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There are soooooooooooooo many ways to generate creative ideas.

One way is to come up with a name that inspires an idea. When you check the name, it doesn’t work (or someone has already used it), but the idea has some possibilities, so you run with it.

That’s what has happened here.

A name for a new Friday feature popped into my head at a conference. Unfortunately, the name is already “a thing,” although not that big of a thing. But enough of a thing that there was no credible way to claim that it was unique to the Brainzooming blog.

Since the idea worked, however, we’re running with the concept and resurrecting a feature name we haven’t used for quite some time: Creative Quickies. These features will include photos and strategic thinking questions or innovation prompts.

strategic-thinking-question-innovation-Frideas

And just as we hope for all Fridays, future Creative Quickies will be fast, fun, and stimulating enough (via strategic thinking questions) to give you something to ponder and act upon when you return to the office the following week. Enjoy! – 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’ve lost count of how many times I have heard business people say and then try to explain why their particular companies are unique. By this, they typically mean there is no possibility any other company faces the same types of challenges and operational issues they deal with daily.

While that might be a comforting perspective if you’re fond of business isolationism, it’s rarely true once you start to explore the business strategically.

Maze

We were working recently with a company that, based on its competitive and business situation, could certainly lay some claim to having a unique business situation. But given our unwillingness to settle for that easy answer, we created a rapid fire strategic thinking exercise to push for ideas.

Our immediate need was to identify potential innovation case studies to discover how other companies and industries are innovating in relevant ways.

Strategic Thinking Exercise – 17 Questions to Find Innovation Case Studies

Within about ten minutes, using the seventeen questions in this strategic thinking exercise, a group of nine or ten people generated more than seventy possible companies and industries to explore for comparable innovation case studies.

If you are facing a similar challenge to generate relevant strategic connections to your business, here is your starting point for a comparable Brainzooming strategic thinking exercise:

  1. What companies have similar sizes and org structures to ours?
  2. Who are our strategic partners?
  3. Who are our primary competitors?
  4. What companies provide substitutes for what we offer to customers?
  5. What other companies serve the same customers we do?
  6. What other companies have similar strategies to ours?
  7. What industries have similar operations or sales structures to ours?
  8. What companies have similar cost structures to ours?
  9. What companies employ similar processes to the ones we use?
  10. What companies are trying to innovate in similar ways to ours?
  11. What companies of our size have similar ownership and/or financial structures?
  12. What companies that do the same general things we do have comparable business situations?
  13. What other companies that share our general business category are most similar to us?
  14. What other companies are facing comparable competitive dynamics?
  15. What other companies are facing comparable cost pressures?
  16. What industries look / behave like ours? Why/how?
  17. What companies look / behave like ours? Why/how?

See, with this strategic thinking exercise, there’s no reason your business has to feel so alone in its innovation challenge. There are definitely innovation case studies you can discover and explore for new ideas! – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for a Successful Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





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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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During a strategic thinking skills workshop for a client, we shared ideas for taking information from varied sources and identifying strategic themes.

One slide during the workshop focused on analysis styles and featured two contrasting images.

Plate-Thanksgiving-Sandwich

The image on the left is a divided plate (affiliate link) intended to keep all your food items separate from one another and in the places you originally placed them.

The image on the right may be harder to identify. It’s a “Thanksgiving Sandwich.” I had previously seen them on Diners, Drive-in, and Dives. I ate one for the first time at a sandwich shop at the Las Vegas airport. The one in the picture was made at home right after Thanksgiving. It includes turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce on a roll. My own special addition was a schmear of pumpkin spice cream cheese on the top bun, creating a true flavor explosion. In one bite, you taste the main course through the dessert of a Thanksgiving dinner.

The picture represents two approaches to strategic thinking skills that analysts I’ve met throughout my career display.

Most analysts from a quantitative research background tend to be like the image on the left. They focus so much on keeping data straight and linked to underlying sources, that they simply report what’s there with the numbers on the surface. They are grossed out by the idea of mucking around in all the data and putting multiple sources and analysis looks together to learn new things that aren’t apparent when information is kept separate.

