The Brainzooming blog wasn’t originally focused on project management techniques. Successfully going from strategy to implementation, however, is critical to business success.

Creating a strong, innovative plan is only part of the strategy equation. Implementing innovation in organizations reluctant to embrace the changes needed to survive and grow requires what we’ve come to call “strategic project management.” These skills go well beyond a project manager checking off items on a to-do list.

Here are twenty-one articles organizing project management techniques we’ve been sharing with clients to help create needed changes in their organizations.

Project Management Techniques for Starting Strongly

Project Management Techniques – 6 Project Manager Mistakes to Not Repeat

Getting a project started right is lot easier when you’re not making early mistakes. These are six mistakes I’ve made on project management techniques so you don’t have to make them.

Implementation Problems? 7 Signs You’re Understarting, Not Overthinking

Strong project management technique requires both thinking and starting. One won’t work without the other.

Twenty-One Project Management Implications of Wanting Things FAST

When the pressure is on for completing a project fast, there are related implications an organization and a project manager have to contend with successfully.

Project Team Interactions

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are right and wrong ways for project team member communication to take place. There are also right and wrong times for how you communicate within your project team.

March Madness and What Outstanding Point Guards Bring to Business Teams

A strong project manager is the equivalent of a great basketball point guard on a project. An outstanding project manager is selfless, a leader, and has multi-dimensional talents to contribute to the project team.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (To Get the Stuff Done that I’m Waiting For)

There are many ways to prioritize what you do next. When you’re in the midst of a project, consider prioritizing based on what other project team members are depending on you to finish.

Change Management

Built for Discomfort – An Alternative Prioritization Strategy for Innovation

If your organization tends to select strategies and prioritize projects that are comfortable, here’s a way to more overtly push for change.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

The best approach to create change will differ based on expectations about the status quo and the demand for dramatically different results.

8 Change Management Lessons from Major Changes in the Mass Translation

Wide-scale change in a change-resistant organization provides a unique set of project management challenges and potential remedies to achieve the maximum beneficial impact.

Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps

Big changes are rarely “one and done” efforts. Prepare ahead of time for the ongoing reinforcement and change management techniques a project manager and project team will need to implement.

Project Management Technique Challenges

No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem

If your organization has a habit of failing to successfully implement new projects, here are thirteen problems to watch for and fix.

Checklists – Helping Visualize the Uncertain When Plans Fall Through

If a project isn’t going as planned, step back and make sure you have a checklist to guide your way back to normalcy and stronger performance in a hurry.

Dealing with Difficult People – 16 Articles on Help and Support for Prickly People

If you handle project management on enough projects, you’re going to wind up working with challenging people. If you can’t avoid them, at least be ready to successfully lead them (and the rest of the project team) to success.

Project Management – 7 Steps to Winning a Fuel Mileage Race Project

NASCAR teams are used to stretching one of their main resources (fuel) with creative, winning strategies. Smart project teams can learn and apply some of the principles NASCAR teams use for success with less.

Improving Decision Making

Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

It’s easy for certain personality types and organizations to take too long on decision making. In these seven situations, there’s no need to extend decision making time unnecessarily.

Making Decision Making Easier – She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

One factor that can slow decision making speed is too many available choices. Here is a low-tech, very direct way to narrow your decision options and move directly toward decision making.

Level 5 Decisions – Decision Making without Your Influence

One way to speed project-related decision making is when the senior person on the project delegates appropriate levels of decision making to team members and makes the delegation clear. Here’s a solid approach to make this happen.

Project Management Techniques for Finishing Successfully

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

When time is running down on a project, project management rules don’t necessarily change, but how you apply them can. These techniques can close out a project more successfully when timing is running down.

Convergent Thinking Week – A BDTP Perspective

When time is running down on a project you have approached with higher than expected standards, consider relaxing those standards. Getting done can definitely be more important than being perfect.

Project Management Tips – 8 Signs a Creative Project Is Done

While we often consider a project done when all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached, that’s not always the case with a creative project. A creative project could be done before all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached.

Strategies for Finishing a Project

Closing out a project the right way can set the stage for future success. A strong project closeout won’t simply happen by accident though. The closeout phase needs to be project managed, too.  – Mike Brown

5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!

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

Continue Reading


Many executives perceive developing strategy as a long, slow process. In fact, senior executives that contact The Brainzooming Group for help in developing strategy often do so because previous strategic planning efforts drug on for almost a year.

