- Part 166 – page 166
1

The standard brainstorming ground rules such as any topic being okay for discussion and “no idea is a bad idea” are quite familiar if you’ve been involved in any type of idea generating exercises. But how does this attitude of openness extend outside a creative session? If you want to support more creativity in your workplace, are you willing to extend typical brainstorming ground rules into everyday business life?

Making Brainstorming Part of Everyday Business Life

Photo by: view7 | Source: photocase.com

If you are willing to consider observations on unexpected or potentially unwelcome topics as part of everyday business life, you’ll have a stronger, more creative team and organization. Embracing this approach personally has provided many valuable, unanticipated insights into how people are thinking and reacting.

This openness isn’t without challenges though, particularly with people whose personal agendas get in the way. Here’s how as a leader you can manage three less productive open discussions you may encounter:

When Something Doesn’t Matter

Our definition for strategic discussion is focusing on “things that matter,” i.e., they create real business results. In business though, much time gets spent discussing topics with little significant impact on real world business results. This happens when someone gets stuck on a topic dear to them, but of little relevance in the bigger scheme of things. Long discussion distracts from what really needs attention, leading to wasted energy and slower progress.

How to handle these situations?

Cutting off discussion on marginal subjects whenever they’re raised signals the expectation you’ll focus only on things that matter. Doing this, however, risks individuals shutting down on more important topics too. As a leader, it’s important to give in and discuss some of these issues, especially if valuable team members are raising them. You’ll more than make up for what seems like wasted time by cultivating a more engaged team.

Tackling Things That Matter a Lot

Maybe it’s a strategic decision, a company’s values, or a moral or ethical principle. Whatever the case, when a topic matters a lot, determining how open it should be for discussion is challenging. Typically, a decision has already been made or a very visible position taken suggesting those in charge aren’t open to further discussion or debate. Yet these very topics, when left untouched for extended periods, can result in blind spots. They may prove to be organizationally crippling long-term; in the near-term, ignoring the discussion can off-putting to team members who have legitimate, sincere, albeit conflicting points of view.

How to handle these situations?

One way to allow conversation on seemingly unchangeable topics is through defined periods where they are open for discussion. This could be in conjunction with annual planning (with consideration of a company’s values, vision, or strategic foundations) or during a specific forum (i.e., a special meeting or conference) where discussion is entertained and deliverables expected. By opening windows for conversation on these topics, you’ll benefit from new and potentially impactful insights without wasting discussion time when there’s no realistic consideration of change.

Dealing with a Biased Point of View

I’ve dealt with a variety of co-workers so convinced of their own correctness that discussions on sensitive topics quickly become unproductive. They expect their desired resolution and every statement is geared toward force fitting a personal viewpoint without considering others might have legitimate perspectives.

How to handle these situations?

There’s a maxim in courts of equity that “one who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” In short, it means if you’re asking for aid from another’s wrongs, you must not have committed a wrong yourself. I’ve adapted this concept as a guide for determining how open I’ll be to listening to someone who appears biased or dug in on a particular point of view. A person has to enter a conversation honestly – intellectually and ethically –with an openness to consider alternative positions. If someone expects an issue to be discussed yet is unwilling to consider alternatives or rethink a personal position, the privilege of having a topic re-considered isn’t earned. Set the stage by sharing ground rules upfront, making it clear an open conversation, or none at all, will take place.

Can Extending Brainstorming Ground Rules to Everyday Business Life Work for You?

So what do you think? If you’ve been using an “open discussion” policy, how are you managing them productively? And if you haven’t followed this approach, are you willing to give it a try and reap the creative benefits? – 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand 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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For those of you who follow me on Google+ or are like Brainzooming on Facebook, you’ve gotten a few glimpses the past few months of  a new project to create brief daily business reflections spanning career topics but also firmly rooted in spirituality, too. It’s a multi-year effort to compile all the input, and I’m trying to maintain the discipline to keep it up to completion.

