Brainzooming – All Posts | The Brainzooming Group - Part 161 – page 161
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Maybe it’s because I’m frugal. Maybe it is because I worked in a company where you had to complete a business case for buying a new computer even though it was an essential part of getting a person’s job done. Either way, I put off buying and upgrading new technology whenever I can, for as long as I can. Which means I am typically buying a new computer, software, or phone when whatever I have had before has completely exploded.

In the past twelve months, the “absolutely have to buy it now technology purchases” included a new Asus laptop in January (affiliate link) when the display stopped on my old laptop and two new hard drives after surprise crashes. You might think going through the same “buy technology when it’s already failed” scenario repeatedly would change me, but so far, it has not.

Last weekend, however, Cyndi MADE me replace my Blackberry, a remnant of my corporate days, with a Motorola Droid phone. While at Verizon, I also wound up with a new iPad. Quite a change for me to buy a phone before it was necessary and to make a strategic, yet impulse buy for the new iPad (affiliate link).

My 5 Reasons to Delay a Technology Purchase

So why do I delay a technology purchase whenever possible? The five reasons seem strategically sound to me:

  • I hate the inefficiency of a learning curve – It kills me to be slower at performing functions on a computer or phone that are quickly accomplished on the hardware I have been using for years.
  • You can delay the ancillary costs tied to a new technology purchase – You do not just buy a new piece of hardware; you also wind up with accessories and software that come along for the ride. My $150 new phone from Verizon cost hundreds of dollars more, for whatever reason. Something about having to buy all this other stuff to get the discounted phone and service. Huh?
  • New technology means more functions and less “free” time as you explore them – Think how much time you spend to buy new apps you HAVE to have, customize them to your preferences, and then incorporate the apps into what you do. While Instagram has helped spruce up a few blog graphics the past week, I was more than fine viewing other peoples’ Instagram photos instead of creating them myself.
  • Delaying technology purchases means missing multiple rounds of new costs – Over time, it seems you will spend less money on technology because by delaying new purchases, you are buying fewer rounds of incremental enhancements. If I keep my new phone for 2 years, it costs around $20 per month. Keep it as long as the Blackberry and the monthly cost is closer to $10.
  • There is ALWAYS better technology coming along next week, if not this week – Other than the Flip camera being discontinued, I’m hard pressed to remember any technology I put off buying where a better and higher value alternative wasn’t ready when I finally gave in and made a purchase. Can you think of one that’s happened to you?

Those are my five solid, strategic decisions for why you should consider delaying new technology purchases.

Are there other reasons you would add to the list? Do you agree with these reasons?

If you do not agree with them, check back tomorrow. That post is going to be about why I wind up regretting delaying purchasing new technology every time I do it! – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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One Google search that frequently lands people at the Brainzooming blog is, “What to blog about.” Not surprising given how much content we’ve published on what to blog about here. Plus there’s the social media-related work we do helping brands mine their knowledge, expertise, and experiences to match them to what audiences want to read about from them.

As I tell audiences when speaking on content and editorial strategies, I’m a big believer in the “George Costanza” blogging strategy, which is (to paraphrase a scene from Seinfeld) anything can provide the creative inspiration for a blog topic.

Brainzooming Creative Inspiration – What to Blog About

Photo by: skaisbon | Source: photocase.com

To offer proof for the George Costanza blogging strategy and suggest more creative inspiration regarding what to blog about for your organization, here are the inspirations behind the thirty Brainzooming blog posts before this one. There are thirty posts and twenty-eight inspirations since two creative inspiration ideas generated two blog posts each.

If you’re stuck on what to blog about for your brand, take a look at the creative inspiration ideas listed here and see how they might apply to your own organization.

You can write a blog post because:

1. You notice something is like something else – kind of (Fuel Mileage Project Management)

2. A friend just had a birthday and you think about how they influenced you (Skepticism)

3. You see a behavior many people in your audience do that doesn’t help them, but they don’t realize it (Social Media humility)

4. You offer advice to a potential client that could benefit others (10 Permissions for Small Business Blogging)

5. There’s a solid business practice you recently used that’s been in your repertoire and working forever (Finding agreement in adversarial situations, also #20 – Level 5 decisions)

6. Someone suggests a topic to you (on Facebook) that could work for your blog (Over deliver or not)

7. You have written something for another purpose that can be edited into a blog post (7 quick decisions)

8. There’s an opportunity to explain and invite people into using a business approach that’s worked for your organization (2 line visual thinking)

9. You want to offer advice to someone and something you see on TV provides a way to turn it into a more broadly applicable topic (Personal brand consistency)

