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Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactWith any new initiative in an organization, it’s not enough to simply do the strategic planning on how to shape and implement it if you really care about creating strategic impact.

Even before launching strategic planning with a new initiative, you should start figuring out how the new initiative will be successfully sold and implemented.

Doing this involves many of the same steps as the actual strategic planning, and it’s incredibly beneficial to do it upfront. The approach you develop should influence how the initiative is developed (and who participates in the subsequent strategic planning) to maximize opportunities for success.

12 Strategic Planning Questions Before You Start

Before you launch strategic planning, here are twelve questions to ask and answer in three key areas:

  1. Issues to help or challenge the initiative
  2. Decision making
  3. The implementation process

1. Issues to Help or Challenge the Initiative

Identify broader issues in the company that might impact a new initiative’s success:

  • What are the issues that could help or hinder implementation?
  • How likely is each issue to be a factor?
  • How do we address these issues to enhance the enabling ones and mitigate the challenging issues?

2. Decision Making

Identify who will decide on recommendations about the new initiative as it is implemented:

  • Who are the decision makers and who influences them?
  • What is important to them?
  • What motivates them?
  • Do they support the effort conceptually?
  • How do they process information and make decisions?

3. The Implementation Process

Identify who will likely have to participate in implementation

  • What motivates those who will be involved in implementation?
  • What reluctance will those involved in implementation have relative to implementation?
  • What challenges will they have (skill sets, capabilities, resources, etc.) with implementation?
  • Do these individuals like to shape things, do things, or both?

Creating Strategic Impact Before Strategic Planning Starts

If you can get a handle on the answers to these twelve questions, not only will you be better prepared for strategic planning, but your path to new initiative implementation has a much better chance of creating strategic impact. – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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Clemmie-BoxI’m frequently asked how it was possible to stay, survive, and achieve career success for so long in one corporation.

The easy answer is I was “built” to thrive in an organization based on background, education, and temperament.

But that’s a pretty vague answer.

9 Ways to Get 9 Lives in a Corporate Career

When it comes to improving career success, here are my 9 ways to get 9 lives in a corporate career.

  1. Stand for something that means something and grow from it, but don’t waiver in it.
  2. Make sure what you stand for is relevant to what’s going on right now and will be relevant in the future as well.
  3. Know what your toolbox of skills is and keep adding to it all the time – with both your own development and surrounding yourself with others who complement your talents.
  4. Make sure you are low maintenance and represent minimal overhead so it’s clear there’s more value to be freed up by letting you do more things than getting rid of you.
  5. Build beneficial relationships with many people.
  6. Become recognized as a corporate historian, remembering what’s been done, what’s worked and hasn’t and why, where ALL the bodies are buried, and who was responsible for putting the bodies where they were buried.
  7. Deliver objectively unmistakable value that transcends opinion.
  8. Invest time to imagine what the future is going to look like and how you’ll need to adapt to fit into it.
  9. Always know where a door is and what situations will make you want or need to use it.

Those are nine career success principles I tried to follow then, and still do now to the extent they make sense in a smaller, more entrepreneurial environment.

What about your ideas for improving career success?

If you’ve been in the corporate world for some time, what are your keys to getting your full nine corporate career lives?

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I spoke for the third time recently as part of an internal leadership development program for a client organization.

Across the three creating strategic impact workshops, the client has made significant changes to its multi-day program. The modifications have had ripple effects on the creating strategic impact workshop, including changes to its location, length, day of the week, time of day, and room size / configuration.

We’ve also changed the workshop’s content and format each time to dial in the content specifically for the attendees’ complex needs.

That’s a lot of change.

And, at least from my perspective – and from attendee feedback – this recent workshop was the most successful presentation so far.

5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

Event-AudienceA major part of the success is the internal event organizer’s ability, determination, and eagerness to improve the overall program for attendees. Those positive characteristics spill over into her willingness to create an environment where the speakers can help her be most successful in her objectives.

