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Sometimes creative thinking challenges come from inside your own head. In many organizations, however, substantial creative thinking challenges come from leaders and cultures that may say they want new thinking, but seem to do everything they can to scuttle creativity.

Thanks-For-Idea-Mgmt-Team

Do you work in one of those types of organizations that says one thing and supports another where creativity is concerned? If so, this Brainzooming compilation on various ways to combat creative thinking challenges is for you.

Organizational Creative Thinking Challenges

Individuals Posing Creative Thinking Challenges

Cultivating Personal Creative Thinking Skills

Mike Brown

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10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short 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 senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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

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On the Way to the Arch

Sidewalk-Signage

I took the picture above on the way to morning mass at the church underneath the St. Louis arch.

A sidewalk message to navigate the way to what is already a very visible landmark reminds me of my wife’s marketing activities in college.

St-Louis-Arch-Church

Before we dated, she was in charge of marketing for student activities at Fort Hays State University where we both earned our bachelor’s degrees. She was famous for using sidewalk signage to cut through the clutter and let students know which way they should walk to get to the latest music or entertainment program on campus.

Back to this sidewalk signage pointing the way to the St. Louis arch, however, it suggests multiple strategic thinking questions you can ask for your brand’s success.

7 Strategic Thinking Questions on the Way to Your Brand?

These seven strategic thinking questions focus on what happens to your customers on the way to your brand.

Put another way, is your brand visible in all the places your customers are going to be as they start toward, get closer to, and are nearby your brand – or your competitors’ brands?

Using the St. Louis arch sidewalk signage as inspiration, think about the following strategic thinking questions to imagine where your brand needs to be to reach potential customers on the way to your brand:

  • Where might customers begin in making their way to find and explore our brand?
  • How many different paths do customers take to reach our brand category?
  • What are all the other parties trying to get in from of our brand’s customers?
  • What types of messages stand out from competitors’ messages trying to reach our potential customers?
  • When our customers are looking “up,” “down,” or “to the side,” what are they going to see as they pass by our brand?
  • How many possibilities are available to reinforce our messages before customers reach our brand?
  • In what ways might we be able to use pre-brand messages so potential customers know they are getting “warmer” or “colder” relative to our brand location?

Run through these seven strategic thinking questions and see what possibilities your answers suggest.

See if you don’t uncover some new opportunities in answering these strategic thinking questions where you can make it easier and more apparent for your customers to find your brand from among all the competitive options! – 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
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Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





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I have dear friends that were ripped apart yesterday.

I have to admit I was only a fan in passing. But this video was on my Facebook feed last night, shared by Adrian Belew, the lead guitarist on the song.

Before seeing this live version of Heroes, I never knew the instrument running throughout was a guitar and not a synthesizer. I don’t know why it means so much more knowing it’s a guy playing guitar instead of someone with one finger on a keyboard, but it does.

I first heard this song while looking for hero-themed songs for our Transformation conference.

I was mesmerized the first time. And I’m even more mesmerized by this live version of “Heroes.”

Do yourself a favor and watch the video.

This song could loop forever and ever, and it would be just fine as I think about what any of us could be . . . just for one day.

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In the coming year, how will you check your brand’s performance and the activities you are undertaking to fully support your brand plan?

Here’s an idea for a new strategic thinking exercise that can be a big help.

First though, a little background.

What’s an Examination of Conscience?

If all goes to plan, I’m headed to the church in the photo to go to confession and attend mass this morning.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

When getting ready to go to confession, there are many different options available as “examinations of conscience” to prepare. An examination of conscience is a comprehensive set of objective standards to which you can compare your recent behaviors to see where you are lacking. Those areas where you have fallen short suggest sins you should bring to confession. By confessing these sins, you acknowledge these areas are ones you seek to improve upon in the future.

Not all examinations of conscience are created the same.

Some are centered on the Ten Commandments and identify where you have failed to obey the commandments. Other examinations of conscience are centered on works of mercy. These typically focus you on areas where you have failed to act. Still other examinations of conscience pull from multiple sources and customize them to your state in life (i.e., a husband, mother, single-person, child in a family, etc.)

4 Ways to Examine Brand Performance as a Strategic Thinking Exercise

It struck me how a comparable concept (an Examination of Brand Performance) would be helpful as a strategic thinking exercise for monitoring your organization or brand progress throughout the year. Just as insights from examinations of conscience vary based on how they are created, the same could hold true for an examination of performance. Your brand’s examination could be built around:

  1. All the over-the-top goals in your vision and mission statement
  2. The biggest brand aspirations of major brand stakeholders
  3. Best practices common in your industry
  4. Best practices common in other industries that are relevant to your own

These four ways to examine conscience aren’t merely a review against your brand objectives for the year. Any of these will constitute a more rigorous set of goals and performance expectations that might never include as plan objectives, but are valuable for painting an ideal picture of what your brand should become over time. Throughout the year, you could monitor your performance against this strategic thinking exercise to see where there are opportunities to correct performance and aggressively step up your game.

This is definitely a strategic thinking exercise idea from the Brainzooming R&D lab. But for current and future clients, don’t be surprised if some form of it starts cropping up in your strategy planning workshops! – Mike Brown

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10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short 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 senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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

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What do you LOVE about your business?

Love-Your-Brand

Yes, I’m serious about that strategic thinking question.

Can you say what you LOVE about your business, and what it does? Or what your business enables? Or the bigger set of activities your business makes a reality?

If you struggle with those questions, take a time out right away and do the strategic thinking needed to get back in touch with the love in what you do.

What brought this up was a planning and strategic thinking workshop we were conducting for a business-to-business client. While its clients are businesses, it is ultimately a part of a consumer market that is ALL about love. Yet when the client’s executives were participating in strategic thinking exercises and discussing the business, their comments suggested a dry, emotionless, and routine business completely devoid of any love.

