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After compiling yesterday’s list of your Top 10 favorite (i.e., most-viewed) new Brainzooming posts from 2014, here are my favorites.

As is often the case, there are stories behind these posts. Sometimes the stories are contained in the posts, sometimes they are not. Nevertheless, there are some overlooked gems in this list (if I do say so myself), that you will enjoy if you didn’t catch hem the first time around in 2014!

Strategy and Creative Thinking – My Favorite Brainzooming Posts for 2014

Strategic Planning Exercises – Have you tried a Zoomference yet? 

This recounts a fun content marketing success story. The original story covering how we use our online collaboration platform to work with teams spread out across multiple locations prompted a two-year Brainzooming reader to contact us. Over a few hours, we put together a strategic plan for her organization that set the stage for 2015.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Identifying Left Field Competitors

I love when questions during workshops turn into blog posts. This competitive strategy post was the answer to a question at the Compete through Service Symposium on how you can push your organization to better imagine surprising competitors.

Left-Field-Fenway

What to Blog About – 11 Buying Process Questions for Blog Topics

Some blog posts are written to share what we’re trying to improve upon in our own business. While content marketing has been a significant part of expanding The Brainzooming Group, we have work to do on linking our content to the steps potential clients are going through in selecting strategy and innovation partners.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Taking Risks with a Live Audience

This post recounts a live experiment that showed why using different types of strategic thinking questions changes what types of answers you’ll get. While I was confident the experiment would work, the possibility that I could have failed is what made it exciting to throw in to a live presentation as an unplanned exercise!

Creating Strategic Impact – Challenge and Change

It seems like there are a few posts similar to this every year, where someone on Facebook or Twitter supplies the missing piece to turn a random idea into a fully realized thought. This was my favorite example from this year, as we teamed up to define what “lle” stands for when it comes to positive change.

Strategic Planning – 10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare

I love this Halloween-oriented GEICO ad because it skewers the improbability of horror films. At the same time, though, it’s a great analogy for the bad judgment you find in organizations that stick with the same old strategic planning approaches instead of trying something new – such as how The Brainzooming Group approaches developing strategy!

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

This strategic thinking exercise to help in designing a new website went from being used in a meeting on a project we were working on to a blog post in less than twenty-four hours. I love when that happens!

Strategic Thinking – Andy Warhol and Practicing What You Preach

I’ve been carrying this Andy Warhol quote around with me since writing a paper on him for a high school “Modern Thought” class with Fr. Gilmary Tallman. I couldn’t believe it had taken this long to share it in the blog post. There just aren’t that many ideas I still have kicking around from back then that haven’t found a way into the blog yet.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A New Type of Big Focus Group

This one is a favorite because of the event, the event’s co-sponsor (Nature Explore, an organization where I’m on the board), and the opportunity to create a self-facilitated focus group of well over one hundred people. And what’s even better is we just reached an agreement to close the 2015 Leadership Institute with another full-audience, self-facilitated strategic thinking exercise.

Nature-Explore-Session

Brand Strategy, Airplane Talk and Rolling in the Aisles

The story of the funniest plane flight I’ve had in years, courtesy of my new friend, Ahava Leibtag. By the time I’d try to explain it, this would be as long as the post. Just click and read it!

Strategic Thinking – Using Caution with Business Content

This post with a recommended disclaimer that should go on all (or at least most) business blog posts is perhaps the truest post ever on the Brainzooming blog.

Strategic Thinking – When to Fix a Business Process that’s Never Failed?

This is a favorite because of the photo. I took a photo of an automated trashcan at the Atlanta airport thinking it would come in handy one day for a blog post about throwing something away. There is the big lesson: Always be taking photos that might fit into future blog posts. ALL THE TIME.

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Okay, maybe THIS is the truest Brainzooming post ever. Even though I KNOW these steps, I cannot seem to avoid them EVERY TIME I prepare a new presentation.

Creative Thinking Exercises – Change and Grow Constantly

I like this post because it reminds me of things we did during live workshops that, if not for the post, would have been lost to me even just a few months later. A reminder to take better notes on what we do rather than just committing it to memory!

