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You know the old phrase for weddings that goes, “Something old, something, new, something borrowed, and something blue”?

You can turn the expression into handy creative thinking questions, with a twist, of course.

Creative Thinking Questions – Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Rhyming

wedding-rings

When you are looking for new creative thinking and ideas, look at your situation and ask:

  • What’s something old about this that is now overlooked but can be refreshed?
  • What’s something completely new we could do or create?
  • What idea can we borrow from a similar (or perhaps dissimilar) situation that applies?
  • What would make customers (or whoever the audience is) blue if unless it’s improved?

Those work well, but of all the creative thinking questions, the one for “blue” is a little clunky, don’t you think?

Here is the creative twist – use another word that rhymes with “blue” to complete your fourth creative thinking question.

Try one of these instead to have Something ________:

  • Boo: What’s the scariest thing we could do to change this situation?
  • Do: What would prompt our audience to act with greater intensity?
  • Due: What change would we make it we had to implement it right away?
  • Few: How could we make this more rare and valuable?
  • Glue: An idea that would stick with people better?
  • Pooh: What would be the coolest shit we could make?
  • Stew: What if mixed everything together?
  • Zoo: What animal characteristics could we creatively apply?

Take one or more of these creative thinking questions for a walk down the aisle and see what new ideas you imagine, for better or worse! – Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. 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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Remember, strategic thinking lessons are all around us if we’re willing to search for them.

For instance, there is an account in Acts of the Apostles from the Bible’s New Testament about the apostle Paul visiting Athens. While in Athens, Paul was taken to the Areopagus by some of the Greek philosophers. They wanted him to talk about the teachings he was speaking of as the Athenians “used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new.”

Paul began his discourse at the Areopagus by speaking of walking through Athens. Amid a city full of gods and idols of various sorts, he reported finding “an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’” This altar was intended to cover the Athenians and stay in the good graces of any god they hadn’t yet learned about.

Paul-Areopagus

I have written and spoken previously about this Bible passage, which is read in Catholic masses on the Wednesday of the sixth week of Easter. It’s a fantastic example of understanding what your audience believes and launching your attempt to sway their strategic thinking by recognizing where you agree rather than where you disagree.

Strategic Thinking and Unknown Ideas

It struck me yesterday how, from the audience’s perspective, this is also a wonderful story to reflect how we receive new, unknown ideas and strategic thinking.

It’s easy, over time, to fill our heads with ideas and strategic thinking that define our world view and represent our attempt to explain everything we have experienced. It’s also easy to become so fascinated with our own strategic thinking that we leave no room to consider new ways of doing things or opposing points of view.

Some people take this to such an extreme that they can’t even consider opposing ideas simply to understand why people hold them even if they have no intention of believing or embracing these ideas.

Here’s a reminder for all of us: as you grow in years and experience, keep a space that never goes away where you are willing to hear others on new, unknown ideas.

Because if you’re going to grow in your strategic thinking capabilities, you can never NOT have the mental space to hear, consider, and potentially expand your thinking. – Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. 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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Can-I-ask-questionThere’s one strategic thinking question that will make you a better marketer?

Yes there is ONE strategic thinking question you can ask (and, of course, answer) that all by itself will make you a better marketer.

Let me share how it works with you.

I was presenting a mini-workshop on branding and social media with a new client the other day. Before we wrapped up, one of the participants asked what I thought about paying to include something from their business in a welcome gift going to new residents in a community the business serves.

She probably wanted a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, but that wasn’t what she needed. I gave her a suggestion and a strategic thinking question.

The suggestion was to look at any type of marketing investment as a sponsorship. You’re investing a specific amount of money to associate your brand with something – whether it’s a sports team, a direct marketing piece, an advertisement, or even social media content. Thinking about it that way, you can see how your marketing investments are sponsorships, even if untraditional sponsorships.

And once you start looking at all your marketing investments through a sponsorship marketing model, you have to ask a fundamental sponsorship marketing question:

“What are we going to do and how much are we going to invest to market this sponsorship?”

That’s the one question you can ask that will automatically make you a stronger strategic marketer.

