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We have a call with a client about an upcoming Brainzooming innovation workshop. One question (which we think MAY have been included by mistake on the list of topics they sent us) is what we do when energy is diminishing during a workshop.

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Seeing the question about how to boost an audience’s energy level ahead of time (and knowing they’ll want specifics), prompted this list of thirty things I’ve done during my career of designing and delivering interactive presentations and workshops.

Perhaps the most important way to boost an audience’s energy level is number thirty: we make every attempt to design any Brainzooming workshop to re-energize the group throughout the time together. In that way, we plan for doing the best mix of activities in 1 through 29 to keep the energy levels up throughout the workshop!

  1. Tell funny stories
  2. Use self-deprecating humor
  3. Be very silent (uncomfortably silent) until the audience notices and re-engages
  4. Present while walking throughout the room / audience
  5. Stand on a chair and present
  6. Do more activities where everyone must play an active role
  7. Move to the Shrimp creative thinking exercise
  8. Ask questions of the audience
  9. Take a seat at a table and start voicing a person’s internal thoughts about the presentation
  10. Have everyone stand up and stretch
  11. Have everyone stand up and scream (or jump around)
  12. Make the audience the stars of the show
  13. Start doing improv with the audience
  14. Take a break and let everyone refresh
  15. Rearrange things at the break so they return to a new room
  16. Invite someone else to tell a story to the group
  17. Go to the quiet part of the room and present from there
  18. Run around the room (or at least down an aisle) to increase your own energy
  19. Introduce an ice breaker exercise – even in the middle of the presentation (and do funny riffs on peoples’ answers)
  20. Get people to talk and then have fun with them
  21. Call on the people I met before the presentation
  22. Call on someone that is making faces
  23. Call on the person with bright eyes and engage with them
  24. Create a contest right on the spot and give a pair of orange I am Creative socks to the winner
  25. Have people change something to freshen up what has already become familiar, comfortable, and routine (even within this temporary group)
  26. Move people from one table or group to another
  27. Take everyone outside
  28. Speed things up
  29. Use an exercise where everyone can participate simultaneously
  30. Pre-plan (by watching the experience in my mind) so the audience won’t enter a low-energy state

Need a strategy, creativity, innovation or other learning and motivational boost for your audience?

Contact us, and let’s figure out the right topics, format, and activities to design and deliver an interactive presentation or workshop to energize your team during the workshop and beyond! – 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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I have (finally) written a book on creative leadership. We’re wrapping it up in the coming weeks. The book, Idea Magnets – 7 Strategies for Cultivating & Attracting Creative Business Leaders, emerged from my experiences working with and knowing Idea Magnets throughout my career. They are creative leaders that share bold visions from which they generate incredible creative ideas and motivate others drawn to the amazing creative energy they generate. The book shares tools, techniques, and frameworks to perform as an Idea Magnet, even if that isn’t your natural creative leadership style.

You may ask: Is being an Idea Magnet naturally occurring, or can you develop the qualities?

The answer? Idea Magnets develop both ways.

For me, the path has been from exposure to Idea Magnets. They have shaped my perspectives, talents, and energy to be more like them, whether they were born as one or developed from exposure to other Idea Magnets.

In true Mike fashion, until recently, my perspective was that if I benefited from exposure to Idea Magnets, then EVERYONE must have had that exposure and been shaped by what they experienced.

Then I came crashing into a massive wall of, “THAT’S NOT GOING TO WORK.”

That ongoing refrain during a conversation prompted me to realize that this person had NEVER been exposed to an Idea Magnet. Idea Magnets shape their team members’ views to become comfortable working from a vision (and not a detailed plan), incomplete steps (vs. figuring out everything before launching), and a rich sense of hopefulness (in contrast to a prove it to me before I start attitude).

In the absence of that exposure (or a life experience causing an individual to learn that you must move ahead and succeed instead of complaining about what isn’t there), one winds up continually saying NO and walking away from innovative possibilities.

With Idea Magnets, I’m trying to make a very conscious shift in my own thinking and communication to focus more on what can be incredible. Let’s all seek out the attractive power in embracing possibilities, starting right now, and accomplishing amazing things in the pursuit of even more amazing ones.

I invite you to come along with us as an Idea Magnet. To find out immediately when the book is available, click here or on the image below. You will be the first to know when we unleash Idea Magnets on the world!  – Mike Brown

Keep current on Idea Magnet creative leadership secrets!

 

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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Idea Magnets display a creative leadership mindset that incorporates acting in ways that help others become high performers in their own tasks.

As you consider the people you interact with, ask what you can do and how you can do things to enable their strong performance in their own activities.

Want to learn more about Idea Magnets?