So it was no surprise the other day when we received several inquiries about quick strategy questions.

The questioners did not specify whether the strategy questions themselves are supposed to be quick. They may have meant that, or perhaps that the answers were quick. Questions themselves may be quick because they are easy to retrieve and use in a strategy meeting.

To our way of thinking, it is less about quick strategy questions. Our focus is whether a question allows you to develop strategy more quickly, thoroughly, and successfully (as defined by creating positive results).

Strategy Questions – 5 Characteristics to Make Them Quick

Thinking about quick strategy questions that way, we look for the following characteristics when developing and selecting strategy questions. They need to:

When strategic planning questions fulfill those five characteristics, they set the stage for developing strategy quickly, thoroughly, and successfully.

The thing is, those characteristics won’t universally apply for all participants in all strategic planning situations. That’s where our background and experience in collaborative strategic planning play a major role in matching the right questions to the right situations.

Put all the pieces together, and you CAN get through strategy in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take! – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook!
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation

Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Continue Reading


Several people asked recently about questions to help identify innovative thinkers in sales. While we have done a bunch of strategic and creative thinking skills workshops for sales teams in the past several years, we have never put together a specific diagnostic on this topic.

When multiple people ask a question, though, it is time to do something about it!

10 Questions to Identify Innovative Thinking in Salespeople

Thinking about innovative sales people I have known, how we teach strategic and creative thinking skills to sales teams, and strategic thinking questions we use to spur new thinking, here are ten questions to identify innovative thinking in salespeople.


These questions address focusing and prioritizing what matters for customers and the organization.

1. Why do people buy from us?

To innovate, you have to understand underlying motivations and needs. An innovative sales person will answer this question in a way that opens up many possibilities to imagine new ways to reach and delight customers.

2. Whom don’t we sell to?

Innovative thinkers are able to focus and deliver on great opportunities. That means having a sense of where the best opportunities ARE and ARE NOT going to be.

Working from an Innovative Thinking Platform

An innovative thinker needs a foundation and perspective from which to innovate.

3. How do you generalize what we do for customers in order to find innovative ways to address customer needs?

This one comes via my buddy, Joe Batista, the chief creatologist. Joe taught me the value of analyzing a potential customer relationship via generalized activities and value streams. If a salesperson employs a comparable approach to think about value, it is a great sign he or she is creating innovative solutions.

4. What customer benefits does your brand offer?

This is similar to the previous question in that it signals the ability to generalize in order to provide a launching pad for innovation. If you are selling based on benefits, it is easier to innovate and find new ways to deliver those benefits. (For more on this innovation strategy, download our Outside-In Innovation eBook!)

Employing Innovative Processes

These questions zero in on whether a salesperson uses a dependable process for innovative thinking and development.

5. What’s your process for discovering the underlying needs, wants, challenges, and aspirations a current or potential customer may have?

When it is for business, you cannot afford random innovation success. Innovative thinking in sales implies having a process to repeat what leads to results in many types of situations.

6. What are the most innovative approaches you have employed to create a customer solution?

An innovative thinker, no matter what field, should have stories readily available about past innovation successes. If not, that person is just an innovation poser. This question focuses on an innovative processes; the next one addresses innovative solutions.

7. What is the biggest customer solution you ever imagined, and did it come to fruition?

A quick and big answer to this one signals innovative thinking and a familiarity with extreme creativity. If the big idea came to fruition, it signals someone that can go from idea to implementation!

An Innovation Posse

While there are innovators that go it alone, an innovative salesperson needs to depend on others to imagine and create solutions.

8. Who inside your company thinks you are a pain for trying too many new or wild things to create ecstatic customers?

Innovative thinkers (and doers) in sales are going to rub people in the organization the wrong way because they are always pushing for new and better. Continual innovative thinking in sales will wear out people in the organization. An innovative salesperson understands that.

9.Who makes up your innovation team?

In my book, an innovative thinker in sales appreciates the importance of others helping bring innovative ideas to life. They know who those folks are, even if there is no formal reporting relationship, because they are going back to them frequently to make innovative things happen.


You want salespeople focused on winning and success. You also want them open to what’s new.

10. Why do you enjoy selling?

If doing new things all the time doesn’t surface as part of the answer, you probably aren’t talking to a truly innovative thinker in sales.


