Holiday Inn Express touts its cinnamon rolls as a great breakfast treat. Even though they’re probably pre-manufactured far away from the breakfast area and kept warm under a heat lamp, they are pretty darn good.

And the smell of them in the lobby is unmistakable.

Interestingly enough, the hand lotion at Holiday Inn Express is also cinnamon scented. So if you apply any of it, you’ll smell those cinnamon rolls a good part of the day – a great sensory brand reinforcer.

Here’s the Brainzooming question: Most of your customers likely have all five senses, so how can you figure out a way to connect your brand to a non-traditional sense as a strong reinforcer?

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One of my favorite ways to work at the computer is with my cat Coco sitting on my lap, purring. It makes creative time a warm, wonderful experience.*

* Unless of course you’re allergic to cats. Don’t try this Jan!

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Here’s a quick video from a recent trip back to Western Kansas.

It’s a reflection about how rules and boundaries get imposed, often without any real consideration of whether they help, hurt, or in fact do nothing but waste energy relative to what’s really important.

Go forth and think outside the lines!

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To wrap up the week, here’s a link tweeted by Scott Frederick – an instructive scene from “The Office” if you’d like to see nearly all of the NOs standing in the way of innovation in just over 2 minutes!

Want to be more innovative? It’s simple – do nothing that Michael does. Doesn’t get much easier than that for a Friday!

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Last Friday evening, I tweeted a request for potential blog topics. @DrStrik9 requested a post on innovation amid competing objectives or multiple bosses. It’s a situation that’s very realistic, and while it can be challenging, here are some steps to take:

  • Understand the Political Fray – Make sure you have a strong read on the business culture and the political ins and outs of the business. That foundation is key to navigating successfully through varied perspectives.
  • Stay Rooted in the Fundamental Question“What are we trying to achieve?” Amid differing points of view, you want to be able to demonstrate that your actions and perspectives tie back to what’s right for the business.
  • Actively Manage Relationships – Differing points of view suggest at least two parties involved. That means you’ll likely have to take on a mediator role to strengthen relationships among the contending parties.
  • Identify Areas of Mutual Agreement among Apparently Conflicting Objectives – Find where even conflicting points of view share some commonality. If you can discern points of mutual agreement, you have a base from which to attempt to bring conflicting areas closer to alignment.
  • Don’t Make Decisions in One-Off Conversations – If you’re working with contending authority figures, use one-on-one conversations (or emails) to ask questions, better understand points of view, and identify areas of potential compromise. Don’t use them as decision making opportunities. Doing so means you’ll wind up going back and forth negotiating decisions. Instead, push decision making to joint meetings where all parties are present. This may require strategic delays or bluffing, but you’ll be in a better position to manage a discussion toward getting decisions made (and sticking) when all parties are involved at the same time.

That’s a starting point for something that can certainly be stressful and difficult to do. It would be great to hear what any of you have done in similar situations – what’s worked and not worked for you?

Want more ideas? Go back and take a look at the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” post, especially number 2 on “NO Direction” and number 7 on “NO Motivation to Innovate” for links to a few more approaches.

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I’m at the Charlotte, NC Business Marketing Association Lunch today speaking on “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation.” If you’re on Twitter, check out the hashtag #ncBMAlunch to see if we get some live tweets going!

Talking about the same topic at last Thursday’s KU class prompted a question on how to challenge ideas without being seen as a naysayer. Here are 3 tips to avoid getting labeled as negative:

1. Don’t Telegraph Your Comments

People often begin a challenge by clearly signaling through their body language (confrontational), tone (frustrated or agitated), or words (but, don’t, can’t, instead, etc.) they’re about to challenge something. Here’s an alternative – stop doing those things! Think hopefully about the conversation, looking for points of agreement; this will help modify your body language and tone. Then simply start building on the other person’s idea, even modifying it, without allowing your words and attitude to suggest you disagree.

2. Conceal Your Sources

People are also often very sincere in saying where an idea comes from, even when it really doesn’t matter. This happens frequently with new hires who trot out ideas prefaced by, “Here’s what we did at my old company.” The typical reaction? “If your old company is so great, why aren’t you still there?” In contrast, introduce a potentially challenging idea without any attribution, foregoing even claiming your own ideas. By allowing an idea to be introduced on its own, you can start getting consideration for it without any negative baggage its original source may create.

3. Give Your Ideas Away

What might be viewed as a challenging point of view from you may be seen as completely innocuous when coming from someone else in the group. The key here is to be comfortable with sharing an idea with a receptive party, letting them build and modify the idea, and then confidently in allowing them to introduce the idea if it means a higher likelihood of successful adoption.

Try these three, and you’ll be a lot less likely to be seen as giving NO for an answer.

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Sometimes you can demonstrate a perspective twist by taking something away. Here’s an interesting example from a bar at the Cleveland Airport. The person I was with ordered a Bud Light draft beer – all by itself.

The fact he didn’t order a boilermaker was so outside the norm, it received special recognition on the cash register receipt.

Next time you’re in an innovation pinch, try the same thing. Remove one element in your situation and see what it does to force a new perspective that you hadn’t considered before.

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