6

In the spirit of community efforts to generate ideas for how the Google Fiber implementation (which we covered a few weeks ago) can changes lives in Kansas City, The Brainzooming Group is excited to announce we are partnering with Social Media Club of Kansas City to facilitate a large-scale brainstorming session with a cross-community group to address the topic.

The day-long session, facilitated using the Brainzooming methodology and strategic thinking exercises, will address needs and opportunities for a variety of communities within Kansas City.

Concepts and ideas generated during the strategic ideation session will be posted online and made available to the community, organizations, developers, and innovators interested in pursuing the concepts to change the lives of Kansas Citians.

The full press release for the event is at the end of this post.

How Can Brainzooming Readers Get Involved?

All of you are invited to provide your ideas and thoughts in an online survey to help shape the in-person brainstorming session. This approach is the same we use with clients to bring as many diverse perspectives as possible into an in-person brainstorming and strategic thinking session.

We’ll be providing updates throughout the process here and at the main website for the event.

This is one of the most exciting efforts we’ve been involved with and can’t wait until October 3 to get going on it! –  Mike Brown

 

Social Media Leaders Seek Kansas City’s Roadmap to Gigabit City

Group to Brainstorm Strategies to Quickly Capitalize on Google High-Speed Fiber

09.15.2011– The area’s most avid internet users and innovators will convene with business, education and civic leaders to brainstorm ways to capitalize on Google’s bestowment of ultra-high speed fiber internet network upon Kansas City.

After Google announced last spring that Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri are the two initial cities to benefit from “internet access more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have today,” the task falls to the community to determine the best ways this technological gift should be used.

In response, the Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) will host “Building the Gigabit City: Brainstorming a Google Fiber Roadmap” October 3rd at the Kansas City (MO) Public Library Central Branch, one of the event’s major sponsors.

SMCKC member Mike Brown, founder of The Brainzooming Group, will lead the invitation-only, daylong work session. Brown volunteered to fully donate the company’s innovation services and the Brainzooming Methodology to the session that will bring together more than 50 individuals from SMCKC as well as the broader community—a combination of visionary entrepreneurs, developers, business leaders and creators.

A public presentation of preliminary results from the Gigabit City session and a call for public input will be conducted from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Kansas City Public Library Central Branch Helzberg Auditorium at 14 W. 10th Street in Kansas City, MO.

“The importance of not only accepting this tool from Google, but using it with an eye towards long-term success cannot be overstated,” Brown said. “The Brainzooming Group is based in Kansas City, and our method successfully allows a large, diverse group to actively contribute and shape ideas. That diversity of thinking is exactly what’s needed to bring the community’s best ideas to the surface.”

The public is invited to share their thoughts about community needs and opportunities that gigabit home internet might help address prior to the workshop by completing an online survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GigabitCity. Data collected from the survey will be used to stimulate a focused, facilitated workshop designed to yield hundreds of potential ideas and at least 25 refined application concepts about what Google Fiber might mean to consumer households.

“We want to lay a framework on which businesses and individuals can develop opportunities on the social web within the Kansas City community, positioning the region as a national leader in the social technology and innovation space,” said Joe Cox, president of the Social Media Club of Kansas City. “As a metro area we will have a short window as the first gigabit city, and we believe in getting ideas on the table and into action as quickly as possible to take full advantage of the opportunity we have been given.”

Session output will also be shared with the public online as a crowdsourced foundation of opportunities and concepts for creation of positive economic, educational and lifestyle changes in Kansas City.

Other sponsors for “Building the Gigabit City” include Polsinelli Shughart PC and KCNext.

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 bring out the best innovative thinking in your team 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.

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15

Have you seen the 2012 Ford Focus Doug campaign? The integrated social media campaign with an orange sock puppet named Doug driving around with his “official” Ford sidekick (John), meeting and greeting prospective Ford Focus customers, verbally zinging them, and capturing it for YouTube videos?

Yes, that’s right; a smartass orange sock puppet is the spokesperson for the 2012 Ford Focus.

The campaign broke earlier this year, and Scott Monty, the head of social media for Ford Motor Company, shared several YouTube Ford Focus videos from the integrated social media campaign during his outstanding presentation at Friday’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast.

What would you do Mr. or Ms. Brand Manager?

As a brand manager, if someone came to you pitching the idea of a puppet spokesperson who, the few times he does talk about your product’s features, does so irreverently, how long would it take to stop that social media concept cold? Probably not long since a traditional marketing view suggests six glaring reasons why Focus Doug is ill conceived:

1. “The spokesperson isn’t known, and oh by the way, he’s an orange sock puppet.”

“A spokesperson should bring a great reputation, a built-in audience, and a connection to the brand.  It’s about being able to relate to the audience. An orange sock puppet, especially one with an attitude, doesn’t relate to anyone.”

