Brainzooming – All Posts | The Brainzooming Group - Part 321 – page 321
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How do the companies we do business with feel about us as customers?

And no, not the standard corporate b.s. about being customer-centric, customer focused, or dedicated to serving us. How do the executives and the people we interact with really talk about us when we aren’t around?

Hope it doesn’t sound like the “Charge More” ad from Direct TV. But the ad works because we probably all suspect this IS what it sounds like. The scary part is that those suspicions are likely formed by what discussions about customers sound like at our own companies. If that’s the case, figure out what you can do to change it and start doing something about it right away!

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 prompted Jan Harness to write about a lesson she solidified for me – the rule of three. As expected, it resulted in two additional posts (“original” + “ignore original” + “apologize for original” = 3). In her third one, she expressed frustration with the first post because the rule of threes is such a part of how she approaches communication that it’s difficult to step away enough to explain it. Jan’s not giving herself enough credit, but in any event, since I’m not as close to it, here are my thoughts on the rule of three.

As Jan notes, the rule of threes works in many situations. Interesting applications among what I do are in both innovation and humor. For instance, many innovation exercises involve:

1. Introducing a current situation

2. Twisting or changing the view of the current situation by altering your perspective

3. Capturing new ideas through having looked at things from this new perspective

The formula in humor looks similar with a slight shift:

1. Introduce a familiar situation

2. Reinforce the situation to create a pattern

3. Change, twist, or break the pattern in an unexpected way to trigger laughter

A more general approach in applying the rule of three to list making, story telling, or information sharing could work like this:

1. State something evident or common

2. Follow item #1 with a related, but slightly modified second item. The modification could be that #2 is more powerful, stronger, or unusual but is still consistent with #1.

3. Follow item #2 with a third item that uses the modifier for #2 in an even more exaggerated fashion – even more powerful, strong, or unusual.

Need more? Click on these three links to see an overview, examples, and how you can better use the rule of three in your communication.

Get it? Got it? Good!

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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There’s been perhaps no greater disruptive force to come on the scene in the past 20 years than Bart Simpson. And in a business environment where disruptive strategy might be the only thing you can do to gain a near term advantage, couldn’t we all learn a thing or two if Bart were the Chief Strategy Officer at our company.

So as a result, let’s kick Bart upstairs and see how disrupting life in Springfield can be applied to disrupting competitors and markets. Try to generate at least 3 new competitive strategy possibilities from each approach Bart employs:

  • Having an “in your face” attitude
  • Not being restricted by respect for authority
  • Displaying a very sharp wit
  • Showing some signs of good behavior and character
  • Using a healthy dose of street smarts
  • Making friends with less popular people
  • Devising elaborate and complex pranks
  • Continually getting into something
  • Playing jokes on people over the phone
  • Mooning people
  • Displaying some unexpected talents
  • Becoming easily distracted from the task at hand
  • Using an alias to hide his part in creating mayhem
  • Reveling in his mischief and rebellion

One caution: using Bart Simpson in the Change Your Character creative thinking exercise will lead to ideas that could be illegal, immoral, or create such bad PR that you’d never pursue them. Yet, those possibilities may have the seeds of really great strategy. Use the Shrimp exercise discussed in a previous post to turn outlandish Simpsonesque ideas into more practical ones.

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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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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Here’s another post from Barrett Sydnor, this one addressing how the sequence of competitive alternatives can suggest both threats and potential opportunities:

One of the most interesting things I ever heard a client say came from a person who had spent most of his work life in cable television. Talking about the future of the industry, he wondered if cable television would ever have come to be if satellite television (DIRECTV, DISH Network) had been invented first.

This leads to an intriguing way of looking at the current and potential competitive landscape for your organization. Ask the question: If their (newer) X had been invented first, how much of a market would there be for our (older) Y? (X and Y can be physical products, services or even brands.)

If your answer is “not much” or even “considerably less,” it’s hair on fire time. It doesn’t mean that life as you know it will soon end, but it does mean that you need to do something and do something fast, no matter how small Product X’s market share might be currently.

Cable did do something, if offered bundles of video, telephone and high-speed internet service that satellite couldn’t match. It did not totally stop the bleeding, but it did cut satellite’s growth from 12% year over year to 7% for each of the last two years. Unfortunately for cable, it has not grown at all and its market share is still shrinking.