10. A news event can be summarized and learnings shared (London Olympics)

11. Someone asks you a question you’ve never been asked before (18 organizational culture cues)

12. You’re standing in line witnessing the good and bad of a brand experience (Legoland)

13. A client-related frustration can be explored in a non-threatening way (Too smart for strategic planning)

14. You’ve read an interesting article that can be summarized and presented in lesson format (Unusual creativity)

15. You have a bunch of little thoughts that can be grouped together (10 ideas for thinking and action)

16. There’s an opportunity to reorganize and recap what you’ve written before so it’s easier to use (188 creativity tips and #26 – 50 extreme creativity ideas)

17. Sharing a previous case study relating to current news is once again relevant (Sponsor bomb the Olympics)

18. A business situation isn’t working and you’re trying to make sense of it (5 signs someone doesn’t want help)

19. Someone sends you a snarky tweet, but you ignore the snark and look for the hidden question in it (Twitter audience growth benefits)

20. See number 5

21. You had an opportunity to participate in something others didn’t, and they’d benefit from learning about it (Google Fiber announcement)

22. You see potential clients doing things that don’t make sense – and that others do as well (Social Media Personality)

23. Someone makes a statement that sticks with you for a month because you’re still thinking about its implications (When everything is in the cloud)

24. You have something to promote (Gigabit City summit)

25. Someone expresses frustration with a situation they can largely change (8 signs a creative project is done)

26. See number 16

27. You’re voicing a frustration you think others may share (Misleading blog titles suck)

28. You’re facing a challenging situation and working it out in public (Are we this far apart?)

29. Someone is willing to guest post (Metrics and branding)

30. You have relevant pictures to share (Pictures of creativity)

What creative inspiration does this list trigger regarding what to blog about for your brand?

– Mike Brown

 

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If you’re struggling with determining social media ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your social media  strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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If you follow NASCAR, you’re familiar with the term “fuel mileage race.” For those who aren’t NASCAR fans, a fuel mileage race is one where at the end of the race, it’s not necessarily the fastest car that wins. Instead, the NASCAR team that has best employed a fuel-saving and racing strategy allowing it to stay on the track when others have to leave the track to refuel with only a few laps left wins the race. This phenomenon happens based on:

  • The length of the race
  • Typical patterns of racing and caution periods
  • Fuel mileage of the cars

The team that takes advantage of devising and carrying out a solid strategy in these types of situations has used accurate historical insights, preparedness, solid decisions, and stellar implementation to prevail even though it don’t possess the capabilities that usually decide the winner.

How does a fuel mileage race strategy applies to project management?

If you’re wondering what this has to do with project management, reread the previous paragraph.

That description directly applies to situations where multiple internal or external teams are working together to deliver on a major project. It’s rare that everyone involved in an extended project team is the absolute best in their own field. Smaller players on the extended team also often have to deal with a timeline not devised around their delivery processes or capabilities. Nevertheless, if they want to succeed for an internal or external client’s benefit (and their own success), they have to be performing strongly at the end of the project.

7 Steps to Winning a Fuel Mileage Race Project

Based on that comparison, here are 7 steps NASCAR teams take for winning a fuel mileage race that a project team should be thinking about to succeed in a comparable “fuel mileage race” project.

1. Know your expected process efficiency

In a NASCAR race, miles per gallon is key. For a project team, it’s knowing not just the total hours you’ll be investing in a project, but understanding how long each process step typically takes. Knowing that, always look for new ways to remove steps or reduce time to improve your process efficiency.

2. Get off sequence strategically when it makes sense

A NASCAR team will try to fill its car with fuel at off times compared to other teams to gain an advantage in a fuel mileage race. A project team can look for ways to accelerate early or mid-project deliverables to get off cycle and save time for more complex tasks later in the project.

3. Save resources everywhere you can

A NASCAR driver may drive slower or even shut off the engine during certain periods to save fuel. Project teams can take a comparable approach, looking for ways to minimize revisions or unnecessary status meetings; another approach is to handle meetings online vs. traveling to them in-person.

4. Fully exploit your past work

NASCAR teams keep extensive notes on previous fuel miles race performance and will often bring the same car to a track again when it’s been successful. A project team should be looking for ways to build from suitable work that already exists or repurpose previous output to still deliver successfully with greater efficiency.

5. Monitor what and how the other players on your extended project team are doing

Even if you’re using a different strategy, your team still needs to be coordinated with every other party involved on the project team. Keep a pulse on how your team’s dependability, performance, and timeline management are coordinating with others.

6. Anticipate opportunities and challenges ahead of time

Ask questions and go to school on similar work you’ve done or how your internal or external client typically behaves during an extended project. Try to anticipate where timelines will change based on natural delays or rapid pushes to accelerate progress.

