- Part 307 – page 307
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The title is from a leadership presentation that I do. It’s how I’ve tried to live my life in business, organizations, and relationships. I’d never specifically articulated what “understanding the political fray” means though until a good friend said recently that she’s just not politically savvy. Here are eight general principles I shared with her for being attuned to an organization’s political environment.

  • Understand the organization’s long-term needs. Use your strengths to best address those needs and create results.
  • Know “what” drives the business – which revenue streams and cost centers really matter.
  • Translate that into “who” drives the business. Then figure out where you stand now relative to the “what’s” and the “who’s,” and where you want to stand relative to both in the future.
  • Figure out the organization’s tolerance for variation from the norm in the areas (important and unfortunately, trivial) on which people judge people. Know what the expectation is for fitting a certain type and make very conscious decisions about where you’ll play along (i.e., “fit”), and where you’ll make your stand for being different.
  • Consistently and unequivocally deliver value. Do it for lots of people at all levels of the company – above you, with peers, and at lower levels of the organization.
  • Make sure you’re seen as someone people can talk to and confide in reliably. Ask open ended questions, listen, provide a little bit of sound counsel, and keep confidences. You’ll help others and learn a lot.
  • Always know who you can trust. Challenging issues and situations are great tests of this. The people who support you and / or have your back during the intense times are the people that you should go out of your way to invest in generously.
  • Don’t stop thinking, and don’t say everything you think.
  • Cultivate as many personal options as possible, and know how realistically they can come to fruition.

This list has helped me. Please take the opportunity to share what’s worked for you.

Today’s Get ‘Er Written Approach A non-starter that was rescued. The original approach was too specific. I needed time to come back and generalize it for the blog.

Thanks for coming along on “Get ‘Er Written” week.

Ideally you’ve gotten some ideas in these posts for how to rescue the scraps of paper and incomplete electronic files that may still hold the seeds of creative or strategic value for you. Don’t be reluctant to twist, turn, and gut them in the interest of revealing lessons that could be very relevant for your current situation in business or personal life!

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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0

Someone showed me a list of nearly 30 salesperson expectations in their company; these were things salespeople were expected to be informed about and follow at all times. Most of the processes and behaviors were reasonable, although the list came across as sprawling because there was no attempt to help readers make sense of its varied topics.

It was a classic example of intellectual laziness – failing to make the effort to help the audience process and act on information successfully. The lesson is if you must share a long list of complex or diverse information with a broad audience, do the hard work yourself of organizing it in ways to make it more memorable and easily implemented.

Understanding that people can only remember about 7 things at one time, look for meaningful groupings in a big list. Some possibilities could include:

  • Categorizing it by subject or type
  • Using a chronological sequence in particular steps or phases
  • Assigning clear priority levels to tasks

These are just a few possibilities; there are certainly others. The key point is to place yourself in the reader’s role, imagine you know nothing about the information, and think through and organize it in a way that allows your audience to spend much less time on deciphering it, and much more time on doing something with it.

Today’s Get ‘Er Written Approach Eliminating a theme that wasn’t relevant (in this case, cutting out a rant about bosses and teamwork that was getting in the way).

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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We can all recall great school teachers who made otherwise boring subjects come alive and taught lessons that shape us still.

We’re all teachers in our own ways. There are people that we work and interact with daily who look to us for both technical learning and life lessons. Let’s explore great teachers’ approaches and see what they can teach us about our teaching roles. Great teachers:

  • Present challenging concepts
  • Are passionate about their subject(s)
  • Use vivid stories to illustrate lessons
  • Ask you about the subject area even outside the class room
  • Are true to the principles they teach
  • Teach heuristics to master & use the content
  • Make complex topics understandable
  • Are interactive
  • Make learning fun and rewarding
  • Don’t simply give answers away for the asking
  • Are still actively learning themselves
  • Have a love for the material / topic
  • Adapt to students’ various learning styles

Identify three new ideas for each of the approaches above that you can adapt to become a better teacher to those around you.

This post is dedicated to Dave Wessling, for so many reasons. May he rest in peace.