Life Lesson – Living Your Life and Dying Exactly the Same

This one is very personal. It started life as a blog post about a former co-worker’s life (and death). When I actually wove the story into a presentation about Aligning Your Life’s Work, I wasn’t sure I’d get through the story without crying. Emotions are a challenge for me. To have a story that forces me to deal with emotions during a presentation says it’s an important message.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A Sex Tip to Boost Strategic Thinking

It’s about sex. And what about that photo?

The 4-Step Career Advice Nearly Everyone Ignores

This is the best, most widely applicable advice I have to offer. And yes, it is also the most-ignored advice I offer when people ask for career advice. That alone puts it on this list of my favorite posts: it’s full of unrealized value just waiting for you to do something about it!

Creative Idea: Jimmy Fallon Turns Brian Williams into a Rapper’s Delight

This one required very little creativity from me, but it’s likely my most-viewed Brainzooming post from the year because Brian Williams doing Rapper’s Delight is a scream!

Social Media Disclaimer: Coming Clean on Humble Brag Social Sharing

This one isn’t a favorite for the written story as much as the untold story behind the two pictures of Kate Jackson and me snuggled up. I always liked the smartest Angel best, I have to admit.

Here’s hoping you enjoy some of these favorites from 2014!

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.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Each year we share the top 10 new Brainzooming blog posts from the previous year based on your views. Reviewing the list is an intriguing exercise for me, especially when comparing it to tomorrow’s list – my favorite blog posts from the year.

The most striking thing about your most popular new Brainzooming blog posts is only five are numbered lists. This is in stark contrast to previous years where nearly all of them were numbered lists. One change could be that we published fewer list posts this year. In previous years, list posts were among the easiest content to write. This year, however, my worldview just has not produced list posts as readily as in previous years.

Two other take-aways from perusing Google Analytics for the year are:

  1. Evergreen content (i.e., blog posts from previous years) was more prevalent than previous years among the most-viewed posts.
  2. Woody Bendle’s great guest posts on innovation and branding ranked significantly among the most-viewed posts. (Woody’s most-viewed posts are featured at the end of the top 10 list.

Your Top 10 Most Viewed New Brainzooming Blog Posts this Year

Love-Ideas

Here is your top ten most-viewed new Brainzooming content for 2014:

1. 10 Meeting Spaces for Work at Home Professionals, Other than Starbucks

While billed as being for work at home professionals, these ideas are also valuable for anyone who works in an office but needs a change in meeting venue.

2. Creative Thinking Skills: 29 Phrases Blocking Innovative Ideas

These twenty-nine phrases blocking innovative ideas were easy to write. I simply tried to remember all the challenges to new ideas I have encountered during my career.

3. Strategic Thinking Skills: Dilbert on Taking Credit vs. Making Innovation Happen

This Dilbert hits on one of the keys to getting things done that many people overlook: if you really believe in an idea that’s struggling, and you’re willing to surrender credit, it may be enough to get the idea implemented. It’s not a strategy for every ego, but it can definitely be very effective.

4. New Product Development – Brainstorming Ideas Grounded in Business Strategy

Start with a strategic target, and you’ll find yourself brainstorming ideas that make sense for your organization’s business strategy. Don’t and you won’t.

5. Social Media Strategy: 7 Lessons for Fantastic, Creative Content Marketing

This post is a one-stop for great tools to turn a brand’s aspirations for fantastic, creative content marketing into a reality.

6. Creative Thinking Skills: 9 Ways to Present a Business Strategy with Panache

These are all tried and tested, although some are much easier to make happen than others are. And in case you’re wondering, it’s the first use of the word “panache” in the Brainzooming blog.

7. Social Media Strategy: Explaining Social Networks to Executives Who Don’t Get It

This is one of the most popular parts of my social media and content marketing presentations. Its popularity prompted sharing these valuable analogies for social networks that had only been shared in live presentations.

