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If you’ve read the Brainzooming blog for any length of time, you’ve seen Chuck Dymer’s name multiple times. Chuck has been an incredible influence on my career, especially as it comes to creative thinking skills. As someone said to me at one point, “You’ve changed your job into Chuck’s job.”

That was definitely true.

Chuck was the first person I heard deliver an in-depth presentation on creative thinking skills. He captivated me with his message. We worked with Chuck multiple times, and started to adopt many of his ideas and approaches into our strategic planning methodology.

Suffice it to say, there wouldn’t be a Brainzooming if I hadn’t met Chuck Dymer.

Creative Thinking Skills and Place with Chuck Dymer

shapes-creative-thinking

Chuck is closing his ideation space, The IdeaLoft.

I visited him for lunch yesterday, and we recorded the Facebook live video here. I asked Chuck to talk about the IdeaLoft and how place and creativity relate to one another. The relationship between them was integral to the design and layout of the Idealoft.

Enjoy the video and Chuck’s insights and expertise on how place influences creative thinking skills!

Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Strategy Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

 

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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 discussing a request for proposal the other day with a potential client. He’s developing a short list of potential candidates for a new market research initiative at his company. It was clear that the organization’s team had already decided that a request for proposal was the best way to determine which outside vendor will be the best market research partner.

One other thing that was clear in the conversation:  their expectations go well beyond carrying out an already in-place quantitative market research initiative.

conference-room-office-space

The discussion surfaced the need for creating and implementing multiple types of research – both quantitative and qualitative – across a number of market segments. While he billed it as “customer” research, it likely needs to include both prospects and former customers to provide accurate insights.

As we talked, I told him they shouldn’t be issuing a request for proposal.

When a Request for Proposal Doesn’t Fit

A request for proposal is fine (I suppose) when the expectations, needs, and product or service are evident. I told him, however, that when none of these are clear (even to the client) and there are multiple avenues to address a nebulous deliverable, a request for proposal isn’t the best step.

In less specific situations, a request for proposal is a waste of time for potential vendors. They are taking time to design something they will likely never implement. The real market research design will only take shape after the client selects a vendor and meaningful exploration takes place. By that point, the specifications have changed so much, the proposal is likely irrelevant.

The client will wind up re-working much of the original RFP process in short order after they pick a research partner. That’s wasted time, too.

A Request for Presentation Could Be Better

I suggested they invite potential market research partners to come in and present their credentials, experience, and initial thinking on helping the client explore what types of market research they will really need. After developing a comfort level with a potential market research partner from the Request for Presentation, they can select one. THAT is the time to sit down, specify the methodology, and develop a scope of work with pricing.

We’ll see if they take the advice.

I hope they do.

A Request for Presentation will likely be a more fruitful RFP process than one focused on a Request for Proposal. – Mike Brown

 

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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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Should you NEVER have fun during your company’s strategy planning process?

I suspect you know my answer to that question!

I had dinner the other evening with a former colleague from the corporate world. He is the relatively new CEO of a nonprofit organization. As we were exchanging stories about what we had done since the last time we saw one another, we discussed strategic planning.

He mentioned that the organization’s current strategic planning process facilitator “reprimanded” him at a strategy meeting. She told him never to mention the idea of having “fun” during strategy planning. Supposedly, the previous CEO set the tone for strategy, and fun was not part of the strategic planning process equation.

Wow.

Double Wow.

Strategic-Planning-Fun

I immediately showed him how one of our most recent strategic planning eBooks was all about working to create a fun atmosphere for strategy planning. He recalled how we always spread out a bunch of toys at strategy planning meetings. While toys may or may not be part of the mix during strategic planning activities, the key principle is that being serious and mind numbing does not, in and of itself, lead to stronger strategy.

In the Brainzooming worldview, the best strategy comes from pushing on the edges of everyday thinking.

Or pushing beyond those edges into territory no upstanding businessperson would typically venture. And in those cases, fun and laughter are all part of the strategy deal. You cannot imagine boldly when your brain is chained to serious thinking.

Mind numbing thinking does not lead to breakthrough thinking.

Wild thinking (which IS FUN) does.

That is why we highly recommend that fun and your company’s strategic planning process go together!  – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Strategy Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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What are basic brand strategy moves to quickly take an older brand into today’s market?

An “Inside the Executive Suite” article from Armada Corporate Intelligence looked at this brand strategy question last month. They evaluated the options for the band Depeche Mode. The group is making a “comeback” and incorporated a variety of brand strategy approaches to freshen its brand.

