7

I was asked recently what to do if, after achieving a certain level of seniority in your career, you suspect you are becoming the “NO” to innovative business ideas within your company and/or among your staff?

As in many situations, recognizing you may be part of the problem is a HUGE first step. If you don’t think it’s a major issue yet, here are some strategies you can use to destabilize your experience and force you and those around you to contribute with more innovative perspectives and to grow in new ways:

  • Tear Apart What You’ve Done in the Past - Go back to a seemingly successful past project and really tear it apart, looking for even subtle flaws you could improve upon next time. Doing this can be an important input into forcing you to raise some personal performance standards which may have naturally softened over the years.
  • Make It Harder on Yourself – When you’re experienced, it’s a lot easier to know what all the steps are on a project, along with all the necessary resources. Push yourself to perform differently by consciously and dramatically reducing resources available for a project. Shorten the time, reduce the size of the team deployed on it, or rule out use of certain tools you’d usually fall back on for routine success. With a different resource set, you’re going to have to think of innovative strategies to get an effort completed.
  • Change Something in a Big Way – Redefine or remove steps from a well-worn business process. Reorder the sequence of some process steps you’d usually do (i.e. prototype an outcome several steps earlier than you typically would to allow others to interact with and modify an earlier deliverable). Instead of doing familiar things yourself, delegate major parts (or the entire effort) to others on your team. Give them clear freedom to change what’s been done in the past with accountability only for the end result, not to how all the intermediate steps are performed.

Each of these strategies work much like what happens when a fitness trainer causes you to be off balance while you train. Having to modify how you handle yourself physically to move a weight works your muscles in different ways.

Using the three strategies above will similarly force you to develop new professional and intellectual muscles to strengthen you, your team, and your ability to look at things in new ways despite all your experience. – 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.  To learn how we can structure an innovative strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

Holly Green is a fellow contributor to the Blogging Innovation website, and is currently the CEO and Managing Director of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. She’s the author of “More Than a Minute™ – How to be an Effective Leader & Manager in Today’s Changing World.” She blogs frequently on business leadership issues and is a columnist for the Worldwide Association of Business Coaching.

She’s guest blogging today on the differences between “creativity” and “innovation” and how ignoring the difference gets in the way of real marketplace success:

Does your organization come up with a lot of good ideas that never seem to make it to market as successful products or services?

If so, you may be confusing innovation with creativity.  Although the two are often synonymous in the minds of business leaders, they actually require very different processes and produce very different outcomes.

How are they different?

Creativity is the process of connecting previously unrelated concepts, ideas, or experiences into a new construct or idea.  It can spring from the mind of one individual.  Or it can be the end result of a formal group process, such as brainstorming sessions or simply bringing people together to exchange ideas.  Creativity contributes to the innovation process, but by itself does not constitute innovation.

Innovation involves more than just coming up with new ideas.  It takes those new ideas and transforms them into something of value.  Unlike creativity, innovation is almost always a group process.  It typically requires expertise from several different disciplines, and almost always includes a number of diverse contributors.

Innovation requires three essential ingredients to succeed: idea generation (creativity), idea evaluation, and implementation. Most companies do well in one or two of these areas.  Very few do well in all three.  Which is why we rarely see real innovation in today’s markets.

One of the biggest barriers to innovation occurs when companies confuse creativity with innovation.  They crank out plenty of new and creative ideas.  But they stop there, thinking they have accomplished the goal.  In reality, all they’ve done is complete the first step in the innovation recipe.  They’ve preheated the oven, rolled the dough and put the sauce and toppings on.  But they haven’t put the pizza in the oven.

I see many companies investing a lot of time and money in teaching employees to think “out of the box.”  But new ideas are a dime a dozen.  The hard part is turning those ideas into new products and services that customers will reach into their pocketbooks and pay for.  So true innovation requires not just creativity, but also knowledge about what your customers want and need, coupled with implementation.

To enhance your innovation efforts, start by recognizing that creativity and innovation require different skills sets.

Creativity uses a right-brained, non-linear process; innovation is more left-brain oriented. Getting people to become more creative involves teaching them how to notice, use, combine, and integrate diverse stimuli, to make connections where none exist.  Promoting innovation requires that people learn how to take new ideas and convert them into value for customers or other stakeholders.

Creativity asks people to think differently.  Innovation asks them to act differently.  Smart companies teach their people how to do both.

You can’t innovate without creativity.  And implementing the same old ideas faster and better does not produce much in the way of new value.  True innovation comes only when you combine new ideas and knowledge, and then implement to create new value. – Holly Green

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

More Posts

Continue Reading

7

It’s the time of year when companies turn attention to strategic and annual business planning. Several times while giving strategic thinking and innovation training presentations the past few weeks on “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation,” I’ve been asked:

“Who should participate in successful strategic thinking and planning efforts?”

My answer is always the same:

You need to have three types of people involved for successful strategic thinking and planning. Getting diverse perspectives involved is of primary importance in business success.

The three types of critical thinking perspectives vital to great strategic thinking, planning, and implementation are:

  • People with Frontline Business Experience – This includes operations, sales, customer service, and any other areas with P&L responsibility or close customer interaction. They provide a solid view of what’s going on in the business, what the business issues and opportunities are with customers and competitors, and what important strategy areas require attention.
  • People with Functional Expertise – Leaders in support areas of the business should bring insights into strengths, weaknesses, and key opportunities for important business processes including marketing, human resources, information technology, accounting, finance, etc.
  • People with a Creative / Innovative Orientation – These people, regardless of foreknowledge of a strategy effort’s focus or experience inside a company, are adept at looking at business, industry, and organizational situations in unconventional ways.

