Reading responses about the strategic planning challenges faced by executives downloading our eBooks suggests a variety of strong blog topics.

One challenge mentioned recently is how one organization’s previous strategic planning processes did not work. This necessitates looking for new and better approaches.

This is not a unique situation. Many of you are likely finding your way to the Brainzooming website because you are searching for new ways to address strategic planning challenges.


As we developed the Brainzooming methodology inside the corporate world, our strategic planning did not always work as well as we planned (which is ironic). Sometimes the gap was about the planning itself. Other times it might be about the process steps or the leaders sponsoring the strategic planning process. Still other times, it involved challenges implementing the plan after we completed it.

13 Strategic Planning Process Questions When Strategy Planning Isn’t Working

Irrespective of the specific reason, if your strategy planning approach has not worked in previous years, what potential issues should you explore to fix it? And what questions should you ask to identify underlying issues to address?

Could you change ______?

The people involved

Leadership sponsoring strategy planning

  • Are there opportunities to create greater engagement?
  • Can you create a stronger understanding of how planning benefits the organization?
  • Is it possible to communicate to the leaders a better sense of critical success factors for the strategic planning process?
  • Can you more thoroughly incorporate leadership expectations into the strategy planning approach you use?

The strategic planning process

The transition from planning to implementation

Who knows where your answer to improved strategy planning lies among those questions?

The important point is to explore the questions and realize there’s an answer out there.

If you would like to talk about what that answer might be for you, contact us, and let’s discuss how an approach to strategy planning that’s built around your organization would look! – Mike Brown


fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make a Developing Strategy More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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I was scrambling to get on the road by 6:30 the other morning, to make the drive to southern Missouri so I could attend my Aunt Bette’s funeral. As usual, I had a running list in my mind of all the things I needed to do and take along for the trip. Somewhere near the bottom of the list were a box of cheese crackers (for road sustenance) and my Bluetooth headset.

About thirty minutes in, I was starting to get hungry and wanting to listen to Catholic radio on my phone, since I could not find the station on the radio. Sadly, I discovered I’d forgotten the delicious cheese crackers. And though I moved things around on the passenger seat and checked the center storage compartment, I couldn’t find my Bluetooth headset. I wound up listening the non-hands free way, holding the phone to my ear, still wishing I had those crackers.

Some time later, having stopped to make a crucial purchase of cheese crackers and use the facilities, I was washing my hands. Looking up from the sink to the mirror, I spotted the Bluetooth headset around my neck—exactly where I’d put it just a few hours earlier, before I’d gotten into the car.

What’s your mirror?


Clearly, lessons are everywhere.

Here’s the strategic thinking question I saw in that moment: Where are your mirrors? And what are you doing to make sure you have the help you need, in order see all the obvious things you CAN’T see for yourself?

Your mirrors might be people (the ones that will kindly or not so kindly remind you that you’re missing the obvious), things (information and reports that provide real insights from multiple perspectives), or situations (new environments that create alternative perspectives from the ones you usually see).

Heck, the mirrors may take some other form altogether (if yours are cheese crackers, I’d like to know more).

Ultimately, you need to make sure you that your most valuable mirrors have the clearest views of you, so they can alert you as early as possible to important things you miss when you try to go it on your own.

So, what mirrors are on your list? And which mirrors can you start putting around you before the week is over? – 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 through a strategic thinking question-based approach to strategy
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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Someone downloading the new 11 Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning eBook when we released it stated his biggest strategy challenge as coming up with fresh ways to do the same strategic planning exercises with the same executives every year

I hear that challenge in a big way.

When we were developing the Brainzooming strategic planning process inside a Fortune 500 company, we used it to plan strategy across a whole portfolio of services and clients in a B2B setting. While some participants in the early Brainzooming strategy workshops changed from day-to-day, we would often have the same people participating every single day for an entire week or more. I spent many late nights modifying each workshop format to change them enough to keep the participants (and me) engaged, mentally sharp, and creative.

9 Ways to Keep Strategic Planning Process Exercises Fresh Every Year

So when you are working with the same old audience every day (or annually) and trying the same old strategic planning exercises, what can you do to change things up?


Here are nine ideas based on those early experiences to add variety to a strategic planning process workshop when the audience remains essentially the same:

Those are nine ideas to add variety to a strategic planning process. Doing even a few of these can provide a fresh, fun experience this year, and for days and years to come! – Mike Brown


fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Your
Strategic Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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

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Fun Strategic Planning Activities?

You may wonder if we are nuts talking about the idea of fun strategic planning.

Any skepticism you may have is certainly understandable. The more typical adjectives that come to mind when you think about strategy planning in your organization likely include:

  • Tedious
  • Cumbersome
  • Too detailed
  • Pointless
  • Disconnected (from the business)
  • Boring
  • Awkward

Do those words sound more like familiar adjectives for the strategy planning you have participated in previously?

We are confident they probably do based on how many of you are searching our website at this time of year for fun strategic planning activities to introduce to your companies. That is why we developed a new strategy planning resource just for you!

