to:

  • Actively participate in a sales call on your largest customer or customer group?
  • Review your brand standards document not only for typos but for real strategic brand errors?
  • Speak about your brand and what it represents to a large group of employees?
  • Work a customer service shift unsupervised?
  • Credibly summarize your business, what you do, and discuss its size, scope, and prospects with a group of potential investors?
  • Have a conversation with a competitor without disclosing any proprietary or otherwise competitively damaging information about your company?
  • Be interviewed by a national (or even local) TV reporter who is doing an unfavorable profile about your company?

Total up the score. How did your corporate tweeter do?

Here’s my recommendation for evaluating the scores:

  • 18 – 21: You have a strong candidate to be handling social media updates for your organization.
  • 13 – 17: This person has real potential for social media success, but there are some fundamental brand-related areas which need development.
  • 12 or under: Maybe this person’s a blogger where you have time to edit and make sure they’re aligned with your brand, but don’t put them behind a Twitter or Facebook account….EVER!

What do you think? Are these the right situations and scoring?

And do you have the right person tweeting for you? Mike Brown

 

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours…even though we won’t tweet 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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