Brainzooming – All Posts | The Brainzooming Group - Part 170 – page 170
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I received an email recently about presenting to a technology marketing group on ideas for how to incorporate social media into your daily life. Thinking about the topic prompted this list of finding ideas on what to blog about in your daily life that is relevant for your social media audience.

As I always tell audiences, there are blog topic ideas in everything and every situation you encounter. While that is true, it is not as actionable as having a list to prompt you with specific situations to help you decide what to blog about in your daily life.

Today, you could consider these fifteen blogging topic ideas from:

  • Top stories from the morning news show you watched.
  • A novel idea that occurred to you in the shower.
  • Headlines in your newspaper or online feeds.
  • Topics customers are talking about during sales calls.
  • Questions being raised during customer service interactions.
  • Your opinion on today’s industry news.
  • Answering a question you received during a presentation.
  • A story you heard at lunch.
  • Insights gained from a conversation with a colleague.
  • Whatever the interesting person you met would like to cover in a guest blog post.
  • Information you shared in a capabilities presentation you delivered.
  • What you are doing for a customer today that provides tremendous value.
  • Sports analogies from the sports your kids are playing.
  • A perspective on a book you are currently reading.
  • Something you see on television this evening.

The moral of this blogging topic ideas story?

There are blogging topic ideas throughout your daily life, and it takes opening your perspective only slightly to find ideas for pages and pages of compelling blog content to share with your social media audience! – 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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Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, Dean of The University of Kansas School of Business, spoke about her work on customer brand expectations during “Moments of Truth: From Service Failure to Recovery” at the university’s Professional Edge speaker series yesterday. As expected by this customer/attendee, Neeli (she told us not to call her Dr. Bendapudi) did an outstanding job of engaging and entertaining the audience as she described how most organizations are like leaky buckets, with service failures and defecting customers represented by the holes where water escapes.

As an antidote to address failing to meet customer brand expectations and resulting customer defections, Neeli offered 7 steps to service recovery and fixing customer relationships:

Step 1 – Use TLC (as in The Lens of the Customer) to examine customer service.

In what Neeli described as often the hardest service performance step for companies, they have to get everyone within an organization asking how personal and organizational actions affect customers. This requires thinking about benefits (instead of attributes) and what a customer buys (vs. what a company sells). She provided an example contrasting the cosmetics a cosmetic company sells with the “hope in a jar” that consumers are really buying.

Setup 2 – Clarify customer brand expectations using multiple methods.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

While brands love asking customers what they expect or what they want from a product or service, customers aren’t in the best position to answer the question. That’s why it’s important to probe on customer brand expectations from multiple directions to really understand what expectations and opportunities are. Neeli offered several examples of getting customer expectations wrong, including pink hotel rooms for women business travelers and UPS tightening delivery driver schedules when customers said they wanted on-time service without articulating a desire for small talk with those same delivery drivers.

Step 3 – Translate customer expectations into both hard (objective) and soft (subjective) standards.

Similar to the whole brain metrics approach we recommend, Neeli points to the need for both objective and subjective standards to drive and monitor performance on customer expectations. While there can be a preference for the more easily measured objective metrics, subjective standards (i.e., being friendly to customers) are vital elements of customer expectations.

Step 4 – Ensure the people inside your company are living your brand.

Particularly when it comes to an organization’s service aspects, an organization’s people bring its brand promise to life on a daily basis. Organizations need to ARM their people for success as brand ambassadors, ensuring they have Ability, Role Clarity, and Motivation at all potential breaking points for the brand promise. Neeli identifies role clarity at the potential service breakdown point as the element most organizations never consider.

Step 5 – Know when you have failed.

It’s vital for an organization to know when it’s suffered a service failure. Having internal metrics and standards that signal service issues is only part of the equation. Since research has suggested only 3 – 4% of customers in the US complain to a company when they perceive a service failure, it’s also important for organizations to make it easier for customers to highlight service issues. British Airways once installed video booths by baggage claim to let passengers video their gripes when they were top-of-mind – before leaving the airport.

Step 6 – Break the silence – aggressively.

When customers complain, they are not ready to break the relationship with a brand. If they were ready to break the relationship, they’d simply walk away. Isolated complaints are rarely isolated; they represent the tip of the iceberg with many more similar complaints not being voiced. When a brand is trying to break the silence on service failures, however, it should only turn to customer surveys if it is prepared to act on the results.

Step 7  – Create (Customer) Apostles.

The end game in preventing, addressing, and recovering as quickly and effectively as possible from service failures is to cultivate customer apostles who go out of their way to tell others why they should be using your product or service.

If you ever get the opportunity to see Dr. Neeli Bendapudi speak on any of her work on services marketing, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding the strategy options they consider as we create 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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Reviewing the Brainzooming archives this weekend to find creativity-oriented articles to tweet, I found a forgotten series of “Creative Quickies” articles. These articles were intentionally short, with streamlined ideas designed to be easy for you to read, digest, and use. For various reasons, I finished the Creative Quickies series and settled in to slightly longer posts as the norm on Brainzooming.

To try cutting down on blogging time temporarily, I’m resurrecting the quickies approach for multiple subject areas.

Bad Practices to Make You Better

This first quickie is a strategic thinking exercise to change your consideration of best practices and case studies. People, especially at presentations, like hearing successful best practices and case studies, ostensively so they can repeat them.

Here’s an alternative strategic thinking exercise focused on BAD practices:

  • Identify some of the strategic bad practices bad companies do, either in your industry or in related markets. To come up with a list of companies to consider, think about companies who are losing market share, getting skewered by customers for poor products and crappy service, or even brands that have completely disappeared, perhaps through bankruptcy.
  • From a customer and a business strategy standpoint, list the bad practices these bad companies do (or used to do) that are particularly detrimental to success.
  • Using the list of strategic bad practices, invest strategic thinking time to identify steps you need to take in your organization to avoid the same bad practices.

As helpful as it might be to focus your strategic thinking time on best practices to do, this strategic thinking exercise quickie is a great reminder that recognizing what not to do is equally important. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding the strategy options they consider as we create 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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11

With a theme of “Full Spectrum,” maybe it should not be a surprise the 2012 TED Simulcast featured an odd range of content quality. There was a valuable session on extreme creativity (“Session 6 – The Crowd”), an intriguing session on amazing innovation (“Session 4 – The Lab”), and an important 2012 TED session that was a disappointing mess (“Session 5 – The Earth”). After sitting through a long day of 2012 TED Simulcast presentations at Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins museum (and enduring the perennial poor food service planning plus getting booted from my original seat because someone decided we shouldn’t be creating online content from the 2012 TED simulcast), I didn’t even stick around for the day’s final session, “The City.”

Rather than profiling highlights of each “Full Spectrum” session as in previous TED and TEDxKC recaps, here are eight takeaways that apply to extreme creativity and amazing innovation from across the various “Full Spectrum” 2012 TED Simulcast talks:

1. If you create your own brand new world, do you, by definition, become a child again in that new world – a child without fear?

Regina Dugan, director of DARPA (whose mission is “the prevention of strategic surprise”) spoke about fear of failure constraining us. You can’t both fear failure and create amazing innovation. As Regina Dugan put it, kids are in touch with their inner superheroes, so they aren’t afraid of failure. If kids aren’t afraid, can we as adults replicate a youthful fearlessness through gaming and putting ourselves in situations where we don’t already know what will and won’t work? Doing so can be the key to amazing innovation.

2. Can you design an “undo button” into what you do that prompts bolder experimentation?

Jack Choi demonstrated an interactive virtual dissection table allowing surgeons to practice without cadavers. At one point, Jack Choi made a miscue, but he could hit an undo button and start over. While my tweet about the value of building undo buttons into our work triggered a contrary view from a Twitter troll, I think having something that functions as an undo button DOES lead to bolder experimentation and extreme creativity.