While the link to source data and keeping everything straight is important, it only goes so far.

I’ve met far fewer analysts comfortable with the strategic thinking skills involved in smooshing everything on the “data plate” together to create something akin to the Thanksgiving sandwich. It’s only when you start experimenting and combining information, perhaps from very different sources, that you often begin creating explosive new insights. This type of analysis really is like the Thanksgiving Sandwich in that you recognize all the original flavors (i.e., the source data), but experience them in an entirely new and wonderful combination.

In answering the question about what kind of strategic thinking skills and analysis you’re comfortable with performing, the answer should be BOTH types. You need to like making sure you have knowledge and credibility behind the source information. At some point, however, you have to smash it all together and see what amazing things might happen.

If you find yourself in one strategic thinking skills camp or the other, you need to try how the other half eats data.

You’ll enjoy it! – Mike Brown

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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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“Let’s start with a clean sheet of paper to boost creativity.”

Talking with a potential client about an already-planned innovation strategy workshop, the going-in innovation strategy called for giving participants “a clean sheet of paper.”

We listened to the rationale for adopting an innovation strategy based on broad creative freedom.

In many ways, it seemed to make sense:

  • They are looking for new thinking from a diverse set of participants.
  • They have had success in other situations starting with minimal direction.
  • They are adapting and applying the same format used with the other successes in a new business area.

We countered with our experience-based recommendation: give everyone insights, direction, and structure to generate more possibilities and legitimately boost the workshop’s potential for innovation strategy impact.

The workshop is already planned, so postponing it to readjust the approach isn’t an option.

Putting Something on the Clean Sheet of Paper

Suppose you find yourself in a similar position. You’ve been thinking a clean sheet of paper innovation strategy maximizes creativity. Now, however, you are having second thoughts.

What are the options if you decide to insert some structure and avoid using a clean sheet of paper for your innovation strategy?

clean-sheet-paper

Here are six ways to strategically and productively fill up a LITTLE bit of that clean sheet of paper to maximize creativity:

Letting People Know What’s Important

Operating within Constraints

Sharing Your Innovation Strategy Decision Making

These ideas don’t even begin to address the innovation value of strategic thinking exercises and creative structures to spur innovation.

At least by using any of these six ideas though, you can give any co-creators involved with your innovation strategy just enough direction and structure to help them boost creativity. – Mike Brown

 

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

Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




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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Ever felt as if your main creative outlet just isn’t working anymore?

I’m going through that with writing. I’m WAY off my creative thinking game when it comes to putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard.

I have some ideas why this is the case, and have been trying to document the reasons my go-to creative outlet isn’t working right now.

31 Excuses Why a Creative Outlet Isn’t Working

creative-block-2-right-lane

Here are all the possibilities so far for why my creative thinking is weak, particularly when it comes to writing:

  1. Too tired and not enough sleep.
  2. I don’t care about anything enough to write about it right now.
  3. Don’t feel great.
  4. Haven’t worked out in days.
  5. Everybody else has already thought of and created everything better than I would.
  6. I’ve created so much content recently I just don’t have anything else left in the hopper.
  7. Too much jumping around mentally and working with too many topics, making it impossible to concentrate.
  8. Too stressed.
  9. Too comfortable.
  10. My technology isn’t working which drives me crazy.
  11. I’m not traveling enough to stimulate my creativity.
  12. Too much time in the office on the weekends.
  13. The office isn’t a creative place for me anymore.
  14. Too little time in the office during the week.
  15. Wasting too many potential creative hours driving in the car.
  16. I’m traveling too much and my creativity is zapped.
  17. Don’t have time to go sit somewhere to people watch and write.
  18. All my creativity is going into client projects right now.
  19. Can’t stop watching stuff about Prince dying.
  20. When I see how creative Prince was, I want to give up.
  21. There are big deliverables to finish and deadlines to meet, and until that happens, there’s no mental energy to write.
  22. Even if I write something, I won’t have time to promote it properly.
  23. Thinking about taking all the time to format, illustrate, and get a blog post ready to publish is killing my creativity.
  24. I know I should cut back on writing and this is what it feels like when my creativity is listening to that, but the rest of me isn’t.
  25. Nobody said a word, not even my parents, when I skipped a few days blogging.
  26. Other parts of the business need more attention than they’ve been getting.
  27. I need help.
  28. Not learning enough new things in my daily interactions that provide new writing material.
  29. Too busy to get enough time for prayer and reflection.
  30. I’m suffering from creative apathy about nearly everything.
  31. If I could get this next [FILL IN THE BLANK] done, I’ll be fine.

