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We’ve said it before, experience its confirmation repeatedly, and will thus say it again: One of the best ways to learn more about what you know is to teach it to someone else.

The latest confirmation took place this week as we created and presented a new Brainzooming innovation workshop on how to develop insights to fuel innovation.  We’re several engagements into a relationship with a client implementing a sweeping innovation initiative across its organization. We developed this new Brainzooming innovation workshop for the management team within the department leading the innovation push.

We routinely present strategic thinking workshops on the exercises and tools The Brainzooming Group uses to develop and implement innovative ideas. This innovation workshop differed in that we taught the insights development techniques we use to prepare for a successful innovation strategy initiative. This required examining and documenting areas we almost always do without explaining to anyone outside our organization.

6 Keys to Facilitating Executive Interviews

innovation-workshop

One new content area involved how to get the most value from an executive interview. Reflecting on our current practices and a career’s worth of executive interviews, here are six keys to facilitating strategic conversations within executive interviews:

  • Show real enthusiasm for both the questions you are asking AND the answers the other person is sharing
  • Display supportive physical cues, such as leaning in toward the other person with an engaged posture, nodding in affirmation, and smiling
  • Take great notes to help recall specific statements and develop themes emerging from the strategic conversation
  • Share encouraging verbal cues through affirmations (i.e., “Great,” “That’s interesting,” “Thank you for sharing that”) and probes (i.e., “Please tell me more,” “Can you go deeper on that topic?”)
  • Don’t be afraid of silence – allow space in the discussion for the other person to think, form ideas, or even try harder to answer a question more thoroughly
  • Know where you want to go next with a question YET move based on the responses from the other person – the key here is having an interview plan that is adaptable to focus on the topic the respondent is ready to address at any given moment

Want to experience these six keys within a non-traditional setting?

This interview of comedian Jerry Lewis by Raymond Arroyo is an outstanding example. While it certainly isn’t a traditional executive interview, it’s a compelling a strategic conversation covering familiar and new ground in a productive and engaging way.

Additionally, at 54:00 Jerry Lewis compliments Raymond Arroyo on his interview approach, suggesting the first of these six keys for executive interviews: “You are articulate. You know what you’re going to talk about. You’re interested in the answer; that’s the key. You’re interested in everything you asked me to see what the answer is. And that draws from me, (making me) eager to do more for you.”

Here is to more productive strategic conversations daily in business.

And if you are developing an innovation initiative, contact us so The Brainzooming Group can have a strategic conversation with you on ways we can assist with an innovation workshop or strategy! – Mike Brown

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“Let’s start with a clean sheet of paper to boost creativity.”

Talking with a potential client about an already-planned innovation strategy workshop, the going-in innovation strategy called for giving participants “a clean sheet of paper.”

We listened to the rationale for adopting an innovation strategy based on broad creative freedom.

In many ways, it seemed to make sense:

  • They are looking for new thinking from a diverse set of participants.
  • They have had success in other situations starting with minimal direction.
  • They are adapting and applying the same format used with the other successes in a new business area.

We countered with our experience-based recommendation: give everyone insights, direction, and structure to generate more possibilities and legitimately boost the workshop’s potential for innovation strategy impact.

The workshop is already planned, so postponing it to readjust the approach isn’t an option.

Putting Something on the Clean Sheet of Paper

Suppose you find yourself in a similar position. You’ve been thinking a clean sheet of paper innovation strategy maximizes creativity. Now, however, you are having second thoughts.

What are the options if you decide to insert some structure and avoid using a clean sheet of paper for your innovation strategy?

clean-sheet-paper

Here are six ways to strategically and productively fill up a LITTLE bit of that clean sheet of paper to maximize creativity:

Letting People Know What’s Important

Operating within Constraints

Sharing Your Innovation Strategy Decision Making

These ideas don’t even begin to address the innovation value of strategic thinking exercises and creative structures to spur innovation.

At least by using any of these six ideas though, you can give any co-creators involved with your innovation strategy just enough direction and structure to help them boost creativity. – 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.

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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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At the 2016 Brand Strategy Conference, Antonia Dean, Director – Marketing, Brand Development, & Strategy at The Estée Lauder Companies covered the strategic thinking ideas behind creating an entrepreneurial environment in a large company. In her role, Antonia Dean focuses on incubating acquisitions and top-secret new product concepts.

The charge for Dean’s organization at ELC Ventures is to develop ideas to shake up Estee Lauder and the cosmetics industry. Moving as fast as the company’s fastest competitor demanded an entrepreneurial approach. Her experience has uncovered multiple ideas for how to create newness and build an entrepreneurial culture and spirit within an established parent organization.

Antonia-Dean

16 Strategic Thinking Ideas for Creating an Entrepreneurial Environment Inside Your Company

Dean related her internal entrepreneurship (or “intrapreneurship”) lessons in three areas of strategic thinking: building the team, creating the culture, and defining success.

