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Woody Bendle checks in today with an add-on to last Friday’s post on innovation lessons from Academy Award nominee Moneyball by highlighting ten innovation roles inspired by Moneyball. While Moneyball went 0 for 6 in the Academy Award game, Woody knocks it out of the park with this post!

Ten Innovation Roles Inspired by Moneyball – Woody Bendle

With Moneyball a six time Academy Award nominee, I thought I’d put together my thoughts about the ten different innovation roles and have some fun by using some baseball analogies in my discussion.

Yes I know there are nine players on a baseball team.  But, the Oakland A’s are in the American League, and the starting rosters of AL baseball teams include the Designated Hitter,  (9 + 1  = 10)!

Just a quick refresher on innovation before we slide into to our discussion about the ten innovation roles.

I define innovation as follows:

Innovation is the process of creating and delivering new, and differentiated consumer value in the marketplace, which can create a competitive advantage.

In order for an innovative new product to get to market and become successful, many different people need to contribute to that success.  Just like a baseball team, these different players have unique and complementary innovation roles and skills.  These roles have to work together and depend upon each other executing their role to their fullest in order to come out with a win.  There has to be continual communication and “chatter” between the players.  And, just like the starting roster of an American League baseball team, an Innovation Process team has 10 core roles.

The Innovation Roles on the Team’s Starting Lineup

1) Needs Spotters –  Always canvassing the field, the competition, and the stands.  On the lookout for new angles and opportunities.  Have Faith Popcorn on speed dial.

2) Idea Generators – Inquisitive types with a focused purpose.  Strategic.  Know how to make the most of the information from the needs spotters.  Real Brainzoomers!

3) Designers / Prototype / Concept Creators – Resourceful and imaginative translators. Unique ability to bring ideas to the team and your organization’s Major League clubhouse.

4) Business Case Developer / Manager – Charged with determining if any new solution makes ¢ents and dollar$ for the team in the long run.  Has strong relationships with everyone on the team.

5) Concept Testers (the research cats) – Get the right feedback from the fans about any new concepts or ideas and translate that feedback for the Designers, Developers and Marketing.

6) Product Developers – Create the final product by utilizing their own unique capabilities in conjunction with input from the Designers, Concept Testers and Business Manager.

7) Production Engineers  –  These guys are “Lean” to the core.  They figure out how to make the new product as efficiently as possible. Fluent in both Greek (Design for Six Sigma) and Japanese (Kaizen).

8) Production Operations (Manufacturing) – The team’s smooth operators by nature.  Makes sure everything goes off without a hitch or a glitch.

9) Logistics – The team’s Iron Man.  Knows the best way to get things from point A to point B.  And is always there for the team when needed.

10) Marketing, Sales and PR – Consummate promoters and communicators.  Know how to fill the stands and keep the fans coming back for more.  More than happy to stop to chat, and sign autographs for the fans.

From my experiences, it truly takes a diverse team with ten core roles to continuously have successful innovation.  These individual players all bring to the field unique strengths, skills and competencies.  And, when this team is working together like a well-oiled machine, you can produce World Series Championship Results!

Play ball!  – Woody Bendle

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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Creative idea people - Idea MagnetDo you know people who seem to have an incredible ability to surround themselves with creative idea people? Not only are these individuals creative idea people themselves, they cultivate creativity in those around them with amazing ease. I call them “idea magnets.”

Recently recalling the “idea magnets” I have known and worked with throughout my career, you cannot help but marvel at how they bring out incredible creative thinking and, more importantly, incredible creative implementation, in others.  All that plus they are fun to be around!

11 Vital Creative Characteristics of Idea Magnets

How do you spot an idea magnet? Based on my experiences, you are typically going to find these creative idea people:

  • Absorbing diverse, creativity-instigating reference points all the time.
  • Asking rich questions of others.
  • Listening before they talk.
  • Generalizing opportunities and challenges to find analogous situations from which to expand creative possibilities.
  • Connecting people, resources, and ideas that are both obvious and not at all obvious creatively.
  • Easily moving between foreground and background in group settings.
  • Embracing a deliberate “and” orientation that characterizes creative thinking.
  • Being very supportive when a creative idea (and an idea generator) is new and needs lots of support.
  • Enthusiastically cheering for others to be successful creatively.
  • Displaying boldness for both stretching what is possible and for envisioning the impossible.
  • Making challenging decisions when an idea has outlived (or is about to outlive) its usefulness.

What about the Idea Magnets in your life?