These three groups are all important to include because they tend to see and react to situations from very different perspectives. This intermingling of viewpoints is vital to the best strategic plans.

So what happens if you involve only people with one of these perspectives?

  • Frontline business people, left to their own in planning, tend to come up with more conventional and incremental strategies. Because they’re so close to a company’s operations, there can be a real reluctance to stretch capabilities adequately to address emerging marketplace issues.
  • If only functional experts are involved, you’re liable to get great process ideas and strategies which improve the internal workings of a business but may not have the necessary impact on the organization’s business results.
  • And involving only creative people in planning?  Trust me, you’ll generate really cool, incredible ideas, but too often, there is no way to actually bring them to the market successfully.

The net of all this is for the strongest strategic plan, you need to find ways to include people with each of these perspectives. The challenge is it’s very often difficult for these three groups to work together successfully and productively. That’s where we’ve designed and use The Brainzooming Group strategy development approach which allows people with each of these points of view to actively and quickly build on the ideas of others to create strong, implementable plans. - 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 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

I was in Milwaukee last week to for an innovation training presentation for the Milwaukee Business Marketing Association on “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation.” During the trip, I had time for a few extracurricular activities. These included doing a couple of innovation training sessions for my former boss Doug Fisher’s supply chain classes at Marquette University and touring the Marquette campus afterward with Doug. I worked for Doug for nearly seven years early in my career, and it was wonderful to catch up with him in person.

After the Business Marketing Association innovation presentation the next day, I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the Hall Folk Art Collection. On the way out, I saw these brochures featuring four customized themes of interest to museum goers:

  • Impressing visitors with striking pieces
  • Feeling better about yourself through depictions of downtrodden people
  • Works featuring the color blue (which was once rarely found in art)
  • The particularly intriguing “Naughty Bits” tour which includes risqué works of art

In a completely non-technical, and totally accessible way, the museum, which has several floors of art organized by collections and specific historical periods, has found a way to inform visitors about how they can easily customize the museum experience themselves in a novel way.

Think about your business. Is there a way you can adapt this customer experience strategy simply by creating a new categorization or organization scheme to your products, services, information, or whatever you offer that attracts customers? How can you employ a comparable strategy to make it more interesting, intriguing, easy, or valuable for customers to experience your brand in a customized way with no technology investment? – 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 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

In the midst of a client call last Friday where I was talking about brainstorming, my wife Cyndi ran in to show me this cartoon. It’s been quite some time since a Brainzooming post ran under the “Offered without Comment” category; this one qualifies! – Mike Brown

Dilbert.com

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

It’s easiest (and probably least costly) for a hotel to place a small, simple pad of paper in its conference rooms. But it’s much more creatively stimulating when a hotel offers a destination for your creative ideas.

In one of the pre-meetings for the American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference at the downtoan Atlanta Hilton, each seat had a pad of high quality paper in front of it with this image of growth and the creatively inviting phrase: “A place to cultivate your illuminating ideas, impressive insights, incredible inspiration & idle thoughts.”

Good for Hilton! That’s a pad of paper that can take you creative places!

It’s easiest to not bother with creative thinking. It’s a lot more fulfilling though to encourage, cultivate, and provide a special destination for creative ideas.

How are you doing in providing creative idea destinations in your organization?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 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

Are You in Atlanta? Let’s Meetup Wednesday, September 29!

If you’re an Atlanta-based reader, let’s get together Wednesday, September 29!

Atlanta is the birthplace of the innovation-oriented weekly Twitter chat #Innochat, and since I’ll be in Atlanta next week chairing the AMA Marketing Research Conference, it seemed the perfect opportunity to get together with @StonePayton and @ToddSchnick who were there at the start of #Innochat.  Here’s the online invitation for our get together Wednesday, September 29th at 5 p.m. at Yeah!Burger. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Living Life as an Experiment

If you haven’t seen it, check out Peter Bergman’s article from the Harvard Business Review website about living life as an experiment. The piece details his experience in returning something to a retail store and trying, through a passive approach, to see if he could get out of having the 20% restocking fee deducted from his refund. Sounds reasonable enough to me, but he got raked over the coals in the comments for being unethical! Wow, I don’t get that. Anyway, the experience prompted a similarly engaging post on how to deal with surprise criticism, something we can probably all improve upon.

A New Creativity Trigger

Here’s an online random word generator if it feels like randomness is what you need to get your creativity instigated in a hurry.

Custom Sharpie Markers

Turns out (probably not surprisingly) you can now order custom Sharpie markers with messages, fonts, and colors of your choosing. Since many of you know about my love for drawing with Sharpie markers, my first reaction was to get out my credit card and THEN click the link to see about ordering some. Much to my horror, orange isn’t available as a color! So it’s still a fun idea, but not nearly as fun as it could be if I could get some custom orange Brainzooming Sharpies!

Everything Seems New in the Morning

Morning is a glorious time to do things which seemed impossible (or too boring) to do the night before. Even with a too short night of sleep, the quiet and freshness of the morning so often prove to be just the creative instigator I need to be so much more productive.  – 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 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading