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I know, I know, I know. By all public accounts, Woody Allen isn’t an admirable person. Yet every time he releases a new movie and does an interview in the Wall Street Journal, there are great strategic and creative insights worth mentioning.

You can read my previous disclaimer on blogging about Woody Allen here, in an earlier Brainzooming post about his longevity-oriented, low-risk strategy.

The 3 Brand Strategy Questions and Woody Allen

In the WSJ interview for “Irrational Man,” Allen discusses the challenges of varying your brand. His brand situation plays out three important brand strategy questions we ask when a company is evaluating brand innovations:

  • What do your customers EXPECT from your brand?
  • What types of changes will customers ACCEPT from your brand?
  • What will customers REWARD your brand for doing?

Brand-Promise-Inputs

Answering a question about why people laugh during his dramatic films, Woody Allen discussed the back and forth between comedy and drama in his career. While he aspired to write dramatic works, his talents were in comedy. Based on his early comedic success, comedy is where his brand is based. In other words, it’s what customers EXPECT from the Woody Allen brand.

The more intriguing insight relative to these brand strategy questions addresses the ACCEPT and REWARD dimensions: even during his dramatic films, where there is ostensibly no humorous content, audiences still laugh.

As he notes, “People want comedy from me (what they ACCEPT) and still interpret things I do as comic when of course they’re not. I believe people laugh(ed) (what they REWARD) because they thought they would be missing something if they didn’t laugh…it will always get some laughs because people associate me with that.”

In another measure of how viewers reward his brand, the estimated inflation-adjusted gross revenue of Woody Allen’s films (from an analysis Buzzfeed published in 2013) shows his top films are skewed toward his comedies.

And it’s clear Woody Allen got this limitation in his brand early on in his career. In his 1980 film “Stardust Memories,” a fan tells Allen’s character, a movie director, that she likes his earlier funny films.

Allen’s response to his brand limitations appears to be to minimize risk and go ahead with whatever types of films he wants to do.

Your brand, however, may not have that luxury. If you don’t think it does, these three brand strategy questions should be front and center as you consider any innovation that pushes your brand in potentially new territory.   – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy 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

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As a high school freshman, our religion class was preparing for an upcoming test on the 6th and 9th commandments. For those unfamiliar with the Ten Commandments, the 6th and 9th ones address the full gamut of sexual improprieties.

Moses-Ten-Commandments

Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law (1659) by Rembrandt. (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)

Our teacher for the class, a priest who was also the school counselor, could not be present during homeroom. To cover, a senior nicknamed Bubba, who was a big defensive lineman for the football team, monitored our class.

As we reviewed our notes for the test, someone asked the football player, “Bubba, how do you prevent venereal disease?”

Bubba’s strategic advice?

“Keep your d!@% in your pants.”

Even though the phrasing of Bubba’s strategic advice would not earn maximum points on our upcoming test, I have never forgotten his answer.

Strategic Advice to Avoid Trouble

While for so many problems we try to deal with the AFTER effects of the root problem, Bubba’s strategic advice was to avoid the possibility of creating a problem you need to address later.

That’s a great thinking and strategic advice.

In the book, “America’s Pastor” by Grant Wacker, he addresses evangelist Billy Graham’s impact on society from the late 1940s through the early 2000s when he was a highly visible public fixture (affiliate link). Billy Graham’s reputation, while being challenged on some political alliances, opinions, and even religious points of view, remained untarnished in areas befalling many evangelists – especially those achieving prominence in the television age.

Why was Billy Graham able to rise above issues ruining so many prominent ministers?

One reason may be a 1948 meeting Billy Graham conducted with his staff. They identified downfalls plaguing other high-visibility ministers: “Misuse of money, exaggerated results, sexual misconduct, and criticism of other clergy.”

As with Bubba’s strategic advice, Billy Graham’s four factors all targeted avoiding potentially fatal problems before they could develop.

4 Keys to Remember

Danger-High-Voltage

Billy Graham’s team created its four-item list more than sixty-five years ago. With slight adaptations, however, it is a solid list categorizing many challenges cratering businesses, organizations, and leaders.