Even in discussing its direct clients, who are often motivated by a love for what they do, there wasn’t any hint of love in the business.

HUGE MISTAKE.

If you’re missing the love about your business, how in the world can you find the best opportunities?

How can you uncover the special, memorable, and lasting moments your brand can create?

How will ANYONE care about using your brand?

Yes, even if you are in the most apparently mundane and boring industrial product, you need to find the love. SOMEBODY must love SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE in what your brand does or enables.

And when you answer the strategic thinking question about the possibilities and find the love, THAT’S WHEN you are going to find the great opportunities that seem to have eluded your brand up to this point.

Find the love. Find what’s special about what you do. Find it RIGHT AWAY! – Mike Brown

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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We’re developing a strategic thinking webinar for a client on cultivating and sustaining creativity among its salesforce. Since the webinar is with the organization’s sales leadership, the focus is on creative thinking skills they can and should be embracing to help their salespeople see opportunities in new ways.

Part of the creative thinking skills content will come via our Idea Magnets material. It’s focused on what successful creative leaders do to cultivate ideas both on their own and within their teams.

One specific comment during a talk with the client upfront focused on how to get salespeople thinking creatively bigger and differently on a daily basis. That discussion got me thinking about how the Brainzooming approach on extreme creativity and fostering creative thinking skills came to be.

team-creative-thinking-skills

Giving “One” for Team Creativity

Maybe more specifically, it got me thinking about how I had had to change my own approach to business to keep up when I started working for an incredibly creative, dynamic strategic mentor, Greg Reid, at YRC Worldwide.

Greg came to our business-to-business transportation and logistics company with a completely different sensibility than anyone else there. He operated faster; he operated slower. He thought bigger, and he thought about minute details no one would ever notice. He would challenge people beyond the point where anyone on his team was left standing behind him for support. He’d make us think through everything we were going to do then throw it out and improvise because something changed, and he saw tremendous potential success in doing something completely unexpected. He was often not on time, but he was never late.

Above all, for those that were up to the pace and eager to learn new creative thinking skills, it was an incredible experience to work with him.

10 Ideas for Stimulating Extreme Team Creativity

When thinking about how a leader cultivates team creativity, I’ll share this list of healthy ways to stretch a team to the point where it CAN’T do things the same old way and still be successful.

Want to stretch your team to grow its creative thinking skills?

Try:

  • Selecting multiple goals.
  • Taking on more than it seems you can finish.
  • Dramatically accelerating timelines.
  • Creating new rules.
  • Holding incredibly high, unwavering performance standards.
  • Taking so much time to think about things that it seems you’ll never start and get finished.
  • Going higher in the organization whenever a client or partner tells you, “No.”
  • Never letting a gatekeeper stop you.
  • When negotiating, always asking for more.
  • Expecting to do consistently do something that is “scary” different.

Pick a few of these items (or even all of them) off the list and start running your team with these expectations. You’ll find out who the successful creative thinkers are RIGHT AWAY! – Mike Brown

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

 

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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The folks at Armada Corporate Intelligence shared, via their “Inside the Executive Suite” feature, a number of ideas to improve the effectiveness of rolling out your strategic planning document for the upcoming year. They were gracious enough to let us feature the six approaches since there’s still time to improve the effectiveness of how you introduce your strategic plan. We list each of their suggestions followed by our own thoughts in italics.

6 Ways to Make an Impact with this Year’s Strategic Planning Document

New ideas and strategic planning initiatives are ready to roll out, but strategies often aren’t developed with a full understanding of the audiences most affected by them. This can create a mismatch between executives sharing new strategic planning documents and those on the receiving end that are expected to implement them.

New-Year-Strategic-Planning

While some approaches for smooth strategy roll-outs could be too late to implement, there are multiple possibilities to improve the experience and impact.

  1. Create messaging focused on audience benefits and motivations

While the inclination is often to communicate a plan based on the external factors that justify the direction, it’s far better to communicate a plan in language that motivates the relevant audiences to understand how successful plan implementation helps them be successful in helping the organization be successful.

  1. Make sure the plan language SOUNDS like the audience

If you’re strategic plan sounds like freshly-minted MBA consultants put it together, STOP! Even if you don’t have time to revise all the language throughout the plan, at least make sure the shortened version you share with your organization SOUNDS like they talk. Make the language so simple that anyone in the organization knows what the plan means for them individually and what they need to do to make it successful.

  1. Give potential influencers an early look

Who are the operations leaders, sales veterans, and others that all the rest of the organization will look to for cues on what to think about the strategic plan? Spend the time to identify the list of people matching these descriptions and then invest the time to reach out and give them an early look on what you plan to share with the rest of the organization. You want to make sure they’re bought in and saying ALL the right things about the strategic plan.

  1. Shorten what you’re communicating to a single page or infographic

Do whatever it takes to come up with a one-page version of the plan for each audience you need to embrace, own, and actively implement the plan. Make it easy for people to understand what they need to do!

  1. Identify opportunities for user customization in the strategy

Don’t be ridiculous . . . you haven’t covered EVERYTHING people need to do in your strategic plan. Be upfront and identify where employees have latitude to make good business decisions and customize how they approach and implement the organization’s strategic plan.

  1. Communicate the strategy in a compelling way this year

Don’t send out a plan and expect ANYONE will read your email with the plan attachment. Just as you try to cut through the clutter with your customer communication, think about all the boring, crappy internal communications that create clutter internally. Then do something completely different and exciting to share this year’s plan!

There Is Still Time

As the folks at Armada suggested, you can pick just one of these ideas and realize greater impact from this year’s plan. 

The big strategic thinking question is, “Which one will you pick?”

 

 

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 powerful 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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