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Here is another interview from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Innovation Conference, where The Brainzooming Group produced live event social media content.  One panelist on the manufacturing and transportation panel, Merlin Spencer, DBA, talks in this video about the concept of “master doers.”  He describes these individuals as the people inside an organization who specialize in getting the vital functions of a business moving forward and completed.

Merlin Spencer’s comments resonated strongly because of the link between the “master doers” concept and the 3 vital audiences for strategic thinking approach The Brainzooming Group uses in facilitating strategic planning and innovation sessions. We’ve repeatedly seen the best strategic thinking results when participants with front line experience, functional expertise, and creative orientations all participate in a facilitated strategy session.

“Master doers” are a subset of the front line experience group, and they are very often misused in strategic innovation work. They’re frequently either excluded (because they don’t fit a typical view of creativity) or they wind up dominating a strategy session (because of the false belief that those without comparable experience are unable to meaningfully contribute to strategic business issues). This fundamental misuse is why we expend concerted effort ensuring the right mix of people and introducing innovation exercises so the three groups, who view the world very differently, can work together constructively, innovatively, and successfully.

The strategic advice here is to examine the attendee list the next time you’re involved in a strategy, innovation, or planning discussion and make sure you have some, but not all, master doers participating. – 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 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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  • Do you have a “What if” moment that you think defines your life? “What if” didn’t happen, so come Monday, get over it and move on.
  • When you’re with opinionated, self-absorbed people, one strategy is to attempt to let them talk themselves out. Try it and see what happens, realizing some people may never reach that point.
  • Experiment this coming week: Accept everything that comes your way as part of a bigger plan. Don’t get upset; look at the big picture, even if it’s out of focus.
  • How often does stopping to help someone result in you getting help in return? Stop and help yourself…I mean someone else… daily.
  • Are the innovative opportunities you have to get better few and far between or in front of you all the time? If you’re paying attention, the correct answer is “all the time,” so start keeping track.  - 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 see how we can provide as-needed assistance to challenge and refine your strategic thinking 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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A tenacious competitor can seem as daunting as a summer heat wave which won’t break for anything. If that describes your competitive strategy position, it can be difficult to devise an innovative strategy to win new business from a tough competitor.

Competitor Strategy to Lead to Business SuccessThere is a creative way to swat back a competitor, however, which takes its inspiration from another summer reality: mosquitoes. Just as a mosquito, despite its small size, can be a nuisance, you can do the same to a larger competitor!

Start with the profile you have on your competitor which should describe the competitor and its strengths, strategic focus areas, and overall direction. Add to the competitor profile your antagonist’s “dirty little secrets,” i.e. the problems it doesn’t want customers to know about, but are familiar to you within the industry.

Based on the specific intelligence in the competitor profile, start thinking creatively and strategically about how you can bite away at your competitor, generating ideas to really be a nuisance. Don’t worry about practicality; write down anything that comes to mind, no matter how outlandish, which could:

  • Exploit your competitor’s weaknesses and take business
  • Distract the attention of your competitor from its current strategy
  • Be an outrageous or funny claim you could make about the competitor
  • Annoy your competitor in innovative and maddening ways

You can do this exercise by yourself, but as you might have guessed, it’s a lot more fun and yields many more innovative ideas when you do it with a diverse team inside your company. Be sure to include salespeople because they have to directly deal with the competitor every day; that leads to great innovative ideas for winning new business.

After you’re done generating ideas, step back and evaluate how you can pursue the most strategically innovative ideas. Don’t dismiss really outlandish ideas outright. If there’s one idea that spurred laughter or excitement, even if you think it’s a crazy idea, ask how the idea could be made more strategically feasible.

Besides stretching your thinking, this strategy exercise to identify how to be a nuisance to your competitor should generate innovative, implementable strategies to help you compete more successfully and win new business. It should also create a greater sense of competitive surprise, biting the competitor before it even knows it – just like those pesky mosquitoes! – 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 develop a stronger competitor profile and create business building strategies to target big competitors more successfully.