EXCEPT can you say, “Tiger Woods.”

Known spokespeople bring fans along with potential indiscretions and falls from grace. An unknown, inanimate spokesperson (with no life beyond the one you give it), provides you complete control and no risk of overshadowing your product.

 

2. “The story isn’t linear.

“The characters are ‘introduced’ without any real setup. There’s little rhyme or reason for why only a few videos include potential buyers, sometimes the product is hardly mentioned, and it’s not even shown in others.”

EXCEPT a non-linear story line creates surprise.

It also allows for mini-serializations throughout the videos and the flexibility of introducing the variety necessary to sustain viewer interest through weekly releases and an integrated social media campaign.

3. “There are too many videos.”

“You can’t expect people to watch 40 or 50 brand videos.”

EXCEPT viewers want to come back and see more from engaging characters.

They’re not videos about the brand. The brand is simply another character surrounded by even more engaging characters. Multiple videos provide the opportunity to develop the brand character across multiple dimensions and multiple videos.

 

4. “The situations aren’t realistic.”

“A puppet offering free (typically poorly ending) rides, unsuccessfully using the features, and being mauled by kittens has nothing to do with selling a car.”

EXCEPT introducing a non-human spokesperson provides tremendous story flexibility.

Only having one foot in reality enables engaging story lines traditional situations can’t offer. A unique character and unusual situations can prompt an audience to sit through multiple videos, cumulatively creating a strong impression of why the product is cool.

5. “There’s so much dialogue, you can’t understand it.”

“With videos inside a moving vehicle and multiple people bantering, it’s hard to understand what’s being said. Viewers won’t even understand the minimal product messages being delivered.”

EXCEPT the challenging repartee forces attention.

The character interaction is so funny and the situations so unusual, it prompts viewers to watch the videos multiple times – in part to catch what they missed; in part to re-hear laugh lines they did hear initially.

 

6. “The content is PG-13 but the brand is G-rated.”

“A G-rated brand is about family, tradition, and America – not bleeped words. The spokespuppet hits on a female executive, propositions a potential buyer, and suggests a wet t-shirt contest to two young women trying the rain-triggered windshield wipers. That’s WAY off brand.”

EXCEPT when a brand’s trying to get edgier, you actually have to GET edgier.

When cultivating a new less vanilla brand perception, edginess can be essential, especially when trying to reach a younger audience. Moving from G to PG-13 with a small subset of messages the audience will see leads to the right overall message mix.

Now what do you think?

Would you pull the plug on the Ford “Focus Doug” before the campaign even started? I hope not, but decisions like that happen all the time when brand marketers are stuck in the status quo and what’s always worked – even if the traditional things are not working as well as they did before.

For Ford brand managers to move ahead with “Focus Doug” shows a true understanding that future success is different than what’s worked previously, yet not completely brand new either. Finding the right place somewhere in the middle is tricky.

But extraordinary brand managers go looking for it because they know it’s vital to a successful brand staying successful. – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

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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31

A recent Brainzooming post on positive creative thinking skills from team members led to discussion about what the opposite behaviors are – team member behaviors in a group setting that kill creative thinking. Who knows how many different examples there are of ways to deal fatal blows to creative thinking in a group setting?

From a quick mental survey of team meetings and group settings I’ve been involved with the past few years, here are eight behaviors which can kill creative thinking pretty effectively:

  • Making your first comment all about what’s not working with the situation your group is working on, especially when you don’t have any real ideas of your own about what might be successful.
  • Sharing your assumption that creativity is more complicated or expensive than doing something practical.
  • Refusing to stop talking once you have a negative head of steam going.
  • Dumping verbal napalm on other peoples’ ideas, especially if you don’t have a sense of what their ideas are or how they’re intended to work.
  • Refusing to contribute to or build on a new idea someone else has contributed because you’re only able to voice objections to it.
  • Sitting silently and looking distracted, indifferent, or non-participatory when the group is discussing creative thinking perspectives.
  • Getting up and removing yourself from a creative thinking discussion.
  • Displaying “corporate aggressive” behavior in an otherwise calm meeting setting, i.e. raising your voice, leaning forward, stomping off, etc.

If you try to foster creative thinking in group settings, what fatal blows to creative thinking from team members have you had to endure? And even more importantly, how have you dealt with them successfully?  – Mike Brown

 

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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7

The original “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation and innovation ebook were developed when Max Utsler asked me to speak to his class at The University of Kansas on innovation perspectives in marketing communications. In many ways, that innovation presentation in 2004 started me down the career path I’ve been on ever since.

I’m back tonight with Max Utsler’s class sharing the “Taking the No Out of Innovation” presentation along with a new social media project Brainzooming is helping Max and Barrett Sydnor implement for their  fall semester classes at The University of Kansas. Dubbed “Blogapalooza” by Max, the social media project will introduce students to blogging and creating social media content in front of multiple audiences . . . but more on Blogapalooza later.

