7

Business innovation and strategy were central topics when the Brainzooming blog’s precursor started in 2007. Since then, the content covered in the blog has grown and changed, but there’s a concerted effort to stay true to its initial strategic theme.

Following up the recent summary article with links on social media strategy, this list covers new business innovation articles from 2010. Most appeared on Brainzooming initially, but some were published exclusively as guest Brainzooming blogs on other websites.

Beyond this comprehensive list, another key business innovation reference on Brainzooming is the post “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation,” an overview of ten common situations blocking business innovation across companies.

INNOVATION STRATEGY

WHOLE BRAIN THINKING

INNOVATION TECHNIQUES

MARKET-DRIVEN INNOVATION

INNOVATION CHALLENGES

INNOVATION IN PRACTICE

For an additional innovative boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational 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 brainzooming@gmail.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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4

Creative thinking exercises suited for an historically successful group was the topic last week when I spoke to the Johnson County Sertoma. Thanks to an invitation from Marty Fahncke, president of the non-profit group, it was an opportunity to speak with them about group creativity exercises as they consider a significant new service project and fund raising strategies to support it. The inspiration for the presentation came from “Words of Inspiration” on the Sertoma website. Five words in particular tie directly to important creative thinking concepts:

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm for ideas – lots of ideasis central to generating possibilities that create breakthrough results. The key isn’t about looking for a “big” idea though. Starting with looking for a “big idea” as your central objective results in people censoring potentially huge ideas. This happens when a person thinks their own idea doesn’t meet the “big idea” criteria. When looking for big results, it’s vital to display enthusiasm for lots of possible ideas to reach your objective.

Youth

Many Johnson County Sertoma projects involve children, especially a fantasy sports camp for hearing-impaired kids. I encouraged the organization members to look to children in their programs as a source for ideas. They can ask the kids for ideas about why they enjoy the activities, how they’d find people to help support a new project, and ways they would raise more money. Because they haven’t had creativity completely beaten out by the educational system and life experiences, kids are a wonderful source for ground-breaking possibilities.

Brain

The fact “brain” was one of the inspiration words was exciting for me! Yet for a successful organization, the knowledge members have about what’s worked and hasn’t can block considering new ideas more suitable for today’s challenges. I encouraged the group to critically examine past successes for ways to improve them and to set order of magnitude larger goals to stretch thinking on potential strategies to implement.

Helping Others

As a service-based organization, Johnson County Sertoma is all about helping others. An interesting twist is to think about how others can help them though. One way to do this is through a creative thinking exercise we call “Change Your Character.” In the exercise, you look for people who have experienced similar situations, consider how they’ve approached those situations, and then apply the techniques to your own opportunity. At the presentation, we picked Donald Trump to “help” given his knack for raising funds to implement new projects.

Fear

The words of inspiration mentioned fear as an inhibitor to progress. That’s certainly true when fears make people retreat from challenging ideas that would push them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable areas personally or organizationally. One way to get a group that gravitates toward comfortable ideas to consider something new is to specifically single out ideas viewed as having potential impact but which create discomfort. Isolating these ideas and talking about them individually can help figure out if concerns making these ideas seem uncomfortable are legitimate or whether they spring from reluctance to doing things in a very new ways.

It was a great group, and I look forward to spending some more time to help them in Brainzooming some more new ideas!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 brainzooming@gmail.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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13

Starbucks is rebranding, with a new brand logo dropping “Starbucks Coffee” from its mark. Author Jim Joseph wrote about it yesterday and invited me on Twitter to weigh in. One of Jim’s contentions is Starbucks is reaching for the same “we don’t need no stinkin’ name” status as McDonald’s, Nike, Target, and Apple.

Starbucks Brand Identity ChangesThat may be true, but there are fundamental differences in the market strategy for Starbucks and the other brands:

1. How They’ve Built Brand Identity

McDonald’s, Target, Apple, and Nike have all been significant investors in brand advertising and/or identity-building  vehicles (i.e., sponsorships). Starbucks hasn’t followed the same marketing strategy. It’s earned its brand identity recognition with daily, right-in-front­-of-your-eyeballs signage on what seems like on nearly every block in the country. Not saying one or the other is better, but they’ve clearly gotten there in different ways, setting the stage for different strategic contexts for this decision.

2. Simplicity and Strategic Brand Connections

The Apple and Target brand identity marks are memes – the brand symbol is the company name. The McDonald’s arches represent the first letter of its name. Granted, the Nike swoosh doesn’t hold the same connection to its name, but it does have simplicity going for it.

The Starbucks mark however, has a much more obscure connection to its name. It makes the audience work really hard to get it. For me (not a huge customer), I didn’t know it was supposed to be a Siren until reading Jim Joseph’s post yesterday. A Siren? Doesn’t make me think Starbucks. In addition, it’s still not simple visually, even with the changes being made to the logo.

3. Too Few Strategic Steps?

I’ll admit to not going back for the due diligence on this topic, but I don’t think the other brands made a two-step move in one step, i.e., dropping both name (Apple) and category (Computer) in one change. Starbucks is yanking both at the same time.

Was This Order Ready?

As a marketing strategy move, I think simplifying its logo makes sense for Starbucks. The brand identity change provides more category flexibility and makes a smart push for more iconic brand status.