It’s vital with any sponsorship to do the strategic thinking about how much you invest to link your brand in an effective and business-building way to the sponsorship asset you’re renting from the organization that owns it.

Answering that question from a strategic perspective makes you consider:

  • How do we integrate this with other things we do?
  • What can we do to make sure this supports our most important objectives?
  • What other things can we do to get more advantage from our investment?
  • What’s the right ratio to invest in marketing the sponsorship to get the greatest value from it?
  • How would we measure whether this works or not?

By looking at your marketing investments from a sponsorship marketing perspective and asking one strategic thinking question, you’re forced to address integrated marketing, metrics, ROI, and making sure you have tactics to support all of these.

In the case of the welcome packet, we covered, within a few short minutes, what would make this make sense for a non-primary market, A/B testing, negotiating contact information on who receives the packets, creating an offer for those receiving the information, and providing a landing page specific to this offer to track whether people take action on it.

See what I mean about being a stronger strategic marketer.

There you have it.

Be sure to add this strategic thinking question to your repertoire: “What are we going to do and how much are we going to invest to market this sponsorship?” Mike Brown

 

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Strategic-Planning-SessionsConvening a group for strategic planning sessions DOESN’T have to be a boring, monotonous experience. If you’re creating the strategic planning experience right, it should be a fun, engaging experience for people who legitimately care about your organization.

And as much as we facilitate the strategic planning process across companies, you had better believe we want each one to be a fun, engaging experience.

Here are thirteen ideas for how strategic planning sessions CAN BE fun experiences:

  1. Invite people excited about participating to be a part of strategic planning process, even if you wouldn’t typically include them.
  2. Apply engaging structure and facilitation techniques so it is productive for participants.
  3. Incorporate fun, stimulating strategic thinking activities into strategic planning.
  4. Hold at least some of your strategic planning sessions in fresh environments.
  5. Bring in toys for people to play with and distract themselves.
  6. Have people participate in raucous, not-overly physical activities.
  7. Tell jokes as ways emphasize key messages.
  8. Use funny pictures in presentations.
  9. Teach people new skills or tools that are relevant for their ongoing use.
  10. Serve great, light food.
  11. Have someone illustrate the strategic planning results.
  12. Consciously manage the time to end early.
  13. Promise them a happy hour at the end of the day.

Try one or more of these and see what impact it has on adding fun to strategic planning.

Or better yet, these are standard practices for The Brainzooming Group. Call us to design and facilitate your strategic planning, and we’ll just make it all happen for you with more fun than anyone would ever expect from strategic planning! – Mike Brown

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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I recently opened up one of MANY emails I get from Hubspot.

This email featured a link to the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator. It’s a fairly simple. You enter three nouns, and it generates five blog topics incorporating those nouns. If you don’t like the five possible blog topic ideas, a handy button quickly generates another five topics.

Hubspot-Blog-TOpic

What to Blog About?

We’re proponents of generating blog topics based on a brand’s strategy and its audience’s needs and interests.

That’s why we don’t talk much about random blog topic apps. I tried the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator, however, with our core topic areas: strategic thinking, innovation, and creativity.

I was greeted with five topics. Curious to see how much variation is built into the tool, I hit the button for five more topics several times. Some topics were repeated identically while others were the same except for including a different one of the noun I entered.

The repetitiveness of the topics bore out my skepticism with random blog topic apps to figure out what to blog about on a regular basis.

But heading to the DMV on a Friday afternoon and wanting to use the time to write, I brought along the Hubspot-generated titles. I resolved to write a blog post based on one of them while waiting. By the time I was first in line 35 minutes later, I’d written two complete posts and part of a third from the Hubspot idea starters.

That great productivity ultimately led me to write five posts based on the Hubspot list.

While the writing productivity was much needed, the topics did feel somewhat disjointed relative to how I usually develop topics. But if you want to push your thinking (and especially if you’re a Miley Cyrus fan . . . and you’ll see why I say that), give this tool a shot.  - Mike Brown

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Want to fast track your innovation strategy?

If you answered, “Yes,” here’s a strategic model to explore the opportunity of having different types of tracks (literally) for your innovation strategy.