7. Be ready for a last-minute twist or turn

For as much strategizing as a NASCAR race team using a fuel mile race strategy will do, something can happen late in the race to completely upset the strategy that’s worked nearly the entire race. Smart project teams should be thinking ahead to what options they’ll have available when projects take unexpected turns. You always want to have an option and room to adapt when the unexpected (at least what others didn’t expect) happens.

Do you see how fuel mileage racing strategy applies to project you’ve supported?

Do you see how this concept has (or could have) helped your project team perform better? What strategies do you use to deliver exceptionally on projects where you aren’t working with the best resources? – 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.

 

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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Amid recent news stories about people and companies failing to live up to early and prolonged hype (Exhibit A and Exhibit B), I’ve been thinking about a former co-worker who used to revel in skepticism. As an economist with a long track record of understanding the fundamentals of our business and industry, he would sit back and listen to people selling ideas and plans designed to beat (or maybe simply ignore) well-established industry trends. He’d hear the grand plans out and then skewer them with history.

Sometimes he was wrong, but he was all too frequently right. This typically put him at odds with those selling ideas who depended more on hope in the hype surrounding their ill-conceived ideas than a solid dose of fact-based reality.

Having worked closely with him for years, I guess a little of his skepticism rubbed off on me over time.

The more I hear about how great something is even though it is completely detached from strategic logic and learnings past events suggest, the more skepticism rears its head. Even though I’m a big proponent of creativity and innovation, skepticism becomes the handy counterbalance as you move from divergent to convergent thinking.

What’s a Real Skeptic Like?

If you’re charged with selling an idea to somebody who takes pride in professional skepticism, it’s important to understand what it will be like. If you plan for how you can address these ten perspectives, you’ll be better off since Skepticism:

  • Will always bet on “Too good to be true.”
  • Has an order of magnitude more strategic patience than hopeful enthusiasm.
  • Has an immunity to peer pressure.
  • Checks for consistency between words and deeds.
  • Expects a noticeable, viable track record.
  • Won’t lightly abandon what’s worked before or ignore what hasn’t ever worked.
  • Acknowledges the unexpected while waiting for the predictable to happen.
  • Sits back (way back) to avoid being trampled by the masses stampeding from the new wearing off yesterday’s fad.
  • Is more than happy to be proven wrong when it proves personally beneficial.
  • Will always insist, “The trend is your friend.”

Professional skepticism may be more complex than this ten-item list, but if you’re selling ideas to convince a skeptic, this is a pretty decent starting point on the general objections and resistance you may hear.

What’s your experience dishing out or receiving skepticism?

Are you a skeptic? Do you know one? What would you add to this list to help an idea selling hopeful better prepare to win over a skeptic? – 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.

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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Social Media HumilityA recent article titled “Are We All Braggarts Now?” by Elizabeth Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal immediately caught my eye. Bernstein surveys the phenomenon of how social media sharing trips up humility and creates pressure (real or imagined) for people to play up their personal accomplishments and those of their families.

Think of it as “social media bragging.”

We’re all familiar with bragging blog posts and status updates where Facebook friends and Twitter followers are ostensibly sharing what they’re doing currently (or just did or are just about to do). It’s clear many times these social networking updates about personal accomplishments are a thinly veiled blurb whose real message is, “Look how special I AM and consider how special YOU AREN’T.”

At one point I was saving online bragging examples from Facebook friends and Twitter followers as examples for a blog post on the bad ways to use social media. I never wrote the blog post because of my struggle with sharing the actual social media status updates as examples and calling out individual people for online bragging. While I know plenty of people who wouldn’t hesitate to make a negative example of someone on social media, it’s not an approach I’d want to follow. My previous compromise was running a Dilbert comic strip on social media bragging and humility juxtaposed with a saying from Proverbs: Don’t brag about yourself let others praise you (Proverbs 27:2).

To get the point across about how to better use social media for sharing personal accomplishments with humility in the “Are We All Braggarts Now?” Wall Street Journal article, Elizabeth Bernstein shared a sidebar listing five ideas for how to “Shine without Being a Braggart.” From my reading, though, her examples would STILL sound like online bragging if they showed up from Facebook friends or Twitter followers in my social media streams.

7 Ways to Share Accomplishments Online with Humility

Instead of pointing out online bragging offenders, here are 7 lessons from Facebook friends and Twitter followers  who share personal accomplishments without online bragging and are clearly tempering the instincts we apparently all have to derive pleasure from talking about ourselves.

1. Consider every good thing that happens to you as a blessing, i.e., you weren’t completely responsible for the good thing that happened to you, so don’t take all the credit.

2. Approach your personal accomplishments with a sense of sincere appreciation not a sense of entitlement.

3. Be self-deprecating. Poke fun at yourself in areas where people tend to assume/think/know you have strengths and talents.

