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We recently reviewed a client’s employee-created videos. The videos were destined for social media distribution via YouTube and other sites. There were some very effective employee videos in the mix where associates delivered personal accounts of their interests related to the client’s products. The successful employee videos were genuine and unscripted, and while the client’s product was clearly a part of each video, the product was way in the background.

Challenges with Employee-Created Videos

Beyond the relatively small number of effective employee videos, the majority were poorly executed. Why were these other employee videos off the mark? In nearly every case, it was because what was portrayed as an employee-generated, personal video veered off into trying to be a commercial (with extensive product references and information) or worse, a character-oriented video (with the self-identified employee taking on the role of a character in a fictional setting).

As we pointed out to our client, it’s bad form to foster social media audience confusion by making them think they’ll be watching personal video accounts from employees when the videos are no such thing. What makes it even worse, however, is commercial and character videos prompt higher viewer expectations for better production and talent standards than our client’s employee videos delivered. As a result, the videos not only seemed disingenuous, they also emphasized production shortfalls (bad lighting, uneven sound, etc.) even more than if they solely focused on an employee telling a personal story in a simple fashion.

An Employee-Created Video that Works

Contrast our client’s situation with this video from the Kansas City Missouri Public Library shared on Facebook earlier this week. It’s produced by Jason Harper, who handles social media for the library. Rather than screaming, “Employee video,” this character-oriented video unfolds with subtle humor, scripting and costumes true to its Hemingway theme, and just enough production value to effectively convey its ultimate message: there’s an easy-to-use app that allows you to extend the period for books patrons have checked out from the Kansas City Missouri Public Library.

Jason is never identified as an employee because his employment status has no bearing on the video. As a result, an insignificant point of information doesn’t serve to confuse a cleverly-conceived and produced character video.

Because this video is true to viewer expectations of a character-oriented video’s intent, tone, production value, and talent level, we think it it really works! We should all be using employee-created videos as effectively as this one! And if you are using employee-created videos effectively, care to share the links in the comments section? – Mike Brown


How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

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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Creating something, and especially trying to create many things, isn’t a 100% proposition. It’s not as if everything you work on will fit in your final creative product. Also, not every effort you start will be completed. Along the way, you’re going to generate quite a bit of creative residue or leftovers – false starts, near misses, and big creative swings where you fall short of the big results you’d expected.

If you’re going to create, you’re going to create creative residue along the way.

In the midst of creating, you need to be comfortable with leaving creative residue behind. But that’s not to say you might not be able to take advantage of these leftovers later. Attempting to get value out of creative residue is the reason we have:

  • Director’s cut DVDs
  • Extra songs on compilation records
  • Sequels to popular works of art
  • Posthumous creative output, including books, music, films, etc.

If you’re up for it, keeping creative residue around can pay off down the line.

Barrett and I had done the strategic thinking ten years ago for a plan on how you could donate time to a Kansas City civic cause for a huge brainstorming session event. We’d gone pretty far down the path of thinking through the strategy on who you’d invite, how large the brainstorming session would be, how to get people in Kansas City to participate, and the media impact it could have.

Unfortunately, the specific civic effort we were working on never got off the ground, and our strategic thinking appeared to have been for naught.

But when Kansas City officials voiced the challenge to come up with ideas for how Google Fiber could be used for economic development and changing lives after its introduction, the first thing that ran through my mind was the strategic thinking we’d done and how it could be applied to this new opportunity for a huge brainstorming session. From our decade old thinking, the Building the Gigabit City partnership to brainstorm Google Fiber with Social Media Club of Kansas City was born.

If I hadn’t kept our civic meeting creative residue around, I wouldn’t have been so fast to jump on the huge Google Fiber Gigabit City brainstorming session opportunity.

Creative residue shoots and scores!