To make “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation content more accessible from among the 1,000-plus posts on the Brainzooming blog, here are the 8 innovation perspectives contained in the presentation and links to supporting content reaching back to the earliest Brainzooming posts.

Introspective

Create a stronger innovation perspective by understanding your distinctive talents.

Diverse

Surround yourself with a creative team that complements your distinctive talents.

Forgetful

Strike the right balance between using and turning off your expertise to boost creative thinking.

Borrower

Borrow from any inputs you can to trigger creative ideas that you twist and shape to be your own.

Open to Possibilities

Hone your openness to what may today seem impossible or preposterous – that’s where you’ll find tomorrow’s innovation.

Inquisitive

Collect great questions that yield creative ideas and use them all the time.

A Creator

You have to do something with ideas. Selecting the best ones and moving forward with them is central to innovation.

Persistent

Innovation doesn’t necessarily come easy. When it comes to the “No” voices you’ll hear, be ready to dodge, morph, ignore, or otherwise blow them up. That takes persistence.

Summary

Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help on how to be more creative! 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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17

Coca-Cola has introduced a new Diet Coke can design for fall 2011, with Turner Duckworth, a design firm based in San Francisco, re-imagining the familiar Diet Coke can. The most striking element is the logo is blown up in size, making the script “D” in Diet the only letter of the major brand logo which appears fully on the can! This move with the Diet Coke brand holds both great strategic branding and creativity lessons.

5 Branding and Creativity Lessons

1. The Diet Coke logo violates the can’s physical space.

Absent the self-imposed restriction of  containing what you’re doing to the physical space available to you, all kinds of new creativity options open up. How often do we ask about how much of something we have to fill? Forget that. Fill up the creatively appropriate amount of what needs to be filled without a concern for physical space or completeness boundaries.

2. You can be bold and still hedges some bets.

For all the boldness of not including the product’s full name in the major logo treatment, Coca-Cola hedges its bets with 4 other full, albeit smaller, logos on the can. It pulls the design back from being completely edgy, but it strikes a good balance between creativity and brand imperatives. Some will claim though that hedging bets went into overkill mode with 4 other logos.

3. Incompleteness creates attention.

Since the major logo doesn’t fully display the product’s name, it creates both attention (from a new, striking design) and forces the customer to use imagination to fill in what’s missing. When you can get an aluminum can to tweak engagement, you have a winner on your hands.

4. You CAN stretch your strengths.

Coca-Cola knows it can take advantage of an iconic logo’s ability to be stretched to freshen it and create interest. When a brand element is so well known (in this case, the logo), it’s an opportunity to play against the strength and expand how people view the brand. And what applies to consumer and business brands applies to personal brands, too. It’s important though to know how much of a stretch people will accept from the brand before making a move. You want to stretch, but not break your brand.

5. Not every promotional offer is about price.

Too often, we think of a promotion (which one of my mentor’s drilled into me is “a short term change in the marketing mix”) as only focusing on price, discount, or “get more for your dollar right now” offers. If you look at any element of the marketing mix as a promotional opportunity, however, you can easily get to a short term revamp of a packaging design. Additionally, as an AdWeek article points out, Coca-Cola has also introduced a short term change in the publicity element of the marketing mix, by being a bit mysterious about how long the can change will last.

Summary

What are your thoughts about the Diet Coke can change? Is it simply interesting or do you think people will drink more Diet Coke than they would already have this fall?

To me, it’s a really smart promotion with strong banding and creativity lessons. Plus this move is a relatively easy strategy others could employ, if they’re smart about it and have strong enough logo recognition in their own market to pull it off successfully.  – 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.

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0

These two 2011 TEDxKC presentations from Patrick Meier and Marcin Jakubowski dramatically speak to the “radical collaboration” element of the TEDxKC theme. Each one points to the innovative possibilities when diverse people bring expertise and passion to a common cause benefiting others.

Patrick Meier – “Changing the World, One Map at a Time”

If only crowds can use the means they have to share knowledge to help others.

Only if there is a framework for them to effectively collaborate.

Patrick Meier’s 2011 TEDxKC presentation is an incredible innovative story of people collaborating to contribute, organize, and map their knowledge to help others – Haiti (after the earthquake), Libya (during the uprisings), and the Horn of Africa (famine).

Using the African-based Ushahidi platform for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping, crowdsourced maps aggregate and frame on-the-ground knowledge from many parties, providing relief and governmental agencies vital maps to improve their aid efforts.

The stories Patrick Meier shared have to be watched (and I’ll be adding the videos as they become available) to be fully appreciated. For instance, what started as an individual effort in Boston to map live tweets, pictures, and some video in the wake of the Haitian earthquake expanded (via Facebook) to volunteers in 49 countries who were translating updates from Haiti in an average of 10 minutes to update the collaborative map.