To give everybody reading the blog a sample of this new project and its potential content, here are some initial daily business reflections from the early days.

Photo by: daniel.schoenen | Source: photocase.com

7 Daily Business Reflections

When your boss asks you to explore a new strategic situation, do not start your report out by explaining all the reasons why things will not work & sowing the seeds of discontent in the organization. Anticipate the challenges and share ways to conquer the challenges.

When you have an earnest non-customer looking to your organization for customer service and solutions, do not turn them away because they are not doing business with you today. Solving the important issue you do not have to solve can turn the person into a loyal customer.

Just because you have articulated a vision does not mean you can do it once and people will understand and remember it. You have to keep returning to the messages and behaviors that reinforce individuals’ beliefs in the vision and the big dreams ahead of you. If you do not do this, be prepared for the grumbling and negativity.

Some bosses are going to give you the flexibility to improvise and take your own approach to accomplish what they have asked you to do. Others expect you to follow orders and steps exactly as they specify them. It is vital to know how much leeway you have before you get to the implementation stage of a plan.

Have the right people around you – people who understand what is important and know your expectations. And make sure you are making time for your strategic team. Ask them questions; use them to stay in touch with the pulse of what is going on in the organization and marketplace that you may not be able to always monitor.

A real leader has to be willing, without hesitation, to take on challenges and sacrifices for those that he or she serves.

You may have to let your actions alone speak for you. Your actions will tell people who you are, and if they do not get it from what you do, no amount of words are going to suffice.  – Mike Brown

 

 

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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1

At today’s Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) breakfast, The Brainzooming Group is presenting an update on the Google Fiber “Building the Gigabit City” brainstorming output from the session we facilitated in early October. The Gigabit City session was designed to generate as many ideas and concepts as possible for how Google Fiber can be used to change lives in Kansas City. This means the time during the live strategic thinking session was disproportionately devoted to brainstorming ideas, with relatively less time on prioritizing, ranking, and analyzing the ideas.

The intent with the Google Fiber brainstorming session results (available for download on Brainzooming.com on November 10, 2011) are they will be a platform to advance thinking and progress based on the input of hundreds of people with varying perspective on how ultra high-speed internet capabilities can shape Kansas City and other communities.

Whenever you have brainstorming output that hasn’t been narrowed and analyzed, there are a variety of steps you can take to develop and move it forward toward implementation. For those in Kansas City, the Building the Gigabit City effort is linked to the belief that success for the Google Fiber roll out depends on every citizen knowing what they can do with the ideas and concepts shared in our report.

11 Next Steps with Brainstorming Output

Here are 11 next step actions people can take with the Gigabit City report that also largely apply to brainstorming results you may be working with yourself in your work:

  • Share results with those who have not been exposed to them. This effort’s success comes from getting the work to as wide an audience as possible who can advance the concepts.
  • Ask for more information and insight. If you have questions or need deeper understanding on the topic, reach out for additional insights.
  • Combine concepts and ideas to create newer or bigger opportunities. If a particular idea or concept does not really demand gigabit speeds, add something to the idea that ups the ante.
  • Diversify concepts by soliciting additional input. Not everyone and every point of view was represented in “Building the Gigabit City,” so incorporating additional variety to the ideas is a positive.
  • Simplify the ideas while making them more revolutionary. We find the strongest (albeit rarest) concepts are incredibly simple yet still revolutionize a market. Move a potential concept in that direction!
  • Enrich the concepts with greater technical depth. We focused primarily on concepts related to needs, opportunities, and challenges among various community groups. There are still many opportunities to dramatically incorporate technology in realizing the concepts.
  • Dissect the concepts to narrow and exploit a hidden strength. You may see an opportunity within an idea or concept that is not getting due focus. Strip away the excess and build off the strong nugget you see.
  • Brainstorm some more on the groups, concepts, and ideas we explored. There is always an opportunity to enhance previous thinking with additional smart, innovative perspectives.
  • Support strong ideas with the tools you possess. Great ideas benefit from additional people, resources, and funding to bring them to life. Pick an idea yourself or collaborate with others to take action.
  • Solve the underlying need an idea or concept is addressing by figuring out how to accomplish it. Successful innovation is all about actually making something positive happen.
  • Ignore all these ideas and concepts in favor of moving ahead with your own ideas to exploit Google Fiber more effectively. If you do not see something that moves you to action in this report, generate your own ideas to develop.