This list is definitely from the Brainzooming R&D lab. We haven’t tested this diagnostic at all, but it’s a solid starting place. If you wind up testing it before we do, let us know what you find! – Mike Brown

Develop a Successful Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business!
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBook

Download this free, concise Outside-In Innovation 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!
Download Your Free Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Continue Reading


Suppose you are on the hook to put together a team meeting or workshop to develop a strategy. Maybe you have done something similar before, or maybe you have never led a strategic planning process. Is there something or some place you can go to get ideas on how to develop a strategy workshop?

Since this was a recent search topic here, we are sharing our recommendations for ideas on coordinating a strategic planning process workshop.

This list of articles from our blog contains ideas for:

  • Selecting a location
  • Providing solid facilitation
  • Using structure, exercises, and strategic thinking questions effectively
  • Engaging participants
  • Following up the ideas and results

Strategic Planning Process – Ideas for a Workshop to Develop Strategy



Structure, Exercises, and Strategic Thinking Questions

Engaging a Team to Develop Strategy

Following Up a Strategic Planning Process

This overview will get you started thinking about new ways to most effectively lead a workshop to develop strategy for your department or organization. If you want to go even deeper here into strategic planning, you can.

Finally, if you would like outside help to maximize the speed and engagement of your planning, contact us. Let’s talk about customizing a strategy planning approach for your needs. – Mike Brown

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Your
Strategy Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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

Continue Reading


Last week’s “Inside the Executive Suite” article from Armada Corporate Intelligence picked out highlights on leadership skills from Fast Company magazine. They found these items particularly relevant for the year ahead. There are a number of team development and leadership skills mentioned that fit themes we talk about here. We added supporting links on many of the points and wanted to share the ideas with you:

Leadership Skills – 15 Ideas for Innovative Leadership in 2017

The February issue of Fast Company arrived, featuring a special report called, “Find Your Purpose – 175 Inspiring Business Lessons to Navigate the Year Ahead.” The article shares the thinking of ninety-six global business leaders on a variety of leadership skills. We wanted to highlight specific questions, recommendations, and challenges that seem particularly pertinent for leading strategically and innovatively in the year ahead.

Intriguing Interview Questions

Asking great questions is an important aspect of discovering and selecting the right talent for your team. We are fans of asking open-ended, unusual (but still real-world) questions that potential hires are not automatically prepared to answer. These questions all fit that profile.

What are you trying to prove?

Emily Weiss (Founder and CEO, Glossier) is looking for people that have the drive and the hustle to show someone – whether now or from somewhere in their past – that they can accomplish something no one expected them to be able to accomplish.

What would you do if there were no money involved?

Abby Falik (Founder and DEO, Global Citizen Year) is hiring people who are passionate about a cause. Having people share what they would tackle out of desire for change when no money is involved helps provide a better sense of what drives them.

What does your worst day look like?

Tom Ogletree (Director of Social Impact, General Assembly) uses this type of question to get people to open up about what bugs them. He finds that peoples’ negative perceptions can disqualify them for the job they are seeking.

What do you want from this experience?

Kimberly Bryant (Founder, Black Girls Code) is trying to find people that connect with her organization’s bigger mission. Through this question, she is looking for self-motivated individuals who want to develop and create progressively greater impacts.

Can you give me another example?

Will Dean (CEO, Tough Mudder) does not like to settle for stock, well-rehearsed answers. He will ask a candidate a question. He will then ask for two or three more examples so candidates are forced to think on their feet during interviews.

Leadership Practices

Some leaders dismiss the idea of collaborating with their teams because it takes too much time, keeps team members away from daily tasks, and can lead to ideas that the organization is not ready to embrace. One counter to this outlook is that a diverse team is in a position to see opportunities from many more vantage points than that of a single leader. These tips for leadership skills help clarify ways to make collaboration work effectively as a leadership practice.

Push yourself out of your routine – continually.

Blythe Harris (Chief Creative Officer, Stella & Dot) challenges herself and other leaders to push beyond the everyday activities of normal life. She seeks out new ideas and experiences to “actively disrupt” her routines and sharpen her creativity.

Never forget the customer and how they fit into what you are doing.

Regina Asborno (Deputy Director, New York Transit Museum) stresses the importance of connecting to the ultimate customer to orient and motivate teams to excel, even at the mundane aspects of what they do.

A leader should create strategy with a team.

