Blog | The Brainzooming Group - Part 3 – page 3

There’s a meme — perhaps you know it — in which two stick figures are trying very hard to make plans to get together. Reviewing their calendars, they trade offers and counteroffers until finally they embrace, tearfully, saying, “It was so nice knowing you!” and “I’ll never forget you!”

Adult friendships, it turns out, require a different level of care and persistence. They can be overwrought with complexity.  We’re not often completely sure about its boundaries or rules. We wonder, we worry. And yet we don’t talk about it much.

Enter Randi Buckley and Dyana Valentine.

Last Saturday, I joined forces with these two inimitable women to record episode 3 of their podcast series, The Challenges of Adult Friendships. It’s an ongoing conversation that explores “the terrain, confusion, gravity, importance, grieving, and nuances of adult friendships,” a topic I think about often, and one I was excited to discuss with these two fascinating and brilliant women. We talked about some of the things that happen around the question of, “What if they don’t want to be friends with me?” We also laughed. A lot.

We haven’t yet figured out how to solve the challenges inherent in adult friendships, but there’s something intensely freeing, and–I hope–helpful about this type of discussion. You can listen in to the podcast here — click on episode 3, far right. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Challenges of Adult Friendships! Emma Alvarez Gibson

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A participant at a Brainzooming creative leadership presentation stayed afterward.

He asked an intriguing question.

His department is about to undergo a reorganization. Currently, certain people are underutilized. While the reorganization isn’t intended to move them out of the department, he wondered how to best involve all the team members in re-imagining the department. He wanted ideas to do that without making the currently underutilized employees nervous. Additionally, he doesn’t want them to try to game answers to the questions to keep themselves fully employed and under-worked.

5 Strategic Thinking Questions to Engage Employees in Reorganization

I offered him five strategic thinking questions:

  • When is our organization at its best in performing the variety of activities we do?
  • What professional skills – whether used in your job currently or not – could you teach other department members to improve everyone’s effectiveness?
  • On what activities do our internal customers spend more time than they prefer (and that we can better address)?
  • What are our internal customers not able to accomplish because they are bogged down with other duties?
  • Where could we provide greater value if we were able to prioritize or focus more?

All five strategic thinking questions avoid anyone needing to game the answers to protect themselves or expose anyone else. I suggested that he ask the questions individually, compile the answers, and then use an edited version of the responses to shape the team discussion.

If you’re facing a similar situation: keep it neutral, simple, and focused to help your team constructively contribute to reorganizing in the smartest, most strategic way possible. – Mike Brown

Looking for Fresh Insights to Drive 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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I had a day-long meeting with one of our strategic partners to further develop our inbound marketing strategy. He commented near the meeting’s end that he appreciated that we spent our time collaborating instead of having him put on a show-and-tell for me. As he put it, the meeting allowed him to be himself, for which he was grateful.

He said that he imagined that our meeting was like what a Brainzooming strategy workshop would be like. I told him it definitely was.

8 Principles to Create Collaborative Meetings

Want to create meetings that are more about do and accomplish than about putting on a show?

Here are eight principles we embrace to make that happen:

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Let others be themselves.
  3. Don’t make anyone conform to an external standard for the proper behavior in a meeting.
  4. Discuss things that people really understand and know about.
  5. Don’t over-manage the process to the point where the process gets in the way of getting something accomplished.
  6. Trust that if everyone comes in with good intentions and a bias toward results, good things and productive results will transpire.
  7. Use analysis as a platform for places to go, not as a tool to shoot down new thinking.
  8. Accept the unexpected.

Looking to create collaborative meetings?

Embrace these eight principles. They work. We use them in everything we do.

Want even more help to create collaborative meetings? Contact us, and let’s chat about how Brainzooming can help facilitate collaborative, strategic meetings for YOUR organization! – Mike Brown


10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved 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 strategy 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

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When you are faced with a new strategic thinking quandary, what do you do?

Here is the Brainzooming formula to improvise strategic thinking questions and use them to solve a business challenge:

The first question is: What has worked in this situation or with this client before? Return to that technique, framework, or outcome. This creates CONTINUITY.

The second option: Look for what has worked elsewhere in comparable situations. This takes advantage of LESSONS LEARNED.

Option three: Look for different, but similar situations that could apply and frame the discussion or decision in light of those. Here, it’s all about the power of ANALOGIES.

The fourth option: Ask, “What can I pull out of my rear to experiment with and see if it will work?” THIS is total improv.

If all else fails: Call a break in the activities to CLEAR YOUR MIND, THINK, and PRAY for more strategic thinking questions to imagine and try. – 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


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Looking for a quick way to generate tons of innovative ideas?