Google Fiber “Building the Gigabit City” Recap Available November 10

Remember, The Brainzooming Group will release the draft Google Fiber “Building the Gigabit City” report as a free download on November 10. We look forward to your reactions and the next steps that emerge from it!  – 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 to learn how we can help enhance your marketing 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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12

At last week’s “Creating Fantastic Blog Content” presentation and webinar, we discussed events as treasure troves of content creation. While I offered this comment as a “headline” during the presentations, we did not cover much about what specific content creation opportunities exist for event organizers.

To answer questions about what all these content creation opportunities might be at events, here is a starting list of twenty-five you can consider as possibilities when planning and conducting (or even attending) your next event, conference, or gathering:

  • Assemble live tweets into presentation recaps.
  • Create a Slideshare presentation filled with photos of great slides from conference presentations.
  • Video attendees at the event talking about why they decided to attend the conference.
  • Video attendees on what they are learning and the value they are getting from the conference.
  • Video attendees about why people not at the conference should attend next year.
  • Get all kinds of digital photos – presenters, content, party pics, etc.
  • Video exhibitors on what their companies can do for attendees.
  • Get presenters to share additional details, insights, or thoughts about their presentations.
  • Video two presenters talking with or interviewing one another.
  • Write articles from the content that you have captured on video.
  • Create lists of the best tweets from the event.
  • Invite attendees to write blog posts or share other content they have created.
  • Grab images from videos you have shot.
  • Turn photos and video snippets into a closing video for the event.
  • Have attendees answer polling questions and report the results.
  • Turn audio from video interviews into podcasts.
  • Create a presentation highlights Slideshare with three high impact slides from each presentation.
  • Have a question per day that you video attendees answering.
  • Recruit a social media team to generate content from more perspectives within the event.
  • Ask open-ended questions on the pre- and post-conference surveys about the issues, opportunities, and learning needs attendees see. Turn the results into articles.
  • Ask attendees what questions were not answered and answer these in future blog posts.
  • Invite presenters to submit blog posts or articles for the conference website.
  • Solicit attendees for guest blog posts they prepare after the conference and give a prize to everyone who creates content.
  • Organize small group dinners with industry leaders and video compelling conversation snippets at these gatherings.
  • Video industry experts and luminaries doing brief invitations (and by “invitations,” I mean “commercials”) suggesting your audience sign up for your blog emails and feeds.

Here is one additional suggestion about all this content you create at your event: Do not make the mistake of running all of it during or immediately after the event. Space the conference content out, perhaps over even several months.

While it is tempting to upload 50 pictures to a Facebook album because it is easy to do all at once, distribute the content over time so you do not inundate your audience. There is the added benefit of filling out your editorial calendar with less time-sensitive content. When you are under the gun to publish on a regular editorial calendar, being able to pull out a video or blog post from your event last quarter can be a huge relief!  – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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

Here’s the second installment of posts intended to demonstrate it’s true that pictures of creativity are worth a 1,000 words.

Creativity and Fun Amid Creativity

This photo from the Google Fiber Gigabit City brainstorming session The Brainzooming Group facilitated in early October at the Kansas City Missouri Public Library is a favorite among these pictures of creativity. Lisa Qualls (right) was facilitating the “Urban Core” group at the Google Fiber brainstorming session and took her group outside to the deck at the Kansas City Missouri Public Library to enjoy the early fall day and instigate additional creativity on building Kansas City as a Gigabit City (with help from Jean Gleason).