So keep as much of yours around as you can stand. If you’re already doing that, how are you keeping it fresh and usable for when you need it? – Mike Brown

 

How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

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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In the spirit of broad Kansas City community efforts to brainstorm ideas for how the introduction of Google Fiber can change lives in Kansas City, The Brainzooming Group was excited to partner with Social Media Club of Kansas City to create “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap.”

We conducted the large-scale brainstorming session on October 3 with a diverse cross-community group of nearly 90 people. The 120-page Google Fiber brainstorming report is available via free download on the Brainzooming website at brainzooming.com/googlefiberkc.

The Many Voices of Kansas City

As we compiled the Google Fiber brainstorming report, we wanted to share the voices of the many passionate Kansas Citians who participated in Building the Gigabit City. Rather than a typical strategic recap from The Brainzooming Group where we report results with a single written voice, we’ve worked hard to maintain the vibrancy, insights, aspirations, and cautions of everyone who shared their perspectives in the Google Fiber brainstorming effort.

Just as the input was crowdsourced, the results are as well as we’re making the report available for free to everyone in partnership with Social Media Club of Kansas City.

In this Google Fiber brainstorming report, you’ll get a sense of these voices from the community through the different structures and depths with which their concepts and ideas are reported. The voices will come through in the Personal Perspectives offered by a number of individuals involved in the session.

Finally, you’ll “hear” a range of voices in the ideas and concepts themselves. Rather than starting from scratch, Building the Gigabit City was designed to build upon work and thinking that’s already gone on in Kansas City about what Google Fiber could and should mean for the city. Beyond brainstorming on current thinking, there was a lot of new creative thinking about what the Gigabit City can be, too.

 

Google Fiber in Kansas City – The Building the Gigabit City Report

You can watch an archived livestream of the Building the Gigabit City release press conference at the SMCKC Gigabit City website in addition to downloading the free report.

We hope you’ll use the results to truly use your talents and resources to help realize the promise of the Gigabit City! – Mike Brown

 

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 brand 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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The standard brainstorming ground rules such as any topic being okay for discussion and “no idea is a bad idea” are quite familiar if you’ve been involved in any type of idea generating exercises. But how does this attitude of openness extend outside a creative session? If you want to support more creativity in your workplace, are you willing to extend typical brainstorming ground rules into everyday business life?

Making Brainstorming Part of Everyday Business Life

Photo by: view7 | Source: photocase.com

If you are willing to consider observations on unexpected or potentially unwelcome topics as part of everyday business life, you’ll have a stronger, more creative team and organization. Embracing this approach personally has provided many valuable, unanticipated insights into how people are thinking and reacting.

This openness isn’t without challenges though, particularly with people whose personal agendas get in the way. Here’s how as a leader you can manage three less productive open discussions you may encounter:

When Something Doesn’t Matter

Our definition for strategic discussion is focusing on “things that matter,” i.e., they create real business results. In business though, much time gets spent discussing topics with little significant impact on real world business results. This happens when someone gets stuck on a topic dear to them, but of little relevance in the bigger scheme of things. Long discussion distracts from what really needs attention, leading to wasted energy and slower progress.

How to handle these situations?

Cutting off discussion on marginal subjects whenever they’re raised signals the expectation you’ll focus only on things that matter. Doing this, however, risks individuals shutting down on more important topics too. As a leader, it’s important to give in and discuss some of these issues, especially if valuable team members are raising them. You’ll more than make up for what seems like wasted time by cultivating a more engaged team.

Tackling Things That Matter a Lot

Maybe it’s a strategic decision, a company’s values, or a moral or ethical principle. Whatever the case, when a topic matters a lot, determining how open it should be for discussion is challenging. Typically, a decision has already been made or a very visible position taken suggesting those in charge aren’t open to further discussion or debate. Yet these very topics, when left untouched for extended periods, can result in blind spots. They may prove to be organizationally crippling long-term; in the near-term, ignoring the discussion can off-putting to team members who have legitimate, sincere, albeit conflicting points of view.

How to handle these situations?