As you take on personal and organizational leadership roles, make sure you are doing whatever possible to avoid:

  • Misuses of money
  • Efforts to exaggerate, inflate, or misrepresent performance
  • Immoral, illegal, or unethical activities of any type
  • Activities focused on talking about or portraying a competitor as anything but a decent corporate citizen

It’s worth keeping the list nearby – whether physically, virtually, or simply as a heuristic for protecting any organization. Avoid these four “sins,” and you and your organization will be in a much better position to weather business challenges you might typically face in the normal course of events.

Or if you want an even shorter version of this strategic advice, remember Bubba’s comment, and you’ll avoid a wide array of problems you really don’t want to face! – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy 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!





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Great minds think about the same topics at the same time.

Or maybe another way to put it is that strategy guys start thinking about business strategy questions at the same time because it’s time to start thinking about strategic planning!

On Sunday afternoon, customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle emailed this new blog article on business strategy questions. I saw the email, but didn’t take a look at the article. Later Sunday night when I decided to write a blog post for Monday, I did a Twitter search on #strategic to find creative inspiration. The result was a blog post on…you guessed it…business strategy questions! While there is a little bit of overlap with Woody’s article, his questions are focused on generating the strategy while the ones from the previous column were more for reviewing strategy after it’s been completed.

080907-Thinking-Cap-Guy

So with that setup, here’s Woody!

 7 Business Strategy Questions from Woody Bendle

woody-bendleAs we enter into the back half of the year, it seems this is typically when many organizations begin their strategic planning and goal setting for the coming year.

Strategy and strategic planning needn’t be mysterious nor overly complicated although many organizations do in fact overcomplicate strategic planning.  The problem with this is complicated strategic planning processes tend to lead to needlessly complex strategies.  And the more complex your strategy, the less likely it is to be executed successfully.

After being involved with and/or leading strategy development for more than 20 years, I’ve found that organizations can develop a highly effective strategy by asking and answering just seven key questions.

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. Why are we trying to do this?
  3. What are our core values or what things do we believe in?
  4. What are the things we need to do in order to accomplish what we’re wanting to accomplish?
  5. How will we know if we are making progress towards our stated goals and objectives?
  6. What things (both internal and external) could get in the way of us achieving our goals and objectives?
  7. What things are we willing and or prepared to do if we are not achieving our stated goals or objectives at the rate desired?

Granted, these are pretty meaty questions; but you have to admit, they are pretty straight forward.

One thing I’ve definitely observed over the past 20 years is that the more straight forward your approach to strategy, the more straight forward your strategy will be; and the more likely it is that your strategy will be successfully executed.

And after all, the point of a strategy and a strategic plan is to define what success looks like for your organization and determine what all needs to be done in order for your organization to be successful.

I think Yogi Berra sums up this sentiment nicely, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”  Woody Bendle

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. 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 leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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

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Whether you are already working on your business strategy for next year or are updating plans for later this year, here are ten business strategy questions we use that will benefit you.

These business strategy questions represent a mix of open-ended questions along with a few Yes/No ones. That means you can vary them to stimulate strategic conversations (if that is needed) or pin down unwieldy strategic conversations that are not moving toward resolution.

Additionally, with some slight wording variations, you can ask most of these business strategy questions at any point during the strategy development process to keep your strategy development focused.

10 Business Strategy Questions You Need to Ask

Strategic-QuestionMark

  1. Does this strategy make sense based on what we know and expect to happen?
  2. Does the strategy accurately convey what we really want to accomplish with the brand?
  3. Do all the important parts of this business strategy align with and support one another?
  4. What type of message will this strategy send to the organization about where we are heading?
  5. How can we most simply describe it so people can learn and understand it?
  6. Is it evident (from how we have stated that strategy) what we will do to implement it?
  7. In what ways can we better link this strategy to things we already do successfully?
  8. How long will it take us to implement the strategy, and is that amount of time reasonable?
  9. What things HAVE to happen to carry out the strategy successfully?
  10. Do we have the metrics in place to measure it, and if we do not, can we put the metrics in place?

Bookmark or OneTab this article, because you should be using these ten business strategy questions frequently!  – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. 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 leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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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People have suggested over the years that we should take a break from the Brainzooming blog’s rigorous publishing schedule.

