I listened to a radio show featuring Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak called More2Life. The topic was trust, and how people that grew up in negative home environments with crappy parents can learn to trust and not trust the right people.

They shared a four-question test for determining someone’s trustworthiness. I jotted down the questions since I saw them as a strong strategic thinking exercise.

A Strategic Thinking Exercise for Determining Trustworthiness

The questions about trustworthiness revolve around asking yourself if a specific individual demonstrates:

1. Benevolence?

The person is oriented toward your good, even at the expense of personal good and is open to correction when in the wrong

2. Ability?

The individual has the wherewithal to fulfill on the promises he/she makes

3. Integrity?

The individual actually fulfills on promises made

4. Consistency?

The person displays these characteristics over a consistent, prolonged period of time

Applying this Strategic Thinking Exercise Broadly

This is a great example of a simple strategic thinking exercise to speed and sharpen decision making.

What’s even better about these four strategic thinking questions?

They apply to many business settings. In fact, I put together a slide for a recent motor sports marketing presentation with the questions directed specifically toward judging who you can trust in motor sports (where trust is a huge deal).

We try to regularly offer these types of strategic thinking exercises both from others and from the Brainzooming R&D lab. It is smart to collect strategic thinking exercises throughout your career. Even if they come from situations quite dissimilar to your own, you can often use them to quickly work through decisions that might otherwise take too long or wind up taking you in strategically harmful directions. – 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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I’ll admit my surprise that fun strategic planning activities are generating so much interest among Brainzooming readers right now. You would think everyone would be finished with strategic planning – or they decided not to pursue it for this year.

4 Fun Strategic Planning Activities to Always Have Ready

Suppose you have responsibility for strategic planning – no matter what time of year it is. What, beyond carting in a bunch of toys and pre-planned activities, can you always have ready to introduce to create fun strategic planning activities?

Here are four ideas we use:

1. Have jokes suitable and germane for work environments ready-to-go

I’m not a big joke teller. It’s advisable, though, to have a few clean jokes you can go to when things are tense, boring, or mind numbing – or all of the above. Pick jokes that fit your personality, whether you are better as a storyteller, punster, or one-liner person. I love puns you can relate to typical words that surface during strategic planning activities.

2. Create ad libs for typical situations during strategic planning activities

There’s a line in a Rod Stewart song about ad lib lines being well-rehearsed. Even if you aren’t a strong ad libber, you can develop impromptu lines fitting typical situations and issues in planning workshops. Some ideas? A projector not working, nobody wanting to answer questions, somebody keeps going back for more food, etc. All of these (and more) are ripe for laughs.

3. Introduce physical humor to add surprise

Physical humor generates laughs. For me, when an audience won’t participate, I’ve been known to crumple to the floor and stay there for a few moments until people get into it. When things are going well, I may get up on a chair and do some shtick from there. Anything physical to generate a little attention and interest is fair game!

4. Learn to doodle

Being able to suddenly doodle something funny is a quick go-to for humor. Think you can’t draw? If you can write the alphabet, you can draw things. Or better yet, go check out Diane Bleck, the Doodle Girl, for tips on doodling more effectively.

Need More Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning Activities?

If you have time for pre-planning and want more ideas at the ready, download our eBook on 11 Fun Strategic Planning Activities. Follow those ideas and you’ll never bore anyone during strategic planning again. – Mike Brown

fun-ideas-strategic-planningNeed Ideas to Make Strategy Planning Fun?

Yes, strategy planning 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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2016 was a year of surprises in political circles, with Brexit and Donald Trump winning the US presidency as just two of the events that caught many experts by surprise.

And when big surprises emerge nationally and globally, what happens next often leads to more uncertain times.

In these situations, what implementation strategy makes sense for your business?

Do you:

  • Speculate on riskier new opportunities?
  • Wait to see what develops, then act?
  • Hunker down and try to wait things out?