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 authored several pieces a few months ago on the many ways social networking can drive innovation strategy and development efforts.  As a follow-up to those innovation articles, Chuck Dymer of Brilliance Activator and The Brainzooming Group partnered to record a podcast on the same topic. Chuck and I speak about how a business can use social networking strategies to:

  • Listen to its marketplace in new, strategic ways
  • Build and active new expertise inside and outside its organization
  • Enable an innovative collaboration strategy

The podcast is free and available for download Chuck’s Brilliance Activator website as the featured resource. I encourage you to take a listen and consider how you can plan to strengthen your innovation strategy through social networking. – 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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Creative Ideas for CreativityFiguring out how to be creative when your creativity is blocked can depend on simply choosing appropriate creative thinking techniques to boost your creative inspiration.

Here are 26 creative ideas you can use when you are struggling with how to be creative and boost your innovative  thinking.

Pick as many of these tested creative thinking techniques as you need to re-start your creative process, find creative inspiration, and overcome a creative block.

Try Simplifying Things

Start your Creative Process with Things You’ll Throw Away – Decide upfront you’ll discard anything you create in the next hour, then simply dive in and start doing something toward your creative goal right away. You’re willing to trash it, so don’t let any self-criticism block your creative inspiration.

Doodle and Eat – Many restaurants use white paper in place of cloth table coverings. Go to one nearby with pens, markers, or crayons and doodle your way through dinner. Write, draw, diagram, or do whatever else will trigger your creativity.

Try Trait Transformation – Write down 6 descriptors or characteristics of your creative challenge. For each descriptor, ask how it would help meet your creative objective if it were bigger, smaller, turned around, removed, customized, standardized, or simplified. Asking these questions to twist your situation leads to lots of new creative ideas.

Create an Artifact – Find a small something to create that’s more easily achievable than your whole project (it could be working on something you’ve already put in the creative trash heap). Create your small start and use it as a tangible first step to get to your next bigger creative ideas.

Change Your Creative Environment

Finish Something – Maybe an obligation completely unrelated to your creative challenge is hanging over your head. Drop your creative project and focus on other nagging deadlines which may be affecting you subconsciously. Getting pesky non-creative deadlines out of the way can free you for a new perspective on creativity.

Go Get Sweaty – Studies show it and so does any great workout – physical exercise is a wonderful way to shake your mental cobwebs loose. Pick your favorite exercise and participate in it aggressively, putting your creative block to the side. When you’re done, you’ll see your creative challenge with new clarity.

Embrace Mindless Activity – Perform an activity you’re able to do without thinking or using any creative thinking. Maybe it’s cleaning or lawn work or driving around. It has to be active with plenty of opportunity for your mind to wander creatively.

Change Scenery While Staying Where You Are – Alter as much as you can about your current environment – vary the lighting, rearrange the furniture (avoiding creativity constricting right angles), sit in a different chair, stand up or lay down, look out the window, step away from the computer. Whatever you’re doing where you are, do things completely differently to stimulate your creative process.

Change Scenery By Changing Where You Are – Get as far away as you can from your creative block’s “home field.” At the office? Go to a museum or a hotel lobby. Spent too much time inside? Get outside as quickly as you can. Bored with your hometown? Start traveling. Whatever it takes, force yourself to change your physical surroundings for a creativity boost.

Take advantage of “Crowdspiration” – Go where there’s a crowd of people and use the looks, conversations, and buzz of the crowd to catalyze your creativity. Remember: the crowd can be in real life or virtual, because wading into the Twitter pool is another great source of random crowdspiration too!

Switch to a Bare Wall – Completely change the “canvas” on which you’re trying to express your creativity by switching to a new, blank one. If you’re stuck on a computer, get a new notebook and start handwriting. When you’re not able to draw something with a pencil on paper, switch to painting on an oversized canvas.

