- Part 307 – page 307
5

Last weekend, I finished the first large painting I’ve done in more than a decade. This was prompted by the prospect of losing a cool Howard Finster print that’s been in my office for years at work. I learned of the possibility on a Friday and by Saturday night, I’d purchased a canvas, new paints and brushes, and was gridding out a Peanuts cartoon to do a painting in Tom Everhart’s style.

While painting, I thought about the very productive bursts of artistic creativity followed by long droughts that have marked my life. I’ve always attributed the periods to major life changes (going to grad school, getting married, buying a house), but it doesn’t explain other creative periods, i.e. a tremendous output early in high school and doing a lot of cartooning the past few years – much of it on paper table cloths in Italian restaurants!

It struck me finally that the creative bursts were explained by bare walls – what triggered the output was the need to fill empty space. In each case, I’d moved into a new space with walls needing to be decorated. Some walls have been physical; others have been non-traditional – refrigerators, presentations, blogs. In each case, once the “walls” have been filled, my artistic spark has vanished.

Interestingly, the spark doesn’t come back when a previously bare wall becomes empty again. There’s a big bare area over our mantel where one of my paintings used to hang, yet there’s no inspiration to fill this empty space yet again.

My lesson from all this is that there are different types of creativity patterns. I appear to be a “utilitarian creative.” I don’t ooze artistic creativity all the time as many do. Instead, my creative juices get going only when there’s a clear need and application for the output. So in the future, when I hit a creative block, I’ll just have to find new bare walls to fill.

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 can be daunting to build excitement within a team that’s faced with maddening business challenges. Fortunately, if you face such a situation, you can delegate your duty to a cheerleading squad to help you out in the ways that only a cheerleader can by:

  • Exhibiting a winning spirit
  • Being a great team member and leader
  • Going to camps & clinics to improve their performance
  • Dressing in team colors
  • Inviting people to join with them in the cheers
  • Focusing on motivating others – both the team and the audience
  • Smiling all the time
  • Using a variety of talents to perform the cheers
  • Performing catchy, easy to remember cheers
  • Cheering for the team, no matter what
  • Having cheers suited to specific situations
  • Including a mascot as part of the squad
  • Being active during the game and during time outs

O – K.
For each idea above,
Gimme three ways,
The squad will cheer your team up,
On any tough day!
YEAH!!!

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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1

I visited The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last week after many trips through Cleveland the past four and a half years. Amid some cool rock history artifacts, the music and videos at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stood out as the museum’s most engaging aspects compared to the static exhibits – not surprising since rock music has never been about peace, quiet, and tranquility.

Of all the video clips, the one that gave me unbelievable chills was a snippet from an induction ceremony concert. It was a performance of “My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Here was a non-Lennon-McCartney Beatles song written by George Harrison performed by Tom Petty with Prince doing the incredible guitar solo originally created by Eric Clapton.

Prince owns the second half of the song, taking the solo away from Clapton just as Clapton has done so many times to other performers. And at the end, he throws his guitar in the air, smugly walking off stage because he knows exactly what he just did.

There is incredible power in creative diversity.

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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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

Does you work group repeatedly gravitate toward familiar ideas when innovation possibilities are considered? If that’s so, here’s an alternative prioritization strategy that could help break the cycle. It’s a typical four box prioritization grid, but with a twist.

Use “ease of implementation” for one axis, with a range of “simple” to “complex” to implement. On the other axis, instead of the more typical “expected benefit,” use the “level of comfort with the idea” and a “very” to “not very” scale (as shown in the diagram). Having your group prioritize ideas in this way opens up new areas of discussion on tendencies you have to prefer familiar, non-innovative ideas.

For simple, but uncomfortable ideas, focus on understanding what creates discomfort about the innovation. For uncomfortable ideas more complex to implement, probe on whether there’s long-term potential that could create competitive advantage (or look for ways to implement the idea with greater ease). The key with both cells is getting to the heart of the innovation discomfort. Is it because there are significant flaws in the idea or is it really because the idea is new, challenging, and unfamiliar? If it’s the latter, that’s often a clear sign that the idea could yield tremendous potential for customers who aren’t part of inertia inside a company that thwarts developing new products and services.

For ideas seen as very comfortable, the vital question is how to inject new features and benefits making them more viable yet potentially increasing internal discomfort.

Try this approach and see what it does to move your group toward innovative possibilities that represent more dramatic market changes and impacts. – 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.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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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Air traffic controllers shoulder tremendous public safety responsibilities. They have to process various information sources and flawlessly coordinate many airplanes trying to move through the same airspace.

Change “airplanes” to “priorities” and “airspace” to “resources,” and it all of a sudden sounds a lot like having to manage competing priorities in business.

To get a few new ideas, delegate your project and priority management challenges to an air traffic controller and see how they’d handle it. Shoot for 3 new ideas from each method below that air traffic controllers use:

  • Undergo rigorous training & certification
  • Employ a specific organizational method
  • Follow rules to keep things separated from one another and avoid conflicts
  • Remaining flexible while applying the rules
  • Incorporate & process information from various sources
  • Maintain an orderly flow of activity
  • Communicate precisely
  • Communicate regularly with everyone in their areas of responsibility
  • Speak in special terms & language known by participants
  • Display exceptional listening skills
  • Visualize what they’re controlling
  • Continually monitor each element of a situation without overly focusing on any single one
  • Focus on preventing potential future problems
  • Take breaks to deal with stress and to refresh their perspectives
  • Stay current by practicing / using their skills regularly

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

 

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

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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Having gone through a duty free area at a foreign airport recently, there was some great store planning in evidence:

  • Every traveler had to go through the duty free shop immediately after the security checkpoint – there was no getting around it.
  • It was very bright with lots of room to branch off and shop.
  • There were very visible sales clerks in brightly colored outfits (you guessed it – they were orange!)
  • The luxury items (perfume & liquor) were right inside the door, getting your attention early while you were still orienting yourself from security and had the most money to spend.
  • Toys and other kids’ items were located at the far end of the store, so kids didn’t get distracted early and potentially frustrate parental shopping efforts until right before checkout.
  • You had to walk through nearly the entire store before the first opportunity to exit.

It was a strong use of place to generate sales opportunities. How can you apply these lessons directly if you’re in a placed-related business or indirectly, if you’re not, to create more stickiness in your marketing and sales 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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