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I’m presenting an updated version of our “Busting Creativity Barriers – An Inspiring Dose of Brainzooming” today, right in the heart of World Creativity and Innovation Week. If you’d like to bust your creative thinking barriers, here are twenty-two source links for the three major creative thinking skills themes in the presentation. Enjoy busting your creative barriers!

Creativity Thinking Skills for You and Your Team

On-the-Road---ET-and-Friend

Creative Structures and Creative Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Busting Creativity Barriers

One-Creative-Step

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


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I will admit to not being the most perceptive person in the world.

Even if I would not admit it, however, my wife would tell you that (assuming she reads the blog, which she does not).

In any event, over the course of my career – and I’m sure yours as well – it’s been imperative to get better at addressing the right strategic thinking questions to read other people’s interests, priorities, and behaviors. This is vital to making sure we can help someone else be more successful. Often, there is a clear tie between facilitating overall business success and whether you can assist an individual leader in becoming more personally successful.

What do you watch for to get a good read on someone else?

This question surfaced recently while trying to anticipate whether someone would engage and actually take action to move an initiative ahead. Up until that point, the person was talking a good game, but not delivering on the talk.

21 Strategic Thinking Questions for Reading Someone Else

read-other-person

This is not an exhaustive list of strategic thinking questions for reading someone else, but it is the list running through the back of my head based on this recent experience:

  1. What things intrigue this person?
  2. Where does he/she spend her time?
  3. Does the time investment match up with what money, words, and visible behaviors suggest are most important?
  4. What is the ratio over time between this person being successful and falling short?
  5. What events or patterns always happen when the person is successful?
  6. What events or patterns always happen when the person falls short?
  7. How does the person talk about others?
  8. What do other people around this person have to say about him/her?
  9. Is the person timely most of the time?
  10. Do they focus on the big picture, the details, or both?
  11. Do they get it right on the big picture, the details, or both?
  12. Does this person act in largely consistent patterns, and if so, what are they?
  13. Is this person predictable or not?
  14. If the person isn’t predictable, are they predictably unpredictable or not?
  15. How can you fit seemingly disconnected pieces about the person into a bigger story that suggests future behavior?
  16. What personal strengths does he/she gravitate toward?
  17. Which personal strengths does he/she avoid?
  18. What personal weaknesses doesn’t this person realize?
  19. How often does the person do what he/she says?
  20. How often does the person do things he/she doesn’t talk about in advance?
  21. Can this person think outside him/herself, or is it all about what’s good for him/her?

What does your arsenal of strategic thinking questions for reading others include? – Mike Brown

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic impact, and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

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In some ways, it’s easier to change a brand strategy than to implement the strategy you already have in place.

Why is that?

Because it is possible for one executive or a small leadership team group to decide to change the brand strategy, and it’s done. Implementing the strategy that’s already in place, however, depends on the entire organization and the positive reaction and participation of key audiences to be successful.

See what we mean?

Just because it’s easier to change your brand strategy than implement the current one does not mean it is a good idea. In fact, it could be a horrendous idea.

Change-Repaint

10 Bad Reasons to Change Strategy

And as we were thinking about situations were a brand strategy get changed without solid, strategic reasons, we came up with these 10 bad reasons to change strategy:

  1. There was solid work behind the current strategy, but there’s impatience with how long it’s taking to get results.
  2. An executive (or perhaps the whole organization) is bored with the current strategy because it’s been in place so long.
  3. An executive is new to the organization and immediately adopting a new brand strategy seems like a sign of meaningful change.
  4. Because there has been a sudden blip in performance that no one seems to be able to explain.
  5. There’s an ill-founded public outcry about the current strategy as it’s implemented or becomes more visible to key audiences.
  6. When a competitor implements a new strategy that doesn’t make sense for you organization based on your target audience, cost structure, etc.
  7. When a well-known company in another industry implements a highly publicized strategy with no strategic connection to your brand or industry.
  8. Because everyone on the executive team has read the latest business strategy book that’s getting a lot of buzz.
  9. When you’re business is highly dependent on the external environment (i.e., commodities-based businesses), and wild external swings are challenging but are likely short-lived.
  10. Because of one conversation with one customer, supplier, or analyst that thinks you should change strategy.

You heard it here. Don’t change your brand strategy for any of these reasons.

Agreed?

10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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I learned in a Bible class that one meaning of the word “holy” is “to be set apart.” In the case of religion, obviously, whatever is considered holy is being set apart for God.

Extending this idea to business can help explain executives who act as if they are the only ones involved in developing strategy for their organizations.

Many executives commonly think, believe, and act as if strategic planning activities are “holy” since they are set apart as something in which only leaders can participate.

Everyone else gets told (ideally) or not (far too often) what the company strategy means for employees, customers, and other stakeholder groups. This communication about strategy may be so superficial it is nearly impossible for an employee to understand and connect to the business strategy to effectively it to life with customers.

Who Participates in Strategic Planning Activities?

At its heart, how the broader organization participates in strategic planning activities is a philosophical issue about what “owning” a company’s strategy means. This extends to who in an organization (or even outside an organization) provides input, hypothesizes about, develops,  shapes, articulates, and implements strategy.

From spending most of my career in the Fortune 500 world leading and participating in developing strategy, the approach The Brainzooming Group supports is that strategy SHOULD NOT be considered “holy.” We push for and support more people participating in developing strategy because it paves the way for dramatic marketplace success.

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Our thinking about strategy permeates the content here.

Creating Strategic Impact and Results!!!

Additionally, The Brainzooming Group has published a new mini-book for senior executives called, “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact throughout an Organization.”

In this mini-book, we share ten lessons for how senior executives should approach developing strategy as an open, collaborative process that meaningfully involves participants and insights from inside and outside their organizations.