One way to allow conversation on seemingly unchangeable topics is through defined periods where they are open for discussion. This could be in conjunction with annual planning (with consideration of a company’s values, vision, or strategic foundations) or during a specific forum (i.e., a special meeting or conference) where discussion is entertained and deliverables expected. By opening windows for conversation on these topics, you’ll benefit from new and potentially impactful insights without wasting discussion time when there’s no realistic consideration of change.

Dealing with a Biased Point of View

I’ve dealt with a variety of co-workers so convinced of their own correctness that discussions on sensitive topics quickly become unproductive. They expect their desired resolution and every statement is geared toward force fitting a personal viewpoint without considering others might have legitimate perspectives.

How to handle these situations?

There’s a maxim in courts of equity that “one who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” In short, it means if you’re asking for aid from another’s wrongs, you must not have committed a wrong yourself. I’ve adapted this concept as a guide for determining how open I’ll be to listening to someone who appears biased or dug in on a particular point of view. A person has to enter a conversation honestly – intellectually and ethically –with an openness to consider alternative positions. If someone expects an issue to be discussed yet is unwilling to consider alternatives or rethink a personal position, the privilege of having a topic re-considered isn’t earned. Set the stage by sharing ground rules upfront, making it clear an open conversation, or none at all, will take place.

Can Extending Brainstorming Ground Rules to Everyday Business Life Work for You?

So what do you think? If you’ve been using an “open discussion” policy, how are you managing them productively? And if you haven’t followed this approach, are you willing to give it a try and reap the creative benefits? – Mike Brown

 

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 brand 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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At today’s Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) breakfast, The Brainzooming Group is presenting an update on the Google Fiber “Building the Gigabit City” brainstorming output from the session we facilitated in early October. The Gigabit City session was designed to generate as many ideas and concepts as possible for how Google Fiber can be used to change lives in Kansas City. This means the time during the live strategic thinking session was disproportionately devoted to brainstorming ideas, with relatively less time on prioritizing, ranking, and analyzing the ideas.

The intent with the Google Fiber brainstorming session results (available for download on Brainzooming.com on November 10, 2011) are they will be a platform to advance thinking and progress based on the input of hundreds of people with varying perspective on how ultra high-speed internet capabilities can shape Kansas City and other communities.

Whenever you have brainstorming output that hasn’t been narrowed and analyzed, there are a variety of steps you can take to develop and move it forward toward implementation. For those in Kansas City, the Building the Gigabit City effort is linked to the belief that success for the Google Fiber roll out depends on every citizen knowing what they can do with the ideas and concepts shared in our report.

11 Next Steps with Brainstorming Output

Here are 11 next step actions people can take with the Gigabit City report that also largely apply to brainstorming results you may be working with yourself in your work:

  • Share results with those who have not been exposed to them. This effort’s success comes from getting the work to as wide an audience as possible who can advance the concepts.
  • Ask for more information and insight. If you have questions or need deeper understanding on the topic, reach out for additional insights.
  • Combine concepts and ideas to create newer or bigger opportunities. If a particular idea or concept does not really demand gigabit speeds, add something to the idea that ups the ante.
  • Diversify concepts by soliciting additional input. Not everyone and every point of view was represented in “Building the Gigabit City,” so incorporating additional variety to the ideas is a positive.
  • Simplify the ideas while making them more revolutionary. We find the strongest (albeit rarest) concepts are incredibly simple yet still revolutionize a market. Move a potential concept in that direction!
  • Enrich the concepts with greater technical depth. We focused primarily on concepts related to needs, opportunities, and challenges among various community groups. There are still many opportunities to dramatically incorporate technology in realizing the concepts.
  • Dissect the concepts to narrow and exploit a hidden strength. You may see an opportunity within an idea or concept that is not getting due focus. Strip away the excess and build off the strong nugget you see.
  • Brainstorm some more on the groups, concepts, and ideas we explored. There is always an opportunity to enhance previous thinking with additional smart, innovative perspectives.
  • Support strong ideas with the tools you possess. Great ideas benefit from additional people, resources, and funding to bring them to life. Pick an idea yourself or collaborate with others to take action.
  • Solve the underlying need an idea or concept is addressing by figuring out how to accomplish it. Successful innovation is all about actually making something positive happen.
  • Ignore all these ideas and concepts in favor of moving ahead with your own ideas to exploit Google Fiber more effectively. If you do not see something that moves you to action in this report, generate your own ideas to develop.