An Old Brand Is Just an Old Brand – Until to You Do Something New with It – via Armada Corporate Intelligence

Depeche Mode, a 1980s and 90s alternative band, is discussing a new record and tour. The group, known for hits such as, “People Are People,”  “Personal Jesus,” and “Enjoy the Silence,” announced its newest record, “Spirit,” six months in advance along with a twenty-one country tour during mid-2017.

Depeche Mode has remained active since its biggest hits decades ago. This week’s announcement, however, seems to represent a new push to return to greater prominence.

What makes an old product new again?

We raised the question yesterday of how brands rekindle, dust off, improve, innovate upon, and reintroduce themselves to the market. The Depeche Mode update involves multiple brand strategies:

  • Involving a new producer and tech music luminaries
  • Putting the brand into new formats
  • Ramping up promotional elements
  • Playing up pure nostalgia

If you have a long-standing brand needing a boost to reach its previous heights, what are your options for bringing it back to the market in a way that attracts attention, engages existing and new audiences, and delivers improved business results?

Evaluating Your Brand Update Options

Using possibilities suggested in the Depeche Mode story plus a few others, we identified (and labeled) six potential brand update strategies for long-standing brands to undertake enhancements. These include:

Pure Nostalgia – In this strategy, everything essentially remains the same with the original brand. The brand’s promise (what it delivers to customers), elements (what makes up the brand), and experience (what happens for customers as they use the brand) to remain relatively unchanged. The brand attraction is dependent on audiences having positive (and likely intense) memories of the brand from an earlier, more prominent time. There may be a significant marketing push for the brand, but it constitutes the main effort to return the brand to earlier prominence. (Example – A cereal or candy brand marketing itself as a brand you remember from childhood)

Reintroduction – This strategic option involves updating the brand promise, elements, and experience to reflect current capabilities, knowledge, and market realities. Elements of the old brand may be eliminated and replaced with different aspects than the brand originally possessed. While certain brand elements are distinctly different and reflect today’s situation, a strong connection remains to the brand’s earlier days to create clear linkage. (Example – Bringing back current actors to play Colonel Sanders for KFC)

Refresh – Within a brand refresh strategy, the objective is to focus on a brand’s strongest elements – the things making it most distinctive and valuable to the primary audience – and preserve them. Any brand aspects that are outdated or lacking in some way are replaced with distinctly new elements reflecting a contemporary look, feel, and sensibilities. (Example – Pokémon GO, moving a familiar brand into mobile gaming and augmented reality)

Reformulation – In this brand update scenario, a brand retains its name and perhaps a few very important core elements. Everything else is completely redesigned and modernized. The underlying expectation is to call to mind the old brand among loyal audience members while relying on modern features to fuel new growth and success. (Example – The “new” Yankee Stadium replacing the old, historic ballpark)

Promotional Reintroduction – Even when a brand promise is largely intact and all aspects of the brand are strong, it may need an extra something to maximize its impact in a new way. That is when a promotion-based brand update strategy comes into play. The objective here is using a short-term change in the brand (or attaching something new to the brand) to generate interest and attention. After some finite period, the brand change or addition is reversed.  (Example – Coca-Cola adding personal names to its cans and bottles for the summer)

161102-mummy-pops

(Re)Launch – This brand update strategy involves keeping the brand largely intact as it has always been. The major change involves inserting the brand into new channels, locations, or markets. It could also involve returning to current channels, locations, or markets where the brand was previously active but withdrew or minimized its presence. (Example – A restaurant chain that enters and exits a particular market, only to re-enter the market at a future time)

A couple of notes about these strategies:

  • These options are not mutually exclusive. They likely benefit, in fact, from smart, strategic combinations.
  • We selected the labels based on how we’ve seen these described and deployed, so you may see them labeled differently elsewhere

Against this backdrop of potential strategies, we recommend conducting an exercise to identify a comprehensive list of everything closely associated with your brand. Beyond listing anything tied to the brand promise, elements, and experience, include language, customer perceptions (positive and negative, quantitative and qualitative), images, and any other sensory cues related to the brand.

After identifying a robust list of brand-related aspects, assemble a group of people from throughout your organization with strong insights into the brand. Have the group individually and collectively make their best assessments of whether each brand item is:

  • Critical to defining the brand
  • Important to the brand, but open to modification or significant change
  • No longer relevant for the brand

While it is ideal to have quantitative market research to incorporate into this type of brand assessment, a diverse group can generally make a strong first pass evaluation of where you have room to modify your brand. As you develop a point of view on where your brand is ripe for change, review the brand update strategy options list. Choose one or multiple strategies that might make sense for updating your brand.