8. Creative Thinking Exercises – Would you like S, M, L, or XL Creative Ideas?

This is a compilation post that really SHOULD be a numbered post. See what I mean about not seeing the world as an endless source of list posts this year?

9. Strategic Thinking: Asking a Different Type of Question

I hate to say it, but this post now seems to me to be a pre-cursor to number 8 on the list. Sorry about that! ; )

10. 5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

This is the latest post on the list, appearing on April 1. It’s a nice example of being able to go to school on a client’s very beneficial help and feature them, even if I can’t mention who the client is.

And What about the Woody Bendle Posts?

And as promised earlier, there are the most popular Brainzooming guest posts from Woody Bendle this year:

1. Creative Thinking Exercise for Extreme Innovation by Woody Bendle

2. Visual Thinking: Better Ways to Think about Calorie Data by Woody Bendle

3. New Product Innovation Strategy – Go Opposite by Woody Bendle

The fact that Woody’s guest post on “Go Opposite” is from November is testament to both how strongly Woody works his network to get eyeballs on the his posts and the value of getting a post picked up by a major content aggregator (which happens with many of Woody’s posts).

Tomorrow’s List

You will see a very different list tomorrow with my favorite posts. I guess I love the underdogs, the posts that have a story behind them, but maybe do not get the same attention!

 

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Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Offering ways to boost your creative thinking skills is one of the important topic areas on the Brainzooming blog. This is a recap of 38 articles from the past year on creative process, creative leadership, and various techniques and creative inspirations. There is some overlap the recent look back at innovation articles, but we tried to keep the two lists as distinct as possible.

Enjoy perusing the list and diving in wherever and whenever you are looking for a creative thinking boost!

Creative Process

creativity-boost

Creative Thinking Skills and Leadership

Idea-Cartoon-Balloon

Real-Life Creativity Stories

Creative Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Questions

Creative Inspiration

 

Enjoy this article on creative thinking skills? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Today’s creative inspiration is all in these three pictures with very few words involved.

I hope at least one of these creative inspiration memories resonates with you and leads you to new creative ideas today!

The Creative Inspiration of a Great Friend

Creative-Friend

 

Using Creative Ideas Until They Wear Out

Creative-Idea

 

The Mystery of the Golden Egg

Golden-Egg

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.

 

 

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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We ran a post recently on the “official sponsorship” relationship between Disney and American Tourister, suggesting ten strategic thinking questions you could use to develop a sponsorship strategy and identify new and unusual partners for your organization.

Strategic Thinking Questions . . . and Answers

Jim from Massachusetts followed up the post with a request to provide some context for how a brand might answer the ten strategic thinking questions. His suggestion was if readers were able to see how we’d answer the strategic thinking questions for Disney, they’d have a better sense of whether their answers for their own brands are on target.

While I mentioned to Jim that amid all the content we share, we try to stay away from ANSWERING strategic thinking questions, which is something we are paid to do for clients.

In this case, though, I said we’d make an exception.

10 Answers for Sponsorship Strategy

Here are the ten original strategic thinking questions from the blog post for identifying sponsors and partners, along with responses we brainstormed if we were answering for the Disney brand.

Official-Luggage-Disney

We didn’t dive into specific partner brands, simply categories of potential partners. We also didn’t remove duplicates from the list since a category showing up multiple times could suggest something about how attractive or viable a partnership might be.

1. What do users do before they experience our brand?

Buy flights / hotel / car rentals, research what to do at the destination, schedule vacation days, prepare to leave, board their animals, stop the mail, pack and get ready

2. What do users need to know before they interact with our brand, and how do they learn it?

Best ticket packages, park hours, ways to get better deals, ways to get their kids into the things and experiences they want to do. They learn it via the web, books, asking friends.

