Here is a quickie strategic thinking question for you:

If you saw your life as a teeter-totter, what rules of life would guide your behaviors and how you treat others?

Teeter-Totter Rules of Life

If teeter-totter rules of life guided your strategic thinking and actions, would you . . .

  • Realize that while it is great to be higher than somebody else, it is not going to last?
  • Think about how you being on top means another person is not and treat them with respect, particularly knowing the positions are easily reversed?
  • Consider that slamming someone else to the ground is going to mean your rise to the top is not going to be as smooth as it could be?
  • Equally enjoy the experiences of the rises and falls?
  • Take advantage of the full range of movement or try to limit the ups and downs very narrowly?
  • Act more deliberately to achieve the best balance and closeness to someone else so you both enjoy the ride?
  • Not fret so much about slipping from the pinnacle because all the conditions exist for you to return there?

A teeter-totter is a certainly a very simple life model, yet it seems like there are some valuable lessons that can apply to adult life. Mike Brown


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Facing Innovation Barriers? Here Is Help!


Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have many free Brainzooming strategic thinking eBooks to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!

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The Brainzooming eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning,” has generated lots of downloads since we published it during the early days of strategy season. The eBook shares ideas we developed in the past ten-plus years to create fun strategic planning exercises.

We warn readers early in the eBook that everybody’s definition of “fun strategic planning exercises” may differ.

When you are talking “fun” and “strategic planning,” you are not likely dealing with the kind of fun that will make you enjoy (and then later completely forget) during a night of weekend partying.

Undoubtedly, everything is relative when it comes to fun strategic planning exercises.

7 Types of Fun with Strategic Planning Exercises

So, if you download the eBook to learn fun strategic planning exercises to enliven your strategy meeting, be on the lookout for THESE types of fun:

  1. People reveal more than they expected to during the introductions
  2. People are enjoying strategic planning because they are actively participating
  3. A boss that’s a stick in the mud when it comes to innovation has to dive in or risk getting gently mocked by his team members
  4. Someone comes up with an idea they never would have imagined on their own
  5. An incredible, breakthrough idea is greeted with uproarious laughter – a sure sign there is something to the idea
  6. A participant, while struggling to describe an idea, inspires someone else, who comes up with the winning idea
  7. People don’t want to stop working on ideas and strategies because hours into the meeting, they are still enjoying themselves

While these might not seem like typical “fun,” when you see any of them come to life in what might have otherwise been a boring strategy meeting, you will definitely feel the fun! – Mike Brown


fun-ideas-strategic-planningNeed Ideas to Make Strategy Planning Fun?

Yes, strategy planning 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

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Wherever you are in the strategic planning cycle, you may discover the need for a new or updated direction for your organization.

How can you effectively employ visioning exercises in strategic planning that invite your entire organization to contribute their perspectives?

That is where visioning exercises that employ a collaborative approach come into play. With the right techniques, you can invite and excite your team members to become active parts of your organization’s vision, mission, and core purpose statements.

In the new Brainzooming eBook, “Big Strategy Statements – A Collaborative Way to Shape Your Organization’s Strategic Direction,” we will show you visioning exercises for strategic planning that you can use to:

  • Evaluate your current strategy statements (such as vision, mission, and core purpose statements)
  • Correct ones that are repairable to make them more specific and vibrant for your organization
  • Collaboratively develop new strategies that effectively guide your team today and into the future

“Big Strategy Statements” brings together strategic thinking exercises we’ve shared separately on our website, plus a never-before shared strategy evaluation assessment, to provide a one-stop of visioning exercises to effectively and efficiently tap your team’s innovative ideas. Using our proven methodology, you will be able to develop a vision, mission, or core purpose statement for your organization in a smart, strategic way.

Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative Strategy

Employing the approaches we share in “Big Strategy Statements” will lead to:

  • Broadly and collaboratively soliciting input from across all your audiences
  • Thoroughly exploring where you organization is and where it wants to go
  • Using simple, understandable, and straightforward language that sounds as if it comes from your organization

The benefit of using the ideas in “Big Strategy Statements” is that when you get your vision or mission statement right, your organization can use it on a daily basis to shape decisions, priorities, and approaches to what you do and how you do things.

Download “Big Strategy Statements” and get started evaluating, modifying, or reworking the big strategy statements guiding your organization.

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Are you in budget meetings right now, determining what funds you will have to implement next year’s strategic initiatives?

Is your budget process running late? Are you still reviewing budgets for next year?

If so, you have time to turn tedious budgeting exercises into productive strategic planning activities focused on business growth.

Budgeting Can Be the Worst, but There Is Hope!


During budgeting in the Fortune 500 world, we spent too much time on the numbers and not nearly enough on making sure we were prioritizing the best strategic initiatives to grow the business.

I worked with some great people in the accounting and financial areas that understood forecasts and budgets do not just happen by themselves. My peers at the vice president level and above were, however, too often engaged in micro-managing budget details they could manage while not tackling tougher strategic issues within budgeting.

To counter this preference for numbers over strategy, we routinely tried to bring new thinking to the table to turn budget meetings into productive strategic planning activities.

3 Ways to Turn Budgets into Strategic Planning Activities

In our new Brainzooming eBook, “3 Ways to Turn Budget Meetings into Strategic Activities,” we reveal how to:

  • Introduce productive questions you can address to improve strategy AND financials
  • Ensure you invest meeting time on high-impact areas (instead of minutiae)
  • Adopt an effective, highly-strategic approach to business metrics that addresses the link between strategic activities and results

If you are leading budget meetings, you can use these ideas to improve their strategic impact.

