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What are your expectations from a creative thinking workshop?

That is the first question I ask the audience at a Brainzooming creative thinking workshop. While I have a rich array of content planned, audience member expectations shape the points I emphasize and lead to including other unplanned content.

7 Expectations from Creative Thinking Workshop Training

Preparing for a creative thinking workshop this week, I looked back at a recent workshop to review the expectations participants shared. The expectations are a good representation of issues, from personal creativity to organizational strategy, important to getting things accomplished in a large company.

creative-thinking-workshop

How do you move an organization and its strategy from reactive to proactive?

On a personal basis, certain strategic leadership basics are a good place to start adjusting your attitude and growth as a strategic leader. Organizationally, a change management assessment we use identifies the types of change challenge an organization faces, along with ideas for approaching them successfully.

What are techniques to look at problems in new ways?

We offer a wide variety of strategic thinking exercises to change perspectives and look at day-to-day and longer-term problems in novel ways. At that workshop, we concentrated on the “What’s It Like?” strategic thinking exercise as a flexible tool suitable for many situations.

How do you build a team to move forward in a new direction?

We recommend assembling a diverse team with members filling specific important strategic perspectives. You can add to the core group with three distinct voices that include traditional leaders, emerging voices, and those challenging the status quo.

How do you motivate others – and yourself – to engage in greater creative thinking?

It may seem easy to stay stuck in the status quo. But for as easy it is to not change, you can’t stop all the change going on around you. We recommend inviting people to participate in creative thinking through using idea magnet behaviors. Idea magnets excite and propel others to tackle challenging creative tasks. Leaders also need to cultivate an atmosphere where people understand it’s okay to imagine and try ideas that won’t be successful right away, if ever.

How do you choose specific creative thinking ideas your team develops?

Ideas are a numbers game. It takes many ideas to uncover the most creative possibilities. Our experience suggests that as few as 8% to as many as 20% of ideas in a creative thinking workshop are viable candidates to move ahead right away. Involve a team in narrowing ideas by letting them select up to 20% of the initial ideas consideration. Then use a four-box grid to let team members express their initial views on the value of potential ideas, while group discussion helps decide which ideas advance.

What’s the life cycle of creative ideas?

The cycle to get from few ideas to many ideas to the best few ideas may happen multiple times during one initiative or plan. You, as a creative leader, need to be on the lookout for when it’ s time to move between divergent to convergent thinking and back again.

How do you communicate new strategies to those that are less open to change?

Personally, you can ask open, neutral, and lean questions of people reluctant to change in order to better understand their concerns. Invite them to play a challenger role in constructively helping to vet new thinking. For setting an overall strategy to handle change fears, download our innovation fears eBook offers seven possible strategies to consider.

Creative Thinking Is a Broad Topic

These questions suggest how a creative thinking workshop can cover a wide range of techniques and tips.

If your team would benefit from honing its creative thinking skills, it’s a great time to schedule a Brainzooming workshop before you dive into planning for next year! Contact us to get your workshop booked today!  – Mike Brown

Facing Innovation Barriers? We Can Help!

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Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have free Brainzooming eBooks for you to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!

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One way to deal with a common innovation strategy barrier – fear of change and new ideas – is to disguise new ideas as your team develops and implements them.

Yes, you got that right.

If your organization or other important audiences that will feel the impact of your new ideas truly fear change, it may be best to make your ideas appear less new, less frightening, and less like change than they might normally seem.

Innovation-Strategy-Disguise

Innovation Strategy in Disguise

For a quick innovation strategy inspiration along these lines, this video is an example of doing something that doesn’t fit, but making it seems as if it does.

An Innovator’s Prayer for Humility

As an innovation leader, pursuing an innovation strategy in disguise requires a different perspective. Thinking further about the leadership qualities it takes to successfully engage an innovation strategy in disguise reminded me of a litany of humility I read frequently. It seeks help relinquishing our desires for the things most of us want.

Using the litany of humility as an inspiration, here is an Innovator’s Prayer for Humility to gain the perspectives to make successful change happen without seeking the notoriety and credit for it.

  1. Give us the purity of motive that the new ideas and innovations we want to pursue are truly for the benefit of customers and the organization.
  2. Give us the ability to identify the people and resources we will need to create change.
  3. Reduce our need for credit for generating new ideas and moving them forward.
  4. Reduce our need for overt direction so we can imagine and improvise the needed changes without asking for permission or guidance.
  5. Give us the energy to work early and late hours when fewer people are liable to pay attention to our efforts.
  6. Reduce our organizational visibility to allow us to make progress without calling unnecessary attention to our work.
  7. Give us the foresight to move forward with needed changes that take a long time to implement because we are innovating unconventionally.
  8. Increase our skills in innovating through trial and error, real-time learning, and integrating our tough lessons into future success.
  9. Increase the opportunity for others to see the innovation as their own in order to take credit for and support its success.
  10. Give us patience to wait without comment if people never notice new ideas as their own.
  11. Reduce our need to call attention to and seek credit for the innovation our team accomplished.
  12. Give us a sense of personal consolation if people never notice that new ideas have changed things.

