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We are huge fans of using a four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises to help clients evaluate priorities. There is something about arranging strategic options against two strategic dimensions that brings new (often, much needed) clarity to a business decision.

While extolling the benefits of these simple strategic thinking exercises, we recognize not all major decisions actually come down to only two strategic dimensions.

That has been in evidence recently when making personal decisions having a significant business impact. My mother-in-law has been going through a serious illness, and for various reasons, I have needed to take significant time away to be with her and the rest of the family.

Thinking about the strategic decision to concentrate on family concerns, I cannot point to any typical decision factors in strategic thinking exercises that would place diverting focus from the business in the “attractive” upper right quadrant of a matrix. In fact, the decision involved many things I consider “unattractive” – long car trips, sitting around doing nothing, making small talk about whatever is happening, not having opportunities to exercise, scarcely focusing on business development, etc.

Kansas-Highway

In fact, thinking about the decision criteria on the way back from my most recent trip to see my mother-in-law, I realized the factors keeping me focused on family over business the past few weeks are ones I would never include in a business-oriented strategic thinking exercise: sense of obligation, ability to be available, and regret from not acting.

Even though these decision factors are all personally driven and there are more than two of them, they are the most important areas shaping my business life right now.

Pat-Room

So while our standard four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises overwhelmingly deliver what we need so often, there are times when you have to put them to the side and make the right decision no matter what the matrix shows. – Mike Brown

 

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Going back through extreme creativity content for a Brainzooming workshop prompted a new look at Peter’s’ Laws. We used these sometimes way over-the-top laws in developing our first set of extreme creativity questions.

Then, after a conversation about how a leader can develop and implement a strategic initiative without letting everyone KNOW a strategic initiative is underway, it prompted spelling out The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done.

Weasel

The name is a bit of a misnomer. It springs from a college nickname relating to someone’s ability to maneuver into and out of difficult situations in the pursuit of getting things done with no apparent political or social harm to the maneuvering. In other words, it’s about carrying out project management techniques that are vital to getting things done when thing REALLY need to get done.

This list will likely grow over time, but here’s a first version of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, just to get you thinking and talking!

Project Management Techniques – The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done

Weasel-Principles

What would you add to this list of project management techniques? You know, the ones where you have to twist and turn a bit to hold a project together and bring it completion.

If you’d like a pdf download of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, you can grab it right here.

Mike Brown

 

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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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Whenever readers or workshop audience members initiate conversations and ask questions, it is so much easier to write blog content.

I doubt that is a unique situation.

If you are looking to find more ideas for your content marketing strategy, have you tried mining your organization’s daily customer conversations?

Tap into open-ended customer conversations already taking place with sales, customer service, executives, technical staff, drivers, retail associates, e-commerce and social media staff, market researchers, and any other employees interacting with customers whether in-person or virtually.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Additionally, create new opportunities to capture customer conversations through listening posts you create. These are specific interactions you create to capture additional inputs from customers about your brand and its products and services. It could be as simple as actually capturing the feedback from questions you are already having your employees ask customers during routine interactions. It might extend, however, to doing something completely new to find out what customers are asking or saying about your brand.

4 Customer Conversations and Content Marketing Strategy Ideas

How do you turn these conversations into content marketing possibilities?

One way is to think about the conversations based on their nature (statements vs. questions) and tone (positive to negative). Categorizing customer conversations along these two dimensions is a first step toward turning them into content using the matrix below.

  • Positive statements can suggest ways to highlight brand value.
  • Positive questions turn into education opportunities
  • Negative comments are opportunities to anticipate objectives and challenges other customers are facing but not voicing.
  • Negative questions open the door to both process changes to address pain points and update opportunities for what your brand is doing in these areas.

Customer-Convo-Med

Effectively mining customer conversations sets you up to expand content you can be better assured is relevant to customers and prospects because THEY are generating the topics!  – Mike Brown

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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These five articles stood out this week in our core content areas of strategic thinking, creativity, and social media and content marketing. Each of them is worth a click and a look!

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1. Ten Ways to Weave Creativity into your Classroom!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State and her co-author, Julia Figliotti, have released a new book on creativity: Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum. (Affiliate Link) To develop the book, they reached out to more than one hundred educators and creativity-focused experts for creativity ideas. The resulting book features more than seven hundred ideas. In this blog post, they highlight their ten favorite ideas. Even if you’re not an educator, this post is worth checking out because nearly all the creativity ideas and tips also apply directly to the workplace.

2. The $50 Billion Question: Can Uber Deliver?

I’ll come right out and admit I don’t “get” Uber. Realizing that puts my WAY in the minority, this Wall Street Journal article about Uber trying to get into the delivery business (just one of several Uber-realted articles in the Journal this week), includes several refreshing contrarian voices. Products don’t find the vehicle at pickup or make their way into the final destination at delivery on their own. They are also perishable in a variety of ways. That means even if Uber is working for people, it’s not necessarily a quick translation to moving products.