3. What products or services do users buy or secure before they approach our brand?

All the necessary travel, luggage, new phones (to get photos, video), cabs, long-term parking, airlines, car rentals, hotels, restaurants

4. What products or services do users bring with them as they approach our brand?

Purses, backpacks, phones, sunglasses, sunscreen, vacation / casual clothes, hats, water, luggage, stuffed animals / mementos

5. What other brands help make a user’s interaction with our brand more successful, productive, beneficial, or pleasant?

Raincoats, energy drinks, snacks for the kids, a good night’s sleep, sun glasses, sun screen, small / light weight backpack or purse

6. What other products or services do users use when interacting with our brand, even if there are no current direct connections?

Casual clothes, logoed clothes, mobile phones, buses, public transportation, Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, food, soft drinks, water

7. What do users do after they experience our brand?

Shower, soap, shampoo, lotion, beds, restaurants, places to nap, social media, mobile phones

8. How or where will users apply the benefits of the experience with our brand afterward?

Stories they tell their friends, social media networks, Christmas letters, Kids’ rooms (for animals, keepsakes, etc.)

9. What products or services do users use after they experience our brand?

Storage devices / cloud for photos and videos, social networks, all the travel brands they used on the way there, restaurants, retail stores

10. What products or services will help sustain the experience users have with our brand even after it’s “officially” ended?

Photos, video, social media networks, stories, mementos, logoed items of all types, eBooks, television shows and movies

What new sponsors and partners fit your brand’s sponsorship strategy?

Whenever The Brainzooming Group develops new strategic thinking questions, we go through a comparable exercise to make sure the questions yield the right kinds of answers.

We hope seeing how we’d use these strategic thinking questions with a client (although Disney isn’t a client) is helpful for you in thinking about what new sponsors and partners might fit with your brand. – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Our friends at Armada Corporate Intelligence featured an article in their weekly “Inside the Executive Suite” feature recently about creating a path toward organizational humility.

AEIB-GraphicThis Inside the Executive Suite edition used a comment in a Wall Street Journal story about how Cirque du Soleil, the well-known entertainment company, had a big dose of humility thrust upon it. This was as a result of both business setbacks and, more specifically, a performer’s death on-stage during a 2013 performance.

A Path toward Organizational Humility

Armada Corporate Intelligence used a four-step strategy for cultivating personal humility as the basis of its strategic thinking.

They extended the personal strategy to business situations, recommending businesses pursue these steps on a path toward organizational humility:

  1. Don’t Allow Extraordinary or Phony Measures to Mask Challenges
  2. Create a Culture that Prizes Honest Exploration and Evaluation
  3. Learn from Small Mistakes Before They Become Tragedies
  4. Become Adept and Agile at Change

What struck me about the topic was a famous quote on humility attributed to both C.S. Lewis and Pastor Rick Warren (although as I shared on Facebook, I’m guessing C.S. Lewis said it first!): “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Strategic Thinking on Humility and Strategy

Service-Sign

If you consider organizational humility relative to the C.S. Lewis quote, it implies placing something other than organizational self-interest and success as the sole focus of its values and corporate strategy.

Two natural alternative areas on which to focus that came to mind right away are employees and customers.

If an organization were to focus first on making sure its employees are satisfied and loyal, one might assume they will be more inclined to deliver greater quality and value to customers. That, in turn, should lead to more satisfied and loyal customers. And a greater degree of customer continuity should result in superior business results.

As you may recognize, this sequence of events is a generalized description of the ideas of the Service-Profit chain, popularly-articulated at Harvard.

So maybe a business which is on the path toward organizational humility really CAN wind up ensuring it is focused on its own success, but it does so by focusing on others first. – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Next time someone tells you how crazy busy they are or you tell someone how crazy busy you are, remember that crazy busy isn’t necessarily:

  • Productive
  • Profitable
  • Cash flow positive
  • Strategically smart
  • Smart in any way at all
  • Truthful
  • Organized
  • Intentional
  • Leading to growth
  • Anything more than excuse
  • A good idea
  • Creative
  • The real objective

Yes, crazy busy may be a ploy to avoid layoffs in a corporate environment . . .

080816 A Personal Strategy for Avoiding Layoffs

But being crazy busy for the sake of being able to say you’re crazy busy is bad strategy. – Mike Brown

 

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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