Google Fiber “Building the Gigabit City” Recap Available November 10

Remember, The Brainzooming Group will release the draft Google Fiber “Building the Gigabit City” report as a free download on November 10. We look forward to your reactions and the next steps that emerge from it!  – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help enhance your marketing 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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Here’s the second installment of posts intended to demonstrate it’s true that pictures of creativity are worth a 1,000 words.

Creativity and Fun Amid Creativity

This photo from the Google Fiber Gigabit City brainstorming session The Brainzooming Group facilitated in early October at the Kansas City Missouri Public Library is a favorite among these pictures of creativity. Lisa Qualls (right) was facilitating the “Urban Core” group at the Google Fiber brainstorming session and took her group outside to the deck at the Kansas City Missouri Public Library to enjoy the early fall day and instigate additional creativity on building Kansas City as a Gigabit City (with help from Jean Gleason).

Kids and Outdoor Creativity

This picture is from the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE. The photo was taken following the Dimensions Education Research Foundation board meeting (my first) as we toured the Nature Explore classroom there. For someone who struggles with putting away what I’m using in my creative pursuits, I love letting kids have a messy outdoor area where creative materials are left in the open. Now, if I can just get that type of thinking extended to adults . . . at my house!

 

Co-opted Creativity

I’d bet money this character is the A&W Papa Burger character from back in the day. Located outside the Dairy Sweet (in some town I can’t remember) on the road between Kansas City and Nebraska City, the fact he had a hamburger was enough to put him in front of a hamburger and ice cream shack, no matter where he originated. Are there creative ideas sitting right in front of you which would be really cheap to use as long as you can get over not created here attitude?

Fun Food Creativity

eggtc. in Kansas City has such fun food specials. While my all-time favorite was Oreo Pancakes (two chocolate pancakes, a cream filling, and crumbled Oreos on top), I couldn’t  resist the Green Eggs and Ham when we went there recedntly! Pesto was the greening ingredient. They tasted great, although the eggs could have been even greener. What ideas can you grab from popular culture and turn them into reality for your customers?

 

We’re on the Eve of Creative Destruction

I have no idea whether this airport advertisement accurately reflect the CBRE attitude during periods of intense uncertainty and apparent chaos. But whether it does or not, I really appreciate the sentiment of acting when the experts are saying (whether because of self-interest or apprehension) it’s time to sit on the sidelines. Fantastic idea; difficult to do.

 

Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help in better using creative thinking exercises! 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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I celebrated my birthday presenting “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to the Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA) fall conference at the new Kansas City, KS School District Central Office and Training Center. While already impressed with the fantastic meeting rooms, I was so thankful that Christine Splichal suggested David A. Smith, Chief of Staff for the Kansas City KS Public School District, give me a tour of the whole building. The school district has covered the walls throughout the building with kids’ creativity via artwork created by students from its school system.

It’s clear from previous posts how much I love kids’ creativity, especially when adults go back to school on creativity they may have lost from when they were kids. As a result, it was a joy to have David show me the building, highlighting various pieces of kids’ creativity and artwork throughout the facility.

I shot the video below with David A. Smith on a rather impromptu basis. That fact caused me to revisit a creative activity I had not explored in several years: video editing. Beyond the great artwork, getting back to more involved video editing is a good thing, albeit a skill I need to keep working on and improving.

Enjoy David’s tour and insights about the artwork inside the Central Office and Training Center! – Mike Brown

 

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity 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 info@brainzooming.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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