We’re not here to predict what will happen next with Brexit, Donald Trump, or any other global threat or opportunity. We concentrate on suggesting ideas to develop a solid implementation strategy that works for your organization during uncertain times.

That’s what The Brainzooming Group eBook, 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times, seeks to do: provide a starting point to review and develop strategies that serve your business well, no matter the external environment.

Download Your FREE eBook! 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times

Implementation Strategy for Uncertain Times

We spend considerable time challenging conventional wisdom that stands in the way of innovation. This is often necessary to get an organization moving in new, innovative directions.

It is also important to take best advantage of what will like stay the same irrespective of the what is happening outside your organization.

4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times will help you examine your strategy foundation, insights, profitability drivers, and decision making processes. The outcome is ensuring your organization is nimble and ready for changes – both expected and unexpected.

We share suggestions on:

  • Using your organization’s core purpose to shape decisions when things are changing
  • Reaching out to employees with valuable insights into what to watch out for and what to expect
  • Sharpening your command of cost and profit levers in your organization
  • Implementing processes to focus and sharpen decision making

4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times is a FREE, quick read that will pay dividends for you today and in the uncertain weeks and months ahead.

Download Your FREE eBook! 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times

Get your free copy of 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times today!



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Please Vote Today for Brainzooming as a Top 2016 Innovation Blog!

I don’t make a huge number of “asks” from you. The annual Top Innovation blogging competition is one area where I do ask for help!

Brainzooming was nominated again this year (Thanks Alex Greenwood!) as a Top 40 Innovation Blog on Innovation Excellence. Your votes count, so please vote today! The cut-off for voting is January 7, 2017.

Tweet: @ixchat I vote for Mike Brown @Brainzooming for Top #Innovation Blogger

Voting via Twitter –

  • Click the “Tweet This” bird to the right (if you’re logged into Twitter) or paste and share this tweet: @ixchat I vote for Mike Brown @Brainzooming for Top #Innovation Blogger

Voting via Facebook –

Vote Today! January 7, 2017 Voting Deadline – Thanks for your support!

To see the entire list of nominated innovation blogs / bloggers, you can visit the Innovation Excellence website.

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One of the most popular Brainzooming blog posts the past few years is rich in strategic thinking tools. It features more than 200 strategic thinking questions we’ve gathered, envisioned, and created going back to The Brainzooming Group origins as a corporate strategic planning department.

The Brainzooming Group has created and published many more questions since then as part of our portfolio of strategic planning tools. We decided recently to update the post. While doing so, we realized we’d added nearly four hundred more questions since the article’s original publication date.

Strategic Planning Tools – 600 Most Powerful Strategic Thinking Questions

Rather than hit you with an updated mega-post of 600 questions, we decided to compile the links, organize them, and share the update with you in an easier-to-use eBook: The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions (The Brainzooming Group Uses. So far.)

This eBook’s questions cover the areas we address here and in our client work, including:

  • Organizational strategy
  • Innovation
  • Branding, naming, and marketing
  • Customer experience
  • Creativity
  • Implementation

While you may associate strategic planning tools with year-end activities, you will use and find these question links valuable throughout the year. They will help you:

  • Stretch and re-orient conventional thinking
  • Stimulate creativity (even among people not seeing themselves as creative)
  • Improve meeting efficiency and effectiveness
  • Align diverse activities to common strategic themes

And since we use what we publish, we’ve already found having the eBook on a phone helpful. You can quickly link to questions when you are in a meeting that isn’t delivering the results you expect. Pop open the eBook and grab a question or two to orient everyone toward more productive discussions.

Yes, we’re serious: these are the links to our 600 most powerful strategic thinking questions, all in one of the best strategic thinking tools you’ll download for FREE all year long! – 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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Following yesterday’s update about my dad’s unexpected death (and don’t worry not EVERY post hereafter will be about my father), I wanted to share this list of thirty things #MyDadTaughtMe.

