1

It’s natural for engineers and operations people to be at odds with marketers over innovation strategy.

The engineering and operations view of the world typically focuses on internal perspectives and ensuring processes conform to standards, are efficient, and cost as little as possible. Success from this perspective is just enough performance relative to the costs incurred.

Marketers typically take a drastically different view.

As natural customer advocates, marketers are more likely to push for an innovation strategy that dramatically differentiates a brand’s customer experience. A marketer will focus on what will be different, attractive to the market, and sell strongly. After that’s solved, they figure out the rest. So instead of the threshold orientation operators advocate, marketers are looking to maximize and create significant advantages in the brand experience.

Spending many years in a B2B transportation and logistics company, I was usually standing in the middle of the street at the intersection of “do just enough” and “do everything possible.”

Trying to better our odds of innovation success and secure the help of the operations team, we used an approach one consultant originally called, “Operationally Smart Marketing.” At the concept’s heart is the idea that pushing for a more robust innovation strategy in an operationally-oriented environment requires being intimately familiar with the roadblocks operations might raise in order to innovate around them.

Closed-Road-Or-Not

This approach can appear counter to a customer-first, outside-in innovation strategy. From experience, however, this strategy is more productive than falling on the sword for innovations that WOULD maximize customer value IF they were ever implemented, but that you can NEVER get implemented.

An “Operationally Smart Marketing” Innovation Strategy

As a marketer, what are your starting points for operationally smart marketing?

Try asking and answering these strategic thinking questions:

  • What drives profitability in the business?
  • How do important operational factors play into whether there is a bigger or smaller opportunity for a bold innovation strategy?
  • Are there certain parts of the business that provide disproportionately greater innovation opportunities?
  • What factors make for disproportionately outstanding efficiency and operational performance? Can they be aligned to increase customer value?
  • What are the critical success factors for the best quality performance your organization can deliver?
  • Are there things customers might be incented to do to enhance performance AND improve the customer experience?
  • Is there anything we didn’t ask about?

This last question is particularly important. I came across many cases where operations people would answer only the question asked without ever volunteering ideas to expand possibilities or introduce greater operational variations. That’s why you should always ask point blank about what else might be possible you didn’t anticipate.

Knowing the relevant constraints and possibilities from the operations side can be vital to turning the strategy approaches we discuss in our Outside-in Innovation eBook (which you can download below) into success within a strong operational environment.  – Mike Brown

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

 

Looking for Outside-In Innovation 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 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 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 growth!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

Continue Reading

0

Suppose an unwanted opportunity lands in your lap unexpectedly. Maybe it’s an opportunity you expressed interest in prior to it landing in your lap.

Either way, when it ultimately presents itself, it’s an opportunity you are not really interested in accepting.

Do you just come out and say, “No,” to the opportunity?

Maybe that’s what you do. Maybe turning down the opportunity is absolutely the best thing to do.

How about stopping for some strategic thinking first?

Stop-Sign-Wrong

Maybe it’s best, however, to stop and do a little strategic thinking about the undesirable opportunity and consider one of these alternatives:

  • Negotiate to improve the opportunity so it’s more attractive.
  • See if you can defer it to a time when it better fits your objectives.
  • Consider whether there is someone else you can share the opportunity with that would benefit more than you would.
  • Separate out the part of it that is attractive and decline the remainder
  • Sub-contract the opportunity to someone else.
  • Ignore your qualms (i.e., if you tend to over-analyze and look at things too negatively) and pursue it anyway to see how it pans out.
  • Make the opportunity work for just as long as you need it to work, and then abandon it.

There are no hard and fast rules about what taking some time for strategic thinking might yield in the way of viable alternatives.

Just be careful of believing you’re so smart and self-assured that turning down what seems initially to be an unwanted opportunity will still be the correct assessment after you’ve paused for a little strategic thinking.