The advice was reiterated last Thursday by Stephen Lahey, the Smart Solo Business mastermind and self-described “number one Brainzooming fan.” The thing is through all the sharing and promotion Stephen does of Brainzooming content, his self-described title is completely true.

I updated Stephen on the upcoming Brainzooming presentations I am developing for later July, including:

Along with so much time focused on family matters the last couple of months, I told Stephen the next two weeks would be heavy with creating these presentations, let alone getting the blog written. He advised me to be realistic and take a Brainzooming blog vacation.

Blue-Sky-Clouds

Well, if the blog’s number one fan is okay with a blog vacay, maybe it is time to take a Brainzooming blog vacation.

And so, we will.

Look for the blog to return next week when I have had a chance to catch up, complete the presentations, and maybe even write a few unpublished blogs to build up my cushion of new content again. It is incredible to think, at one time, I was twenty blog posts ahead for Brainzooming at a time when I was also doing two other blogs!

How times change!

Enjoy the Brainzooming blog vacation as much as I plan to do, and we will see you back here next week! – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy 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!





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Marianne-Carr-PhotoMarianne Carr has been working with us for nearly a year. We met (courtesy of mutual friend, Doug Steveneson) at a lunch neither one of us wanted to attend.

I knew there may be possibilities, however, when she was willing to skip the two-hour wait at Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ (as it was still known then) and head across the street for tacos and margaritas at Taco Republic. It’s my fault for not getting her listed on the website (gotta get that fixed), but it’s great to finally feature her first blog post. It’s another in our planned series of recaps of intriguing creative inspiration clicks to articles around the web each week.  – Mike Brown

Gal Friday – Marianne’s Memes and Creative Inspiration Clicks

Meme

 

I had to look this up!

Variety is the Spice of My In-Box: Connecting Dots and Finding Golden Threads

I get a lot of different things to read in my in-box. I mean a lot. I mean different.

To me, some how all of these thoughts, opinions, facts, what-nots are interconnected. Not sure how, not sure why. Maybe it’s for you to decide.

I offer some of my own humble opinions for consideration. 

At Work, Captain Hindsight Really IS a Super Hero

“….calls it the “premortem”, and it’s embarrassingly simple: you imagine yourself in the future, after the project you’re considering has ended in spectacular failure. “Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the premortem operates on the assumption that the ‘patient’ has died,” Klein writes. In the fantasy world of the premortem, it’s already over. You’re screwed. Everything went as badly as you could have feared. Now: why?”

IMHO: It’s always about asking better questions (more about that in a couple of weeks). I like the way this is “packaged” however, and sometimes the packaging of a technique helps sell it internally at an organization.  Doesn’t seem like frivolous and ineffective “brainstorming” or “ideation” if it’s called “Pre-mortem.”

Australians Spell Words Differently, but are Not Worlds Apart

“Yet legacy technologies, siloed operational structures, risk aversion and data analytics immaturity must be overcome if an organisation is to achieve the real-time responsiveness customers are demanding. Many marketing functions are also still coming to terms with what customer engagement across the lifecycle means, and how to best utilise content and social channels to make that happen.”

IMHO: Duh. Okay that’s rude. Some of this is obvious, but still true, and no one is doing anything to correct it in many large organizations. Or prevent it in start-ups that hit that scary 5 year, too-many-people, grew-too-fast plateau so that the silos have just magically appeared. But you know all that. My slightly more impressive thought is — I have heard that Australia is considered a good testing ground for ideas prior to launch in the USA. There are several similarities to behavior and attitude.  I’d love to know if that’s true.

The Secret Life of Being; Remember Each of One of Us has Something

“By the last week of October, Alex was communicating with more than a dozen people who openly admired the Islamic State. Her life, which had mostly seemed like a blurred series of babysitting shifts and lonely weekends roaming the mall, was now filled with encouragement and tutorials from her online friends.”

IMHO: This article highlights how we each individually face some monumental, and often very secret, challenges in our daily lives.  Never forget to be open and empathetic.  And think in terms of people, instead of consumers, when innovating.

