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I spoke recently on “Cultivating a Strategic Perspective” at The CMO Summit sponsored by marcus evans. I spent most of my time on the B2B side, and there were a number of valuable sessions.

From my notes and “ideas” list, here are the first five stand out ideas along with related QTM’s (questions to marketers) from various presentations; we’ll have a second five from the conference tomorrow:
  • Kevin Young from LandAmerica delivered a kick-in-the-head on solid business fundamentals that Jay Conrad Levinson introduced as “Guerrilla Marketing.” In developing leads, look at all the available free and low-cost tools you have at your disposal (click here for a set of questions to help target tools for your business). QTM: When was the last time you did a 6-degrees of separation exercise to identify how you can easily get to your hard-to-reach decision makers through a contact you both know?
  • Stewart Stockdale from Simon Property Group shared a fascinating case study on how the company has turned marketing into a profit center, looking at its shopping center assets and visitors as media outlets and audiences, respectively. QTM: When is the next time (hopefully SOON) you’ll look at turning your business model on its head to find new growth opportunities?
  • Marketing legend Dr. Phil Kotler made the point that a CMO’s chief role includes seeding strong marketing people and processes throughout the organization. QTM: Are we all investing enough time and effort on this and the related area of team development?
  • My good friend, Nicholas de Wolff from Thomson used an intriguing audience participation exercise. He had one person try to name nearly 30 brands based only on their logos (he missed just two). Nicholas then challenged all of us to think about whether our brands could be recognized based only on our logos. QTM: Well, could they?
  • Keith Pigues from PlyGem shared results of a new B2B trend study from the Institute for the Study of Business Marketing. Keith heads the national Business Marketing Association; I was just selected for the national board. If Keith is representative of the passion, intellect, and drive of the other members, I’m even more excited about this opportunity. QTM: How are you giving back to our profession?

Check back tomorrow for another 5 take aways from The CMO Summit.

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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Here’s an interesting twist in testing your strategic thinking skills and perspective. Visit http://www.guessthespot.com/ for a quiz based on guessing which well-known sites are depicted in aerial photographs.

While some of them are apparent, many depend on you being able to discern clues from the surrounding geography. The challenge is that these locations’ surrounding areas typically aren’t shown in photos.

Thanks to my strategic cohort Keith Prather for passing this along. Have some fun and watch out on #8!

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 talk all the time about the value of doing a PMIR. It’s an Edward de Bono-based exercise to look at the Plusses, Minuses, Interestings, and Recommendations for an event or project.

Its benefits were underscored the other day. Stuart Fedt from the local BMA chapter was checking up to see what had come out of speaking to the group in March. My first reaction was, “Not much.” Then I started thinking about it for the first time, because I hadn’t done a PMIR after the luncheon, prompting the realization that the appearance had created:

So despite the first reaction, this event prompted perhaps more good things than any speaking engagement in a long time. Something I’d have realized much sooner if I’d have just done what I tell everybody else: create a PMIR. Lesson learned.

Speaking of the BMA, check out the May 15 Kansas City BMA program. It should be a great one as Tom McEvoy, president of Business Markets for EMBARQ will talk about the challenges of creating a dynamic new brand almost overnight from a company that’s 106 years old. For full details, check out the BMA website.

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 this Wednesday’s Change Your Character exercise, let’s look at exercise and doing it successfully. Specifically, someone exercising usually works with a trainer trying to trim their waist.

So let’s think about how we can apply a successful exerciser’s approach to trimming wastein a business setting. A successful exerciser:

  • Sets a realistic, aggressive goal
  • Works with a trainer to increase their knowledge, accountability, and results
  • Exercises regularly
  • Varies the workout to stay motivated
  • Pushes to achieve better performance all the time
  • Tracks and records their activity
  • Consumes less food
  • Monitors food intake by counting calories
  • Measures progress toward the goal

Next time you’re charged with reducing something at work (costs, unnecessary process, re-work, etc.) generate at least three potential new ideas for each of the steps above to help you improve your odds of successfully trimming fat.

