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We’re declaring “Creative Quickie Week” through Friday! Check back each day this week for a variety of Creative Quickies! And enjoy lunch!

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Here’s a great opportunity to share your definition of “innovation” on Twitter with @stonepayton. Stone is running a contest through mid-week to provide one or more definitions of “innovation” via Twitter. That means that your definition has to be 140 charcters or less.

The total prize money is up to $1000 (based on the number of submissions) along with a whole bunch of publicity about how you are an innovation savant!

My first entry was “Innovation = A fundamental, valuable improvement relative to the status quo.”

You can get full information on the contest (IDEF140) here.

When submitting your entry, include @mikebrown in the entry to let Stone know you learned about the contest here.

Let’s turn out big with lots of definitions!

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From Business Week magazine, here’s a video overview of Design Thinking by Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management.

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Want to stay well-grounded in your strategic thinking?

Here’s an uncomfortable suggestion – have someone who can be your strategic pain in the ass. I have one, a self-described “devil’s advocate,” who never fails to shoot holes in our strategic thinking. As painful as the discussions can be (I HATE to have not thought of every angle), I never fail to walk away with an honest, passionate challenge that improves our thinking.

So go ahead, seek out your strategic pain in the ass. Just have some Strategic Preparation H nearby!

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Reviewing new logo treatments, we were presented with a page of logos looking as if they were behind frosted glass. The page’s title was the “Squint Test.” The point is a strong logo should be so distinct that it’s clear and recognizable even if it’s not seen clearly, i.e. you’re squinting at it.

The concept is related to previous posts on CBR (the rules of “Can’t Be Right”) and extends beyond graphics as a good test for any new concept under consideration.

Think about factors that might obscure your concept’s clarity, impact, and success upon implementation. Will the factors be:

  • Visual?
  • Auditory?
  • Related to lack of knowledge?
  • Due to misinformation?
  • From too small or narrow an audience?
  • Mismatched technology?
  • Insufficient resources?
  • Or something else?

Figure out the relevant factors and apply (or approximate) them to see how well your concept works when it’s in real-life, far from ideal situations (such as when a tree falls through the neighbor’s roof as in the picture here).

Reminder – Follow me on Twitter!

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Have a creative challenge you’re struggling with? Have a Friday afternoon creative bunch tackle it.

Get your creative team together mid-afternoon this Friday, head to an empty restaurant with a big table (preferably with paper tablecloths for writing ideas), spring for appetizers and drinks, and get their help innovatively addressing your challenge.

A co-worker had a naming challenge last week. On Friday, we followed this approach – bringing along some starter ideas – and with minimal set-up, had a great far-reaching discussion about naming and its broader implications for his effort. To his surprise, within 45 minutes, we had a longer and richer list of ideas than his group had been able to generate over a several week period.

So if you have a problem to solve, what is your creative bunch doing Friday afternoon?

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I was talking with a previous strategic mentor of mine about a situation in his current job. A couple of new people outside his direct organization are involved in several efforts he’s leading. The challenge is that neither of them, although very junior to him, has entered the business relationship with a learning mindset – either because of trust-related issues or no self-recognition of their development needs.

The net of it, as he explained it, is that at this point in his career, he doesn’t feel compelled to go out of his way to include them in certain aspects of the project that would help develop them since they aren’t willing students.

I reminded him that if he were being true to his convictions, he would embrace the opportunity to cross organizational boundaries and grow two people who it sounded like could clearly benefit from his wisdom – as I had earlier in my career.

He was driving during our conversation, with his wife hearing his comments on why these two people didn’t deserve the opportunity. After getting off the phone with me, she asked him to explain the situation and told him the same thing – if he were true to what he “preached,” he had no choice but to include and help both of them!

Remember when you enter into a strategic mentorship relationship, that it’s very much a two-way street. Just as a strategic mentor should challenge and help shape your point of view, there are times when you have to turn the tables and challenge them also.

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