My Subconscious Ate my Social Media Campaign

“Why do you have an urge or thought that you shouldn’t be having? Because, in a sense, the consciousness system doesn’t know that you shouldn’t be thinking about something. An urge generator doesn’t know that an urge is irrelevant to other thoughts or ongoing action.”

IMHO: Oh thank goodness, it’s not me, it’s my subconscious that’s going to eat that cupcake. And I’m not even hungry. So is reading Facebook all day, or tweeting, or pinning, or LInkedining, or Vining or Snapchatting or texting really just a subconscious urge?

New School/Old School – but is it the Right School?

Conf-Infographic

IMHO: Is this the right way to use the infographic format? Am I supposed to print it and hang it on my wall?  Wouldn’t that be better to send me AFTER I signup? But I have heard this is a good event. Maybe I should go some time.

sxsw-cover

IMHO: And these guys have a MAGAZINE?! Shocker. I’ve heard this is a good event, too. – Marianne Carr

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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.

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Yesterday, we talked about the creative constraint at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference where we were limited to taking only five pictures of the school environment. Today, I wanted to share my six (yes six, not five) photos!

I’m sure I wasn’t as strategic and reasoned in selecting my photos as the teachers who were at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. Obviously, I wasn’t looking for specific projects or ideas to bring into a classroom setting. Nevertheless, they all represent aspects of the school that served as creative inspiration for me.

It’s a Museum

As someone explained it to me matter of factly, “This is a Saturn V rocket; it’s the biggest rocket there is.” Well of course it is. Notice the black walls and ceiling along with the planets and stars. It struck me that not only was building the Saturn V a project, the entire installation conveys a sense of the Boulder Journey School as a museum for children to appreciate art, science, and multiple other disciplines.

BJS-SaturnV

Changing Scale for Creative Inspiration

We were introduced to several examples of using GoPro cameras as a means to explode the size of very small scenes so the children can interact and engage in new ways. This shows a scene the children drew, turned into a 3-D scene, and then were videoing and projecting at a huge scale on the wall. I am excited about the possibilities for how something comparable might let us show what happens at a Brainzooming strategy or creativity event in new ways.

BJS-GoPro-Dinner

This Is Where the Wild Things Are!

This was the actually the first photo I took once our photo taking time began. I had been in this classroom earlier and noticed the Where the Wild Things Are characters sitting on a couch in front of pillows that look like the ones we have on our couch at home…except these have orange in the design! Plus, I painted the character on the right as part of a huge event banner in graduate school, so that brought back memories of long ago creative inspiration.

BJS-Wild-Things

What Goes into Creativity?

If I were being completely strict about ONLY five pictures, this would have been the one that would have gone. I really wanted the list of words tied to creativity:

  • Thinking
  • Analyzing
  • Processing
  • Guessing
  • Hypothesizing
  • Predicting
  • Manipulating
  • Sloping
  • Rolling
  • Blocking
  • Falling
  • Measuring

Yes, I could have just written the words, but the creative inspiration for me was in how they dissected this process into a whole series of specific actions adults would typically never think about as discrete activities.

BJS-Creativity

One of the Creative Inspiration Stars

I’d heard stories about the fish at Boulder Journey School Skyping with one another and was mystified. When I heard the full story of how the children wanted to connect the fish tanks at the school so the fish could interact, it started to make sense. Then when they showed how they used GoPro cameras to project the fish (including this cutie, Diggum) on a wall so they were larger than the children, it really started to come together for how it all provided creative inspiration. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t leave without taking a picture of Diggum!

BJS-Diggum

This Was Definitely the Sixth Picture, but Hardly an Afterthought

While this was my sixth (and last) photo, I identified it as a strong possibility early in the conference. This is the intra-school mail center. Children can write notes to other kids, but importantly, parents can leave notes for children that will be delivered later in the day. When I worked in a ten-story office building, we had intra-office mail, even after email was prevalent. Why WOULDN’T you have the same capability in an early childhood school? The answer is you’d only have it when the administrators and staff are incredibly open to translating beneficial concepts into a child’s world!

BJS-Intra-Email

– Mike Brown

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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.

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