Download Our FREE eBook – 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

If you are trying to figure out how to spice up strategic planning activities at your company, you need to download our new FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Within just a few pages, this new eBook offers a handy list of things you can do before and during strategy planning meetings to create a more engaging, mentally stimulating, and fun environment!

You will learn ideas for:

  • Handling the not-fun parts of strategic planning
  • Turning people who aren’t strategists into strategic thinkers
  • Encouraging breakthrough ideas
  • Increasing the pace and variety of strategy planning meetings

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

As you look to your next strategy planning meetings, you owe it to yourself and all the participants to download “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.” Regardless of the ideas you choose to implement from the eBook, you will create an environment where people are interested and eager to engage and actively share ideas to move your organization ahead!

Sound too good to be true?

Well, it isn’t!

Fun Strategic Planning Ideas are within reach! Download your FREE eBook today!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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I was talking with someone about whether I am all policies or all no policies. The answer was both, which is probably true.

That conversation, and a related one on creative thinking and what is funny got me reflecting on a day in my life and the creative thinking and creative self-talk that goes on behind the scenes.

As I started to jot down ideas from the day, it read like a bunch of creative thinking policies and non-policies. Some of the creative self-talk is not particularly beneficial. A lot of it is.

Day of Creative Self-Talk


If you happen to come across me during the day, here is what is going on behind the scenes creatively.

  • Speak your inspirations instead of ignoring them.
  • Listen to ideas everyone offers you, and expect to hear a lot incredibly good suggestions.
  • Do not decide things right away. Ask other people what they think.
  • Pay attention when everyone is saying the same thing, but you still have to decide whether they are all correct or all incorrect.
  • Combine things from completely separate parts of your life.
  • Combine things you know no one would combine.
  • Continually workshop creative ideas. Put things out there all the time to see what works, knowing that a low percentage of them will land.
  • Be ready to go it alone creatively when that is the only thing that makes sense.
  • Walk away and come back to creative ideas and activities.
  • Surround yourself with the tools that inspire your creativity and allow you to effectively implement it.
  • Take a picture. It will last longer and can inspire you later.
  • Hug the people that boost your creativity.

What is the creative self-talk you have going on every day? – Mike Brown


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Facing Innovation Barriers? Here Is Help!


Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have free Brainzooming eBooks for you to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!



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When I have a TOUGH time coming up with blogging topics, I scour my blogging notebooks for junk ideas to turn into blog post treasures. I also push my creative thinking skills and look through newspaper or magazine articles to inspire ideas.

This latter method uncovered a Wall Street Journal story featuring Ki Nassauer, junker and author of “Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers” (affiliate link). It followed her as she pursued junk at a rural South Dakota hoarders house to look for ideas to fit into her twice-yearly magazine, “Flea Market Style,” and annual “Junk Bonanza flea market festival.”

15 Creative Thinking Skills to Turn Junk Ideas into Treasures

Within the story, there were fifteen creative thinking skills demonstrating how KI Nassauer turns “junk ideas” into treasures with potential.


Infographic by and courtesy of Diane Bleck – DoodleInstitute.com

Combing through the story and looking to generalize what she does, here are fifteen ways any of us can turn junk ideas into treasures when we need a creative kick start:

1.  Space out the deadline for when you need to come up with an idea to give yourself more time

2.  Take care of your rich idea sources

3.  Take advantage of high probability idea sources

4.  Spend more time looking for other ideas

5.  Have a creative partner to stimulate ideas

6.  Always say “Yes” to new ideas initially

7.  Go where others won’t to look for additional junk ideas

8.  Change the angle from which you’re considering the idea

9.  Look at just part of  junk ideas and throw out the rest

10. Turn the junk idea upside down

11. Stack or put junk ideas together

12, Consider outlandish ideas you’d typically overlook

13, Turn the idea around to its opposite

14, Apply different support or resources to the idea

15. Pretty up marginal ideas any way you can

What creative thinking skills do you use when you’re stuck creatively?

These 15 creative thinking skills to turn junk ideas into treasures are definitely worth considering, in my view, to help get you unstuck creatively. – Mike Brown

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Find New Resources to Innovate!

NEW 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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Yesterday’s post on using a new type of SWOT analysis to stimulate bolder strategic conversations in strategy meetings garnered quite a bit of attention. It received enough attention that we decided to share an additional strategic thinking exercise that puts a twist on the typical SWOT analysis.

In this case, the letters in the SWOT analysis name still stand for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. To add depth and breadth to the strategic thinking exercise, however, we add four probes to each area of the SWOT analysis. This helps a group inside of a strategy meeting work harder and more effectively to generate ideas.

Adding Deeper Dimensions to a SWOT Analysis


Here are the four questions associated with each SWOT analysis area:

What are our STRENGTHS relative to:

What are WEAKNESSES relative to:

What are OPPORTUNITIES relative to:

What are THREATS relative to:

You can use this strategic thinking exercise with a group to help them push their thinking into areas they might otherwise ignore – purposely or by accident.

Need to get your strategy developed quickly? We can help!

And if you would like to talk about how to quickly deploy a collaborative planning process to get you ready for success next year, contact us at info@brainzooming.com. We will arrange time to talk about how we can help you do more in less time with your strategy planning and implementation. – 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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