Building the Team

  • The first step in team building is identifying the rights tasks requiring entrepreneurism. Not all business areas need or want an entrepreneurial approach and the upsides (and challenges) that come along with a cultural force that can run counter to the rest of the organization. If there is not an overwhelming upside to intrapreneurism, do not try to bring those functions into the team.
  • Relative to specific team members, the successful entrepreneurs in an established organization are not necessarily the individuals the organization typically promotes because of following the rules. They are not the people achieving the longest tenure. The people you want in a start-up inside an established organization are always making up their own steps. They possess the talents, determination, and persistence that an organization cannot successfully constrain.
  • A great way to check for an entrepreneurial attitude is to ask prospective team members if they believe in the internal start-up’s cause and what attracts them to it. Ask them to provide concrete examples of when they devised creative solutions.
  • Intrapreneurs need their space in more ways than one. Not only do they need freedom from organizational policies and procedures, it is ideal to get them away physically from the rest of the organization. A separate office is ideal to provide greater latitude.
  • Mix people up across departments and functions. You need to get the right combinations of people working together, not isolated within an area of functional expertise.

Creating the Culture

  • Make it clear and entrepreneurial initiative within a bigger organization is completely different. It’s a great time to ask what about the parent organization was once positive but not persists without providing value or helping accelerate the entrepreneurial cause. Get rid of these things.
  • When creating the new culture, think “lowercase b.” This is not BIG business with the standard procedures. Cultivate a fail fast AND fail cheap attitude. You need to be able to come up with ideas and launch them with little overhead and investment so you do not stick with a bad idea too long because of sunk costs.
  • Enforce a VIP list, i.e., keep participation in the new venture exclusive. Do not let individuals from the main organization attach themselves or intrude unnecessarily, or you run the risk of slowing the entrepreneurial venture’s pace. Over-involving internal experts also leads to sanitizing ideas and adding unnecessary costs.
  • Do not automatically copy your boss on emails about the entrepreneurial venture, just to be safe. Doing so simply takes up time for others and invites unnecessary activities.
  • Extend and shape the culture by going out into the market to experience what is happening. It defeats the purpose to setup an intrapreneurial organization that does not bring in outside influences.
  • Expect turnover in the team. When you are protecting the culture, people that do not fit will become apparent and be gone soon.

Defining Success

  • Adopt the attitude of working “out of the basement.” A strong question to challenge significant resource requests is, “If we were starting this out of mom’s basement, would we spend this money?”
  • Make friends with failure. Accept the bare minimum to move forward and be ready to “fail cheap.” Do not expect or demand perfection when you only need directional answers to be able to keep advancing with an idea or concept.
  • Explicitly redefine success as something different from what success looks like in the parent organization. Put together the success recipe based on learning from failure and moving forward.
  • Repeat this mantra: “Rocky failed, but Rocky won. Embrace failure as a given. WE ARE GOING TO FAIL AT SOMETHING.”
  • Find and embrace the easy answers. You don’t know how to get a UPC code attached to a new product? Google for the answer instead of seeking out the internal expert. Not sure what the right marketing language is? Talk to your target consumers and see what words and phrases they use.

Antonia Dean’s strategic thinking ideas made it clear an entrepreneurial environment will not develop inside your company if you are too clingy to what has worked previously yet has grown stale and bloated. Start new, fresh, and lean, with a true appreciation for moving with speed, persistence, and a thick skin relative to failure!   Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

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

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Ever felt as if your main creative outlet just isn’t working anymore?

I’m going through that with writing. I’m WAY off my creative thinking game when it comes to putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard.

I have some ideas why this is the case, and have been trying to document the reasons my go-to creative outlet isn’t working right now.

31 Excuses Why a Creative Outlet Isn’t Working

creative-block-2-right-lane

Here are all the possibilities so far for why my creative thinking is weak, particularly when it comes to writing:

  1. Too tired and not enough sleep.
  2. I don’t care about anything enough to write about it right now.
  3. Don’t feel great.
  4. Haven’t worked out in days.
  5. Everybody else has already thought of and created everything better than I would.
  6. I’ve created so much content recently I just don’t have anything else left in the hopper.
  7. Too much jumping around mentally and working with too many topics, making it impossible to concentrate.
  8. Too stressed.
  9. Too comfortable.
  10. My technology isn’t working which drives me crazy.
  11. I’m not traveling enough to stimulate my creativity.
  12. Too much time in the office on the weekends.
  13. The office isn’t a creative place for me anymore.
  14. Too little time in the office during the week.
  15. Wasting too many potential creative hours driving in the car.
  16. I’m traveling too much and my creativity is zapped.
  17. Don’t have time to go sit somewhere to people watch and write.
  18. All my creativity is going into client projects right now.
  19. Can’t stop watching stuff about Prince dying.
  20. When I see how creative Prince was, I want to give up.
  21. There are big deliverables to finish and deadlines to meet, and until that happens, there’s no mental energy to write.
  22. Even if I write something, I won’t have time to promote it properly.
  23. Thinking about taking all the time to format, illustrate, and get a blog post ready to publish is killing my creativity.
  24. I know I should cut back on writing and this is what it feels like when my creativity is listening to that, but the rest of me isn’t.
  25. Nobody said a word, not even my parents, when I skipped a few days blogging.
  26. Other parts of the business need more attention than they’ve been getting.
  27. I need help.
  28. Not learning enough new things in my daily interactions that provide new writing material.
  29. Too busy to get enough time for prayer and reflection.
  30. I’m suffering from creative apathy about nearly everything.
  31. If I could get this next [FILL IN THE BLANK] done, I’ll be fine.

