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This is the first visual  guest post for the Brainzooming blog. It initially appeared on Brandon Berry’s “Theory Drawn” blog, which he describes as “quick doodles of social patterns and harebrained ideas.”

Brandon and I came across each other on Twitter and exchanged a few DMs. Taken by the intriguing drawings on his blog, I asked him to guest post here.

Beyond today’s guest post, be sure to check out “Theory Drawn”. Brandon’s drawings can be dead on or mysterious, but are guaranteed to make you pause and think. And what more could you want from a blog!

Here’s his contribution to Brainzooming, which I share with no more explanation than Brandon provides. Enjoy!

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.

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After nearly a week’s worth of 2011 TED Simulcast posts, here are seven takeaways that apply to strategy, creativity, and innovation from the various Day 2 TED Talks presented at TEDxKC:

  • Never underestimate the fragility and apparent simplicity of complex systems. If you’re struggling to see simplicity in seemingly complex everyday situations, don’t let yourself off the hook. Keep looking for simplicity.
  • It’s vital to continually alter your perspective to maintain creativity. Sometimes being too close makes situations look very diverse when they aren’t. This is a big challenge for experts when they try explaining things to those us who aren’t experts. Other times, proximity may obscure diversity. Innovative thinkers have to be able to be in multiple places at once mentally to be both great analysts and explorers.
  • When you need to figure out a different business strategy, look for adjacencies. What’s a more general way of describing your current strategic situation? Once you’ve figured that out, explore other situations which are different, yet right next to yours when viewed more generally.
  • Learning isn’t binary. We don’t move from not knowing to knowing something. Learning is iterative. Make as many learning steps (both forward and backward) as you can, as quickly as you can, to maximize your learning potential.
  • Imagination, the interplay between logic and intuition, and the ability to formulate a hypothetical world view are vital to discovery.
  • Aaron O’Connell pointed out we behave differently when we’re in an elevator by ourselves vs. when someone else is with us. We all know we get a lot crazier when nobody else is an elevator with us. But while we act differently when no one is watching, increasingly we’re subject to being watched much more of the time. To get creatively crazy, it’s important to figure out ways to avoid whatever “cameras” thwart your wild mental (and other types of) abandon.
  • It’s not just technical skills and determination which lead to discovery. It’s about creating and articulating a world view much bigger than you. This is a BIG personal improvement area for me.

And to paraphrase Forrest Gump, That all I have to say about 2011 TED.

Except that I’m looking forward to digital marketing agency VML and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hosting TEDxKC in Kansas City this coming August! – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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One learning from the 2011 TED simulcast is that the 18-minute TED talk isn’t a magic formula format ensuring anyone comes across as a genius presenter. While there were a number of outstanding creative presentations, many had clear weaknesses. The recaps today definitely fall into that category, but still held learnings which warrant being singled out.

The Entertainers

“Worlds Imagined” (or Session 5, or Wednesday’s second 2011 TED simulcast session – all the same) was a mishmash and a relative disappointment on the heels of “Deep Mystery.” It began with the E in TED: Entertainment.

Director Julie Taymor‘s introduction referred to the challenges she was going through and expressed amazement she was able to make her TED appearance. With the introduction’s tone, I figured she must be battling a life-threatening illness. She started out talking about how under fire she was, but the huge challenge potentially standing in the way of her appearance was getting the Spiderman musical to work. With the presentations that followed on fighting poverty and disarray in Nigeria, trying to eradicate polio, and a taped talk from TEDxCairo, getting a Broadway show in check seems like nothing a little “what really matters” perspective wouldn’t improve.

Taymor talked about her artistic perspective in bringing stories to the stage and screen. She begins with an ideograph – 3 broad strokes which convey an entire concept. These abstractions set the basis for how her stories unfold. While an artist has to be true to the artistic vision all the way through a piece, it’s vital to also share it with the audience so they can actively participate in the work. Taymor pointed out realities such as budgets and the medium employed can dramatically affect how a story is depicted. Her fantastic reminder was you can use skeletal elements in the theatre to convey much more detail than is really there since inside the theatre, audiences are ready to suspend disbelief and fill in the blanks of what hasn’t been depicted.

Morgan Spurlock (of eating McDonald’s food for 30 days and filming it fame) was there to pimp his new movie “Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” The film revolves around him trying to get advertising agencies to recommend their clients fund his movie through sponsoring product placements. He ultimately went directly to clients and got a number of brands to sign up. All the while he filmed his potential funders, editing it so they look foolish. His presentation hit close to my marketing home, yet it was so jarring because it was a purely promotional message among a 2011 TED simulcast of ideas. He did pass along some sage advice: you must embrace fear, transparency, and risk, and you will find opportunity in risk. Thanks for sharing.

