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Unless I slip and say it by accident, you won’t hear “think outside the box” from my mouth when The Brainzooming Group is leading a brainstorming session. While “think outside the box” is thrown around all the time to give people the permission (or suggestion or encouragement or threat – you get the picture) to not think about things as they always have, it lacks a lot for creating brainstorming success!

“Think outside the box” is vague and unfocused.

“Think outside the box” is an exhortation without instruction or coaching.

Ultimately, who even knows what the box is or isn’t.

Instead of Saying “Think Outside the Box,” Do This!

Instead of a relatively useless slogan, here’s a suggestion for strong creative, brainstorming session-type thinking you can do all the time:

3 Bullets vs. 4 Words

Granted, those three bullets don’t fit into a tight four-word admonition perfect for being repeated ad nauseam by people who don’t really have a clue about brainstorming success in the first place.

But if you want a steady flow of new thinking to enrich your life and work, as well as the lives and careers of those you come in contact with, what’s in those three brainstorming bullets will do a lot more for you than simply SAYING “think outside the box” over and over ever will.  – Mike Brown

 

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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Even the popular press has been reporting on the major changes in the English translation of the Roman Catholic mass implemented this weekend. The current Catholic mass translation has largely been in place for more than 40 years since the change from the Latin mass in the 1960s. From a change management perspective, this major change by the Catholic Church provides a relatively rare opportunity to witness significant change management lessons:

  • How a long-standing, deliberate organization steeped in tradition implements major changes
  • The ways in which a couple of critical audiences (the clergy and members of the Catholic Church) handle major changes
  • Real-time lessons in what major change does to learning and performance

Having personally experienced the change management process for the translation of the Roman Catholic mass and thinking about change management recently on how Google Fiber will impact Kansas City’s digital divide, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share change management lessons from this process:

1. Pick a firm date and give people time to get ready

Allow everyone who has to prepare ample time to get ready. The November 27, 2011 implementation date (the start of the new Church year) was identified and communicated by US bishops in the summer of 2010.

2. Dispatch experts to explain major changes in person

People want and need to hear about major changes personally, if possible. Throughout the US, liturgists and other Catholic Church officials were dispatched to churches to explain the changes and what they’d mean for people. In our local churches, there were several different instructional sessions since last summer.

3. Communicate major changes in multiple ways, multiple times

Direct communication is great, but hardly sufficient. We also received various overviews in writing and during homilies at mass explaining the nature of the translation and the changes.

4. Provide aids to help people be successful in implementing major changes

Despite everything you do to get people ready, they’ll have to experience the major change for some time to really perform as previously. They’ll need more help than normal after a major change to perform successfully. Catholic churches seem to have all been outfitted with cards that have all the changes people need to know and say on the cards.

5. Make strategic accommodations to pave the way for change

Although you may be trying to point everything to a specific launch date for the major change, you should flex where it makes sense. Even though the implementation date was this weekend, it’s been permissible to use songs with new translations for some time so people could start learning them beforehand.

6. There will be mistakes – provide an opportunity for do-overs

Things aren’t going to be perfect after major changes so build that into your implementation plan. At the first mass I attended, our priest made more mistakes than the congregation did (since priests have many more wording changes than the congregation does). No matter whether it was him or us messing up, he had do-overs so we could all learn from the mistakes and practice it the right way, right away.

7. Things will go slower after the change, but having to pay attention again is a good thing

When you say (and do) the same things every time you do them, you wind up on autopilot. Autopilot mode saves time, but also leads to zoning out and not thinking about what you’re doing. As of right now, everybody at a Catholic mass is going to have to slow down and pay attention, which is a positive.

8. If you’re introducing a trial version of the major change and expect future changes, act quickly

If you’re going to put a temporary fix in place, make sure it’s really temporary and not semi-permanent. This Catholic Church missed the mark on this count. A commentator on radio Sunday morning said the translation being replaced after 40 years of use was put together in 9 months and was only expected to be used 5 or 10 years. The new translation has taken 9 years to complete. Clearly some organizations are faster than others!

Thanks for indulging me in sharing these change management lessons I’m personally seeing play out. What have been your lessons learned from major changes where you’ve been a participant? – Mike Brown


How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

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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Photo by: diesel | Source: photocase.com

10. The USB drive with all my proper blog post starting ideas was downstairs, and it was too much of a hassle to go down and get it.

9. Driving across Kansas doesn’t inspire nearly the same blog post creativity that flying does.

8. Too much time spent writing and not nearly enough time spent absorbing creative ideas recently.

7. I still owe Bob Fine an article about Google Fiber in Kansas City for The Social Media Monthly magazine.

6. I’m trying to get comfortable with not writing a blog post every day.

5. Suffering from a persistent case of creative apathy.

4. No one is demanding a post today (or on Thursday or Friday).

3. My focus right now is on not screwing up cooking Thanksgiving turkey for my mother-in-law.

2. After hearing Joe Pulizzi a few weeks ago, it’s clear we need to spend more time on the marketing side rather than the content creation side of “content marketing.”