What creativity-instigating characteristics would you add to this list? What have the idea magnets you have experienced done to bring out great creative thinking in others?

Maybe you are an idea magnet yourself. What do you do to cultivate creative thinking and ensure that you are surrounded by other idea people?

Let’s grow this list of creative characteristics and work on being better at doing what an idea magnet does well! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity 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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Photo by: Dan Kuta | Source: photocase.com

We don’t see many movies, but recently watched Moneyball, nominated for six Academy Awards, on DVD. To be accurate, I watched Moneyball multiple times. The first viewing was because I was intrigued by the movie’s story, especially since I missed seeing Oakland A’s general manager, and subject of the movie, Billy Beane speak at The Market Research Event several years ago. The second viewing was to capture the rich innovation strategy lessons shared throughout the movie.

With the Academy Awards this weekend (which means #OscarEXP on Twitter) and the start of Major League Baseball spring training, it’s a great time to recap eight innovation strategy lessons in Moneyball and its story of how the Oakland A’s applied a statistically-oriented, sabermetrics approach to baseball strategy and improved performance against much richer teams in the early 2000s.

1. Take advantage of having inferior resources to employ a dramatically different innovation strategy.

The Oakland A’s were faced with a major salary constraint compared to other teams able to spend much more on widely regarded superstar baseball players. As Oscar-nominated Brad Pitt (who played Billy Beane) puts it, “There are rich teams and poor teams, then 50 feet of crap. Then there’s us.” When you have inferior resources, look at your situation in new ways to develop an innovation strategy. That innovation strategy likely includes changing the rules of the game you’re playing.

2. When your market situation changes, you can’t think with old conventional wisdom.

Baseball scouts are characterized in the movie as employing 150-year old guidelines to evaluate baseball talent. Granted, some of the conventional wisdom seems pretty perceptive (i.e., “An ugly girlfriend means no confidence.”) Billy Beane brings his scouting staff up short, however, telling them bluntly that talking like business as usual wouldn’t work. The old rules were making for an unfair game and demanded different thinking. In Billy Beane’s case with the Oakland A’s, the different thinking meant fully embracing a Bill James sabermetrics approach to new baseball statistics.

3. Seek out unlikely experts, especially ones who do their homework.

Oscar-nominated Jonah Hill plays a composite character named Peter Brand, depicted as an underling Billy Beane notices swaying decisions during a meeting with an opposing baseball team. He pursues Peter Brand following the meeting, asking what he does. Brand shares his view that medieval thinking in baseball had created an “epidemic failure” to comprehend why teams win. This misunderstanding led to asking the wrong questions about players. Brand makes a case for major league baseball teams setting their player spending objectives with a new focus – buying runs – since buying runs translates into buying wins. The movie depicts this insight as a turning point along with Beane hiring Peter Brand.

4. Consider many possibilities to find the few winners you need.

When Beane asked Brand to evaluate three potential players, Brand analyzed fifty-one players instead. By having a rich pool of possibilities, Brand armed himself and Beane with multiple scenarios when various players became available through free agency or potential trades. The extensive pool of vetted, prioritized possibilities provided options, flexibility, speed, and negotiating leverage that three player evaluations options wouldn’t have offered.

5. Ask rich, on-target questions to unleash real creativity.

The traditional major league baseball view was for the Oakland A’s to try replacing the apparently high-producing players lost to free agency. Billy Beane challenged his scouting staff that the real need was replacing a departing player’s on base percentage – in the aggregate. In that way, the Oakland A’s could look at multiple, lower-cost players who could deliver the same on-base percentage the departing star did over the course of a season. With the change in strategic thinking, multiple solutions presented themselves.

6. A leader can’t make an innovation strategy happen alone, but he or she does have to take responsibility for it.

The Oakland A’s head scout takes major exception to the baseball team’s new reliance on computers and statistics to make player personnel decisions. His preference is experience, intuition, and the intangibles that had been in use for 150 years. He acknowledged though, “We make suggestions. He (Billy Beane) makes the decisions.” Beane ultimately fires the scout who couldn’t get past his 29 years of experience, and picks a new head scout who hadn’t played the game. The new scout’s lack of experience and preconceived notions about baseball’s conventional wisdom made him a much better fit to implement and not second guess Beane’s statistics-driven strategy.

