Creativity | The Brainzooming Group - Part 132 – page 132
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I was struggling recently to pull together slides for a branding presentation – an effort requiring only a little strategic thought and creativity. But several attempts at starting were relatively fruitless. Even though I’d set aside focused time to do the project, it was impossible to progress.

At the same time, another project was pending; it had to be completed so that the next person in the process could begin. With that project lingering, I forced myself into the mode of answering questions, closing down potential options, and repeating the mantra, “Better done than perfect.” After a day’s worth of work, there was tremendous relief in finally signing off on that project and emailing it to the person looking for the results.

Then with a brief mental break from the computer, selecting the slides for the presentation became a snap; it was finished in 90 minutes!

As much as I thought that I had the creative depth to move both efforts ahead virtually simultaneously, I couldn’t. The creative reserves necessary for the project didn’t leave enough free space in my mind to work on the presentation.

So the next time the strategic and creative juices aren’t there for a project, ask yourself, “Is there something else hanging over my head?” If there is, see if you can take the steps to get the “something else” completed or delegated to someone else so that you have the max headroom for creativity.

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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Several years ago, I was attending an adult religious education class because of my wife during a period where I had declared myself an agnostic – not really believing in much of anything spiritually.

During one class, participants were asked to share how they’d used prayer in their lives. One person talked about how he would pray for help in moments of crisis or confusion and that typically an idea would pop into his head. He credited God with providing the ideas. I turned to my wife and whispered, “Ideas pop into my head all the time. I just thought I was that good!”

Since then, I’ve gone through a re-conversion experience and have realized that the man in class was correct. It’s become clear to me that prayer makes a huge difference in creativity. It may be a prayer to be of service to a strategic thinking session’s participants or for their openness & positivity. It may be simply giving thanks for a tough session being over.

No matter what your creativity challenge, don’t be reluctant to communicate with the greatest creative force in the universe. Trust me; you can always use the help!

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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When receiving a holiday present, it’s usually very attractively wrapped. But to discover what wonderful new item awaits you requires tearing off the wrapping.

Think about traditional knowledge in your business and industry (its “conventional wisdom”) as the wrapping paper. While understanding conventional wisdom provides some attractive guiding principles to help speed decision making, it also sits between you and potentially wonderful new insights about your business.

So in the spirit of the holiday season, try this exercise to “unwrap” conventional knowledge that may be getting in the way of discovering shiny new possibilities:

  • Write down ten pieces of conventional wisdom in your business. These are the things that everybody who has been around the business knows and understands to be true (i.e., in the restaurant industry, it might be that you turn tables as quickly as possible to maximize the number of people served).
  • For each piece of conventional wisdom, remove it from your knowledge, in effect “unwrapping & discarding” your traditional view of the business.
  • Imagine that you never knew the conventional wisdom you’ve now discarded. Ask yourself – What are five new approaches to my innovation challenge that are different because of what I now don’t know?

In the restaurant example, the five possibilities might include:

  • A one price lunch with dessert included to increase the average check size.
  • Providing some more private meeting space for business lunches.
  • Not explicitly charging for the private meeting space; simply charge more for the food & beverages.
  • Having selected pre-made grab & go items from the sit-down menu for quick lunches on the run.
  • Give diners a signal to indicate that they’re leisurely settled and want the wait staff to take their order.

Try this approach before the holidays are over on an opportunity or problem that you’re presented. Remember though – don’t save all the bows and re-use them year after year, as some people do. Throw a little conventional wisdom out annually and replace it with new & better insights!

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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8

When receiving a holiday present, it’s usually very attractively wrapped. But to discover what wonderful new item awaits you requires tearing off the wrapping.

Think about traditional knowledge in your business and industry (its “conventional wisdom”) as the wrapping paper. While understanding conventional wisdom provides some attractive guiding principles to help speed decision making, it also sits between you and potentially wonderful new insights about your business.

So in the spirit of the holiday season, try this exercise to “unwrap” conventional knowledge that may be getting in the way of discovering shiny new possibilities:

  • Write down ten pieces of conventional wisdom in your business. These are the things that everybody who has been around the business knows and understands to be true (i.e., in the restaurant industry, it might be that you turn tables as quickly as possible to maximize the number of people served).
  • For each piece of conventional wisdom, remove it from your knowledge, in effect “unwrapping & discarding” your traditional view of the business.
  • Imagine that you never knew the conventional wisdom you’ve now discarded. Ask yourself – What are five new approaches to my innovation challenge that are different because of what I now don’t know?

In the restaurant example, the five possibilities might include:

  • A one price lunch with dessert included to increase the average check size.
  • Providing some more private meeting space for business lunches.
  • Not explicitly charging for the private meeting space; simply charge more for the food & beverages.
  • Having selected pre-made grab & go items from the sit-down menu for quick lunches on the run.
  • Give diners a signal to indicate that they’re leisurely settled and want the wait staff to take their order.