1. I’ve temporarily run out of interesting lists. – Mike Brown

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 have a guest post today from Alyssa Murfey who reached out as part of a university communications class project. So while it’s not an official Blogapalooza post, Alyssa’s post is definitely consistent with the intent of  Blogapalooza. Alyssa Murfey is a Senior at Flagler College, graduating in Spring 2012 with a major in Communications and minors in Business and Advertising. She currently works for emfluence, an interactive marketing firm in Kansas City, specializing in interactive marketing, social media and branding. Here’s her take on spam and what somebody needs to do about it:

 

How many times have you found yourself in this scenario? You open your email, bright and bushy-tailed, ready to put your productive pants on and work. You login, only to be assaulted by a nauseating number of messages in your inbox. Your eyes scroll down the screen. You suddenly feel a bit dizzy. This can’t be your inbox. You don’t know any of these people. Who is “Expedia,” “Amazon” and “Zoosk”? Frustration begins to boil inside you, as you furiously sort through the overwhelming pile of hot, smelly emails (crap). Then it hits you: you’ve been spammed.

Spam is a frustrating problem, especially as advertisers shift into the digital age. In 2010, 107 trillion emails were sent on the internet, according to an online research company, called Pingdom. Of those 107 trillion emails, 89.1 percent were spam. It’s as if Billy Mays is coming through the TV infomercial screen and into your inbox, shouting Oxi-pumped products at you…but you can’t turn it off.

The CAN-SPAM Act forces businesses to offer a clear opt-out option, or else fork up fines of up to $16,000 (FTC.gov). The stakes are high, but the numbers don’t lie…spammers are still spamming.

Just last year, Russia cracked down on spam kingpin, Igor A. Gusev. Gusev ran a site, called SpamIt.com, which lewdly spammed an average of 500 million email messages a week.

Spammers are not only big scary Russian dudes, but also brands that you know and trust. Borders announced it was selling the email addresses, shopping data, physical addresses, phone numbers, etc. of 50 million users to Barnes and Noble for $13.9 million. They gave their customers around two weeks to opt-out of the email list before it was handed off to B&N, though this happens plenty enough when the company slinks by, selling the intellectual property of its users, unbeknownst to the users.

The email marketing industry encourages “Best Practices,” creating a high standard that rewards honest businesses. Consumers are also becoming more aware of the intellectual property they give out. Is this enough to combat spammers?

Canada’s own version of the CAN-SPAM Act, known as the CASL, went into affect Fall 2011. The CASL mandates that businesses offer clear opt-in options and opt-out options (unlike CAN-SPAM). Businesses must promise consumers to never sell their lists to a third party (Direct Marketing News). What a crazy thought! The business has to warn you that they’re taking your information for email marketing! If you can’t catch my sarcasm, let me spell it out: I think mandating an opt-in and opt-out among businesses for email marketing is kind of a “duh.” Why wouldn’t we want to know who is taking our information, and how they plan to use this information? If you are going to take someone’s email address, you ought to be mandated by the FTC to include a standard statement on the bottom, letting the user know that you will never spam or sell the information to a third party. If you weren’t prompted with this message, red flags would go off in your head. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. It’s not that much harder to be the good guy.

The CAN-SPAM Act hasn’t been updated since 2004 and the internet has changed exponentially since then. It’s time to tighten the reins on spammers and force all businesses to include opt-in and opt-out options that are transparent, with violation punishable by the FTC. This is a step in the right direction, but there will always be some hooligan trying to cheat the system. Haters will hate, spammers will spam.  – Alyssa Murfey 

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Here are nine rhetorical questions running through my mind recently. Since they’re rhetorical questions, neither one of us has to share our answers. But when domestic readers are in the midst of having turkey comas later this Thanksgiving week, you might want to at least consider answering a few of these questions for yourself:

1. Are self-imposed rules good because they create self-discipline or dumb because nobody really cares anyway?

2 & 3. How much credit do you get for what your staff does? How much credit do they get for what you do?

4 & 5. Are you an “Of course I can” or an “I doubt I can” kind of person? Or even a “They won’t want to” kind of person?

6 & 7. Do your goals stretch beyond what you know for sure? Or do your goals keep you safe and comfortable?

8. Are you at the stage in life where much of what you do is because you haven’t (or wouldn’t have) done these things before?