Kids and Outdoor Creativity

This picture is from the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE. The photo was taken following the Dimensions Education Research Foundation board meeting (my first) as we toured the Nature Explore classroom there. For someone who struggles with putting away what I’m using in my creative pursuits, I love letting kids have a messy outdoor area where creative materials are left in the open. Now, if I can just get that type of thinking extended to adults . . . at my house!

 

Co-opted Creativity

I’d bet money this character is the A&W Papa Burger character from back in the day. Located outside the Dairy Sweet (in some town I can’t remember) on the road between Kansas City and Nebraska City, the fact he had a hamburger was enough to put him in front of a hamburger and ice cream shack, no matter where he originated. Are there creative ideas sitting right in front of you which would be really cheap to use as long as you can get over not created here attitude?

Fun Food Creativity

eggtc. in Kansas City has such fun food specials. While my all-time favorite was Oreo Pancakes (two chocolate pancakes, a cream filling, and crumbled Oreos on top), I couldn’t  resist the Green Eggs and Ham when we went there recedntly! Pesto was the greening ingredient. They tasted great, although the eggs could have been even greener. What ideas can you grab from popular culture and turn them into reality for your customers?

 

We’re on the Eve of Creative Destruction

I have no idea whether this airport advertisement accurately reflect the CBRE attitude during periods of intense uncertainty and apparent chaos. But whether it does or not, I really appreciate the sentiment of acting when the experts are saying (whether because of self-interest or apprehension) it’s time to sit on the sidelines. Fantastic idea; difficult to do.

 

Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help in better using creative thinking exercises! 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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2

I celebrated my birthday presenting “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to the Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA) fall conference at the new Kansas City, KS School District Central Office and Training Center. While already impressed with the fantastic meeting rooms, I was so thankful that Christine Splichal suggested David A. Smith, Chief of Staff for the Kansas City KS Public School District, give me a tour of the whole building. The school district has covered the walls throughout the building with kids’ creativity via artwork created by students from its school system.

It’s clear from previous posts how much I love kids’ creativity, especially when adults go back to school on creativity they may have lost from when they were kids. As a result, it was a joy to have David show me the building, highlighting various pieces of kids’ creativity and artwork throughout the facility.

I shot the video below with David A. Smith on a rather impromptu basis. That fact caused me to revisit a creative activity I had not explored in several years: video editing. Beyond the great artwork, getting back to more involved video editing is a good thing, albeit a skill I need to keep working on and improving.

Enjoy David’s tour and insights about the artwork inside the Central Office and Training Center! – 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.

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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I was struggling this weekend to write a Halloween-oriented post linked to an architecture firm’s credo spotted during a trip to Columbus, OH last week. While a fantastic early thought about the phrase lent itself to a Halloween post (as I try to be more seasonal on the Brainzooming blog), I only had ONE other fantastic example instead of the five needed to do a whole post.

Trying to figure out what I could get written for Halloween, it struck me to run this Blogapalooza post from Sean Roark. When I first quickly scanned it after Max Utsler forwarded it to me, I wasn’t getting the whole Conan O’Brien pmpadour thing. But after re-reading the post, it was completely obvious that orange is my “relevant ridiculousness,”  as Sean describes it. Orange (and not just the color, but the orange socks, orange clothing, orange backpacks, orange office supplies, and yes, even our orange kitchen) not only suggest excitement and creativity, the ridiculousness of that much orange always provides an opening for somebody to ask, “Why the hell do you wear orange socks?”

Sean is a working marketing professional, graduate student at the University of Kansas, and a “Brand Master of the Universe.” To find out more about Sean’s title and how you can identify your relevant ridiculousness, dive in and enjoy:

Finding Your Conan O’Brien Pompadour

Pretty much everyone is certified in something. Some are certified in CPR. Others — certified notaries. Diplomas and GEDs are certifications. Few, however, are certified Brand Masters of the Universe.

