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Love-IdeasIt’s easy to fall in love with a new idea you have hatched.

It’s yours (which makes it seem great right off the bat), and the more time you spend with it, the more you can become completely enamored with your creative thinking.

It’s helpful in most cases, however, to challenge your own creativity before you start loving your new idea TOO much.

Creative Thinking and 6 Challenges to Consider

How to challenge your creative thinking in healthy ways? Here are six possibilities:

  • Share your creative thinking with someone else to get their reactions.
  • Start over with the original objective and a different creative thinking approach, seeing if you come out with the same idea or something different.
  • Consciously begin adding other elements to your idea that fit strategically to see if it can work better.
  • Scale back your idea by 50% to see what you would keep and what you would scrap.
  • Expand your expectations for the idea by 2X and see if it holds together.
  • If a competitor were to implement your new idea, would it look different, and if so, how would it look?

The point of challenging your creative idea isn’t to turn you into being a “NO” to innovation.

It is simply to provide an opportunity to strengthen your creative thinking before loving your idea too much blinds you to weak spots it may have.

Once you have challenged your creatie idea sufficiently, and it holds up, you can get on with loving your new idea way too much as you start implementing it! Mike Brown

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The past eighteen months, I’ve participated in several life changing Bible studies produced by Jeff Cavins.

The point of this blog, however, is not to share the impact they’ve had on me. The objective is to share intriguing learnings about visual thinking and the value of organizing content and infographics the courses have taught me.

Visual Thinking and Organizing Content

Bible-Timeline-InfographicAt the heart of Jeff Cavins’ “Bible Timeline” series is a visual thinking and teaching method.

He organizes the books of the Bible based on the type of literature each represents. To help readers understand the “story” the Bible contains, Cavins focuses on fourteen narrative books. These books span twelve specific historical periods. Other books are slotted to fill in details or expand understanding of what happened during each period.

To visually communicate this multi-faceted content, Jeff Cavins developed a color-coded infographic. The Bible Time infographic illustrates multiple patterns within the Bible’s content.

Cavins creates additional insights into the content by highlighting and organizing content in multiple ways. These include the following organizing concepts:

  • Sequential – A beginning to end arrangement of selected content to create a story
  • Chronological – An earliest to latest historical timeline of broader events
  • Thematic – Specific related message and content grouped together
  • Purpose / Function-Based – Arranging pre-existing content in new ways to highlight more subtle patterns (i.e., geographic movement within the Bible)

I had an opportunity to see Jeff Cavins present in November 2013 and videoed part of his talk where he discussed the strategic thinking behind developing the Bible Timeline infographic.

If you’re interested in creating visual thinking insights from complex content, it’s worthwhile to view Cavins’ discussion about organizing content and using an infographic to communicate his message.

While you may think this is far afield, if your organization has a wealth of content that’s been created by multiple people at various times for different purposes that would benefit from SOME type of organization to make it easier to use, there’s a lot to learn here.

As a blogger with more than a half million words written (vs. the Bibe’s nearly 800,000 words), I definitely think about the lessons learned in creating the Bible Timeline and how they apply to adding value to our Brainzooming content.

What about your organization? What lessons are there here for organizing your content to better tell your story? – Mike Brown

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If you’re looking for ideas on what to blog about, how about spending a few minutes looking at the blog topics in your social feeds?

9 Blogging Ideas from Blogs in Your Social Feeds

When you’re feeling creatively stuck coming up with blog topics, the answer to what to blog about might be to write an answer post to a blog in your social feeds. If the topic fits your blog’s content strategy, you can use the original blog’s subject as a point of departure by writing a blog post in response to any of these nine questions:

  1. What would someone need to know before reading the original blog?
  2. What would someone still need to do after they read the other blog?
  3. How can you go into more detail with more steps?
  4. How can you simplify the topic to feature fewer steps than the original blog?
  5. How might you extol the author’s smarts since you agree with him/her so strongly?
  6. What would you talk about as the opposite point of view (i.e., you don’t HAVE to do any of these steps)?
  7. What links can you feature to previous stories you’ve written on the original blog’s topic?
  8. What links can you share to stories other authors have already written on the topic?
  9. What would it look like to rewrite the article with the same subject but a different headline and your own point of view in the copy?

Remember that your blog post can be a “secret” answer post. Using all but one of these questions (number 5 is the exception) your blog post doesn’t HAVE TO make a big deal out of being an answer post.

9-Ideas-Two

An Efficient Answer to What to Blog About

Nine potential blog topics is a wonderful set of possibilities from simply scanning your social feeds.