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 you 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

Continue Reading

0

Bill Mullins followed-up last Friday’s article on “when” you trust a creative genius with a related “how” strategic thinking question. As I read (and answered) Bill’s email, it focused on how you build trust with (or as) a creative genius sharing a vision for broader community issues.

Inside a company, it took two instances of my creative genius boss proving the big vision was completely on target despite my initial doubts. Those two instances prompted me to trust his instincts all the other years we worked together.

How, though, does one build trust such as this?

His strategic thinking question is intriguing because there is more to building trust than proving others’ doubts wrong then expecting their blind allegiance to your vision going forward.

How do you build trust with a creative genius?

At the heart of building trust in a strategic relationship with someone espousing a big, challenging vision is a question (at least for me) of whether the apparent creative genius can deliver results.

What-Make-Happen

This doesn’t mean the creative genius has to be the one delivering the results. Carrying out the big vision may be beyond the creative genius’ ability because of the vision’s size or the absence of the skill set necessary to make it a reality. If the vision is compelling enough and attainable, at least in part, the question is whether the visionary creative genius can attract others to make the big vision a reality.

Another key to building trust is internal and external integration between the creative genus’ beliefs, words, and actions. If a creative genius or visionary hopes to build trust, all the pieces need to fit together. Even if the vision cannot be quantitatively proven as the right vision beforehand, it is vital to demonstrate a strong strategic logic and consistency in all that the creative genius says or does.

My insistence on integrated thinking, words, and actions is why I am skeptical of so many creative geniuses one sees making big claims online. There is no shortage of people of jumping up and down and pointing at themselves for attention. The pieces do not fit together to make their claims credible, however, in many (most?) instances.

My initial thought from Bill’s email was a local community visionary / agitator in the Kansas City community. After pushing Kansas City to act on multiple visionary initiatives the past two decades, he had made a name for himself here. In all that time pushing for visionary initiatives, though, almost nothing has happened. He MAY have an incredible vision of what should be, but he has never been able to bring it to reality. While he may have characteristics of a creative genius, the lack of integrity in all the pieces and his inability to do something productive make me doubt anything he says and does.

That is how I think about this strategic thinking question; what about you? – 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 you 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.



Continue Reading

1

If you are in charge of developing innovation strategy, you have to answer the question, “What are our next big innovation opportunities?”

Being responsible for developing innovation strategy also means reaching out beyond your innovation team to employees, customers, and other stakeholders to gather valuable input.

When your outreach consists of asking stakeholders what your next big innovation opportunities are, however, you are missing the mark.

Delegating the Wrong Question to the Right People

Quesiton-Mark-Puzzle

Photo by: Leung Cho Pan

When answering the question about big innovation opportunities, your answer will likely come after significant exploration, ideation, concept development, prioritization, and prototyping. With that work out of the way, you are ready to speculate about the future opportunities.

Thinking you can delegate to others your job of developing innovation strategy and answering the important question you must address will not work. You cannot expect others to answer in one-step the question you might work months to address.

Yet, companies try to do just that.

Innovation Strategy that Has a Chance to Work

Talking with someone inside a big company recently, what they have tried to ask various stakeholders what they think the next innovation should be. First, it was through an employee “idea box.” When that did not work, it was through talking to customers, asking them what the company should innovate. That was not successful either.

No surprise in either case.

When taking the right step to reach out to employees and customers, do not expect them to develop your strategy. Instead, solicit input and help them articulate insights they have to help shape the innovation strategy.

  • Employees know about challenges and lost opportunities with customers. They know about problems with processes that restrict delivering value.
  • Customers know why they don’ use your product more. They know the problems or challenges they have with your product and what they wish you did more of or better.

Talk to your stakeholders about topics they can address. Give them information and the strategic thinking structures they can use to better articulate their thoughts.

Then, get back to the work you should be doing to turn that information, along with the other work you are doing, into answers about what your next big innovation opportunities are.

If you’d like to learn very productive ways to explore and identify your innovation opportunities, we invite you to download our FREE “Outside-In Innovation” edition of the Strategic Thinking Facebook. It’s waiting for you below, and will jump start answering the innovation questions you need to answer!