Meier’s story of radical collaboration, while not necessarily shared as one of explicit creativity, offers outstanding creative examples:

  • The creative genius of linking disparate ordinary elements to create something extraordinary.
  • The creative importance of providing a framework for others to participate successfully.
  • The marriage of humility and audacity in thinking creatively AND actually changing the world for the better, even if your world is half a world away.

I’m in complete awe of the innovative mapping tools, the creative ingenuity, and the collaborative spirit of caring in Patrick Meier’s stories.

Marcin Jakubowski – “Civilization Starter Kit”

If only people weren’t beholden to a planned obsolescence mind-set.

Only if diverse resources collaborate to be collectively smarter, wiser, and richer.

In the shortest 2011 TEDxKC talk of the evening, TED fellow and Polish-born fusion physicist Marcin Jakubowski shared an overview of his work just an hour north of Kansas City directing Open Source Ecology in developing the Global Village Construction Set. Its objective is a set of 50 open-sourced blueprints for the most important machines that allow life to exist. These construction and farming tools can be created from scratch and form what has been called a “civilization starter kit.” Essentially all the knowledge to build the machines can be captured on one DVD.

Jakubowski and the others onsite at his farm are in the midst of rapidly building prototypes for the low-cost machines (the tractor was built in 6 days). The prototype building may have been the reason for the brevity of  Jakubowskis’s innovative story since he planned to head back to continue working on the “midnight shift.”

Open Source Ecology Video

As with Patrick Meier’s presentation, it’s important to hear from Jakubowski personally to understand the passion behind the radical collaboration of ideas, technical expertise, labor, and financial support that are all part of Open Sources Ecology.

Marcin Jakubowski 2011 TEDxKC Talk

Marcin Jakubowki’s approach to this effort is an excellent example of looking at objects and processes and decomposing them into analogous pieces (i.e., the interchangeability of children’s building blocks is at the heart of using interchangeable parts across the machines).

The idea of being self-sustaining in a largely agrarian setting flies in the face of the industrial revolution. Perhaps it’s a vital strategy though to benefit those parts of the world struggling to function economically, providing a way to improve lifestyles. It seems the Open Source Ecology strategy is not so much about “back to the future” as “forward to our roots.” – Mike Brown

 

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com  or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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If you are seeing this blog post, it means I got such a creativity boost from TEDx content last night in Kansas City that I couldn’t get a follow-up blog post written after the event!

So here is a creativity boost idea from earlier in the week on why it is sometimes best to abstain from participating in a creative decision.

I Dislike Thinking about Food

My wife has bad reactions to a whole variety of foods and spices. As a result, we don’t dine out often, and when we do, we go to the same familiar restaurants we know won’t present any problems for her. If we do venture out to a less familiar restaurant, we have to ask questions and make sure the server is knowledgeable and disclosing all the ingredients in whatever she might order.

Suffice it to say, we do a lot of thinking about restaurants.

That thinking coupled with my dislike for selecting food and beverage menus for events AND my personal view of eating as something that’s standing between me and doing more rewarding activities means thinking about food isn’t something that gives me a creativity boost.

My apologies to all the foodies who are reading this!

Creative Restaurant Selections

The past two weeks, I’ve gotten together for lunch with Joe Cox and Aaron Deacon from Social Media Club of Kansas City discussing an upcoming brainstorming project. When it came time to select a restaurant the first week, I abstained from participating in the decision as Aaron recommended an Egyptian restaurant.

While I would never wind up at an Egyptian restaurant on my own, I decided to go along with the recommendation and force myself into a new experience. Well, the Egyptian restaurant was fantastic, and I loved the chicken kabob selection.

When selecting a restaurant  for lunch this week, I never even entered the online conversation. This week, Aaron selected a Vietnamese restaurant. Again, a choice I NEVER would have considered. Once again, it was wonderful, with a great seafood stir-fry as this week’s lunch choice.

As I told Aaron when we left the Vietnamese restaurant, I’m depending on him to make the creative restaurant choices for the rest of what’s becoming a regular Tuesday lunch.

The Creativity Boost Lesson

There’s the creativity lesson in all this: we can become so stuck in thinking and behavioral ruts, we don’t even notice them. These creativity ruts can be compounded be trying to influence / sway / control group  decisions we’re involved with so we wind up never even considering something creatively new and different.

If you suspect this is happening in some aspect of your life, get a creativity boost by forcing yourself to abstain from making a decision – or even contributing input to a decision. Hand the decision over to your knowledgeable, creative teammates and let them take you in creative directions you would have never pursued.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what the creative restaurant selection will be this next Tuesday! – Mike Brown

 

For an additional innovative 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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