Find out more about how you can better embody a creative leadership style that sets you and your team apart for collaboration, imagination, implementation, and success! – Mike Brown

 

Keep current on Idea Magnet creative leadership secrets!

 

 

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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You’re working on an important new employee or customer communication to further your branding strategy. You’re trying to say things succinctly. Perfectly. But as you’re looking for just the right word that will have just the right impact, it’s not coming to you.

What do you do?

The answer is obvious: you go to an online thesaurus and look up synonyms for the tired old word you would typically use. Or maybe you will settle for a little inspiration to imagine what the right new word could be.

Either way, I have a request to make.

STOP loving those generic words in the thesaurus.

I mean, if you REALLY think communication supporting your branding strategy will be fine with just any old generic word, than I suppose you can go ahead and do it.

On the other hand, if you want to use language that sounds like your intended audience and resonates with them, don’t make the online thesaurus your first stop for ideas.

Instead, explore previously-well received communications you’ve delivered to your audience. While you may be looking for new ways to communicate key elements of your branding strategy, chances are what works with your audience has more to do with building up consistent language that means something to them than it does with constantly throwing new terms at them.

Another great source to draw from?

Revisit comments and language that your audience already uses to talk about your brand. Those can come via documentation from online surveys, online collaborations, customer service calls, emails, testimonials, or content they have shared through social media.

If you have some time and/or the means to do it, reach out to your audience with questions that allow them to talk about the area of interest to you.

In our experience, any of these options are better, more on-target sources for meaningful language than an online thesaurus.

Why?

It’s because these words come directly from the audience. That makes the language more likely to score on its simplicity, understandability, and resonance.

So, yeah, I know it can be tough, but do yourself a favor: step away from that thesaurus.

Your audience will thank you, and so will your ROI.  – 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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Sometimes, we get to design a creative thinking exercise that seems like so much fun during its development that it causes me to continually smile and giggle.

We have a new one of those that we debuted yesterday.

In its new form, it’s called Surf-to-Turf. It combines the Shrimp creative thinking exercise, the ultra-popular-at-Brainzooming mad face emoji, the extreme creativity and celebratory slogan (“Winner, winner chicken dinner”) of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and one of our favorite products: orange, “I Am Creative,” notes to self socks.

All that in the poster shown here.

How can you see all those mad emoji faces and NOT giggle?

This design came about specifically for this client. Our objective was to provide the innovation strategy workshop participants a chance to vary their activities, work with new people, self-manage their performance on a creative thinking exercise, and have a chance to win a prize (the orange socks).

Do you like the idea of working with a partner that designs what it does all around what makes sense for your brand and the innovators you have on your team?

If you do, then contact us. Let’s figure out how we can customize and develop the right strategic thinking and creativity tools to make you giggle, smile, and come up with winning strategies! – Mike Brown

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Interested in disrupting thinking in your organization to boost innovation? Click below and download the FREE Disrupting Thinking eBook.

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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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The 2018 Fast Company Most Innovative Companies issue arrived Saturday. It’s always a wonderful inspiration for strategic and creative thinking questions (plus it’s exciting that we have a current client among the companies recognized). In the spirit of the first Agility question below, rather than trying to imagine questions from across all the companies listed, we limited the focus to creative thinking questions inspired by the top ten most innovative companies’ innovation journeys and priorities.

16 Creative Thinking Questions from the Most Innovative Companies

You can apply these creative thinking questions to trigger your own brand’s strategic thinking on innovation strategy:

Strategy

  • What’s the heart of our brand that we can double down on right away?
  • If our time horizon were 25 years, what current things would we eliminate? Which ones would we accelerate?
  • How is our leadership removing distractions to innovation (instead of creating them)?
  • How can we focus on innovation results and let the financial results follow?
  • Where can we mass resources for innovations with the biggest impacts?

Customer-Focused Innovation Strategy

  • What remarkably new things can we deliver to the marketplace in the next year? 3 years? 25 years?
  • Where can we innovate to allow customers to do things they have never been able to accomplish before?
  • Where can we innovate to provide customers and partners greater visibility and growth opportunities?
  • What innovations would help customers do the right things?
  • What would we halt if we stopped doing anything that might be remotely bad for customers?
  • What will it take to immediately stop using our customers as guinea pigs for innovation?
  • How is our B2B brand dramatically changing individuals’ lives?
  • What opportunities will let us grow by 100x the amount and variety of valuable content our brand produces for customers?

Agility

  • What can we do to deliver innovations when they need to get to market vs. when we’re done tinkering?
  • What changes would let us keep tinkering and improving right up to the time we deliver our next innovation?
  • Which of our internal systems have value for other brands like ours that we can sell?