I am.

Granted, it’s a relatively new certification, and as far as I know, it’s only offered once a year at the KU Edwards Campus. But hey, I did my time, I paid for it, and I can’t wait to put it on my business cards.

My brand sensei — Pasquale Trozzolo, trained me in the art of brand warfare. A notable chapter in our brand Shinto was to identify and exploit the relevant difference — the one main attribute that relevantly sets a product or service apart from its competition. Simple, seemingly obvious, but rarely mastered. After considerable practice and branditation, I have fully embraced the importance, and harnessed the chi of relevant difference. But like Plato to Socrates before me, I have developed a new philosophy citing certain instances that challenge the law of relevant difference. I call it the Art of Irrelevant Relevance AKA Relevant Ridiculousness AKA Finding your Pompadour.

What’s Conan Have that I Don’t Have?

Photo appears at: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v70/rushmoregirl/pumpkin07.jpg

Everyone knows Conan O’Brien. Well almost everyone – 74% of you according to a Marketing Evolutions study. What is it about Conan that makes him so memorable? Well it’s pretty safe to say that those 74% didn’t watch him on the Tonight Show on a regular basis or Jay Leno never would have gotten his job back. Here’s a hint. It’s red, it’s retro and it’s ridiculous. Yes, what makes Conan O’Brien so recognizable is that preposterous pompadour. The pompadour has no relevance to Conan’s comedy. If it did, his monologues would consist mainly of Abe Lincoln jabs. The relevance of the pompadour is its ridiculousness – ridiculousness that has stopped countless channel surfers dead in their tracks just to see what that giant red head with the weird haircut is all about.

A few years back VH1 aired The Pickup Artist. A collection of virgin nerds turned to an ex-nerd turned illusionist, philosopher and master pickup artist named Mystery to help them land beautiful women. Mystery had studied the courting habits of thousands of bar goers throughout his early 20s and developed the Mystery Method. A key component to Mystery’s opening was peacocking. Peacocking is donning an interesting (most often ridiculous) article of clothing or an accessory that gives women easy bait to start a conversation if they are interested. Peacocking sets pickup artists apart from the rest of the bar and (just like the pompadour) provides the relevant ridiculousness that is so useful in getting noticed.

So how does this have anything to do with marketing? Well by now, most of our products and services are contending in highly competitive industries with relevant differences that aren’t that different. In other words, our products and services are stuck in a loud, crowded nightclub filled with younger, more attractive products and services that only stop lifting weights to shave their chests and apply more cologne. How will our average looking products and services ever get the chance to speak to those hottie consumers? The answer is to whip out that hair gel, pile up a pompadour and get noticed.

The Relevant Ridiculousness that’s Right for You

Finding the relevant ridiculousness that’s right for you is going to take some good old-fashioned creativity — and most importantly, originality. First, pompadours are best suited for highly competitive industries. They’re clutter breakers so if there isn’t substantial clutter, your brand is just going to look weird. Irrelevant relevance is only relevant if it hasn’t been done before. Riding the coattails of someone else’s ridiculousness is only going to leave your image battered, your brand bruised and your career prospects left in the dust. Finally, keep your pompadour light-hearted and playful. There’s a fine line that separates creative and creepy – get close, but don’t cross it.

Great brand pompadours of the past include Ubu Productions — which paved the path for production company awareness nearly 30 years ago. Old Spice found its pompadour and, in turn, its way out of grandpa’s medicine cabinet. And don’t forget about the now defunct BK King who brought the Whopper back to the consideration set of drunks and burnouts nationwide.

So if your brand has become a wallflower in the crowded discotheque of commerce, take it from Conan O’Brien, Mystery and myself. Puff up that pompadour, spread those feathers, get a little ridiculous and give your brand some irrelevant relevance to separate it from the rest of the pack.  – Sean Roark

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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