Ashley McCollum (General Manager, Tasty at BuzzFeed) advocates for leaders collaborating with their teams to create business strategy. The reason? Leaders are often looking for teams to push beyond what seems possible or even well advised. Involving a team in planning increases the likelihood that it will step up to that challenge.

Keep meetings to the essential people.

Susan Reilly Salgado (Founder, Hospitality Quotient) makes a concerted effort to keep meetings as small as possible by reaching out only to essential people. She identifies participants based on those who “need to be there,” making sure those core people are the only ones invited.

Keep meetings short.

Trevor O’Brien (Chief Technology Officer and Partner, Deutsch) recommends trying to shorten meetings (say, to 20 minutes) to get the best out of bringing people together while not bogging them down with extended, unproductive meetings that slow progress.

Shaping Teams

A leader’s role involves pushing the team, but not necessarily for more productivity. Innovative leaders push a team to imagine bigger, better possibilities, paving the way for individuals to step out and realize new scenarios.

Push team members out of their comfort zones.

David Lee (Chief Creative Officer, Squarespace) sees a leader’s job as pushing team members beyond typical comfort zones, stretching them through goals that require them to do things they might have not originally thought possible. He takes time for celebration, but ensures the next goal falls into place right away.

Surround yourself with experts and have them explain.

Jonny Bauer (Global Chief Strategy Officer, Droga5) looks for experts in unfamiliar areas that his team needs to understand. He then has experts go over what they see, know, and understand, repeatedly, until everyone else gets the picture.

Extend the voices of your team members.

Jason Cornwell (Communications UX Lead, Google) challenges leaders to use the power they have based on position to put their teams forward. His view is that a smart leader amplifies the team by giving it his power.

Emphasize results over being busy.

Darren Walker (President, Ford Foundation) keeps a goal front and center, assessing performance based on generating impact. This contrasts sharply with placing the emphasis on generating a lot of activity that keeps an organization busy, but falls short of accomplishing an overall objective.

Exploit easily measured goals to help maximize progress.

Noah Weiss (Head of the Search, Learning, and Intelligence group, Slack) recommends dealing with fast growth by giving smart, emerging leaders freedom to act and clear goals that are easy to measure.

What new leadership skills are you using this year?

We found these leadership skills suggestions from Fast Company particularly intriguing. What are you changing in your leadership style to be more strategic and innovative in 2017?

Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!

Continue Reading


It is time to launch the implementation plan for your organization’s most important strategic initiatives. Does your implementation team move seamlessly from planning to action? Do they quickly identify what they need for success and get started? Do their initial steps pave the way for impact and successful results?

If they do all these things, congratulations!

However, if your organization is like many others, teams struggle to turn an implementation plan into action, even with smart, sound strategies. Despite the excitement and anticipation of taking on a new opportunity, implementing successfully does not happen by accident. You need to ensure that at this critical time, your vital strategic initiatives launch and gain momentum quickly.

5 Ways to Turn Your Implementation Plan into Results!

If you find your teams continually struggling to turn strategic plans into implementation success, the Brainzooming strategy eBook, 321 GO! 5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better is your answer!

In this new strategy eBook, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success when your team struggles with:

  • Looking for a clearer starting point
  • Constantly seeking leadership approval, even when it’s not necessary
  • Waiting for inspiration before launching
  • Taking up more time gathering information that will not change results
  • Tackling what is easy and avoiding the difficult strategies that matter the most

Download Your FREE eBook! 321GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!

This new Brainzooming strategy eBook shares actionable ways to start implementing faster and better so you can create impact and results for your organization. 321 GO, features overviews of these typical implementation plan challenges along with remedies to push forward and start implementing faster and better right now!

Download your free copy of 321 GO today and start turning your great plans into results! – Mike Brown

Download Your FREE eBook! 321GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!

Continue Reading


I had the opportunity to see Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, discuss his perspective on organizational harmony as he opened the Jump Start 2017 conference in Atlanta. SMC3 sponsors the annual conference.

Moore said he carries the seven organizational harmony principles with him on a card as a reminder.

Here are the organizational harmony principles as I captured them (the intent is on target, but I may have missed some exact phrasing):

  1. Settle disputes quickly.
  2. Care more than anyone else does.
  3. Give people more than they expect.
  4. Make sure you stand up for your own people.
  5. Share the glory.
  6. Remain calm in the eye of the storm.
  7. Emphasize one-on-one communication.

We would all do well to keep those in mind!  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.

Continue Reading