The list originated on Twitter in 2011 in response to a hashtag floating around at the time. You will find business wisdom, life lessons, and spaß from Bernie Brown on this list.

You get to decide which is which!

Life Lessons My Dad Taught Me . . .

  1. The song, “Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I think I’ll go eat worms.”
  2. Don’t invest time and effort in something that won’t yield results for somebody.
  3. Even if somebody’s screwed up a bunch of times, they might not next time.
  4. Always grab a quick nap if you can. (Although I didn’t ever do it until I met my wife, who loves naps.)
  5. The “Power of Positive Thinking” works. He lived it out throughout his life.
  6. What can it hurt you to try something new, as long as it’s low risk?
  7. When you go to a restaurant where celebs go, ask the maître d, “Who else famous other than me is here tonight?” (Though I never have!)
  8. You can’t pick up a cigarette he dropped, snap it in two and hand it back to him without getting popped in the face. (Only time he ever did though.)
  9. Humor is tremendously important in life. Take time to have fun and laugh.
  10. Sales is a numbers game. If you’re not making enough calls, you’re not going to get enough sales.
  11. If you want to make a profit, you have to learn to manage costs really well.
  12. You shouldn’t make other peoples’ decisions for them. Who are you to decide someone will say “no” to your request?
  13. Don’t wind up in a career where getting paid depends solely on you having to be there each day.
  14. Don’t ever tell someone how much you make.
  15. Try your hand at being an amateur artist, even if you don’t seem to be very good.
  16. Don’t throw that “whatever it is” away. You may be able to use it later.
  17. DIY is a good thing in lots of parts of life & business. (He’s lots better at DIY than me though.)
  18. Share what you’ve learned with other people if it can help them.
  19. It’s better to be pissed off than to be pissed on.
  20. Don’t take more than your fair share. And make sure others get their fair shares first.
  21. Don’t ever brag about yourself (unless it’s about your son).
  22. Nobody’s irreplaceable. They were looking for someone else when they found you.
  23. Taking money from someone gives them the right to tell you what they think you should do.
  24. Roughing it is having to walk from your hotel room to the hotel restaurant.
  25. How to be really sneaky at paying a restaurant check before anybody else at the table knew what had happened.
  26. You’re going to have to work long and hard to get ahead.
  27. If you expect to get, you have to give first. And that’s not just about money. It’s everything.
  28. If practicing isn’t making your Little League team better, try not practicing and see if that works.
  29. Some things you simply have to put up with. Put up with them stoically.
  30. Live within your means. But never skimp on toilet paper or run out of it.

Bernie Brown via Mike Brown


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In recent years, I took a blog vacation the last few weeks of each year. That was important to get a break and refresh creatively for the New Year.

If you noticed, the blog vacation started a month early in 2016, starting suddenly in mid-November.

The reason is my dad, Bernie Brown, passed away unexpectedly on November 19, 2016.

Typing that last sentence stops me in my tracks.

While intellectually, I know my dad died, I have been so steeped in processing the impact of his passing on my life, it has been tough to focus beyond only the most essential things in front of me.

Weeks later, I am still coming to grips with my dad’s death. That is likely why I have not written anything about it here yet.

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen updates the week he died featuring the hashtag #SurroundedByLove. I used the hashtag to represent the tremendous outpouring of concern, affection, and love people shared in the week between my dad’s death and the funeral.

For those of you who are blog readers, but are not as deep in what’s going on in my personal life, here are a few previous Brainzooming posts about my dad:

If you would like a deeper sense of this incredible man, and how his world view shapes what you see on this blog, here’s a video of the eulogy I delivered at his funeral. The audio is not great in the church. If you are interested, a pretty close transcript of my remarks is at this link.

As comfortable, as I am in where our relationship was, I miss him tremendously and am trying to fill the big hole he left in my family. So if the blogs don’t come rushing back like they did previously, you know the reason.  – Mike Brown

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