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While much of Brainzooming is focused on divergent thinking (i.e. expanding the range of possibilities considered), it’s important to also have strong convergent thinking skills for times when you have to narrow possibilities, make decisions, and implement a recommendation.

Beyond the benefits of honing your skills at both types of thinking, it’s important to know when each approach is most appropriate. There are definitely more instances now where I’m willing to shift toward convergent thinking, even though I might have previously ardently fought for exploring more possibilities.

Here are five situations where it may make sense to go against an inclination to push for more possibilities and instead settle for an existing alternative:

  • It’s an issue that “doesn’t matter” based on a lack of either significance or permanence.
  • Multiple unsuccessful cases have been made for alternatives, and you’re at risk of deteriorating strategic relationships through continued persistence.
  • Resource constraints (time, people, investment, etc.) clearly preclude exploration of better alternatives.
  • Someone is resolute in a choice and clearly beyond “being helped” by considering what you view as a more appropriate approach.
  • The best current alternative is good enough relative to expectations.

All week, we’ll cover topics related to convergent thinking, and how it can be used appropriately within a strategic thinking orientation.

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Don’t believe great ideas and fun are intertwined?

Here’s a quote from Parade Magazine by John Kirhoffer, the challenge producer for each of Survivor’s 17 seasons:

“My team and I go surfing in the morning before work – we call it ‘board meetings.’ The best ideas don’t happen in a cubicle. They happen while we’re having fun.”

So get out of your office this afternoon, find a fun place, and create new solutions to your business challenges!

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When you’re challenged, who will _______________________?

  • Inspire you?
  • Have a philosophical conversation with you?
  • Give you a pep talk?
  • Guide you through it?
  • Help you be a better person?
  • Tell you things will work out?
  • Challenge you some more?

Do you have answers to all these questions? Are you the answer to some (all) of these questions for the important people in your life? If either answer is “no,” you have some reaching out to do with others!

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Creativity isn’t always wild, crazy, and free form.

When you hit a creative block or venture off into a new creative area, structure can actually enhance your creative skills, whether it’s an artsy pursuit or part of an everyday creative role. Structure help get your creativity going and beat a creative block because it:

  • Provides models and creative patterns to serve as inspiration sources. An example is Haiku – a strict poetry structure with 17 syllables spread across 3 lines. If you can count, you can write Haiku, and its form makes almost any words sound impressive.
  • Reduces the number of creative variables you have to consider. Fewer options allow you to concentrate greater creative energy on those that remain.
  • Makes it easier to find instruction and input about using the structure itself. Think about the number of Dummies books available for a variety of creative pursuits.
  • Adds depth, since structure itself can help communicate messages. Icons represent this, since certain images and figures suggest far more depth than their visual meaning alone.
  • Can make your work more shareable, since others will already understand the form and be able to build on and adapt it. A 12-bar blues structure is an example since it easily allows other musicians to improvise within it.

No Ideas + Structure = Creative Block Beating Results. Remember that creative equation! – Mike Brown

To tap into your own creativity, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these creative benefits for you.

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From a recent conference, here are more tips for bad presenters. If any apply to you (please ask somebody about that), heed this advice!

  • If you are a flat presenter, listen to “Renegade Master” by Fatboy Slim before speaking. It will definitely pump your energy level.
  • Arrive early and do whatever you can to ensure your laptop is placed so you can see it from where you’re speaking. Then use it to look at what’s on the screen; stop turning around to look back at the screen as if you’re sharing the view with the audience.
  • Also have somebody stand where you’ll stand and see how the lighting looks. If the presentation area isn’t well lit, get someone to help adjust the lights so you’re not standing in the dark. If that doesn’t work, consider changing where you’ll stand.
  • Stop reading slides.
  • When sharing a list of what you plan to cover, don’t talk about each item in detail on the first pass through the list. Save it for when you’re actually going to be covering it.
  • Don’t tell me you’re not a professional speaker. I can tell.
  • When time’s running out and you announce you’re going to move quickly through the rest of the presentation, don’t read the remaining slides word for word. Instead, share the broad themes that you haven’t touched on yet.
  • Finally, go see Edward Tufte present live. It’s an experience that will help you immensely!

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Even your mentors may need advice and instigation at some point. If you find you have a mentor who is ready to mistakenly pack it in, demonstrate to them why it’s important for them to act, take a stand, or confront what’s confounding them.

I did it recently, and it resulted in a last minute change of course on a major decision.

Do it yourself and some good will assuredly come from you standing up for the right course of action.

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For fun, wanted to share two examples, one bad and one great, of restaurant marketing.

Bad Restaurant Marketing

This shot of the local KFC is from a recent trip back home in Hays, KS. It has a variety of problems:

  • A steak dinner for $2.49 stretches the bounds of credibility. A price that’s TOO low, doesn’t say value; it says WATCH OUT!
  • Extending KFC into steak doesn’t work either. Who is looking for beef when they see the Colonel’s white goatee and suit?
  • It’s misleading. When I showed it to my mom, she said it’s actually a CHICKEN FRIED steak special. But that’s not what the sign says. Maybe everybody in Hays knows that, but just driving by, you figure it’s an overly ambitious franchisee run amok.

Great Restaurant Marketing

In contrast, this February special from Houlihan’s is creative and on-target for several reasons:

  • It’s tied into current events - It builds off of people’s attention to the stock market. Any day in February when the Dow was up, everyone got free Italian donuts. On days when the Dow closed down, customers received a coupon for a free appetizer on the next visit.
  • It drives business when people are watching dollars - The Italian donuts are a higher-priced desert relative to Houlihan’s other small portion deserts. Inducing trial is likely to spur future sales since they’re incredibly good (trust me – I’ve tried them more than once). In the alternative, on down days, getting benefit from the coupon requires another visit to Houlihan’s.
  • There’s some built-in sizzle - The promotion includes an opportunity to win a $5000 savings bond. Strong because it gets attention, has a high perceived valued, and costs Houlihan’s much less than that figure.
  • It has built-in free advertising support - Once getting over the hurdle of people knowing about the promotion, think about how many media outlets provide 5x per week prompts on the Dow’s performance. It’s all free advertising.

Great marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, but it surely benefits from strategic thinking and implementation. Great job Houlihan’s!

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