Try this approach before the holidays are over on an opportunity or problem that you’re presented. Remember though – don’t save all the bows and re-use them year after year, as some people do. Throw a little conventional wisdom out annually and replace it with new & better insights!

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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Not having written a book of my own yet, I end up using great books that others have written as give-aways at my presentations. While I’m planning to correct the “I haven’t written a book” problem in 2008, the holiday season provides an opportunity to recommend some wonderful books that have dramatically shaped my thinking on careers, branding, innovation, and strategy.

“Radical Careering – 100 Truths to Jumpstart Your Job, Your Career, and Your Life” by Sally Hogshead, Gotham Books, ISBN: 1-592-40150-3.
100 brain jolts to change your behavior and drive dramatic change. I’ve spoken on the same program as Sally several times, and the audience conclusion is always that “SALLY ROCKS!” It’s true – her first book uses a unique format with 100 self-contained lessons to challenge you to invest your precious energy & time on creating a meaningful difference in life. Beyond the book check out Sally’s website and podcasts.

“The Marketer’s Visual Toolkit” by Terry Richey, AMACOM, ASIN: 0814402135.
I only worked directly with Terry one time many years ago, but his book has been an important part of shaping how we’ve tried to incorporate visual representations in strategic planning efforts. It’s tough to find, but well worth the effort for its help in translating complex ideas into tools that people can work with more successfully.

“75 Cage Rattling Questions” by Dick Whitney & Melissa Giovagnoli, McGraw-Hill, ISBN: 0070700192.
This is a great source of challenging questions to stimulate strategic thinking. On page after page, you’ll find questions to incorporate into creative and planning sessions. They’ll spur discussions on difficult topics. I mean really, what would your organization be like if your mother ran it?

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide” by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky, Free Press, ISBN: 0-7432-6909-8.
I hate the word “leverage” as a substitute for “use.” I hate using “around” instead of “on” (i.e. “he’s doing some work around that topic.”) And I hate that I didn’t write this manifesto for eliminating business language that’s intended to obscure meaning. If you communicate in business (okay that’s probably everybody who’ll ever read this), get this book and share it with your co-workers.

“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Random House, ISBN-10: 1400064287.
I’ve given away a number of copies of this book this year since it’s another one that I wish I’d written. In driving a major brand turnaround, we’ve incorporated many of its concepts on using simple messages, surprise, and emotion to help ideas live on and become part of a company’s cultural fabric. It packages all the concepts in one place with great insights on making your own ideas take off and thrive. This book has received a lot of well-deserved attention.

“The Art of Possibility – Transforming Professional and Personal Life” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, Harvard Business School Press, ISBN: 0-87584-770-6.
It’s been a blessing to have seen Benjamin Zander present twice – at a retail conference in Dallas, followed 4 months later by his closing appearance at the Transformation Business & Logistics conference that I produced in 2001. He was wonderful in Dallas (as he forced my co-worker and me to come from the back of the room to live life in the front row). He was incredible at Transformation – we learned to love classical music in 7 minutes, 2000 people serenaded an audience member with “Happy Birthday” as if we really meant it, and at the end, we all sang Beethoven’s 9th in German while standing on our chairs. It still makes my eyes well up with joy. If you can’t see him in person, get this book by he and his partner Rosamund and at least read their wonderful stories. How Fascinating!

There’s the list. Make sure to order early for delivery before the holidays (and peruse them before heading back to work on January 2)!

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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Jan Harness, a great strategic writer and member of my creative team, writes about her title as Chief Creative Instigator in her blog creativeinstigation.blogspot.com. Check out how she got that title and the plethora of other creativity tips she’s posted!

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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Driving to get gas last week, I was struck by a billboard in Kansas City’s Waldo area whose most prominent phrase was “flexible perfectionists.”

Incorporating diverse perspectives is fundamental to creative problem solving. You won’t generate the most interesting new possibilities if you’re only willing or able to approach an opportunity in a singular fashion. One implication is that to improve creativity, you have to be able to hold & easily work with views that appear inherently contradictory.

So back to the billboard.

It was so striking because I view myself as a flexible perfectionist. I definitely want & strive for things to be right. Okay, it’s probably better described as “frequently angsting over things being perfect.” But over time, I’ve realized that in many, many cases “better done than perfect” is the right direction and that mistakes and variation lead to better solutions. This awakening has become the central point of my presentation on “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.”

Checking out the URL on the billboard (http://www.workplaykc.com/), it’s a recruiting website for Kansas City-based Perceptive Software. The website’s point is that the company seeks out versatile employees because they’re vital to its continued fast growth. Even if you’re not a flexible perfectionist, it’s also looking for:

  • Outgoing introverts
  • Impulsive planners
  • Rational adrenaline junkies
  • Disciplined adventurers
  • Selfless corporate climbers
  • Articulate listeners
  • Competitive team players
  • Jetsetting homebodies
  • Easygoing overachievers
  • Collaborative rebels

If a number of these contradictions sound like you, you may have a home at Perceptive Software. Or you may simply be better prepared than most to be a creative force in life!  – Mike Brown

For a creative boost, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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