3. Grounding yourself in the known and familiar can trigger extreme creativity.

Materials engineer Donald Sadoway discussed developing batteries from dirt since his goal was to make something “dirt cheap” to produce energy. He starts every design challenge with the periodic table (What’s your common starting point?) and hires students for his lab because he can teach them how to think about a problem from his perspective before turning them loose seeking extreme creativity. Donald Sadoway also gives his students challenges he’s not sure will work, but doesn’t tell them so they’re primed to explore and deliver amazing innovation.

4. Create mind illusions for yourself and others to trigger the best exploration.

Whether it’s creating a faux new world, an undo button equivalent, hiding uncertainties from your team, or configuring something else designed to make you forget what you know, mind illusions are vital tools for creative thinking and exploration.

5. When you have some really cool technology, people will apparently put up with performance previously considered substandard.

I’ve been fascinated by how willing people are to embrace tiny screens and iffy resolution (reminiscent of television’s early days) because cool technology and other benefits (freedom of movement, better time management, amusement, etc.) accompany the small screens. It’s clear we’ll switch out what’s important based on a whole array of benefits. Vijay Kumar presented fascinating videos of his work with autonomous aerial robots. He discussed how they are be used for search & rescue, first responder missions, and construction and transportation chores. At the end of his talk, however, he showed a video of robots playing instruments to perform the James Bond theme. As a musical piece, it was plodding at best, but because it was the James Bond theme being performed by flying autonomous aerial robots, it’s clearly an amazing innovation.

 

6. How readily are we looking for places with the least information and heading directly there to build up knowledge?

One of the tasks Vijay Kumar demonstrated with the autonomous aerial robots was their ability to enter unknown or damaged buildings in dangerous situations and create building maps as they encounter new sections. Kumar said the robots know to look for places with the least information, going there first to build maps. His statement stayed with me. We may know to go to the places in life with the least information, but how readily do we? Some people are explorers by nature and do it without a second thought. Others are reluctant and never learn or do as much as they could to create new knowledge.

7. You can get lots of people to help if you can get in front of lots of people who give a damn.

This idea sums up “Session 6 – The Crowd” for me. The impact of a motivated crowd ran through the session:

  • LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman discussed the need to break bread with the exceptionally large and interconnected networks technology allows us to cultivate if we expect to deliver and reap benefits from them.
  • Crowdsourced TED speaker Lior Zoref brought out an ox and asked viewers to share how much they thought the ox weighed. Five hundred people, including yours truly, submitted answers online. The crowd average: 1792 pounds. Actual weight of the ox: 1795 pounds. My answer 1800 pounds.
  • Jen Phalka, a self-described “code” activist, recruits tech people to donate time to governments for a year to help solve problems and improve the impact of government bureaucracy. One programmer wrote an app allowing people to adopt, name, and shovel out fire hydrants in snowstorms. It was subsequently modified and used in nine cities (i.e., adopting Tsunami sirens in Hawaii) to create a game out of citizens stepping up to provide services to their communities. It all comes back to creating apps (and virtual places) to make it easy for people to self-identify their interests, congregate, and do something about what matters to them.
  • Frank Warren of PostSecret.com shared some of the more than five hundred thousand secrets strangers have sent him on store bought and homemade postcards since starting his project. Thanks to their contributions, Frank Warren and PostSecret project have yielded multiple books and made his website the most visited website not running advertising. Again, it’s all about creating a virtual place for people to congregate – and allowing others to watch. Think confession + voeyeurism.

8. Decade after decade, you can’t beat a human beat box.

One of my favorite moments of the whole day was Reggie Watts – vocalist, beatboxer, and comedian. Live multi-tracking his own vocal parts, his content wasn’t traditionally crowdsourced. Instead, Reggie Watts creates his own crowd. Here is Reggie Watts with his performance from the 2011 TEDxMidAtlantic event, although his 2012 TED Simulcast performance was even more fun than this one.

 What Were Your Takeaways?

If you attended TED, a 2012 TED simulcast, or have watched some of the videos, what were your Full Spectrum 2012 TED takeaways?  – 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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Suppose your team perceives itself hitting a creative block in your organization, unable to brainstorm new business ideas.

What can you do?