It seems though that Starbucks has made a strategy move with more strategic risk than it had to take. Time will tell if there’s a Venti payoff for Starbucks, but it certainly won’t find itself iced over this change. – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand 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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2

The Brainzooming Group, in a recent client strategic development session, had to start early and keep the strategic conversations moving rapidly throughout the day to maximize the input from the group we assembled, many of whom were from out of town.

To make sure that we kept the intellectual output going, we provided caloric input for participants by having both breakfast and lunch catered.

We used a catering service that I had seen and heard ads for, but had never used before. Ordering was easy, prices were good, and delivery was efficient and on time. The group seemed to enjoy the food and, if the results of the session were any indication, the food helped fuel the ideas.

I am a big believer in the value of companies moving from the Four P’s of Marketing (Product, Place, Price and Promotion) to an approach that embraces the Four C’s of Marketing (Customer solution, Convenience, Cost, and Communication). I think that is one of the major steps toward true, successful integrated marketing communications. I also believe that thinking about the fourth C as not just Communication, but Conversation, is a logical and effective next step.

My guess is the catering service thinks the same thing.

Two days later I got a call saying that they had found an error in our order. They said they had inadvertently delivered small yogurt containers when we had ordered regular. To make up for that they offered to send over a couple of orders of cinnamon rolls the next day. I regretfully declined the offer (at The Brainzooming Group we do try to limit our pastry intake, at least sometimes).

But I appreciated the proactive attempt at service recovery. I also knew that we were a first time client and as much as anything, this was likely an attempt to extend the conversation. (The yogurts were a bit on the small side, but I thought it was just to leave room for more cinnamon rolls.)

While I wouldn’t suggest businesses purposely make mistakes in order fulfillment delivery, I would suggest that finding ways to extend the client conversation is an excellent marketing strategy. – Barrett Sydnor

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can ask the right questions to get the answers and strategies you’re looking for to improve your business success.

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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6

Larry King wrapped up his CNN television show with a kind of schmaltzy program, as one might expect. Amid a particularly awkward segment where Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live was imitating Larry King and peppering him with questions, he asked, “What’s the best interview question?”

The real Larry King responded, “’Why?’ is the greatest question because you can’t answer it in one word, and it forces the other person to think.”

What a great strategic insight about such a simple question.

Several years ago, a so-called career coach suggested I ask fewer “why” questions since, in his estimation, they made me seem negative. As a result, I’ve downplayed “why” in the Brainzooming question repertoire. Having heard Larry King’s perspective, however, I’ll be putting more “why” questions into the mix.

P.S. The real star of the show was Cannon King, who did a spot-on imitation of his father getting ready to go to the show that evening. Somebody should give this kid a program! – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can ask the right questions to get the answers and strategies you’re looking for to improve your business success.

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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5

At its core, The Brainzooming Group helps organizations become more successful by rapidly expanding the range of strategic options they consider. We then help them prioritize and plan for implementing the strongest alternative. Since many organizations are challenged right now in determining what social networking means for them, we’re doing lots of work on social media strategy.

We apply our strategy development methodology to social media to help clients get a quick handle on smart moves into social business. How quick? One client, after a full-day, multi-organization planning session said, “What we did today would have taken us six months on our own.”

That’s what we want to hear!

Adapting the Brainzooming methodology more specifically to social media strategy has triggered a lot of development and writing in this area. To make our strategic thinking more accessible and valuable to you, here are 50 Brainzooming articles on multiple aspects of social media strategy. These posts will help you better address it from a broad, organizational perspective.

You won’t find an article on “How Do I Set up a Facebook Page” for my business.

What you will discover are very adaptable principles on how social media can work (or work harder and better) for your organization and its audiences. If you’d like to discuss specifics on what these ideas mean for your organization, let us know. We’d love to work with you! – Mike Brown

Core Strategy

Social Media Metrics and ROI

Social Media Listening

Building Relationships with an Audience

Content Marketing

Improving the Productivity and Impact of Your Social Media Implementation

Customer Interaction in the Age of Social Media

Social Media Policy and Guidelines

Using Social Media to Drive Innovation

Incorporating Social Media into Event Marketing

Rants – Don’t Believe the Social Media Hype

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.


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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13

Here’s a personal branding question worth considering:

  • How do you describe yourself to others?

Seems like there are three options. You can primarily describe yourself based on:

  • Who you are
  • Who you were
  • Who you’re going to become

This personal branding question struck me after looking at the Twitter profile of a writer formerly at a well-known business publication. She had been downsized along with many others as part of a cost cutting move. In her 19 word personal Twitter profile, 5 words described her interests, 5 stated where she’s working now, and 9 dealt with her former job.

Nothing’s wrong with that necessarily, but it makes it seem as if she’s a lot more invested in what she had been doing than what she’s doing now or where she’s headed in her future.

When I describe myself to others, it’s primarily about where I am, with a little bit of what I was, and really nothing of what I hope to become. In fact, using my “Brainzooming” Twitter profile to judge, only 4 words talk about where I am now, with the other 8 words pointed toward what can be found at this website.

That doesn’t really cut it.

My challenge is creating a new description that incorporates where I’m headed along with more personal sharing about who I am as a person, not just a business.

How about you? How do you describe yourself?Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, personal branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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