Download Your Free

Continue Reading

2

“At what point do you trust a creative genius who comes in as your new boss?”

That was a fantastic, completely new question at a recent creative thinking workshop.

What prompted it was discussing Greg Reid when he joined Yellow Corporation as our new CMO during my Fortune 500 days. With a consumer marketing background, Greg arrived at our business-to-business transportation company during a major turnaround. Everything was already topsy-turvy, and he added to it with a completely different mode of extreme creative than any of us had previously encountered.

He was the archetypical creative genius. I was the person who “got” his creative ideas and turned many of them into reality, and we started working well together in a short time.

Trust Me on This?

I will admit being skeptical of some of Greg’s extreme creativity.

GAR-Balance-the-world

About six months after arriving, he wanted to fly the entire corporate and field marketing and sales team to Phoenix for a kickoff meeting and retreat at a golf resort. As part of the event, he decided to bring in Earl Monroe, the former New York Knicks great, to speak and do a meet and greet with our internal team.

The whole thing smelled like a boondoggle WAY beyond the boundaries of acceptability at our extremely cost conscious company. I KNEW it might go okay, but figured the field VPs and our senior management would be in an uproar when they discovered the meeting retreat.

I was COMPLETELY wrong.

The event was fantastic, the field people were very excited to be involved and share their perspectives, and it created a strong bond among all the attendees. And no one in senior management said a word about the cost. The fact we held it in Phoenix in June when the temperatures were higher than the room rates likely helped.

Greg pretty much had my complete trust in his creative genius at that point.

Trust My Extreme Creativity?

I will admit, however, being a vocal naysayer of one other early extreme creativity idea from Greg’s early days.

The next year after our overwhelmingly successful inaugural company-wide meeting, Greg proposed another completely outlandish idea. He wanted to open the next company-wide meeting with a film of our entire senior leadership team meeting when they were kids. The video would feature a doppelganger kid for each executive. The kids would behave like the executives did as adults, with the addition of child-like bickering, poking, and hitting one another.

I proclaimed the idea as crazy and too much of an inside joke; I was certain the comedy would fall flat with the audience of twelve hundred sales operations people from the field. I even refused to be onsite for shooting it, although I did help with the script, the casting, and coaching several kids on their executive imitations.

When the moment occurred to debut the video at the next meeting, I positioned myself behind our president and the senior leaders to gauge the reactions. As it became apparent Greg was about to introduce a big surprise, our president turned and said, “Danger. Danger, Will Robinson.”

WDZ-Kids-Video

The kids video was a HUGE hit with the audience. They roared with laughter, and people talked about it for years.

Trust My New Behavior?

My answer to the original question about trusting a creative genius was it took two times for me to believe in my boss’ creative genius.

In each instance, he painted a big vision of extreme creativity I thought would fail. Ultimately, each unfolded exactly as HE predicted.

After that, he had me; I was compelled to suspend any doubts about his future ideas for extreme creativity that didn’t square with my sensibilities.

In a subsequent Facebook conversation, a friend whose father has not been great during her life has suddenly changed; he has started being “GREAT” recently. She was grappling with how to trust the change.

I compared it to the situation with my creative genius.

There is probably a hurdle to clear in any situation where someone surprises you with different, positive behavior that is unfamiliar to you.

The guideline I offered her?

If the change is extreme (and from previously harmful behavior), the number of times they have to prove themselves is likely much greater than two. Ultimately, you must place someone’s previous track record against what they’re doing now, add a healthy dose of forgiveness and charity, and determine a realistic and reasonable hurdle is.

That’s my advice.

So what do you think…do you trust me on this? – Mike Brown

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

 

Looking for Value-Added Innovations 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
  • 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 eBook

Continue Reading

0

Would you like to gain greater advantage from the expertise and experience of your employees as you craft your organization’s strategy?