And if you have created a list, column, group, board, or feed filled with content related to your content categories, it’s even that much more efficient!

Other Brainzooming Blogging Links

Mike Brown

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imageWhen it comes to creative thinking exercises, I’m typically a proponent of introducing people to incremental creative thinking before trying to dunk them into extreme creativity.

That preference is predicated on getting people more familiar and comfortable with smaller creative steps. In that way, the first creative step you ask them to take isn’t such a doozie.

Sometimes, however, when it comes to creative thinking exercises, starting small is not the best strategy to follow.

We were using a combo creative thinking exercise recently. We had asked creative thinking session participants for three progressive creative leaps. For the first step, it was okay for their response to be a conventional idea. We wanted to stretch the creative thinking, however, for steps two and three, with the third answer being a strong example of extreme creativity.

While that was the plan, the mindset we first set was too incremental creatively and too lasting.

Our initial question got them too stuck on what’s happening today.

Subsequently, absent very strong and clear extreme creativity inducing questions for steps two and three, we had to work extra hard to move everyone toward more outrageous ideas. We eventually pushed toward extreme creativity in their responses, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

The lesson?

While it’s not always the case, sometimes you do need to go big creatively right from the start before you are forced to go home with overly familiar ideas. – Mike Brown

 

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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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WritingWhen you write, how do you write best?

If you’re writing when you are by yourself, it can be great. You might be more productive and experience stronger creative thinking with fewer distractions, no drop-in interruptions, and extended opportunities to focus.

This is non-friction writing, and these types of writing situations CAN BE incredibly productive.

The challenge of non-friction writing for me, however, is the friction of interacting with others creates problems, issues, opportunities, and challenges that all beg for resolution.

In the resolution of these situations you develop new learning, creative thinking, and the impetus to write.

That’s why I’m definitely a friction writer when it comes to generating new ideas and creative thinking.

But then maybe I’m a non-friction writer when I can get away and just write, with the memories of friction inspiring my creativity.

Which do you prefer?

Friction or non-friction writing? -  Mike Brown

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Baseball-FieldWith the major league baseball season upon us, think about an innovation lesson now common in many baseball leagues, but not all: the designated hitter rule. (Or more specifically, Major League Baseball Rule 6.10 for you precise baseball fans.) 

The designated hitter rule, which Wikipedia suggests was almost implemented in the 1920sallows a baseball team to substitute a hitter for the team’s pitcher in its regular batting lineup.

While preparing a strategic thinking workshop for a client, it struck me that the designated hitter rule takes what used to happen as an irregular event for a baseball team (and still does for National League teams) and simply extends it.

Extending an Irregular Event

Specifically, it’s always been possible to substitute players in a baseball lineup. Before the designated hitter rule, it was common for baseball teams to substitute for the pitcher, especially late in the baseball game. The reasoning behind this is using a pinch hitter to get a strong batter to the plate in place of pitchers, who are notoriously weak hitters. A team is willing to bet that the pinch hitter’s effectiveness in a particular batting situation will be greater than any downside of losing access to the current pitcher for the rest of the game.

In essence, the designate hitter rule says, if that move is a good one in a specific situation, let’s extend it, doing it all the time for the benefit multiple audiences.

And that’s a great innovation lesson.

The Innovation Lesson in the Designated Hitter Rule

Rather than only looking for high frequency situations in your organization and exploring them for innovation opportunities, look in the fringes for innovation opportunities you can extend to more situations.

Ask, observe, and identify what your organization is doing that might be considered an irregular event, a temporary situation, or only done in very special or specific circumstance.

After identifying possible innovation opportunities, see if you can extend these special cases to apply all the time to improve performance and results.

It all comes down to finding ways to get your smart, but infrequent moves, into the starting lineup of your business every time you go out on the field of competition! Mike Brown

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We’ve covered how comparing apples and oranges in a variety of ways can spur creative thinking. Dilbert took up the identical topic in a Sunday comic strip. Dilbert and Wally double team the pointy-haired boss on appropriate and beneficial ways to compare apples and oranges. 

Dilbert.com

Although you might not completely get the point from Dilbert, it is definitely true that the better you become at finding insightful, intriguing comparisons, the more consistently strong your creative thinking will be.

Comparing Apples, Oranges and Anything Else

This Dilbert comic strip is a great introduction to a compilation of Brainzooming articles on creative thinking and making intriguing and valuable comparisons.

Here is wishing you all the fun and success of making better comparisons for learning, creative thinking, and implementation! – 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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