Her willingness to share information and actively work with us is wonderful and NOT something you always receive as a speaker.

She knows details in five areas that allow a speaker to deliver a successful presentation, all for the benefit of the attendees, by providing:

  • Updated learning objectives for the event
  • A thorough description of the audience members, including the relevant current opportunities and challenges they face that speakers can help them address
  • What they know or will have learned before the workshop
  • The type of experience the client wants the audience members to have overall and from the workshop
  • Ways other speakers have successfully approached the audience previously

If you organize events or even a single speaker for a learning opportunity for your company or association, ask yourself whether you can address these five areas to help your speakers deliver for you and your attendees.

If you can’t address them now, it’s worth the time and effort to be ready to provide this information as you start recruiting a speaker you hope will deliver a successful presentation at your event. Mike Brown

 

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Baseball-FieldWith the major league baseball season upon us, think about an innovation lesson now common in many baseball leagues, but not all: the designated hitter rule. (Or more specifically, Major League Baseball Rule 6.10 for you precise baseball fans.) 

The designated hitter rule, which Wikipedia suggests was almost implemented in the 1920sallows a baseball team to substitute a hitter for the team’s pitcher in its regular batting lineup.

While preparing a strategic thinking workshop for a client, it struck me that the designated hitter rule takes what used to happen as an irregular event for a baseball team (and still does for National League teams) and simply extends it.

Extending an Irregular Event

Specifically, it’s always been possible to substitute players in a baseball lineup. Before the designated hitter rule, it was common for baseball teams to substitute for the pitcher, especially late in the baseball game. The reasoning behind this is using a pinch hitter to get a strong batter to the plate in place of pitchers, who are notoriously weak hitters. A team is willing to bet that the pinch hitter’s effectiveness in a particular batting situation will be greater than any downside of losing access to the current pitcher for the rest of the game.

In essence, the designate hitter rule says, if that move is a good one in a specific situation, let’s extend it, doing it all the time for the benefit multiple audiences.

And that’s a great innovation lesson.

The Innovation Lesson in the Designated Hitter Rule

Rather than only looking for high frequency situations in your organization and exploring them for innovation opportunities, look in the fringes for innovation opportunities you can extend to more situations.

Ask, observe, and identify what your organization is doing that might be considered an irregular event, a temporary situation, or only done in very special or specific circumstance.

After identifying possible innovation opportunities, see if you can extend these special cases to apply all the time to improve performance and results.

It all comes down to finding ways to get your smart, but infrequent moves, into the starting lineup of your business every time you go out on the field of competition! Mike Brown

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From the Road

From-The-RoadSome people have always had the EXACT same travel problem every time you see them. At some point, you realize it’s them, not the airline / car rental company / cabbie / hotel . . . I rented a car with 8 miles on it. That’s the runner up in my rental career next to a 3 miler in Orlando on the way to Daytona for a NASCAR race . . . At a sea food restaurant the other night, every painting in the place was of some boat, ocean, or river scene. And nearly everyone had lights behind the windows in the boat or lighthouse. You don’t see that every day . . . I’m not sure why it smells as if someone immediately behind me is eating a pot roast dinner on this plane.

Branding and Experience

I asked on the Delta Airlines Facebook page why they now call the Biscoff Cookies they serve simply “cookies.” They used to be called “Biscoff” by flight attendants. Not surprisingly, there hasn’t been a response . . . An intriguing, but untrackable customer service metric? The percent of times your employees refer to your brand in the first person versus the third person . . . Every time I see a happy, fun, engaging flight attendant I automatically assume they started at Southwest Airlines.

Talking Business

It’s great to talk shop with someone who does what you do. It’s even better to “ask shop.” Then you can just sit back and listen, and that’s where you get some great learning and new ideas . . . A cramped room can bring out the best questions and conversations with a presentation audience. When a room is too big, there’s too much space for staying aloof. Just the reverse is true for a strategy session . . . One warm-up exercise we use asks who people say you look like. I had NASCAR driver Tony Stewart’s doppelganger in a workshop, but didn’t have time to do the exercise and see if he hears that all the time.