If that’s a goal for your senior leadership team, today is the day to download our latest FREE mini-book, “Results!!! – Creating Strategic Impact throughout Your Organization.”

Executives worldwide are downloading the new Brainzooming strategy mini-book to gain insights into cultivating strategic thinking, developing strategic alignment, and fully engaging their employees in strategy.

Today, we want to ensure all our readers are aware of the value they can unlock by downloading “Results!!!”

25 Reasons You Need the “Results” Free mini-Book

Better-Business-Results

Here are twenty-five reasons you should download the free “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact throughout Your Organization” mini-book RIGHT NOW.

It offers senior executives:

  1. A way to approach “developing strategy very differently,” versus handing everyone cumbersome strategic planning templates to complete. (Page 1)
  2. Strategy development techniques that will work even in organizations without innovation-friendly cultures. (Page 2)
  3. Action steps for each of the ten lessons so you can begin implementing them right away. (Throughout)
  4. Techniques to demystify strategy and strategic planning. (Page 5)
  5. An approach to effectively align strategy the organization’s daily activities. (Page 7)
  6. A simple set of questions to use in focusing their teams on strategic issues that make a big impact on the business. (Page 8)
  7. The granddaddy of all strategy questions to create more innovative strategies, greater focus on priorities, and stronger growth leadership. (Page 9)
  8. A credible, realistic way to increase engagement through expanding employee involvement in the front end of innovation. (Page 11)
  9. Ways to better prepare employees to anticipate and respond to customer opportunities that don’t fit neatly into policies and procedures.  (Page 13)
  10. A case for how broader participation in strategy benefits (rather than slows) implementation.  (Page 12)
  11. Action steps focused on pushing the boundaries of how senior executives include emerging leaders in strategic planning discussions.  (Page 12)
  12. A proven way to identify which senior leaders and management team members match three vital strategic perspectives for creating strategic impact. (Page 14)
  13. Insight into the three types of voices to include in developing strong strategies and implementation plans. (Page 15)
  14. A four-question diagnostic to identify the right mix of “structure and space” enabling non-strategists to contribute to innovative growth strategies. (Pages 18)
  15. Ideas for a game plan encouraging reluctant and apprehensive employees to engage in strategic planning conversations. (Page 19)
  16. An equation to identify how many total ideas are needed to reach the number of high-impact ideas you are seeking. (Page 20)
  17. Five secrets to more efficiently generate on-target, strategic ideas. (Page 22)
  18. Ways a strategic detour completely changes the innovation impact of strategic conversations. (Page 23)
  19. Techniques to break the, “We’ve been there, tried that, and know better” attitude of experienced management teams. (Page 24)
  20. Seven questions to make strategy understandable for all employees (Page 26)
  21. A three-point checklist for gauging a strategy’s clarity and simplicity. (Page 27)
  22. Examples of how strategic conversations among employees trump strategic plans delivered in notebooks. (Page 28)
  23. Three ways to directly connect strategy planning conversations to how the resulting strategies will be implemented. (Page 29)
  24. The inside scoop on a no-cost daily resource to cultivate a fresh perspective on innovative strategy.
  25. The Results!!! mini-book is FREE!!!

Those are the first twenty-five reasons you should download Results!!!

If you‘re a senior executive seeking dramatically different results for later this year and early 2016, today’s the day! Download Results!!! Right now!!!

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

Continue Reading

0

It seems, at least based on our interactions, that it’s been a busy week already for people, with a fair amount of hair pulling and general business craziness.

That’s why it’s the right time for fewer words, and some creative inspiration for busting creativity barriers, no matter where they are coming from or how they are showing up at your door!

Use All the Keys to Creative Inspiration

1504-Keys

Stop OR Go Creativity

1504-Stop-Go

Creativity Barriers that Inspire You

1504-Graffitti-Wall

Creative Inspiration in an Idea Train Wreck

1504-Train-Wrecks

Red and Green Light Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Murphy

Looking for Value-Added Innovations 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
  • 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 eBook

Continue Reading