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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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We’ve covered how comparing apples and oranges in a variety of ways can spur creative thinking. Dilbert took up the identical topic in a Sunday comic strip. Dilbert and Wally double team the pointy-haired boss on appropriate and beneficial ways to compare apples and oranges. 

Dilbert.com

Although you might not completely get the point from Dilbert, it is definitely true that the better you become at finding insightful, intriguing comparisons, the more consistently strong your creative thinking will be.

Comparing Apples, Oranges and Anything Else

This Dilbert comic strip is a great introduction to a compilation of Brainzooming articles on creative thinking and making intriguing and valuable comparisons.

Here is wishing you all the fun and success of making better comparisons for learning, creative thinking, and implementation! – Mike Brown

 

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Cup-SizesWe’re constantly tweaking Brainzooming creative thinking exercises. Our objective is learning what works better or differently in new situations.

Recently, we have been experimenting with how different questions stretch creative thinking to varying degrees.

We have always had expectations for how “big” the ideas will be from different types of creative thinking exercises. Now, we have been consciously mixing and matching questions from multiple idea “size categories” within individual creative thinking exercises.

One learning is we can definitely categorize creative thinking exercises based on idea sizes: Small, Medium, Large, or Extra Large. 

Creative Thinking Exercises in S, M, L, and XL Creative Idea Sizes

In light of that, here are a variety of previous Brainzooming questions and creative thinking exercises arranged by idea size. Click through all the links, and you have access to one hundred forty-four creative thinking questions to apply as you most need them!

Small Ideas

Medium Ideas

Large Ideas

Extra Large Ideas

Be sure to bookmark this list, and the next time you’re only hungry for an idea snack OR you really want to SUPER SIZE your ideas, you know where to go! – Mike Brown

 

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Brand marketers can find it challenging to identify all the brand language available to communicate a brand’s distinct benefits and value for customers and prospects.

Based on a recent client brand strategy experience, I highlighted an often overlooked source of compelling brand language in my first LinkedIn article: Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?

If you’d like to read the brand strategy lesson from our experience, you can do so over on LinkedIn.

As an alternative, we also put together a screencast that recaps the article plus adds visuals the LinkedIn article does not contain. This is the first time we’re introducing screencasts into the blog. We’re excited by the possibilities because it gives you the opportunity to have a richer experience with Brainzooming blog content. Additionally, because audio and visuals are incorporated in a screencast, I expect it to open up new topics that just don’t come across as strongly when using words alone.

So go ahead and ask yourself: Is our brand exploiting all its brand language? – Mike Brown

Brand Strategy Screencast – Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?


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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 with a strategy session and branding development to create strategic impact for your organization.

 

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This post was originally intended to be written when universities were changing conferences and suddenly the Big 10 had twelve teams and the Big 12 had ten teams. In the wake of those moves, very regionally-named athletic conferences wound up taking on member universities spanning multiple regions, if not half the United States.

Terminal-HuhWhat prompted the post’s writing currently is the state of the Kansas City airport. Amid airlines consolidating, the Kansas City airport’s original three open terminals have now become two open terminals.

While Terminal B and Terminal C are open, there is no Terminal A anymore.

This seemed particularly odd during my drive into the airport last week. Since some of the Terminal A signage has been removed, signage starts with references to Terminal B.

The problem in each case is a naming strategy that clearly relates names to other systems for which your audience has context. The relationship may be internal (i.e., we have 12 teams or 10 teams as reflected in our name) or external (i.e., we’re all about the Southeast, so that’s reflected in our conference name).

6 Naming Strategy Questions to Anticipate Future Oddities

While it’s fine and well for whoever is in charge to name things however they might like, before using a relational naming strategy, it is smart to ask a few strategic thinking questions and perform some what-if analysis.

These questions revolve around whether your naming strategy will make sense if:

  • You grow?
  • You shrink?
  • You fundamentally change the nature of your organization, products, and/or services?
  • Your far off / future sounding name has to represent your organization when you stay in operation a long time?
  • You change the parts of your organization in a different order than the order in which you originally added names?
  • Your organization changes in some unexpected way (versus the names becoming future oddities)?

Clearly there are advantages to a matter-of-fact naming strategy.

A, B, or C are never going to be a future embarrassment because they get caught cheating on their spouses or at the sports they play. Everybody will already understand a lot of what you are trying to say with a realistic, matter of fact naming strategy.

But, as these currently problematic naming strategy examples illustrate, you can throw what makes sense for a loop when your organization changes in unexpected or unusual ways.

There are certainly other naming strategy questions you can ask, but these six questions are an easy head start to consider when opting for a naming system that everyone is going to know, understand, and be able to compare to the reality your organization is presenting. – 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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