Wow, maybe my creativity is fine.

It looks like it might just be that all my creative thinking is going into my new main creative outlet: coming up with excuses.

Maybe THAT’S a blog post worth writing. – Mike Brown

 

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Extreme Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and boost your creative thinking skills! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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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We were working with a client and sharing the value of our extreme creativity strategic exercises to boost creative thinking skills. We love extreme creativity questions because they provide an opportunity to push strategic thinking into bigger and bolder areas than an individual or group would envision by simply asking, “What are new and different things we could do?”

Although these questions are valuable, I always imagine workshop audiences initially wondering about when they would use these since they typically lead to incredibly outrageous ideas.

Most companies would benefit from bigger and bolder ideas. When being different than the competition is important (and it always is), an extreme idea can dramatically boost differentiation.

Another reason to embrace extreme creativity questions is they provide a more beautiful, amazing mental landscape to inspire creative thinking skills.

Think about it: when people seek out nature looking for creative inspiration, do they seek out boring landscapes where everything is the same color, elevation, topography, or other physical characteristic?

No, they seek out dramatic landscapes full of amazing visual stimuli: mountains, oceans, vegetation, extreme conditions, and unique environments. In those amazing settings, it’s easy for ideas to start flowing because of all the inspiration the scenery provides.

Nevada-Mountain

It’s the same with inspiring creative ideas. A bland backdrop (i.e., a clean sheet of paper) provides little creative inspiration. A set of bigger and bolder ideas, even if you don’t plan to use them as is, can help to inspire other, more actionable ideas.

Not sure about all this?

Apply some extreme creativity questions to your situation and see for yourself how seemingly impossible to implement ideas will suggest other more practical possibilities!

And if you’re not sure about doing that, contact us for ideas! – Mike Brown

 

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

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Extreme Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and boost your creative thinking skills! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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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Today at the Social Media Strategy Summit, along with Kaite Stover, Director of Readers’ Services at the Kansas City Public Library, I’m presenting a fun case study. The presentation is about how the Kansas City Public Library was able to “sponsor bomb” the 2015 Major League Baseball Playoffs and World Series with a book spine poetry campaign.

In short, the Library used images of multiple stacked books chosen so that the combined titles communicated messages to tweak the baseball teams (and the libraries in their communities) with pro-Kansas City Royals messages.

Sponsor-bomb-book-spine-poe

BTW, did I mention the Kansas City Royals are the 2015 World Champions? Just checking . . . wanted to make sure you knew that!

While The Brainzooming Group wasn’t involved in developing the social media strategy behind the World Series sponsor bomb, we’ve been working with the Library on branding and event strategy. Knowing how smart the social media strategy for the World Series sponsor bomb campaign was, we brought the story and the tremendous impact from the initiative to the attention of Breanna Jacobs, the Social Media Strategy Summit producer.

Kaite will cover the Kansas City Public Library social media strategy and implementation from start to finish. I’ll share lessons for other brands in how they might envision comparable sponsor bomb opportunities for their own brands.

Social Media Strategy – 5 Keys to Sponsor Bomb a High-Profile Event

If you aren’t with us in Chicago, here are the smart things the Kansas City Public Library did to make the strategy as effective as it was:

Here’s hoping the Royals go all the way again in 2016 so we can see what the Kansas City Public Library does with the next chapter of its book spine poetry sponsor bomb strategy!  – Mike Brown

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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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