Borrow Creative Inspiration

Return to the Familiar – Use the forms, styles, characters, and media that are old standbys for your creative expression. Take advantage of familiar forms to get your creativity re-started.

Revisit Your Creative Pinnacles – Go back to a past creative success and create a variation on the theme. When stuck while blogging, redo your favorite post from a different perspective or angle. If the music isn’t flowing, play a favorite piece in a different key or tempo.

Seek out Someone Else’s Creative Pinnacle – Pick some output from one of your creative inspirations and do a BIG (i.e. non-copyright infringing) variation on a successful theme they used.

Use “Real Simple” Magazine – Real Simple, in particular, is a great creative inspiration. Take your creative block and go page by page asking how the images and headlines you see could shape your creativity, writing down ideas as you go. If you prefer a different magazine, look for one with lots of images and big headlines.

Random Wikipedia – Random inputs help trigger innovative thinking, so here’s a quirky approach to try. Take a period of your life, pick a starting point (i.e. an actor or author you enjoyed then), and look it up on Wikipedia. Click on a random link in the first Wikipedia entry and keep surfing for semi-random inputs. You never know what cool creativity will be inspired via Wikiwaves.

Stop Trying So Hard to Be Creative

Stop Everything – Walk away from your creative process and take a 30 minute nap (or whatever length leaves you refreshed). Let your mind wander and imagine anything at all as you go to sleep. Come back to your creative process refreshed and ready with new creative inspiration.

Tend to Your Basic Needs – Drink some water. Take a shower. Eat your favorite meal. Eat something you’ve never eaten before.  Take care of the basic needs of life and then restart your creative efforts.

Laugh Like Crazy – Watch an incredibly funny TV show or movie and laugh like you never have before. If laughter isn’t your best medicine for creative inspiration, pick something else to watch that you know will tug on other emotions. The key is triggering your emotions to open yourself to new creativity.

Be Patient – You know what? Now might just not be the time you can muster your creativity to respond to the goal at hand. Put the project to the side (maybe for an extended period of time), apply your creativity to areas where it is readily flowing, with the faith (you may want to say a creativity prayer) that the spark you need will happen at the right time, even if you don’t know when that is!

Seek Out New Creative Inspiration

Find Some Fresh Eyes – Ask a creative friend who doesn’t have any background in the area of your creative block how they’d approach your challenge. With a new set of eyes and fresh thinking, chances are the other person will see a creative key you’re missing.

Put Your Kids in Charge – For little kids, the whole world is new and full of creativity. Get your kids (or borrow somebody else’s, but ask first) and see what kind of creative fun they’d like to have. Whether it’s playing in the yard or going to Chuck E. Cheese, throw yourself into creativity with childlike glee to uncover new inspiration for creativity.

Seek out People with Dramatic News to Share – For some people, angst leads to creativity. For others, happiness triggers creativity. When stuck creatively, find the people in your circle with compelling stories to share – whether of challenges or of successes – as new inspiration sources.

Find Someone Who Loves Something You Created – People who think you’re creative are great creative catalysts. Seek them out and ask what inspires them about creative work you’ve done. Use how you’ve inspired them in the past to inspire your creativity now.

Host a Creative Happy Hour – Invite a group of cool, creative people to join you for a happy hour. Have fun, share some stories, ask for some creative input from your companions, and get in a creative spirit once again.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” – This Brainzooming Ebook highlights 8 perspectives for how to be creative to stimulate innovative thinking.

Are You Inspired Yet?

These 26 creative ideas should get you started in your discover of how to be creative when creativity is elusive for you.