Using new creative thinking exercises may push your team to more extreme creativity and many new business ideas. Bringing in an outside facilitator to lead your thinking to more uncomfortable places is always a beneficial option (let me know if you need a suggestion on someone to do this).

It could be though other factors are responsible for a perceived inability to brainstorm new business ideas. While it may feel like your team simply cannot get past a creative block to come up with new business ideas, it could very well be the issue is not creative thinking skills at all.

Have you considered these reasons for an apparent creative block?

  • Perhaps brainstorming sessions in your organization always start at the beginning without building upon business ideas you have previously identified. Your best creative thinking time investment may be working with the old ideas to move them ahead.
  • Some strong ideas you have already considered are compelling and make sense, but they have never been implemented. As a result, people keep revisiting these same old ideas repeatedly.
  • Maybe new people are participating in your brainstorming session without adequate background in your previous efforts. Never having been exposed to the same old ideas before, the same old ideas to you are new business ideas to them.
  • It could be your organization does not prioritize new business ideas after they are generated to place a higher value on moving forward with the freshest ideas.

If you find your organization facing these types of issues, what is needed could be concentrating on the same old ideas to actually initiate action and integrate them into your organization’s daily activities.

Have you successfully worked through a creative block in your organization? What strategies worked for you?

If you are feeling your ideas are not as fresh as they should be, consider how doing something with old ideas can pave the way for generating new possibilities and breaking the creative block in your organization.  – 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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13

Jason Harper first pointed me to a podcast on the New Yorker article “Groupthink – the brainstorming myth,” by Jonah Lehrer. It was followed by a tweet from Josh Gordon asking my opinion. Additional tweets from Richard Dedor and Aaron Deacon then surfaced about the article. At that point, there was no choice but to go on record about Jonah Lehrer’s premise that brainstorming, first espoused by Alex Osborn of the B.B.D.O. advertising agency in the late 1940s, “doesn’t work.”

Brainstorming Doesn’t Work?

Jonah Lehrer cited two sources challenging the effectiveness of the approach and ground rules associated with brainstorming:

  • A 1958 Yale study found students working individually generated twice as many ideas as brainstorming groups, and the ideas were judged better.
  • A 2003 study from Charlan Nemeth at the University of Berkley reported groups told to debate ideas generated 20% more ideas than those told not to judge ideas (one of the foundational brainstorming ground rules).

Lehrer highlighted several situations as further evidence that the typical approach to brainstorming doesn’t work for generating creative ideas:

  • A study of Broadway musicals showed the most successful shows had neither very high nor very low familiarity among the show’s creative forces. A moderate level of familiarity seemed to yield the most successful Broadway musicals.
  • Isaac Kohane’s study at Harvard Medical School found that among 35,000 co-authored research studies, there was a positive relationship between more frequent citations and the closer proximity of authors.
  • Several examples of the beneficial creative impact of proximity and random interactions in workspaces were discussed, citing the building arrangement Steve Jobs pushed at Pixar Animation and the Building 20 lab at MIT.
  • The Charlan Nemeth study also found dissent can more successfully stimulate free association and the creative thinking that results from it.

Jonah Lehrer wraps the Groupthink article by stating the fatal flaw with brainstorming is believing one approach leads to the best creativity. Lehrer points to the importance of group composition, diverse perspectives, cumulative unpredictable interactions among people with loose connections, and a tolerance for difficult interactions as fundamental elements for the best creativity.

Does Brainzooming Think Brainstorming Doesn’t Work?

I buy where Lehrer is coming from in “Groupthink,” but that may be because of my willingness to consider “brainstorming” to be much more loosely defined than the definition Jonah Lehrer offers from “Your Creative Power,” Alex Osborn’s original book introducing brainstorming.

How Does Brainzooming Differ from Brainstorming?

My willingness to treat the term “brainstorming” loosely and tinker with what constitutes brainstorming in our world is why our process and our company are both called Brainzooming.

In developing our creative method, we already addressed the issues Lehrer raises regarding group composition, interactions, and dissent during a Brainzooming creative session.