As with any type of planning it is often instructive to look at examples outside your industry. Here are some thought starters. A good exercise would be to determine how the entities on the right in each bullet have reacted to incursions by the entities on the left. Have they been successful, why or why not? What can you learn from their successes and failures?

If _________ Were Invented First Would We Have _________ ?
  • Satellite television – Cable television
  • Wireless phones – Landlines
  • Google – Yahoo
  • FedEx – Post Office
  • Email – Post Office
  • Wal-Mart – Sears
  • Kindle – Printed Books
  • MP3 – CD
  • Lexus – Cadillac
  • Riverboat casinos – Las Vegas
  • Macintosh – Microsoft

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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It’s easy to wallow in a bad situation. Many of us do, because there can be an odd comfort in complaining. It’s the courageous person who will stand up amid frustration, form a viable recommendation, and take it to someone who can help solve it.

There was a work situation recently where a person took the initiative to call my attention to a stupid situation we were potentially getting ourselves into soon. Realize that in doing so, he went across multiple organizational boundaries and reporting lines with all the associated personal political risks that can entail. But he did it, not to complain, but to make a recommendation on a smarter decision for the company to pursue.

It took about 3 phone calls and emails combined to advance his recommendation (and yes, I used the format suggested in a previous post). Once that was done, everybody above in the organization supported it, and the company is better off for having implemented his suggestion.

So here’s a question for you (okay, and for me also) to answer: What is there you b!7#h about all the time (to anyone who will listen) even though you refuse to go out on a limb and actually take a positive step to resolve? Figure one out? Or maybe two, three, or four of them? Now create a recommendation, reach out to somebody who can assist you, and actually do something to solve it! – Mike Brown

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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 was saying the “Hail Mary” aloud with a relatively new convert to Catholicism. It’s a common prayer among Catholics that asks for the intercession of Mary. The prayer ends with the line, “pray for us sinners NOW AND AT the hour of (our) death.” This particular part was added in the mid 1500’s.

We had just finished the prayer when she announced, “That’s not how I say it.”

For whatever reason, when learning the prayer through hearing it, she understood the final line as, “pray for us sinners, NOW UNTIL the hour of (our) death.” While I shared the “correct” words (which she subsequently verified in a prayer book because she didn’t believe me), on the surface, her wording is much more comforting. Having someone pray for you from “now until,” adds up to a lot more praying on your behalf than “now and at” which, strictly defined, translates into two prayers.

So here’s an interesting situation – every Catholic for the past 450 years has learned a common prayer one way, but a single person, through a misunderstanding, has created a unique version that seems better than the original.

Not sure what to do about this (especially since we missed getting this information to the Pope when he was in the U.S. recently), other than to offer this suggestion: just because something has stood the test of time doesn’t mean that a fortunate mistake couldn’t improve it.

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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Last weekend, I finished the first large painting I’ve done in more than a decade. This was prompted by the prospect of losing a cool Howard Finster print that’s been in my office for years at work. I learned of the possibility on a Friday and by Saturday night, I’d purchased a canvas, new paints and brushes, and was gridding out a Peanuts cartoon to do a painting in Tom Everhart’s style.

While painting, I thought about the very productive bursts of artistic creativity followed by long droughts that have marked my life. I’ve always attributed the periods to major life changes (going to grad school, getting married, buying a house), but it doesn’t explain other creative periods, i.e. a tremendous output early in high school and doing a lot of cartooning the past few years – much of it on paper table cloths in Italian restaurants!

It struck me finally that the creative bursts were explained by bare walls – what triggered the output was the need to fill empty space. In each case, I’d moved into a new space with walls needing to be decorated. Some walls have been physical; others have been non-traditional – refrigerators, presentations, blogs. In each case, once the “walls” have been filled, my artistic spark has vanished.

Interestingly, the spark doesn’t come back when a previously bare wall becomes empty again. There’s a big bare area over our mantel where one of my paintings used to hang, yet there’s no inspiration to fill this empty space yet again.

My lesson from all this is that there are different types of creativity patterns. I appear to be a “utilitarian creative.” I don’t ooze artistic creativity all the time as many do. Instead, my creative juices get going only when there’s a clear need and application for the output. So in the future, when I hit a creative block, I’ll just have to find new bare walls to fill.

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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