Does your brand need a refresh?

Beyond this article, let us know if you want to talk further about updating a brand. With many organizations currently preparing next year’s strategies, it is a great time to perform a brand check to determine if it is time for something new.

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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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Someone downloading the new 11 Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning eBook when we released it stated his biggest strategy challenge as coming up with fresh ways to do the same strategic planning exercises with the same executives every year

I hear that challenge in a big way.

When we were developing the Brainzooming strategic planning process inside a Fortune 500 company, we used it to plan strategy across a whole portfolio of services and clients in a B2B setting. While some participants in the early Brainzooming strategy workshops changed from day-to-day, we would often have the same people participating every single day for an entire week or more. I spent many late nights modifying each workshop format to change them enough to keep the participants (and me) engaged, mentally sharp, and creative.

9 Ways to Keep Strategic Planning Process Exercises Fresh Every Year

So when you are working with the same old audience every day (or annually) and trying the same old strategic planning exercises, what can you do to change things up?

strategic-planning-process-changes

Here are nine ideas based on those early experiences to add variety to a strategic planning process workshop when the audience remains essentially the same:

Those are nine ideas to add variety to a strategic planning process. Doing even a few of these can provide a fresh, fun experience this year, and for days and years to come! – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Your
Strategic Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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Fun Strategic Planning Activities?

You may wonder if we are nuts talking about the idea of fun strategic planning.

Any skepticism you may have is certainly understandable. The more typical adjectives that come to mind when you think about strategy planning in your organization likely include:

  • Tedious
  • Cumbersome
  • Too detailed
  • Pointless
  • Disconnected (from the business)
  • Boring
  • Awkward

Do those words sound more like familiar adjectives for the strategy planning you have participated in previously?

We are confident they probably do based on how many of you are searching our website at this time of year for fun strategic planning activities to introduce to your companies. That is why we developed a new strategy planning resource just for you!

Download Our FREE eBook – 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

If you are trying to figure out how to spice up strategic planning activities at your company, you need to download our new FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

fun-ideas-strategic-planning-ebook

Within just a few pages, this new eBook offers a handy list of things you can do before and during strategy planning meetings to create a more engaging, mentally stimulating, and fun environment!

You will learn ideas for:

  • Handling the not-fun parts of strategic planning
  • Turning people who aren’t strategists into strategic thinkers
  • Encouraging breakthrough ideas
  • Increasing the pace and variety of strategy planning meetings


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

As you look to your next strategy planning meetings, you owe it to yourself and all the participants to download “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.” Regardless of the ideas you choose to implement from the eBook, you will create an environment where people are interested and eager to engage and actively share ideas to move your organization ahead!

Sound too good to be true?

Well, it isn’t!

Fun Strategic Planning Ideas are within reach! Download your FREE eBook today!


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning


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 talking with someone about whether I am all policies or all no policies. The answer was both, which is probably true.

That conversation, and a related one on creative thinking and what is funny got me reflecting on a day in my life and the creative thinking and creative self-talk that goes on behind the scenes.

As I started to jot down ideas from the day, it read like a bunch of creative thinking policies and non-policies. Some of the creative self-talk is not particularly beneficial. A lot of it is.

Day of Creative Self-Talk

creative-self-talk

If you happen to come across me during the day, here is what is going on behind the scenes creatively.

  • Speak your inspirations instead of ignoring them.
  • Listen to ideas everyone offers you, and expect to hear a lot incredibly good suggestions.
  • Do not decide things right away. Ask other people what they think.
  • Pay attention when everyone is saying the same thing, but you still have to decide whether they are all correct or all incorrect.
  • Combine things from completely separate parts of your life.
  • Combine things you know no one would combine.
  • Continually workshop creative ideas. Put things out there all the time to see what works, knowing that a low percentage of them will land.
  • Be ready to go it alone creatively when that is the only thing that makes sense.
  • Walk away and come back to creative ideas and activities.
  • Surround yourself with the tools that inspire your creativity and allow you to effectively implement it.
  • Take a picture. It will last longer and can inspire you later.
  • Hug the people that boost your creativity.

What is the creative self-talk you have going on every day? – Mike Brown

 

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Facing Innovation Barriers? Here Is Help!

Innovation-Strategy-eBooks

Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have free Brainzooming eBooks for you to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!

 

 

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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