3. CVS to Buy 1,600 Drugstores from Target for $1.9 Billion

CVS buying the Target pharmacy operation is an intriguing strategic thinking example. Two brands competing in several retail categories are planning to co-exist and create mutual benefits for both. It’s a great example of two brands engaging in an unusual strategic relationship that fits both of their near- and longer-term plans. Combing through multiple takes on the story yielded multiple strategic thinking questions a brand can use to expand its list of potential competitors and partners.

4. Stop Sending Traffic to Your Homepage: 3 Reasons Why Landing Pages Convert More Visitors into Leads

I saw this post on LinkedIn, but this is the original link from Mike Whaling at 30Lines. Mike helped us set up our initial landing pages. This is a great reminder about one of the keys to online and content marketing that many businesses miss.

5. From the Brainzooming Archives: Social Media Moments of Silence – 5 Areas to Monitor during Tragedies

This article arose from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, CT and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. There was a lot of talk at the time about brands needing to recognize a moment of silence when major tragedies take place. As of the publication date, I haven’t heard the same talk following the tragic shootings in Charleston, SC, but it seems like a comparable tragedy that should have warranted a bigger national pause than seems to have taken place. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. 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 leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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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We have said it before, but it warrants repeating: Not all the great content you share has to be completely new content.

Content Marketing Creativity

Any organization likely has a treasure trove of older, historical, and archival content that retains interest and engagement value for new audiences. Doing something to repurpose old content simply requires content marketing creativity!

This was highlighted this past weekend at a family reunion, intriguingly enough. My maternal grandfather’s family of eleven brothers and one sister was a very musical family. Various groups of brothers (including my mom’s dad) formed and played in dance bands from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Freddy-Joe-CD

One of the reunion organizers had the idea to locate, digitize, and clean up recordings from The Freddy Joe Band, one of the bands from the 1940s. My parents supplied several cassette tapes for the CD project. Others did the musical enhancements, along with designing the packaging and writing liner notes. The result was a wonderful remembrance of both the most recent reunion and a significant aspect of the family’s history for a new audience that had never experienced the band.

4 Questions to Repurpose Old Content for New Audiences

This experience suggests four content marketing creativity questions brands can ask and answer to mine and repurpose old content:

  • Does audio and video content exist that tells little-known, but intriguing factoids about the brand’s early days?
  • What rarely-seen photographs (or video) show early employees, customers, and products that have historical value?
  • Who knows stories about the circumstances of how people used early products that provide interesting comparisons to today?
  • Are there lessons learned from the brand’s early days that would still benefit a new audience of customers today?

With just a little content marketing creativity, you can save time and also open up new audiences to engaging aspects of your brand that are so old they are new! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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While it may seem far fetched, many organizations are already thinking about getting ready for strategic planning for next year. There’s a great advantage to investing time in early summer to identify changes to last year’s business strategy development process based on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you hope to accomplish for next year.

As you think about who to involve in developing business strategy for your organization, we’ve been talking for years about important groups to include:

We’ve been talking more recently about the three types of voices to incorporate into strategic planning visioning exercises – familiar voices, challenger, voices, and emerging voices.

Group-Watercolor

As you think about developing business strategy, however, there are three other perspectives to consider. You need people participating in strategic planning that are:

  • Familiar with the past
  • Grounded in what’s happening right now
  • Capable of imagining the future

As with the strategic thinking perspectives (business experience, functional expertise, creative energy), it’s rare that one individual will be strong at all these perspectives.

As you think about your entire planning team, we recommend listing the likely people for developing business strategy and then see which roles each of them satisfies. You can then look for where you have critical gaps in experience and perspectives. At that point you can be very selective and pin point the new people you need to add to the strategy team. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. 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 leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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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With the resignation of Dick Costolo as Twitter CEO, you are sure to see a rash of articles talking about Twitter’s problems, that Twitter is doomed, or how its potential business model changes will impact your business.

And ALL those stories may very well be true.

The thing is…smart companies realize social media strategy shouldn’t focus on building strategies around particular social media networks.

Smart companies are concentrating on solid business strategy moves to prepare them to start, grow, and nurture relationships with prospects and customers on their own terms – not the terms a social network stipulates.

Four-Twitter-Avatars

Yes, a smart company may be using Twitter to engage an audience. But it is always going to ready to transition among social networks – or other engagement strategies – should a social media network happen to go away.

A smart company concentrates on developing:

Yes, every organization should be focusing on these types of strategies.

These strategies will serve your business well no matter the Twitter CEO or what’s happening with any of the old, new, or yet to be imagined social networks.

No matter what articles full of social media network hyperbole have to say, focus on your own business strategy. – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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