Group Composition

We spend considerable time managing group composition for any Brainzooming creative session, making sure there is diversity in any client group. We want people with direct ties to the topic of interest, others with multi-disciplinary backgrounds, and others who are creative instigators. We strive to include some people with very little familiarity on our topic and also people who don’t all work together all the time. That level of diversity works wonders for great thinking, and our Brainzooming method allows them to work together productively despite very different (and often diametrically opposed) worldviews.

Interactions

We typically only get to design client workspaces for the Brainzooming creative sessions we create and facilitate (although it would be cool to design permanent creative spaces). We design a creative space featuring dramatically more room per person than most facilities want to accommodate. Designing this type of session layout promotes frequent physical movement and rotations among table and group assignments so there are plenty of new creative connections happening.

Dissent

We do start Brainzooming creative sessions by saying, “Do not criticize ideas.” Given how easy it is for most groups to savage one another’s ideas, our admonition is at best a way to slow down criticism. We have actually started to introduce a variation on the rule in Brainzooming creative sessions asking people challenging ideas to also offer better alternatives.

What Did We Learn from the “Groupthink” New Yorker article?

The awakening for me in the Jonah Lehrer Groupthink article and my reaction to it is the need to speak more precisely about what The Brainzooming Group does. Precise descriptions of what we do are not something I’ve spent too much time addressing. Frankly, it’s more comfortable for me to be very muted in talking about what we do. As a result, I usually talk about our Brainzooming method as me simply having pulled together ideas from a variety of sources. If you want to call it “brainstorming,” that’s been okay. If you want to call it anything else that’s reasonably accurate, that’s been okay, too.

In reality, we’ve built a creative approach with Brainzooming that’s highly flexible and infused with techniques from sources as varied as big time consulting, strategic planning, creative thinking, market research, self-help methods, reality tv shows, design, and improv comedy – to name a few. The Brainzooming approach has been tested, adapted, and refined through hundreds of strategy, innovation, and creative sessions in some environments that were incredibly hostile toward creativity. We have delivered real results with the Brainzooming approach, even when we had senior managers actively hoping we would not be successful.

I have talked about what we do as brainstorming, because it is the easy way to talk about it, but it is not simply brainstorming.

What we do is Brainzooming.

And if you have a need for better ideas that can actually be implemented successfully, we’d be honored to show you what results the Brainzooming approach can deliver for your organization. – 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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After The Brainzooming Group released our “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap” report last November, BBC reporter David Botti emailed me about talking during a trip to Kansas City to report on Google Fiber reactions.

The initial trip was postponed, but David Botti and Daniel Nasaw from the BBC arrived in Kansas City in early February to report the story. Along with Aaron Deacon of CurioLab, we met David and Daniel at Aaron’s office to discuss the implications of Google Fiber for Kansas City, along with findings from the Gigabit City report addressing hundreds of ways to take advantage of the introduction of Google Fiber in Kansas City.

David and Daniel completed their reporting, and the BBC released its Google Fiber story online this week, along with the video below highlighting perspectives on Google Fiber from a variety of Kansas City citizens.

You can find the full Google Fiber article on the BBC website.

If you have not downloaded our free 120-page “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap” report yet, it is a great time to do so now. People worldwide have downloaded the report to learn more about the gigabit future for Kansas City. They are also gaining valuable insights into how ultra high-speed Internet speeds will drive innovation, community change, and economic development in communities globally. The Gigabit City report contains hundreds of ideas, concepts, and critical success factors for governments, educational institutions, and other businesses and organizations to consider and exploit as ultra high-speed Internet becomes more prevalent in the future.

We also just released a recap of the Brainzooming methodology we used to bring together hundreds of online perspectives and a 90-participant in-person Brainzooming session to create the Gigabit City event and report. If you have been curious about what we do (which I am finding a variety of long-time readers are), this new recap shares how we created an efficient and productive day for all our Gigabit City participants. You can get a copy of the overview by emailing us at info@brainzooming.com.

Watch for more details soon on another effort The Brainzooming Group is in the midst of planning which will involve local and global experts in Gigabit City-related discussions to further develop Gigabit City ideas.  – 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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