7. If there’s a sound case for your unconventional strategy, you can’t abandon it at the first sign of challenges.

Early in the season when the Oakland A’s made their unconventional player personnel decisions, the team went on a significant losing streak. With the pressure mounting, Beane went to bat for the team being on plan, even though it trailed in its baseball division. When Oakland A’s manager Art Howe deliberately thwarted the strategy’s ongoing implementation by refusing to play the players Beane had assembled, Beane got rid of the players, essentially burning the boats, so there was no choice but to implement the intended strategy.

8. When competitors catch up, the rules will change again.

The Oakland A’s had early success using a Bill James sabermetrics approach, but didn’t win the World Series using the approach. Additionally, they never had the success that the Boston Red Sox, who actually hired Bill James, had using the approach to win its first World Series in decades. Since 2006, the Oakland A’s have not had a winning record, a symptom, potentially, of money coming back into play as more teams adopt a sabermetrics approach.

Did you see Moneyball?

What other innovation strategy lessons did you glean from the movie? – 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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I’m back at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County covering Blogging for Business with a particular focus on creating fantastic blog content during the sold-out two-hour presentation. We had a great time at the October blogging for business presentation at Enterprise Center of Johnson County, and we’re covering comparable social media content today.

For all the time we spend talking about creating fantastic blog content, maybe it’s also worthwhile to point out that not every organization needs a blog as part of its business strategy today.

Surprised I’d say that?

Well, it’s true, and here’s the list.

Top 10 reasons your organization DOESN’T need a blog . . . TODAY

10. You have as much business as you need or want.

9. You really have nothing intriguing to say to customers, prospects, or other audiences you are trying to reach.

8. Your customers, despite the fact they’re patrons of your organization, don’t care about anything you have to say.

7. You suspect your target audiences aren’t reading blogs.

6. Your website isn’t part of your lead generation strategy.

5. You’re not planning to integrate blogging into your overall online and business strategy.

4. You’re not willing to produce regular content.

3. You can’t stop yourself from writing only about your company.

2. Your senior team doesn’t support a blog and/or will demand edits compromising the value of your blog content.

1. You’re going to delegate primary social media content creation responsibilities to an intern.

Still Think You Don’t Need a Blog?

If you can go through this list and still think your organization would not benefit from blogging, you’re either:

  • Passing up great potential opportunities today (if you were agreeing with numbers 5 through 10) AND/OR
  • Not taking full advantage of your organization’s ability to develop and share fantastic blog content (if you were agreeing with numbers 1 through 4)

In either case, even if you still think you don’t need one TODAY, it’s highly likely you’ll not want to pass up these opportunities much longer.

So maybe you should get started on creating a fantastic blog today, after all! – Mike Brown

 

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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Photo by: madochab | Source: photocase.com

It is Ash Wednesday today, the start of Lent. This liturgical season marks a call to increased prayer and refraining from the distractions of day-to-day life. Over the past several years, it’s become a tradition on Ash Wednesday to share a creativity prayer I wrote in 2008 for a presentation on creative inspiration.

If you’re experiencing creative challenges, invest some of time today and in the next weeks asking for a potentially new creative inspiration source with this creativity prayer. My hope is that doing so will help you better conquer your creative challenges through enhancing your creativity and the creativity of those around you!

Lord,

Thank you for creation itself and the incredible gifts and talents you so generously entrust to me. May I appreciate and develop these talents, always recognizing that they come from you and remain yours.

Guide me in using them for the benefit of everyone that I touch, so that they may be more aware of your creative presence and develop the creativity entrusted to them for the good of others.

Help me also to use your talents to bring a creative spark and new possibilities to your world, living out my call to be an integral part of your creative force. Amen.

Copyright 2008, 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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Reviewing Brainzooming Google Analytics for the past month, the most frequent search term people are using to find the Brainzooming blog is “brainstorming.” These Google Analytics results prompted me to share a variety of Brainzooming posts related to brainstorming techniques on Twitter last Saturday.

Because of this, here are the brainstorming techniques shared on Twitter plus a few other posts on various related aspects, many of them tied to the Google Fiber brainstorming sessions we conducted in October 2011:

Brainstorming Session Expectations

1. A Career-Changing Business Quote – 10 Years Later – A fantastic setup for the value of brainstorming techniques and their importance in anticipating what you can’t specifically anticipate.

2. The Value of Brainstorming Techniques for Business Ideas – Brainstorming is seen by some as an unproductive, low yielding activity. The people who think brainstorming techniques don’t provide value are simply wrong.

3. 7 Things a Brainstorming  Session ISN’T – Some people think a brainstorming session can cure all the issues plaguing a business. The people who think brainstorming techniques can do all this are simply wrong. 

Brainstorming Session Design

4. “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” – Our free eBook on Taking the NO Out of InNOvation is a tremendous resource to get yourself and your team ready in planning a productive brainstorming session.

5. Not Even One of These Things Is Not Like Another – When you choose who will be in your brainstorming session, make sure to build in plenty of diversity.

6. Looking for the Elusive Big Idea – You don’t want to start looking for a BIG idea. Look for big volumes of ideas and then find the clear winners within that list.

7. Put Yourself in a Sticky Situation for Strategic Thinking Exercises – We’re making an interesting investment in a really powerful tool to do more of our brainstorming sessions online, but we’re still big fans of sticky notes for many reasons.

8. Extreme Creativity – 10 Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives – Extreme creativity can come from anywhere. We try to pull from a variety of reality TV shows and other sources to maximize how extreme creativity can help drive brainstorming results.

9. Creative Thinking Exercises for When You’re Successful – Sometimes a team has been together for so long and had so much success, it’s tough for the team to imagine doing anything differently. You can build on past success as a platform for new ideas though.

10. A Creative Thinking Exercise to Boost Team Energy & Ideas – One way to brainstorm really bold ideas (and have a lot of fun along the way) is to deliberately try to tweak your authority figures.

Participant Roles

11. Brainstorming Success & Saying “Think Outside the Box” Don’t Mix – Brainstorming success isn’t just about telling people to “think outside the box.” It’s important to actually create an environment that triggers creativity and new ideas.

12. Strategic Connections – 3 Tips for Identifying More Opportunities – The more strategic connections you can create among ideas, the more ideas you’ll be able to generate in a brainstorming session.

13. Thinking Aloud: Can You Hear What I’m Thinking? – There’s real value during a brainstorming session to having participants voice their ideas so others can hear them and build on them.

14. Brainstorming Session Success – 8 Ways to Contribute Beyond New Ideas – Although generating ideas is the objective with any brainstorming session, there are other important roles participants can and need to play as well.

15. Subtle Forms of Censorship – It’s valuable to have an organization’s leaders actively participating in brainstorming sessions. You have to make sure their behaviors, however, don’t lead to ideas being censored.

16. How Creative Thinking Gets Killed by Team Members – 8 Fatal Blows – Leaders aren’t the only ones who can censor ideas from other brainstorming participants. Participants can censor and beat up on each other, too. Those behaviors have to be managed.

17. Dilbert and Brainstorming for Innovative Business Ideas – Of course Dilbert has a funny and dark perspective on brainstorming. And unfortunately, the funny and dark perspective on brainstorming in this Dilbert comic strip happens all the time.

After a Brainstorming Session

18. 11 Next Steps for Brainstorming Output – Shared in relation to the Google Fiber brainstorming session, these 11 next steps for brainstorming output apply broadly to a whole variety of brainstorming sessions.

19. Dirty Ideas? Let Others Help Clean Up Your Creative Thinking – It’s not always to your advantage for the brainstorming facilitator to clean up and categorize the ideas. Someone who has a fresh perspective may be able to shed even more light on the results.

20. Brainstorming for Later Use – Not every idea you’ll generate in a brainstorming session has to be used right away. Always be on the lookout for ideas whose time may come later.

21. Extending Brainstorming Ground Rules to Everyday Business Life – Why not try and make these brainstorming ground rules a part of your daily work life. It’s possible, and can help you attract new ideas on a very regular basis.  – 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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Six Tweets of Mine

1. Even seemingly low objectives can be impossible to reach.

2. The person driving slow that you’re following always speeds up after making it through the red light you’re stuck at.

3. You have to be willing to park what you know to change and try a new way of doing things.

4. You can’t implement new thinking half-way or even three-fourths of the way and have your change be a success.

5. It’s hard to concentrate on what should be our real priorities when we’re full.

6. It’s tough to express your creativity amid rampant, persistent negativity.

Six Tweets from TV and Movies

1. “Is losing fun?” – Billy Beane, Moneyball

2. “I didn’t have any facts, but I had stereotypes to work with.” – TV interview quote

3. “You can’t belittle others because you aren’t so hot yourself!” – Mother Angelica

4. “I’m willing to bet that you’re full of good ideas, but what you lack is confidence.” – Broadway Danny Rose

5. “We change by staying the same.” Restaurant owner on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives

6. “You can’t ride two horses with one behind.” – Broadway Danny Rose

– Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity 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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