Note #1 – Today’s post is dedicated to Jenn Oxler, my trainer for the past two years. With her help (and her repeated questions about my food intake), I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds and have gotten into the best physical shape of my life. Thanks Jenn!

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 [email protected] 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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Doing a creative development session several years ago, the ground rules were clear: every idea was valid and nothing people said could be wrong. A freeing experience, right? Not so for Becky. She didn’t participate that day, much to my surprise, since the session focused on developing themes for a customer conference, and she had extensive analogous trade show experience.

Becky approached me later saying she’d never been in a comparable meeting before and that it had been one of the most uncomfortable experiences in her business life. Startled, I asked her why. She told me at her previous company it wasn’t okay to suggest impractical ideas or ones outside the budget. Without more knowledge of our program, it was nearly impossible to contribute.

One idea at our session was having Lance Armstrong speak. Becky wondered whether we had enough budget. I told her it didn’t matter. By someone suggesting Lance Armstrong, the ideas could branch off to what he’d talk about, who else might cover the same topics, or how we could do team building as he had, among a variety of possibilities.

She also let me know at her old place, only people steeped in a program were allowed in planning discussions. And since she hadn’t seen our program, it was impossible to suggest ideas on the spot. In the future, she asked to get the topics in advance so she could think about ideas, write them out, and bring notes to the session. While I appreciated her diligence, in the time she’d need to write up 10 ideas, the group could generate 150 possibilities or more.

What a sad place Becky’s World (as I called it) must have been.

Think about it – do you live in Becky’s World? Do you and your business embrace new and apparently inexperienced perspectives because they effectively challenge the status quo? Or does your company actively force people to conform to a particular thought pattern or point of view.

Only you can decide. But if you find yourself in Becky’s World, take my advice. GET OUT NOW!!!

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 surprising how many readers go right along with popular business books that report historical case studies as if it were always evident that they’d succeed. It’s easy to pick winners when “the game” is over. It’s much more difficult while the game is still going. Having been in big corporation most of my business life, it’s clear that things which look very calculated after the fact often depend on a variety of very fortunate, difficult to repeat circumstances, for success.

You can glean additional value from case study winners by figuring out how the success could be repeated; in essence, what are the strategic bread crumbs that would help find your way down the success trail again? Here are four questions to identify strategic bread crumbs:
  1. What’s a generalized description of the case study, i.e. what were they trying to accomplish and what other businesses have similar situations?
  2. What questions would you ask and answer to recreate the successful situation?
  3. What were the critical success factors – things that had to be there for success or would have thwarted success had they been present?
  4. What steps would it take to recreate the situation or move it into another business?

Also use these questions in your own situations to create the strategic bread crumbs to lead you back to repeat successes.

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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This fun Friday (or any other day) exercise turns ho-hum ideas into bigger, more dramatic ones. We call the exercise “Shrimp” because it’s typically applied to small, leftover ideas (much like Japanese Steak House chefs save a few shrimp to throw at the meal’s end). Here are the steps:

1. Take 5 or 10 of your smallest, weakest, or run-of-the-mill ideas to reach your business objective.

2. Select an authority figure (it can be a boss, the board of directors, or a regulatory body) that could shoot down any new possibilities emerging from these ideas. The more distinct and well-known the authority’s personality the better.

3. Use your starter ideas to create incredibly outrageous possibilities by asking, “How could we turn this idea into something that supports our objective but that our authority figure would COMPLETELY HATE or would make them THROW UP?” Remember, you’re going for GENUINE ANGER, not just discomfort; it’s okay to think inappropriate, embarrassing, even illegal possibilities. Go for at least 3 – 5 new possibilities for each starter idea.

4. Then, for each new outrageous possibility, ask the following question to bring it back to reality: “How could we carry out this concept in ways that are acceptable, realistic, feasible, or actually able to be implemented?” Don’t settle for less than 10 new concepts from each outrageous idea.

These new, more mainstream ideas will benefit from being stretched beyond the boundaries of normal thinking. They typically take on a surprising richness and depth by having been run through “Shrimp.”

Also by encouraging your group to engage in thinking outside conventions under which it normally operates, the exercise creates both great ideas and great fun! What more could you want for a Friday!

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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