What creative process tips or creative ideas can you add to this list of creative inspiration techniques? We’d love to include your ideas to overcome creative block as well. – 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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Today’s guest article comes from now two-time guest author Robert Alan Black, PhD, known as “Wanderingalan” on Twitter. He founded and is president of Cre8ng People, Places and Possibilities and authored Broken Crayons, Break Your Crayons and Draw Outside the Lines.” He can be reached online at alan@cre8ng.com. Here’s his take on alternative to lowering your standards to get around creative blocks:

If your job and life requires that you be creative on demand, most every day, then you cannot wait for the MUSES to give you creative thoughts and concepts. You need to re-spark, re-generate, re-discover as much creativeness as you can at any given moment.

One writer was quoted recently saying, “I never experience Creative Block. I simply lower my standards.”

Funny as that may be, it is often true.

Our most creative breakthroughs seldom happen on demand. Yet we can increase the level of creativeness we are experiencing at any given moment by using creative thinking tools or activities. Here are a couple simple ones:

  • Forced Relationships – Keep many small objects and photos in your work area and randomly pick one or two at a time and relate to your problem: How might a flower be related to my not finding new work? How might wrecked automobile relate to the creation of my vacation?
  • Walk in Others Shoes, Hearts, Minds and Creativity – Keep books, magazines, slide shows, and photos of work you think are fantastically creative. When you feel the level of your creativeness lacking look through them and think about what is it you like about them or what makes them especially creative. Then apply those ideas to challenge your problem.

You can stop creative blocks – without having to lower your standards. - Robert Alan Black, Ph.D., CSP

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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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The next few days’ Brainzooming posts focus on creativity, including two by guest authors. Today’s article is a follow-up to last Tuesday’s post on The Beatles and how creative partnerships last or don’t in music and elsewhere. This post is from Doug Stevenson ( MadCreative as he’s known on Twitter), who I met via social media and had the opportunity to work with in-person on the BMAEngage social media team. Doug’s an email subscriber to the blog and frequently sends me great comment. When this very thoughtful one arrived shortly after last Tuesday’s post went out, he agreed to let me share it with everyone:

By Sgt. Pepper, or maybe even as early as “Revolver,” the Beatles had begun going their own way creatively, composing and recording often separately on their collaborative albums. Although they stand on their own as classics in their own right, and hold up pretty well, by “Abbey Road” and “The White Album,” the seams were showing. McCartney’s and Lennon’s first solo efforts reveal that they may have been holding back their best material to those ends.

I have always been a Who fanatic and think the B side of “Live at Leads” is right up there, and perhaps at the top of live rock recordings ever (with nods to the Stones’ “Ya-Yas” and some Pink Floyd stuff). The Who has probably been more money-driven, but because I always thought of them more as a performance band (at one time anarchistic, iconoclastic and ground/instrument-breaking), I forgave their lack of creative productivity in their later years, contented to see them as satisfactory shadows of their former stage personas into which I infused more youthful images as my mind traveled back in time.

As for the creativity piece, a hiatus is often what works. Solo excursions both enliven creative juices and humble: you get an adrenaline boost of personal gratification AND a greater appreciation of the synergies you have as an ensemble/team/partner. Witness the renewed energy with which Neil Young periodically rejoins CS&N.

On an individual basis, often a rest, a run, a shower, a crossword work in the same way – a path out and time away to allow the brain’s juices to percolate and new ideas to germinate. So, as to your point, I agree. As the show biz adage goes, “Always leave them wanting more.” You gotta know when to call it quits – like Jim Brown or Sandy Koufax or a comedian knowing to hit the lights at the pinnacle of laughter.

Yet unlike athletes, musicians can rejoin collaborations, often with pleasant, if not groundbreaking results. The same is true for people pursuing any creative process. However, there is more “grist in the mill” in youth – the conditions for a creative cauldron are set there, as teen/young adult angst feeds the fire of creation. Once asked why so many of his songs were introspective or sullen, Paul Simon replied something like, “Well, when I’m happy I don’t feel like writing.”

Maybe another question worth answering is, “How might we create the conditions of angst – maybe alternatively – intense passion or urgency within ourselves to keep our creative flames fully fired?” – Doug Stevenson

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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