The NASCAR racing world is focused on Charlotte Motor Speedway right now since these two weeks in May are the unofficial homecoming for NASCAR in the city where most race teams are located. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a large racing complex, with three separate auto racing configurations:

  • The Dragway –  A straight, quarter mile drag strip for short, very high-speed races run multiple times per day
  • The Dirt Track – A short, clay oval track for aggressive races where both younger and older drivers race in a more rough and tumble fashion
  • The Superspeedway – A 1.5 mile oval track for longer auto races with drivers at the highest levels of their profession in both skill and endurance

Three tracks for three types of racing could be a model for accommodating a brand’s differing innovation strategy objectives.

Charlotte-Motor-Speedway

 

3 Tracks to Fast Track Innovative Ideas

Consider these track options to fast track innovative ideas for your brand’s innovation strategy:

The Innovation Dragway

This innovation track is for obvious, tactical innovations to improve processes and less visible aspects of the brand. On this track, the objective is to quickly clear vetting hurdles most other potential innovations have to pass since these ideas should have a higher probability for successful implementation. All these ideas many not find quick success; it’s still a numbers game. Many of these innovations may fall short of reaching full expectations. But because the downside of failure is slight or a quick failure will yield a disproportionate amount of learning, it’s all about blasting these innovations through the process quickly.

The Innovation Dirt Track

Another innovation strategy track is for rough and tumble innovation. These raw ideas have promise, and some wild possibilities could lead to disruptive innovation. The objective is quickly mocking up these ideas to explore the potential impact on your core business from these wild ideas before a new competitor does. The priorities are prototyping these ideas, putting early versions into peoples’ hands, and making decisions on how to move them forward, morph them, shelve them, or abandon them. The development process may be less precise because the emphasis is TRYING and DOING things that wouldn’t progress in a more formal setting. If an idea DOES look BIG on this track, however, expect to take it to the next innovation strategy track for more development.

The Innovation Superspeedway

On this innovation track, things are more methodical and deliberate. This is the big innovation stage. The implications of both successes and failures are much more significant. With more steps in the innovation development process there fewer winning innovations. The winners that do emerge from the process get more dollars, attention, and support behind them. With fewer concepts making it to the end, there is also a higher probability of success when these innovations are implemented.

Innovation Strategy for Varied Innovative Ideas

Is your brand ready for a three-track innovation strategy?

While this three-track approach isn’t right for all brands, the idea of having an innovation dragway and dirt track may be the answer to get innovations moving and having an impact much more expeditiously than if each idea is forced onto a single track that may not suit its development. – Mike Brown

 

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

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. 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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How about that “sex tip” headline?

I’ve been trying to write snazzier headlines, but it is an accurate headline. There IS a sex tip that WILL boost your strategic thinking through multiple strategic thinking exercises.

The Sex Tip

The June 2014 “Girl Next Door” column in Men’s Health magazine includes a letter from a guy worried he and his wife have reached the dreaded sexual plateau in their relationship where nothing is new.

Of course, he wrote to the “Girl Next Door” columnist, Madeline Haller, for advice.

She recommended he and his wife sit down individually with two blank sheets of paper. Each of them is to take a few minutes to write at least fifteen sexual adventures of interest they have never tried previously. They are to then exchange pieces of paper and cross off things they weren’t prepared to do until they had a new bedroom (or elsewhere) to-do list agreeable to each of them.

threesome

Strategic Thinking Exercises from a Sex Tip

I was immediately taken with turning the response into multiple strategic thinking exercises for pairs or groups of individuals to identify, mutually approve, and implement new ideas.

Just as easily as a married couple, organizations or individuals within organizations in strategic relationships could use this technique to identify new, mutually-beneficial initiatives. It also provides a different spin on tired, old strategic thinking exercises for prioritizing large numbers of ideas.

The response from the “Girl Next Door” also inspired an idea about creating a 64-idea field of potential initiatives and using a college basketball single elimination format to pick winning and losing ideas from among a large pool of possibilities.

So yes, it is possible for a sex tip to boost your strategic thinking.

You just have to be on the lookout for new ideas all the time, no matter whether they are far away or right next door! Mike Brown

Photo Credit: emoji / photocase.com

 

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