4. Make sure you’re online sharing reflects a balanced view of your life:

  • For every incredible vacation or trip photo, share something mundane from your daily life.
  • For every windfall you are celebrating, share a moment of challenge, concern, or self-doubt you’ve faced.
  • For every personal or family accomplishment you trumpet, share when things didn’t work out as you expected – and that’s not, “Instead of winning the $200 million Powerball, I only won $600,000 : ( ”

5. Share and Like many more great experiences from other people than great blurbs you share about yourself.

6. Congratulate others; don’t self-congratulate yourself. Even if you think you’re self-congratulating with humility, chances are you’re not.

7. Before you share your update about what’s going on with you, re-read it and think about if whether you’d perceive the same update as online bragging if it came from a loved one? How about from a casual friend?

Are you put off by social media bragging or are you unphased by it?

Do you have some egregious examples of bragging on social media you’d like to share courtesy of Facebook friends or Twitter followers? Or maybe suggestions of people who seem to apply these lessons (or others) to share personal accomplishments with humility? – Mike Brown

 

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

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

 

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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One advantage (and also potential downfall) of social media for freelance and small business people is the opportunity to jump in and get started blogging with less forethought because its costs (both real and opportunity) CAN largely be incurred as-you-go versus before you start blogging.

Blogging and Traditional Marketing Communications Tactics Are Different

There is a contrast between blogging and most traditional marketing communications tactics where significant creative, production, and media costs HAVE TO be incurred before starting, often making small scale efforts or experiments cost prohibitive.

This fundamental difference of social media versus traditional marketing communications is vital for freelance and small business people to remember when considering blogging. It is easy to apply the same hurdles you would use before starting a traditional marketing communications effort when it comes to blogs. Instead, there is an entirely different set of rules for blogs.

When It Comes to Social Media, Give Yourself Permission to . . .

It is vital for freelance and small business people to give themselves permission to:

  • Tell your version of whatever your story is; that is the story you are the most expert at sharing.
  • Reach out to other bloggers and ask questions about blogging; that is how you will short cut the hard knock lessons of blogging.
  • Not fully develop the case for your point of view; that is what future blogs are for.
  • Experiment with varied writing approaches; that is the only way you will learn what writing approach works for you.
  • Not elaborate on every proof point you can imagine; that is where reader comments come in.
  • Not perfect the prose of every post; that is what editing and republishing a blog post is for.
  • Not redo a blog post until you think it is perfect for your audience; that is when what your audience thinks is most important.
  • Write a post that falls flat; you are not writing Huckleberry Finn.
  • Start telling people about your blogs in every way possible; that’s the start of building an audience.
  • Begin publishing posts; that is what blogs are for.
Just think – you have all those permissions. You just need to accept them!

Have you hesitated to get started blogging?

If you have a freelance or small business, have you hesitated to get started with blogging until it is just right? If that’s the case, how are you wrestling with these (or other) social media permissions?

So how about it, small business people – are you ready to cut yourself a break now and get started with your blog?- Mike Brown

 

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

 

If you’re struggling with determining social media ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your social media  strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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2

We received some client feedback the other day regarding an online survey and a variety of proposed changes. While the survey was fine as it was, we tried to implement as many proposed changes as possible from one of the client team members. The result of those changes was an online survey that was clearly tighter and better than it had been before. The key was starting with a listening attitude instead of a defensive attitude.
Look for Agreement in Adversarial Conversations

Find Agreement Amid Differing Opinions

A big part of being able to find agreement with someone you expect will have a different opinion than yours, at least in my experience, is your attitude even before you begin what might be an adversarial conversation.

Before you begin talking is the time for strategic thinking –  not about what you will be saying – but about what you will be listening for in the conversation.

By adopting an open and positive strategic listening approach in a potentially adversarial conversation, you can be attuned to ways to start building understanding rather than picking out arguments to refute.

10 Things to Listen for in an Adversarial Conversation

What should your strategic listening approach predispose you to listen for with the other party? Here are ten things you will want to be listening for to build agreement:

1. A little snippet of an idea you can agree with to get started.
2. An opinion you used to agree with and can use as a point of departure.
3. A situation with which you have experience or empathy.
4. An accomplishment from the other person you respect.
5. Experience the other person has that warrants consideration.
6. Ideas you can implement without any issues.
7. Points on which you are willing to compromise your position.
8. Differences of opinion where you are willing to concede.
9. Perspectives you had not previously considered that will make your effort better.
10. Principles that are not worth arguing about to try and change in the other person.

This list of ten things to listen for in an adversarial conversation is pretty obvious. Yet how often do you see people going into a challenging situation looking for a fight instead of looking for things to agree with right off the bat?

If you can find  agreement, no matter how small it is, you have a place to start talking productively. And that is the start of bigger, more complete agreement.

Do you agree? – Mike Brown

 

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

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.

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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