Blogging

Being able to keep writing this blog post on my iPad while we land is a new great part of flying . . . Trying to beat my personal best of writing ten blog posts on a business trip from the East Coast to Kansas City. We’ll see how that goes . . . I don’t generally connect on LinkedIn with people I don’t “know” in some way. After accepting an invitation from someone locally who immediately sent a message for me to make time to learn about what she is doing, I remember why . . . I don’t “get” game apps like other people don’t “get” Twitter. I just don’t have the time . . . I’m cranking on blog posts recently because I’m avoiding getting tax stuff organized . . . These columns are the intersection of “Too long for Twitter” and “Too many for Facebook.” Thanks for indulging me. Mike Brown

 

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Parking-LotOne of the most time-tested techniques for facilitators has to be the “parking lot.” It’s the place where apparently extraneous comments during strategic thinking exercises go to await a time when they . . . are never heard about again?

That’s the problem with having a parking lot.

It is never clear what happens to a comment AFTER the parking lot.

In fact, I am not sure I EVER remember a comment getting out of a parking lot. At least not making it out of the parking lot and turning into anything productive.

What parking lot would you ever park in when you had little or NO chance of getting out of the parking lot once you were in it?

Parking Lots? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Parking Lots

We don’t have parking lots at strategy sessions The Brainzooming Group designs and facilitates (except for the parking lots outside the facilities where we are working).

Instead, we think of comments as fitting one of three categories. They are either:

  1. Germane to the current discussion
  2. Germane to a future or previous part of the discussion
  3. Not germane to the sessions’ objectives

If a comment falls into group number 1, we will capture and use it within a current strategic thinking exercise.

If a comment is in group 2, we capture and place it within the strategic thinking exercise it addresses, whether we’ve already been there or are yet to reach it.

And group 3?

If a comment isn’t germane, but it’s close, we’ll capture and place it in the strategic thinking exercise to which it most closely applies. If it isn’t close to anything we’re addressing in the session, the person who shared it needs to hang on to it for some future time.

More Efficient Strategic Thinking Exercises and Sessions

While they may seem counterproductive, it encourages everyone in the session to stay focused on the session objectives instead of veering off into conversations that aren’t currently relevant.

So park you cars outside the strategy session, and let’s work with all the ideas inside. – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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Have you ever inventoried the people you trust for strategic advice based on why and how you use their perspectives?

I’ve been thinking about this while trying to figure out what is missing from the people I turn to for strategic advice. As the group of individuals has changed the past few years, there’s something missing that used to be there.

It’s been a challenge, however, to figure out what the missing ingredient is so I can effectively replace it.

The 2 Types of Strategic Advice You NeedEraser-LV

To find the gaps, I started listing people who I reach out to for strategic advice and / or who offer perspectives I routinely consider.

As I listed nearly a dozen people and why I valued their perspectives, the dynamic was clear. Beyond the fact nearly all of them have been part of my inner circle for multiple years, they fall into two groups:

  1. They help me determine the right objective (WHERE to head)
  2. They help me identify the right steps to get to the objective (HOW to get there)

It probably should not have been, but it was a breakthrough for me to see these two groups so clearly.

Once I categorized the list based on how each person’s advice typically applies, the gap was obvious: I have lost touch with several people who supplied both WHERE and HOW perspectives for me. These are the very people who had been providing the most readily applicable advice for me.

Now that I know what is missing, fixing this gaping leadership hole is the next step.

Leadership and Strategic Advice

If you have not inventoried the people who provide you advice, give it a shot and see who you turn to for leadership perspectives on where to head or how to get there. And is there anyone you can depend for advice on both?

If so, consider yourself fortunate – very fortunate. Mike Brown

 

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