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Whether telling a story personally or in business, the natural inclination is probably to include all the information perceived as relevant. Conveying complete information is truthful and also can make you feel as if you’re doing everything possible to create understanding.

But while sharing complete information may make it seem as if you’re doing your part to convey a message, it’s not necessarily the case. Sharing the complete story might really be undermining the impact of your message.

In “Made to Stick,” both “Simplicity” and “Unexpectedness” are discussed among six fundamental strategic characteristics for helping an idea take hold and remain in a listener’s mind.

Not constraining yourself to telling a complete story (as defined by including every detail) can simplify the audience’s listening experience. And inserting previously omitted details for dramatic effect can allow you to strategically improve how memorable your tale will be.

Want an outstanding example? This short video by Fr. Larry Richards contains one of the most memorable stories I’ve ever heard. Its simplicity and sense of the unexpected make it truly memorable. Take a look and think about how you can create the same sense of drama in some of your most familiar stories. - 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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Maybe  your mother is the source of your innovation constraints.

Okay, I’m not really blaming your Mother. But when I talk to my classes on Sales and Integrated Marketing Communications strategy about how people are persuaded I always mention her. Well, not her specifically, but Mothers in general.

One of the lessons my Mother taught me—and I’m guessing yours did as well—is that we should stick to our word. If you tell someone you are going to do something, you should do it. Great advice if you want to be thought of as a truthful, reliable person. You can overdo it, however, when you internalize that rule. The result can be behavior and thinking that are too constrained by our past words and actions.

In his great book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, behavioral psychologist Robert Cialdini identifies and labels six “Weapons of Influence.” Among them is one he calls “Commitment and Consistency.” Cialdini says the essence of commitment and consistency is,Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to behave in ways that justify our earlier decision.”

Cialdini offers some additional and more nuanced reasons as to how and why commitment and consistency works, but I use the shorthand: Cause my mother told me to keep my word. Of course, she also told me, “Don’t be stupid,” and that’s just what we are doing if we let our past actions be inappropriate constraint on how we approach the future. – Barrett Sydnor

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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Despite some good friends who can’t believe this is the case, it’s challenging for me to talk to new people, especially in a large group setting. After working to improve, it’s a little more natural than previously, but it can still make me very uncomfortable.

That’s why the Freelance Exchange of Kansas City Portfolio Showcase was a reach for me last week in more ways than one. Beyond having to stand in one spot and attempt to strike up conversations with people walking by our table, it also meant it was vital we further refined the Brainzooming elevator speech. Getting our message down to a few words has been a challenge since what we do can seem very intangible to people. This has been especially true for those who haven’t been exposed to how Brainzooming helps organizations  rapidly expand their strategic options and create innovative plans.

Interestingly though, it was actually easier to hone our business message among people less familiar with what we do. Approaching it with fewer preconceptions, we got the messaging down much more effectively than we had previously. One key difference was removing a constraint we all often cling to: sticking to the situations in which we’re the most comfortable. – 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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Working on a client project last week, an unusual constraint was placed on the project. The marketing lead for the multimedia presentation dictated there be no narration on the 3 to 5 minute piece. As each creative team member pointed out how narration would be such a help in getting the message across, he would reiterate his statement, “That’s great. And maybe narration will put it over the top, but it has to work without any narration at all.”

While it seemed to be a frustrating and potentially very unnecessary constraint, there was clearly a strategic rationale for his statement.  The narration would be the last element within an incredibly time-sensitive project. The voiceover itself would be a highly variable creative element where subjective opinions about its quality or tone could completely undermine the deliverable, i.e., if the CEO didn’t ultimately like the voiceover, the whole project could fall apart at the last hour.

By imposing what seemed like a ridiculous constraint, he forced stronger, more complete performance on other creative aspects of the production. He also left the possibility of a voice over as a bonus and not a possibly vulnerable critical element. What an interesting strategy, and one worth considering when you want to protect yourself from the potentially weakest variable in your equation. – 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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This week will focus on various types of constraints. At first, constraints seem to be big NO’s to innovation. Applied at particular times (i.e., after implementation has been started) that can be true. Early on in ideation, however, constraints can force considering radical and innovative alternatives which would have never been considered under more typical circumstances.

Some constraints are so insidious they absolutely blind us to simple and very obvious decisions we should be making to improve our situation. Other constraints are there to drive stronger performance from a narrower list of variables. Frequently, defining a certain business model strategy for your brand poses constraints which stand in the way of best serving customers.

The key, ultimately, is being able to be innovative and successful irrespective of the strategic constraints you face.

This week’s topic was inspired recently when thinking about how to fit more exercise into my day. Having a 9th floor office with the nearest ice machine 3 floors away, it was easy to walk 20 or 30 flights of stairs daily simply through bypassing the elevator several times. Now, in a first floor office, there’s no comparable opportunity, or so I thought.

I start nearly every weekday by attending mass. When traveling for business, this has created the opportunity to visit to some of the country’s great cathedrals and some pretty intimate little churches as well. Often with no rental car, I think nothing of walking two to three miles roundtrip to get to the nearest church with an early morning service.

Yet after going to daily mass at home for more than 11 years at a church that’s about a mile away from our house, I’d not walked to mass one time! For whatever reason, my perception of time limitations in the morning precluded me from even considering walking.

Recently, however, I saw a 70+ year old fellow parishioner walking home from church. She wouldn’t accept my offer of a ride as a major thunderstorm moved into the area. Her perseverance though opened my eyes to the meaningless constraint which had prevented me from walking.

The next day I tried it the first time. It was a prayerful 12 minute opportunity to start the day in a new way, along with registering two miles of exercise before 7:10 in the morning! All because of finally realizing how I was unnecessarily constraining myself. – 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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This commercial which debuted earlier this week from AT&T as part of its “Rethink Possible” campaign is a great visualization of an idea we’ve talked about before: a big part of creativity is being able to return to how you viewed the world as a child when everything was new to you.

Having seen it on the Talladega NASCAR race today (not sure how it fit with the demographic), I wanted to get it posted for both its message and visual treatment. – 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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As the Tuesday post highlighted, we participated in the Freelance Exchange of Kansas City Portfolio Showcase yesterday. It was an experiment with some clear positives and a lot of “we’ll sees” based on recapping our strategy and implementation during the drive home.

One of the “interesting” items in our Plus-Minus-Interesting-Recommendation review was the number of people familiar with Brainzooming through Twitter. For a brand that was a part-time effort until late last year, it’s evidence of the impact social media channels can have in building awareness and creating a perception of what a brand stands for in its initial stages. It certainly helps get an in person conversation started when someone has a sense that Brainzooming is focused on helping organizations be more successful through more innovative approaches to their strategy and its implementation.

This opportunity to create familiarity through social media underscores the importance of thinking about what you tweet or post, and its consistency with your brand – be it a personal or business one. Ample reason to ask before you hit enter, “What might a current or potential client read into or think about my brand based on this message?”

And while you’re at it, if you’re representing yourself directly in social media, ask the same question relative to your mother, spouse, children, current employer, future employer, and anyone else who’ll make a decision about you in the future.

Yes, it’s social media. Yes, it can be fun. But be sure you’re strategically tweeting, blogging, and sharing out there! People ARE listening. – 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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