If you need a lot of innovative ideas in a hurry, here’s a mega-simple way of generating them: Select the objective, opportunity, or challenge you are trying to address. Get a magazine with lots of big headlines, great photos, and cool ads. It helps to have a Sharpie and little sticky notes, #OBVI. Flip through each page of the magazine asking, “What innovative ideas for my opportunity does this page suggest?” Write the ideas on the sticky notes and place them on the pages.

For me right now, Domino magazine is a particularly productive magazine for new ideas, as is apparent!

So, if you are on your own and need help to generate a lot of innovative ideas in a hurry, it’s a simple creative thinking formula:

A magazine with lots of pictures and headlines +

Sticky notes +

A pen +

A few minutes =

Scores of innovative ideas!

– Mike Brown

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Find New Resources to Innovate!

FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

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Someone wondered about the range of topics included in the disruptive innovation strategy workshop we delivered recently. Even though the workshop spanned nearly ten hours over two days, we had to narrow the content significantly to achieve the client’s innovation objectives.

The reason?

We had a tremendous amount of work to get done!

The objective involved taking twenty-three tables of participants through innovation strategy exercises to identify disruptive concepts, craft strategies, document audience profiles, imagine ideas, develop market positions, and propose all the ideas in 9-second pitches.

See why we couldn’t cover EVERYTHING we hoped to address?

We led the group through a customized Brainzooming Innovation Fake Book of exercises. We did a few mini-keynotes. We kept the energy going. We had audience participation. And we made sure that every table reporting out received tokens as prizes.

27 Links to Energize Your Innovation Strategy

If you’re interested in reviewing some of the innovation strategy content we shared during the workshop, here are links within three major focus areas:

  • Imagine
  • Innovate
  • Implement

The three areas are important because you need all of them to turn ideas into business results.




Suffice it to say, we oversaw LOTS of learning and many activities. Nothing, however, was more important than the hard (and rewarding) work of creating and pitching all those innovative concepts!

Looking to similarly boost your team’s innovation skills, ideas, and, energy? Contact us to talk about delivering a Brainzooming innovation strategy workshop for your team, right away! – Mike Brown

Want to improve your organization’s innovation success?

If you want greater success and impact from innovation, but are not sure what to do next, Brainzooming has the answer.

Complete your brief Innovation Assessment and discover your best opportunities to improve future innovation results! It’s FREE, and will set the stage for enlivening your innovation strategy. Discover your true innovation potential today!

Want to improve your innovation success? The answer is easier than you think!

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We facilitated a two-day innovation strategy workshop for nearly two hundred members of a prominent, long-established brand’s marketing organization. The innovation strategy workshop covered a variety of topics related to disruptive innovation.

Prior to our Brainzooming workshop, a tech speaker addressed external innovation opportunities and challenges facing the brand. After his talk, the audience posed multiple questions to get to more actionable details. One person asked him what would keep him up at night if he were a leader at their company. While our workshop hadn’t started yet, I immediately wrote one word on a sheet of paper to answer the audience question. I handed the paper to my Brainzooming co-facilitator, Emma Alvarez Gibson:

If I were at the company, except would keep me up at night. EVERY night.

The reason?

Our client’s leaders, unconstrained by anything else, know the types of disruptive innovation moves they should make. The brand has tech-centric, disruptive competitors surfacing. Related product and lifestyle categories are innovating in ways that will allow them to bundle their own version of our client’s products into theirs. Major data aggregators, including any company gathering GPS and other user behavior data, could make a move into our client’s space with compelling new offerings.

Yes, they likely know what and how they could employ disruptive innovation.

That’s where except appears to mess things up in strategic ways.

An article I found about the brand’s current innovation strategy initiatives included company executives highlighting a variety of new and exciting changes, EXCEPT they wouldn’t innovate away their sales model.

Before the workshop, conversations with attendees focused on the importance the brand is placing on disruptive innovation, EXCEPT they can’t mess up their current business model and revenue stream.

During the innovation workshop, participants used our Brainzooming tools and models to imagine and develop nearly two-dozen innovation strategy concepts. EXCEPT, the judges didn’t pick the one focused on giving away what they do for free to their clients in exchange for those same clients handing over all their data. That was one concept that seemed, at least to us, like a sure thing that SOME disruptive player will do.

In all of these cases, the company is taking options off the table, EXCEPT that NONE of its potentially-disruptive competitors are removing comparable options from their attack strategies.

See, what I mean?

While I understand the reluctance, EXCEPT means that our client is going to market with numerous restrictions that completely-different looking brands that are targeting them would never consider as limitations.

That’s why except would keep me from getting ANY sleep.  – Mike Brown

Want to improve your innovation success? Complete this strategy assessment today!

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