Wow, maybe my creativity is fine.

It looks like it might just be that all my creative thinking is going into my new main creative outlet: coming up with excuses.

Maybe THAT’S a blog post worth writing. – Mike Brown

 

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and boost your creative thinking skills! 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. Contact 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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We were working with a client and sharing the value of our extreme creativity strategic exercises to boost creative thinking skills. We love extreme creativity questions because they provide an opportunity to push strategic thinking into bigger and bolder areas than an individual or group would envision by simply asking, “What are new and different things we could do?”

Although these questions are valuable, I always imagine workshop audiences initially wondering about when they would use these since they typically lead to incredibly outrageous ideas.

Most companies would benefit from bigger and bolder ideas. When being different than the competition is important (and it always is), an extreme idea can dramatically boost differentiation.

Another reason to embrace extreme creativity questions is they provide a more beautiful, amazing mental landscape to inspire creative thinking skills.

Think about it: when people seek out nature looking for creative inspiration, do they seek out boring landscapes where everything is the same color, elevation, topography, or other physical characteristic?

No, they seek out dramatic landscapes full of amazing visual stimuli: mountains, oceans, vegetation, extreme conditions, and unique environments. In those amazing settings, it’s easy for ideas to start flowing because of all the inspiration the scenery provides.

Nevada-Mountain

It’s the same with inspiring creative ideas. A bland backdrop (i.e., a clean sheet of paper) provides little creative inspiration. A set of bigger and bolder ideas, even if you don’t plan to use them as is, can help to inspire other, more actionable ideas.

Not sure about all this?

Apply some extreme creativity questions to your situation and see for yourself how seemingly impossible to implement ideas will suggest other more practical possibilities!

And if you’re not sure about doing that, contact us for ideas! – Mike Brown

 

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Extreme Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and boost your creative thinking skills! 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. Contact 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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This Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at 1 pm CDT (US) I’ll be appearing on Social Jack TV™ with host Dean DeLisle talking about Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.

Whether personally or organizationally, the desire to be more innovative can run straight into all kinds of barriers, brick walls, and booby traps. Using even just a few smart tools and techniques, however, you can eliminate these NO’s to a successful innovation strategy and move yourself and your organization to innovative ideas setting you apart from the competition. We’re planning to cover innovation strategy for both individuals and organizations., including

  • Some of the most common NO’s blocking creativity and innovation strategy
  • How to benefit from structures and exercises to spur creative ideas and innovation

  • New possibilities to improve innovation strategy successes amid challenges to new thinking and actions

You will be able to call in, chat, or tweet about the conversation before, during, and after the program.

Register here for Taking the NO Out of InNOvation on Social Jack TV!

Let’s have robust participation from the Brainzooming family to create a stimulating conversation on innovation strategy with Dean and me! – Mike Brown

 

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

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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Today at the Social Media Strategy Summit, along with Kaite Stover, Director of Readers’ Services at the Kansas City Public Library, I’m presenting a fun case study. The presentation is about how the Kansas City Public Library was able to “sponsor bomb” the 2015 Major League Baseball Playoffs and World Series with a book spine poetry campaign.

In short, the Library used images of multiple stacked books chosen so that the combined titles communicated messages to tweak the baseball teams (and the libraries in their communities) with pro-Kansas City Royals messages.

Sponsor-bomb-book-spine-poe

BTW, did I mention the Kansas City Royals are the 2015 World Champions? Just checking . . . wanted to make sure you knew that!

While The Brainzooming Group wasn’t involved in developing the social media strategy behind the World Series sponsor bomb, we’ve been working with the Library on branding and event strategy. Knowing how smart the social media strategy for the World Series sponsor bomb campaign was, we brought the story and the tremendous impact from the initiative to the attention of Breanna Jacobs, the Social Media Strategy Summit producer.

Kaite will cover the Kansas City Public Library social media strategy and implementation from start to finish. I’ll share lessons for other brands in how they might envision comparable sponsor bomb opportunities for their own brands.

Social Media Strategy – 5 Keys to Sponsor Bomb a High-Profile Event

If you aren’t with us in Chicago, here are the smart things the Kansas City Public Library did to make the strategy as effective as it was:

Here’s hoping the Royals go all the way again in 2016 so we can see what the Kansas City Public Library does with the next chapter of its book spine poetry sponsor bomb strategy!  – Mike Brown

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