These lessons from our work with clients across industries lead to discovering new ideas and changing how organizations serve customers more successfully. The lessons include how to efficiently incorporate a wide number of perspectives about delivering value and more seamlessly linking strategy and implementation throughout the organization.

Download your copy of “Results” today and get a big head start beating your competitors to new heights for strategic impact and dramatic results!


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You want to innovate. You know it’s important to innovate. Your customers’ behaviors are screaming it is beyond time to develop an innovation strategy and do something about it.

A problem we hear about often, however, is you have few resources to develop an innovation strategy and get started innovating.

Insights, capital, time, expertise, strategic support, people, data, materials, and processes could all be missing resources. None are necessarily standalone resources. They are typically connected to one another, i.e., a lack of insights could be because of lack of data, no people to analyze or identify insights, or no processes to turn insights into tangible innovation.

16 Keys for Innovating with No Resources

If you have hit the “no resources to innovate” wall (once or multiple times), here are sixteen areas to explore for new ideas on innovating with no resources (or at least fewer than you think you might need).

Empty-Cupboard-Canva

These questions are built around the six infamous storytelling words (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How). Each is coupled with the important word, else, as a way to find alternatives and get around any walls that stand in the way of a successful innovation strategy with tight resources.

WHO ELSE . . .

  • Might participate in our innovation strategy?
  • Would know someone who wants to participate?
  • Is already addressing new product innovation in this area?

WHAT ELSE . . .

  • Would permit us to innovate with fewer resources?
  • Could be an input to leapfrog our innovation strategy?
  • Might spin off resources available for innovation?

WHERE ELSE . . .

  • Could we advance this idea with a different audience?
  • Might we tap additional people to help develop parts of this new product innovation idea?
  • Could we get a head start in learning what others already know about innovation in this area?

WHEN ELSE . . .

  • Might we get resources in place to support this innovation strategy?
  • Could we build support with new audiences we could reach?
  • Would we be better prepared to launch this new product innovation?

WHY ELSE . . .

  • Would others support this innovation strategy?
  • Could we persuade others in our organization to support funding this innovation?
  • Might customers want to get involved with this new product innovation sooner rather than later?

HOW ELSE . . .

  • Could we organize our innovation strategy to start innovating right away?

This is just a start. You can adapt and customize the list to your specific situation.

Rethinking Your Innovation Strategy

Whether you’re on your own or part of a small (or even larger) team dedicated to developing an innovation strategy in the apparent absence of resources, use these questions and get everybody to start adding possibilities.

Do it quietly (where each person adds answers to a list) or loud (where the group is hearing and contributing answers all together). Either way, in 15 minutes, 30 minutes at the most, you’ll have so many more options to get around whatever the resource limitations you think you have are.

Try this. It will work for expanding your range of strategic options so you can get started innovating. – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

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This end of week creative inspiration is about pictures with very few words.

Beyond these creative inspirations, peruse this wonderful article by Gretchen Miller. She used a previous Brainzooming article as a point of departure to explore her creative motivations.

 

Feet Up, Creativity Down

2-Feet-Up

Creative Fuel in a 12 Ounce Can

3-Diet-DP

Caution x 4, Test x 3

1-Test-Test-Test

 

Might As Well Bounce!

4-Bounce-Off

 

Looking for Value-Added Innovations to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook
 

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Stephen Lahey, the mastermind of Small Business Talent, released a new podcast yesterday where he and I discussed innovation for entrepreneurs, although the principles apply across organizations.

I invite you to listen in on the podcast as we discuss how small businesses can set themselves apart from their competitors in value-added, innovative ways.

Imagine-Wall

One podcast topic that has not received much treatment here was the origin of the exercises forming the basis of the Brainzooming methodology while I was the VP of Strategic Market Planning at a Fortune 300 corporation. Our company tripled in size to $10 billion in about 30 months. My role became working closely with the competitive companies we had acquired, helping help them stronger strategic marketers – without being able to TELL them what they should do.

The Brainzooming methodology of creativity questions, strategic thinking exercises, and fun encouragement coalesced during this assignment. And as the intellectual property (IP) for Brainzooming came together, two important things happened:

  1. My boss okayed me retaining “ownership” of the exercises and tools. He agreed they were not revenue generating for our B2B transportation and logistics corporation, so I could develop them as my own.
  2. His assurance fueled consciously developing strategic thinking exercises and tools that worked for our company and industry while being adaptable to other industries.

Taking best advantage of this opportunity meant developing everything we did to be modular. By that, I mean all the tools and strategic thinking exercises could be broken apart and put back together in new ways to quickly support many new situations.

6 Tips for Creating Modular IP

Suppose you are in a comparable position inside an organization and creating IP with a life beyond your current job. Alternatively, perhaps you are creating IP only for your current position and want to get the most value from it. In either case, here are six keys for creating modular IP you can use, adapt, and efficiently develop:

  • At the start, design the IP considering how you could use it in other settings; that means it has to be generalized and easily customizable.
  • Name your IP with keywords or naming patterns allowing you to readily retrieve them online.
  • Break the IP into discrete, smaller pieces you can reconstruct in new ways.
  • Group related IP you expect to use together (i.e., all our branding-specific exercises live in one place; creativity-specific tools are grouped together).
  • Maintain both the original version and subsequent modifications; you may be able to more easily customize an earlier version than a later, more polished one.
  • If you have paper copies with handwritten notes, retain them also. Sometimes online changes are easier; other times, an offline version works better.

If you aren’t thinking about the future value of the IP you create, start now. As long as you can legally retain the ownership, planning ahead pays tremendous dividends.

Here’s the Resource from the Podcast: Looking for Value-Added Innovations to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook 



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