You may think this innovation strategy is nuts. Trust me though: it can work.

Sometimes the only way to make positive change happen is to make it happen WITHOUT calling attention to what you are doing. While we have done this successfully as an innovation strategy, it takes a different mindset to do it with honest motives and a willingness to abandon your need for others celebrating you for innovating once it is successful.

Call this a prayer or call it a checklist for an innovation strategy in disguise. Either way, if you are trying to hide innovation to be able to innovate, these are twelve things to pave the way for it happening!

Are you encountering innovation barriers in your organization? Here is help!

Innovation-Strategy-eBooks

If you are facing innovation barriers in your organization relative to the fear of change, scarce resources, limited perspectives, an overly-internal focus, or other innovation challenges, we have free Brainzooming eBooks available to help navigate around barriers to boost innovation! – Mike Brown

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

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations innovate successfully by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.

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When do you start thinking about your organization’s strategic planning process? Have you started thinking about it yet for next year?

Strategic-Planning-process

In the corporate world, I used to start planning for planning in April.

Seriously, we started in April, laying out how we’d approach everything so that by the time we engaged the rest of the organization in mid-summer we had everything ready to go.

Spending that much time planning was a luxury when the strategic planning process suddenly became important to our company. That’s one way of saying, don’t freak out if you have responsibility for directing strategic planning and haven’t started thinking about it yet.

Jump start Your Strategic Planning Process

If you are playing a role in shaping your organization’s strategic planning process for next year, it IS probably a good time to start asking these 12 questions, just to make sure you’ve played through all the variables you can manage to deliver great results for the coming year:

Process Questions

  • Do we have strategic insights in place from last year’s strategic planning process?
  • How aggressively do we need to update them for this year?
  • What worked and didn’t work about the last round of planning?
  • What do we need to change about the upcoming strategic planning process to make it more effective and efficient?
  • What’s the minimal amount of plan documentation we need to do to align everyone toward the company priorities?

People Questions

  • Who should be on our core planning team?
  • Do we have representation from all the vital parts of the organization?

Timing Questions

  • How long does it typically take us to get a plan put together?
  • What are our options for shortening the amount of time this year?
  • Are there short cuts we can take that won’t compromise the strategic impact?
  • How much time are people able to invest in strategic planning this year?
  • Will that amount of time increase or decrease as we get further into the fall and end of year?

Take a run at those questions and see where you stand for your next round of strategic planning.

If you need help to speed up the process, actively involve more employees, or make planning more productive than it has been in the past, contact us.

That’s something we’re making happen across industries! – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Involving Employees In Your Strategy

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy that turns into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

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 stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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Have you ever taken a moment to consider what gets in the way of your company fully embracing business innovation?

Do you suppose it is fear of change?

Cat-Eyes

We were leading a creative thinking workshop for a subsidiary of a German-owned, privately-held company. One of the executives (who was a fantastic participant and brought a double dose of creativity to any group in which he was in) said at one point, “All I can hear are the ‘rules’ and the ‘nos’ with every new idea!”

Whoa! What is that all about?

It is about an organization’s leaders being comfortable with whatever is in front of them and being fearful of the uncertainty of business innovation.

Business innovation is a numbers game. That means there are going to be misses. And failures. Maybe spectacular failures.

If you are smart in how the organization is pursuing its innovation strategy, however, there are going to be wins along the way. It just may not always be possible to know ahead of time with certainty what the big wins are going to be.

7 Strategies for Conquering Business Innovation Fears

Cover-Image

If your organization is routinely coming up against fears of change that slow (or undermine) innovation, the new Brainzooming eBook is for you. 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears looks at typical fears and offers solid ideas for how to best mitigate them to push forward with new ideas.

This eBook is the latest in a series of eBooks we’re releasing on successfully tackling business innovation barriers.

Download your copy of 7 Strategies for Conquering Business Innovation Fears today, and start devising your strategy to put fear in its place! – Mike Brown

 

Conquer Fears of Business Innovation!

FREE Download: “7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears”

3d-Cover-Innovation-FearsWhether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for innovation involving any significant level of risk.

This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:

  • Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
  • When it is smart to call attention to even bigger fears to motivate progress
  • Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground

Download your FREE copy of 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears today!

Download Your FREE eBook! 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization's Innovation Fears

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If you’ve been a Brainzooming reader for any length of time, you know we’re huge proponents of collaborative strategic planning. Collaborative planning implies a process that goes beyond the board room to include individuals throughout the organization in meaningful ways to provide insights and input to shape organizational strategy.

Admittedly, collaborative planning processes aren’t all that common.

In fact, it may be relatively rare.

Because of that rarity, we run into potential clients with serious apprehensions about opening the door wide to have employees throughout the organization share strategic ideas. That leads to a variety of misperceptions.

5 Things Collaborative Strategic Planning Isn’t

Let’s try to clear up at least five of those misperceptions about collaborative planning.