Even if your role is to develop and present your business unit’s budget, you can use the concepts in this eBook to highlight strategic activities and create a stronger linkage between forecasts, budgets, and the important strategic initiatives that drive growth.

The bonus part is that “3 Ways to Turn Budget Meetings into Strategic Activities,” is FREE!

What finance or accounting person is going to nitpick that?

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Ways to Turn Budget Meetings into Strategic Activities

Download your copy today! – Mike Brown

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If you’ve read the Brainzooming blog for any length of time, you’ve seen Chuck Dymer’s name multiple times. Chuck has been an incredible influence on my career, especially as it comes to creative thinking skills. As someone said to me at one point, “You’ve changed your job into Chuck’s job.”

That was definitely true.

Chuck was the first person I heard deliver an in-depth presentation on creative thinking skills. He captivated me with his message. We worked with Chuck multiple times, and started to adopt many of his ideas and approaches into our strategic planning methodology.

Suffice it to say, there wouldn’t be a Brainzooming if I hadn’t met Chuck Dymer.

Creative Thinking Skills and Place with Chuck Dymer


Chuck is closing his ideation space, The IdeaLoft.

I visited him for lunch yesterday, and we recorded the Facebook live video here. I asked Chuck to talk about the IdeaLoft and how place and creativity relate to one another. The relationship between them was integral to the design and layout of the Idealoft.

Enjoy the video and Chuck’s insights and expertise on how place influences creative thinking skills!

Mike Brown


fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make 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


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I was discussing a request for proposal the other day with a potential client. He’s developing a short list of potential candidates for a new market research initiative at his company. It was clear that the organization’s team had already decided that a request for proposal was the best way to determine which outside vendor will be the best market research partner.

One other thing that was clear in the conversation:  their expectations go well beyond carrying out an already in-place quantitative market research initiative.


The discussion surfaced the need for creating and implementing multiple types of research – both quantitative and qualitative – across a number of market segments. While he billed it as “customer” research, it likely needs to include both prospects and former customers to provide accurate insights.

As we talked, I told him they shouldn’t be issuing a request for proposal.

When a Request for Proposal Doesn’t Fit

A request for proposal is fine (I suppose) when the expectations, needs, and product or service are evident. I told him, however, that when none of these are clear (even to the client) and there are multiple avenues to address a nebulous deliverable, a request for proposal isn’t the best step.

In less specific situations, a request for proposal is a waste of time for potential vendors. They are taking time to design something they will likely never implement. The real market research design will only take shape after the client selects a vendor and meaningful exploration takes place. By that point, the specifications have changed so much, the proposal is likely irrelevant.

The client will wind up re-working much of the original RFP process in short order after they pick a research partner. That’s wasted time, too.

A Request for Presentation Could Be Better

I suggested they invite potential market research partners to come in and present their credentials, experience, and initial thinking on helping the client explore what types of market research they will really need. After developing a comfort level with a potential market research partner from the Request for Presentation, they can select one. THAT is the time to sit down, specify the methodology, and develop a scope of work with pricing.

We’ll see if they take the advice.

I hope they do.

A Request for Presentation will likely be a more fruitful RFP process than one focused on a Request for Proposal. – Mike Brown


Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis


“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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Are you still working on your strategic planning for 2017?

Or, are you still waiting to launch your strategic planning for 2017?

Or is strategic planning for the next year something your organization just neglects to do?

If you answered “Yes” to the first or second questions, or even to the third one, but you know you SHOULD do planning for next year, time is running out.

5 Ways to Still Complete Your Strategic Planning for 2017


To help you get a handle on what you have left to complete for strategic planning, here are five things you can do to cope AND get completely on top of things for 2017:

  • Keep as much of last year’s strategy in place as is practical and focus only on updating tactics.
  • Expand the number of people collaborating on the plan, creating concurrent tracks of activity.
  • Simplify the various parts of the plan so that it is easier and faster to complete.
  • Invite people that cannot come together for in-person planning to participate via online collaboration.
  • Push out the expectation for finishing strategic planning until early next year to give you more time.

Each of these five ideas will remove a significant time drain during your planning activities. The key to all of these is that you have the wherewithal to make such a dramatic change and still deliver a strategic plan that moves your business ahead next year.

We can help make each of these adjustments, all in the interests of streamlining your strategic planning process. Let us know if you need help. We can make it happen in time for you to be ready to make next year your best year yet!

Let’s talk for thirty minutes, and see how we can still work together to complete your plan and start implementing! – Mike Brown

Streamline and Complete 2017 Strategic Planning!

Download our FREE eBook: 5 Keys to Streamline Your Strategic Planning Process

5-keys-streamline-cover2In this new eBook, we share some of what we’ve learned from shaping, streamlining, and implementing hundreds of strategic workshops. Through our experience, we’ve identified and now share in this eBook:

  • Suggestions for assembling a strategy team with the right types of diversity
  • Dependable ways to help non-strategists think strategically
  • Tips for streamlining strategic planning activities to best fit your organization and save time

These user-friendly techniques regularly cut weeks (sometimes months) from typical strategic planning activities so your organization can focus on successful implementation for 2017!

Download Your FREE eBook! 5 Keys to Streamline Strategic Planning Activities!

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