The CEOs

Also during “Worlds Imagined,” Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, cited a statistic: only 5% of TED presenters in the past 10 years have been CEOs. After her presentation and that of Bill Ford, Executive Chair of Ford Motor Company, I’d recommend the number move lower. While other presenters were talking about what they are doing personally, CEOs talk about their organizations. Their stories, even when they are trying to be intensely personal (as Bill Ford was), sounded crafted by speechwriters. As with Spurlock’s remarks, big full-on commerce just felt icky during the TED simulcast (and this from a guy who loves commerce!).

The Second Big Picture Guy

Quick disclaimer: by the last 2011 TED simulcast session of the day, “Radical Collaboration,” my brain was too zooming to take in many more ideas. Trying to process another 90+ minutes of content wasn’t helped by the session’s structure, which was all over the place. From Egypt to underwater luminescence, from crappy food to TED fellows, my attention span was way over-taxed. My sense was there was a significant, TED-insider back story which might explain the pieces, but the story wasn’t apparent to TED newbies. My big take away as seemingly disconnected cause-related issues were presented – and support for each requested – was that TED had devolved into an intellectual Jerry Lewis Telethon with viewers left to decide the most worthy need to support: Nigerian kids, polio, health food, or finding other life in space.

Amid these competing inputs, French street artist JR, the 2011 TED Prize winner, delivered an image-rich, although challenging-to-understand, talk on his use of enormous photo posters displayed in metro settings to call attention to issues and people society overlooks. Funding his project through art sales, JR travels around the world to create his street installations (made of paper and glue) which sometimes are in place for years. The gist of the award, as best I could tell, was to provide not just finding to JR, but to also help fulfill his wish of using art – photographs and posters – to change the world through involving people globally in creating giant images.

As JR’s presentation concluded, host Chris Anderson hopped on stage to play a role similar to a private school fund raising auctioneer, soliciting ideas from the audience on how they could help fulfill JR’s wish. While there were some intriguing suggestions (a guy from Google offering to make sure the images show up on Google Earth and Darren Rowse – at least I think it was him – offering access to his 150,000 amateur photographer audience), many suggestions went counter to JR’s artistic vision. His wish was for others to become more involved, but attendees were more focused on giving HIM new places to work (including inside museums, which did not trigger a positive reaction from JR).

I’m sure this format for generating ideas is a well-developed and understood formula for TED insiders, but it got my brain zooming thinking of MUCH more effective ways this mass solicitation of support could be conducted. Again, I’ll admit by this point I was probably just cranky and needed a nap, because I didn’t take away the emotional impact from JR’s presentation that others present at the simulcast did. Check out JR’s video (one of the first 2011 TED videos to be posted) and his project website to truly appreciate how you can get involved.

I warned you there was a lot of content, even with skipping several discussions. Tomorrow we’ll cover the take-away lessons from the 2011 TED simulcast, sponsored in Kansas City by digital marketing agency VML and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. This season is a time intended for more prayer and quiet times. In what’s become an annual tradition, I’ve shared a creativity prayer on this day that I wrote several years ago as part of a creativity presentation I developed.

If you’re struggling creatively, invest some of your time today and in the next weeks asking for a potentially new inspiration source to enhance your creativity and the creativity of those around you!

Lord,

Thank you for creation itself and the incredible gifts and talents you so generously entrust to me. May I appreciate and develop these talents, always recognizing that they come from you and remain yours.

Guide me in using them for the benefit of everyone that I touch, so that they may be more aware of your creative presence and develop the creativity entrusted to them for the good of others.

Help me also to use your talents to bring a creative spark and new possibilities to your world, living out my call to be an integral part of your creative force. Amen.

Copyright 2008, Mike Brown

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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What an intense time last week! Even though the 2011 TED simulcast was only one day, sitting in the Nelson-Atkins Museum auditorium March 2nd while absorbing and live tweeting presentations was, without question, the week’s all-consuming event.  I have to thank the folks at VML who sponsored the TEDxKC event and provided a designated seat, ample Wi-Fi, and a nearby power outlet throughout the TED Day 2 simulcast:

  • Organizers Mike Lundgren and Frank Jurden
  • Blair Vance, Assistant Account Manager at VML
  • John Mulvhill (Communications Director) and Ryan Carrothers

Speaking of Blair, here is her pre-simulcast overview on the TEDxKC event:

As a starter in mentally processing the TED simulcast experience, here are some insights about how the simulcast played out vs. watching individual TED videos online:

  • Although the live TED presentations were taking place half a continent away, there was clearly a buzz even at the simulcast, particularly as the doors opened and the crowd began to flow into the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
  • Watching individual TED videos online doesn’t reveal the subtle interplay among presentations within a specific session. It’s not as if presenters are in a position to point out themes, however, since they stick tightly to their pre-determined remarks. This makes seeing presentations in sequence, along with what happens in between, an important and different experience than watching isolated videos.
  • The 18 minute format creates very tight, passionate presentations. The focused big thinking and passion of the TED speakers feels genuine, however, in nearly all cases.
  • Despite the cool vibe and great online videos, the live simulcast made it clear: TED presentations aren’t all seamless and perfect. The Bubbli coming-out demonstration was marred by an obvious lack of forethought on how to choreograph it and by comical technical challenges. At one point, its inventor said the technology (which revolves around the camera on your smart phone) would work much better if everyone shut off their phones and if they were using the next generation iPad being introduced that day.
  • It’s interesting to see what people do and don’t applaud during a simulcast when it’s clear the target of the applause will never hear it. One simulcast incident which probably didn’t happen at the in-person TED event was a mass exodus during the performance of “Cripple and the Starfish” by Antony and the Johnsons at the end of the day. Antony nearly cleared the auditorium before the song (which you must hear to truly appreciate) was complete.

The amount of TED content was overwhelming in the one-day simulcast at TEDxKC. I can’t imagine (both mentally and financially)experiencing it onsite across multiple days. As with the 2010 TEDxKC in-person event though, the simulcast is triggering several Brainzooming blog posts this week:

  • Tuesday and Thursday posts will recap specific TED talks during the simulcast
  • Friday’s post will highlight take-aways from the the TED simulcast

Hang on! – 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.

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Typically when you’re asked questions, others are looking for answers. At times, answers aren’t the best answers, though.

I updated a recent blog post on how a mid-career professional can create a social media presence with a post-presentation video explaining the 11 steps covered at the live session. The video’s addition changed the nature of the post, and I tweeted it with an updated title.  Sharon Corasaro (@GrowingGold on Twitter) answered the tweet with several great tweets about the post, followed by a detailed comment on the post itself.

Based on Sharon’s receptivity to the topic, I asked if she’d like a longer article on the 11 steps we’d been kicking around as a potential ebook from The Brainzooming Group.  She said she would, and I asked for her thoughts on the content’s value since we had varying perspectives about it.

Sharon’s email response, rather than being the simple “liked it / didn’t like it / and here’s why” answer I expected, was an incredibly thorough set of questions. She asked questions about the piece’s intent, what we hoped to accomplish with it as an ebook, and what the plan was for distributing it to the target audience.

I asked for answers, and Sharon gave me questions.

But you know what?

The questions provided exactly the answers I needed.

In replying to her email and thinking about the questions, a completely new idea for how the content could be used emerged. I hadn’t considered this strategy before, but it could well be a much higher impact way to distribute the content and benefit an important audience for us.

I wanted fast answers, and Sharon offered incredibly thought-provoking strategic questions.

There’s a big lesson there: the next time somebody’s looking to you to answer a question or solve a problem for them, the most beneficial thing you can do may very well be to answer with a question instead. – 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 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve helped brands get to great answers using just the right 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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Randomness

Building on Theresa Antell’s very well-received post from yesterday about the challenges of Twitter engagement, I view Twitter as a place to experiment, see how people react (or don’t) to a variety of content, and look for creativity-inducing connections among the array of random tweets. Saturday morning I was tweeting a few things, including items from the web (about an interesting Twitter analogy) and TV (a snarky video-related tweet):

The Connection

Shortly afterward, Michael Weber tweeted his reaction, prompting me to respond, referencing the Edie Brickell tweet (with typo included below).

Michael later answered he’d been referring to the Twitter/water analogy tweet, not the one about Edie Brickell. I found it interesting, though, his comment applied to both tweets (or at least when Edie Brickell first recorded). Michael’s reply pointed to our need to always place ideas in some context.

The point is well taken and relates to something I’d been thinking about writing about this week: always asking how any random input we’re presented with could spur a connection to a situation we’re currently facing.

This came up earlier last week talking about why I wear orange socks. It became a daily activity for me in the corporate world based on how people reacted to a chance reference in a Fast Company article which mentioned I wore orange socks. Making the transition to my own business, it was a relatively random connection between orange and creativity that allowed me to continue doing it (and save the money of repurchasing not only my clothes, but all the other orange stuff in my life).

The Creativity

A big part of creativity is making connections others don’t, won’t, or can’t. Part of that ability is having creativity exercises you can readily use. Another important part though, is being open to how random connections can lead you to creativity and new possibilities you would never have even considered otherwise.

It all starts with asking, “How could this fit?” to make a creativity-instigating connection when something surprising, unexpected, or random comes your way! – 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.

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