9. If you can make something difficult, why don’t you choose to try and make it easy? – Mike Brown

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 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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Too often organizations think innovation is simply about generating a lot of creative or “out-of-the-box” ideas.  But in organizations where innovation has truly become central to their culture, ideation is simply one step – and not necessarily the first – in an innovation process.  Don’t confuse innovation with ideation.  Ideation is a tool, but innovation is a process. Don’t let the word “process” intimidate you. Instead, focus on these five guidelines to jump start your innovation process.

1.    Inclusion

Innovation isn’t an independent exercise. It takes the collective knowledge and, just as importantly buy-in, of the organization to be successful. Create an innovation team and get key stakeholders involved early and often. First, inform them of the process you want to use to jump start innovation, and then consistently include them in the steps and key outputs of that process. In other words, keep key stakeholders informed and involved.   If you’re thinking that there are a million stakeholders in the organization, focus initially on those that have the power to impact whether the concepts defined as a result of the process will live or die on the vine. You can and should expand/modify the team as appropriate for different phases of the process.

2.    Insights

Mine the knowledge that already exists within the organization and the market to inform the innovation process. Don’t let yourself get hung up on having every possible question answered before moving into Ideation. While you may find a need to fill some knowledge gaps to successfully implement the products, services or processes you are innovating, more than likely you already have access to what you need to create a solid frame of reference for the Ideation step.

3.    Ideation

Consider bringing in a bipartisan facilitator experienced in navigating the nuances of building innovation teams and outcomes. Not only will they neutralize the emotions or power plays that can sometimes derail the process when led internally, but good facilitators go beyond the tools they use to help generate lots and lots of ideas to the synthesis and prioritization of those ideas with an objective eye on the outcome needed to succeed.

Photo by: Saimen. | Source: photocase.com

4.    Initiation

Don’t stop at ideation. It’s at this point when your core innovation team is likely to require some additive players.  Initiation is about creating an action plan that will ultimately allow you to test or roll out the new concept – whether it’s a product, service, channel, brand, or customer experience. The action plan should clearly define goals, strategies, tactics, roles, resources and responsibilities to ensure that innovation moves beyond an idea into measurable benefits for the organization.

5.    Integration

An innovative culture isn’t built by witnessing a lot of new ideas come to life. In fact, a constant state of change without context can easily turn into frustration.  Instead, when impactful innovation occurs, tell your organization the story – don’t just show them the result. Answer the questions on their minds. Why do we need this? How will it impact the company? How will it impact me and my day-to-day world? How can I make it more successful? Integration is about engaging the organization and turning each employee into a stakeholder.

Let’s face it, “innovation” can be a daunting word, but building your own custom approach around these five steps will make it much less intimidating for you and your organization. – Barb Murphy

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 deliver these benefits for you.

How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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We recently reviewed a client’s employee-created videos. The videos were destined for social media distribution via YouTube and other sites. There were some very effective employee videos in the mix where associates delivered personal accounts of their interests related to the client’s products. The successful employee videos were genuine and unscripted, and while the client’s product was clearly a part of each video, the product was way in the background.

Challenges with Employee-Created Videos

Beyond the relatively small number of effective employee videos, the majority were poorly executed. Why were these other employee videos off the mark? In nearly every case, it was because what was portrayed as an employee-generated, personal video veered off into trying to be a commercial (with extensive product references and information) or worse, a character-oriented video (with the self-identified employee taking on the role of a character in a fictional setting).

As we pointed out to our client, it’s bad form to foster social media audience confusion by making them think they’ll be watching personal video accounts from employees when the videos are no such thing. What makes it even worse, however, is commercial and character videos prompt higher viewer expectations for better production and talent standards than our client’s employee videos delivered. As a result, the videos not only seemed disingenuous, they also emphasized production shortfalls (bad lighting, uneven sound, etc.) even more than if they solely focused on an employee telling a personal story in a simple fashion.

An Employee-Created Video that Works

Contrast our client’s situation with this video from the Kansas City Missouri Public Library shared on Facebook earlier this week. It’s produced by Jason Harper, who handles social media for the library. Rather than screaming, “Employee video,” this character-oriented video unfolds with subtle humor, scripting and costumes true to its Hemingway theme, and just enough production value to effectively convey its ultimate message: there’s an easy-to-use app that allows you to extend the period for books patrons have checked out from the Kansas City Missouri Public Library.

Jason is never identified as an employee because his employment status has no bearing on the video. As a result, an insignificant point of information doesn’t serve to confuse a cleverly-conceived and produced character video.

Because this video is true to viewer expectations of a character-oriented video’s intent, tone, production value, and talent level, we think it it really works! We should all be using employee-created videos as effectively as this one! And if you are using employee-created videos effectively, care to share the links in the comments section? – Mike Brown


How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

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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