Which creative thinking questions from the most innovative companies will you take to your next leadership team meeting to focus the conversation on your own brand’s innovation strategy?  – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



 

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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An article in The Wall Street Journal by Paul Ziobro shares an report on how toy manufacturers, including Mattel and Hasbro, are accelerating their new product innovation processes. The brands want to capitalize on market growth stemming from toys tied to popular social media themes. These trends, as one industry insider put it, “burn really bright and really short,” necessitating abbreviating product development cycles from several years to months, or even weeks. Thus, the need to catalyze innovative success by streamlining the steps between ideas and implementation.

2 Super Smart Ways to Catalyze Innovative Success

Let’s review two of critical success factors toy manufacturers are embracing that are of value, if your brand also wants to speed up its innovation pace.

1. Listening to the Market in Multiple Ways

From just the few toy industry innovation stories reported in the WSJ, you see multiples ways of incorporating broad and early market perceptions to shape innovation:

  • Social Media Listening
    Portland-based organization Zing employs three people to monitor social media for popular topics with the potential to inspire successful toys. During June 2016, they noticed people in Greece using beads as a toy for nervous fidgeting. That holiday season, it released Thumb Chucks, its own version of the beads.
  • Observing Behavior
    Online video platforms provide new ways to observe customer behaviors and perceptions beyond formal research studies. Hasbro has released multiple toys based on viral video trends, including bottle flipping and people wearing dental mouth guards as they try to pronounce complicated words.
  • Point-of-Sale Analytics Trends
    LaRose Industries saw Walmart sales of its Cra-Z-Art glue increase over 50% monthly in the fall of 2016. Investigation showed that kids were creating slime (a gooey, fun concoction popularized on the Nickelodeon TV network) by mixing the glue with other household products. LaRose jumped on the growth trend, introducing slime-making kits in January 2017.
  • Securing Early Commitments
    Before producing the slime-making kits, LaRose Industries paired with Nickelodeon to license the slime name and identity, boosting potential customer awareness immediately. It also secured interest from retailers at the January toy show. It only then moved into manufacturing, reaching stores within 45 days.

Beyond these possibilities, what else can your brand explore to expand its repertoire of market listening strategies?

  • Directly Observing Customers
    Whether in business or consumer markets, how can you secure cooperation from your customers to observe them in their work or home settings, using your products and others? This is a fruitful way to identify innovation opportunities customers can’t clearly articulate.
  • Involve Customer-Facing Employees
    Instead of confining new product innovation to employees working in corporate offices, directly involve sales, customer service, and other employees who routinely interact with customers. They are a rich source of customer insights and feedback.

2. Exploiting Small and Nimble to Catalyze Innovative Success

Another theme from the toy industry stories is taking advantage of smallness – in team sizes, budgets, and development windows – coupled with sizable impact expectations:

  • Hasbro
    It has created a Quick Strike team to push new product innovation stemming from popular social media topics and memes. The team has released new products in as few as 11 weeks. The manufacturer is migrating the approach into its overall organization.
  • Mattel
    The team deployed to develop social-trend based toys at Mattel is made up of ten people. The company’s CEO reports having given the team very little budget and only three months to have toy ideas ready for last January’s toy fair. The toys are scheduled to reach stores later in 2018.

Restricting resources and keeping big innovation demands in place can seem counter-intuitive. The strategy is consistent, though, with other case studies of major brands creating small, separate incubators to rapidly develop new ideas. Consider these points when developing a comparable strategy to boost nimbleness and speed:

  • First Plan the Team around Capabilities
    Rather than starting team selection with an org chart, identify the talents, capabilities, and functions the team needs. Only then start looking for the right people. Set a goal of maximizing the talent pool with as few people as possible. More people provide more ways to slow down decisions and progress.
  • Push for Self-Sufficiency
    A corporate intrapreneurial leader in the cosmetics industry cautions innovation teams to develop their own solutions rather than reaching back into their main organizations. Her experience was that parent organization answers carry time, complications, and overhead that a rapid development team can’t tolerate.
  • Streamline Decision Making
    Identify upfront the team’s parameters to keep moving forward without seeking review and approvals. As you remove typical decisions steps, make sure to enforce this simplified process throughout the development cycle. Otherwise, the parent organization may work overtime to slow down ideas it hasn’t vetted in the typical fashion.

What Else Do You Need?

These examples can get you thinking about new ways to streamline innovation. If you want to go deeper, the Accelerate eBook covers sixteen keys for finding resources to accelerate your innovation strategy. Get your copy today!Adapted from Inside the Executive Suite

 

Find New Resources to Innovate!

FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

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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