Collaborative-Planning

Collaborative strategic planning isn’t:

1. Unplanned

Instead of just inviting people and seeing what happens, we carefully identify and vet potential participants in collaborative strategy planning. This step ensures diverse perspectives and a process that allows them to participate successfully.

2. A democracy

A large group really makes collaborative strategy planning work. We ask them to provide ideas, input, and even express preferences and recommendations. While that input is vital, it isn’t the final say. The business leader still owns the decision making for what makes it into the final plan.

3. A free for all

We design collaborative strategy planning for each client with a clear understanding of the overall goal. While the individual steps may seem to go in varied and unexpected directions, they’re all pointing toward the end result of a highly-actionable strategic plan.

4. The same for all participants

Individual participants take on different roles within collaborative strategy planning. They may work on different strategic thinking exercises and questions based on their perspectives and areas of expertise. The cumulative input provides a richer and more robust basis to align and coordinate the organization’s activities even though everyone didn’t participate in exactly the same ways.

5. More time consuming than less collaborative planning

Including additional participants allows for more efficient and concurrent input. Additionally, our design process takes into account what will make collaborative strategy planning participants most efficient and effective. The net of these two approaches is that our client engagements are months shorter than typical strategic planning processes.

Want to learn more about collaborative strategic planning benefits?

Download our Results!!! eBook and contact us (816-509-5320 or info@brainzooming.com) to discuss how a collaborative planning process can boost your organization’s strategy and results for 2017! Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

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 stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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You have heard the old business joke about the pig and the chicken’s different levels of commitment to breakfast?

When it comes to ham and eggs, the chicken is supportive, while the pig is committed.

Bacon-Egg-Engagement2

It may be an old and tired story, but it still illustrates an important point about engagement and the willingness (or unwillingness) of employees to go all in with a new business initiative.

The thing is, unsuccessful employee engagement strategies are not an employee problem.

It is a LEADERSHIP problem when purported employee engagement strategies are not working. It means leadership has not made a credible case for WHY employees will benefit from going beyond the bare minimum to justify going all in to make company initiatives successful.

We see great leaders among our clients successfully taking steps that meaningfully involve employees in shaping strategy and implementation. These leaders respect differences completely, ask questions honestly, listen attentively, adapt credibly, and explain thoroughly.

That is a formula that works for employee engagement, and it is one reason we shared our Brainzooming buy-in manifesto.

If you want to go deeper on a viable strategy to improve employee engagement, download our Results eBook. It highlights an approach for more collaborative strategy that provides employees with a real opportunity to contribute their ideas and be a part of actively contributing to your organization’s direction. Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

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 stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

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Summer travel is a fascinating study in how little people think about the ways their bodies AND their clothes will be stretched beyond normal limits. It’s a great opportunity to practice keeping your eyes very focused on what you are doing and ignoring the “local scenery” . . . Being on the road during the summer is also a great opportunity to write a “Larry King-style” summer travel blogging update . . . I’d never smelled that “new airplane smell” until the first flight in the morning. Kinda wanted to go kick the tires.

Airport-Terminal

I appreciate how women like going to the bathroom together. For two woman headed to the bathroom together on this plane, however, things are going to get a little crowded. My point was made when they came scurrying back within a minute . . . For some reason, the antidote to a failed group girl trip to the airplane bathroom is to turn on ALL the lights in their row and talk at the top of their lungs. . . There is pretty much nothing in the world important enough to me that I need to watch it on TV on an airplane.

Airport-Plane

There is no reason why my iPad should keep falling down backward when I’m typing on the table tray on the airplane. I don’t type THAT hard . . . A woman in front of me on the flight sported a tattoo on the underside of her forearm that read, “The only thing that’s constant is change.” Yes, and also that tattoo . . . The guy next to me on the plane is going to an “Intensive Retreat.” How I so much want to open his notebook and see what it’s about . . . Someone sent me a message saying she wanted to tell me I had a great body. She realized later her talk-to-text had translated “voice” to “body.” She was red with embarrassment. I experience the agony of defeat.

Calling “gate checking” luggage “valet service” is an intriguing, albeit completely false customer experience ploy . . . I was on a late Southwest Airlines flight where I think they decided to just not do any drink service because the flight attendants didn’t want to work . . . When you have a drink named for you at a hotel bar in the city where your employer is headquartered, you may have a problem . . . Overheard on a plane: Child says, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy says, “I love you more.” Child says again, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy once again replies, “I love you more!” Child says a third time, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy fesses up, “If you keep saying that throughout this flight, I’ll abandon you when we get to O’Hare, so I guess you really do love me more than I love you.”

Travel-Curacao

The lady at the restaurant where I had dinner told me you usually miss a flight for a reason. I’ll work with that . . . I went into an airport store that carried various Dr. Seuss mini-books. I bought, “Oh the Ways You Beat Yourself Up.” That title fit with the day’s theme . . . I saw a flight crew that high-fived in lieu of chest bumping. The female flight attendant said she’d have knocked the male flight attendant over if they had chest bumped. Ouch! Not sure which one of us had the tougher day. – Mike Brown

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Contact us to learn all about how Mike Brown’s Brainzooming workshops on social media and content marketing can boost your success!

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