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – 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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3

“I like progress, but I hate change. And I think that counts for something in this day and age. I think it also has helped my career . . . You just stay the course, and do what it is that you do, and grow while you’re doing it. Eventually, it will either come full circle, or at least you’ll go to bed at night happy.” – Jon Bon Jovi

This quote is intriguing, and it appears to come down to this question: are there parts of your life that you are willing to live in an apparent “rut” so you can disproportionately focus your creative energy in areas that are most important to you? In Bon Jovi’s case, he points to having the same band members and a long-term marriage (18+ years) as constants that allow him to concentrate progress on the work that his band produces.

The idea resonates with me because I make similar trade-offs, keeping some long term constants (where I live, my car & employer, clothing choices) so that I can save up creative energy to pour into things I really love (what I do and create at work, speaking, writing, cartooning, etc.).

While this approach isn’t for everyone (one of my incredibly creative strategic mentors keeps most things in life in a state of flux), if it sounds like you, embrace putting parts of your life on idle so that you can be a rock star in the areas of greatest creative interest to you.

Today’s Get ‘Er Written Approach Breaking apart an overly ambitious idea and keeping only part of it.

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

I’m okay with having started projects that will never be completed. While I don’t have a problem finishing things, sometimes the overwhelming amount of learning and growth a project will yield comes well before its completion. Or perhaps the effort to finish it far outweighs the benefit it will provide. In either case, if there’s no overriding reason to finish such a project (i.e. a commitment has been made to someone else), it’s likely it will be abandoned.

Usually, though that means keeping the remnants around in case there’s more value to be squeezed from them later. Whether you’ll really get more value at some point in the future often depends on modifying the original idea. Based on the potential issue that’s halted progress, here are questions to ask for modifying an idea that’s:

  • Not good or relevant – Is there an element that has value and can be moved to something else?
  • Not fully formed – Can it be combined with something else?
  • Being used too ambitiously – Can you break it apart and only keep some of it?
  • Inconsistent with your brand – Could it fit with another brand that’s available?
  • A true non-starter – If you walk away and come back later, might it make more sense?

This is relevant because I have a number of partially-written blog fragments started weeks or months ago that haven’t yet made it into the blog. Before completely trashing them, I applied these questions to try and resuscitate four ideas into posts for the rest of the week. Check back in, and see which of the possibilities above worked to rescue these ideas.

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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0

My wife and I were strolling through Union Station in Kansas City three years ago and happened upon a collection of paintings in the styles of famous artists – Picasso, Van Gogh, Warhol, and others. All of them were done by Montessori students under the tutelage of Matt Barr. The paintings were on display as a pre-cursor to being auctioned to raise money for the school.

Having always loved Andy Warhol’s work, this seemed the closest I’d ever get to owning one. On the night that bidding was closing, a number of people were trying to outbid each other via email with Matt. All of a sudden, the bidding exploded on the Warhol picture, probably from parents of the students whose images made up the picture. At the last minute, my wife said she really wanted “The Starry Night.” On just two bids, we bought the Van Gogh painting for about $400. Pretty cheap by Sotheby’s standards!

The highlight was when Matt delivered the picture accompanied by his daughter, who had contributed to “The Starry Night.” Matt explained that he sketched out the paintings, setting the kids up to be successful in reproducing the works. They did the lion’s share of the painting, and he touched them up at the end.
We’ve not been in contact with Matt since then (although if you Google him you’ll find an interesting Snakes on a Plane for kids project), but what an incredible teacher! To figure out a way to allow the students to learn and actively contribute to reproducing a wonderful work of art is such a cool gift to them. It had to open up so many possibilities for those kids. And for us, it means we can always claim to have an original Van Gogh!

The challenge for all of us is to figure out what we can do in a similar vein to share our creative passions with kids and adults. Take the steps to introduce people you know to your creative pursuits. Give the gift of some basic structure and then encourage their creative energy to take over. I know I haven’t done enough creative instigation lately. How about you?  – 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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1

During a session on DIY strategic thinking with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) I received a frequent question when I talk about strategic thinking approaches which is, “What do they look like?”

That’s only natural considering I describe the approach we’ve put together as various parts:

You’re probably wondering too how all that comes together. Based on time, I didn’t get to show this video to the group last night, so to give you a picture as well as some of the specific principles we apply, here’s a quick video from actual strategic thinking sessions.

If you have specific questions after watching the video, let me know via email (or write it on a little yellow post it)!

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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