Creativity | The Brainzooming Group - Part 65 – page 65
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I love Big Ideas.

That’s why I’m so excited about attending and speaking next week at The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference at Rutgers University.

And in a clear departure from other higher education conference programs, even though The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference (#BigIdeas12) is for educators, the TED-oriented and Inside the Actor’s Studio-style sessions will largely be delivered by non-educators. And having gone through the speaker bios in-depth to prepare my own session, there’s an incredible group of amazingly talented and accomplished people presenting at the two-day conference.

But Where Are the Educators at this Higher Education Conference?

Since there’s an expectation some attendees are going to struggle with the absence of a full slate of higher education presenters, my last-afternoon session is to help attendees in capturing big ideas and making strategic connections among the various sessions so they can start making things happen with The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference content.

As I said to The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference organizers, it would be better to do my session near the start of the conference rather than at the end. Alas, it was too late to change things around.

Instead, here are some thoughts for attendees at any conference where there are going to be speakers who may seem to have little direct connection to what you do. Even if that’s the case, there are always going to be opportunities to learn, especially from someone who knows nothing about what you know.

Capturing All Your Big Ideas and Making them Happen

Here are 3 key steps for capturing big ideas at a conference where the presenters or material are outside your focus areas:

1. List what you want from the conference beforehand.

List a few opportunities, challenges, or issues you want to address from the information presented at the conference. This will help keep your most important objectives top-of-mind throughout the conference.

2. Don’t take notes. Capture ideas and thought starters – even challenging and apparently irrelevant ones.

It’s great to take notes at a conference. But in addition, capture and keep a separate list of ideas & comments from the presenters. These are the concepts that really get you thinking, even if you don’t know what to think about them. Maybe it’s an interesting statistic. It could very well be something that connects with you on emotional level (think: excited, stunned, energized, angered, stimulated, challenged, etc.), even if it’s apathy or boredom from wondering why the presenter is sharing information you don’t think connects with you.

Organize these ideas and thought starters relative to how much you relate to the information and how much the concepts intrigue you. The matrix below presents a way to organize your notes:

3. Start Making Strategic Connections

Some strategic connections between your list in number 1 and ideas / concepts shared at the conference will be naturals (“Lessons” should be directly applicable to your interests; ”Familiar” ideas may need a little creative sizzle).

Other strategic connections will be more challenging to identify, but those are often the most fruitful ones for innovation opportunities.

To help identify potential strategic connections look for the following relationships between your list and the conference ideas:

  • Similarities
  • Stark differences
  • Shared characteristics
  • Similar inputs and/or outputs among them
  • Sequential relationships between items on each list

After having identified these relationships, you should be able to more easily find “Big Ideas” within the “Ideas” quadrant. This will occur as you link your related to opportunities/challenges to ideas / concepts from the conference content.

Ideas in the “Huh?” category should provide relatively fertile ground for additional brainstorming to identify innovative connections you missed seeing the first time through.

What’s Next?

These first three steps will get you started in looking at ideas shared at an innovative business conference in new ways.

What’s next in terms of additional techniques for innovatively adapting ideas to your organizational situation is the topic of my presentation for The Big Ideas in Education Conference?

Coming out of my session (“Take all of your Big Ideas and Make them Happen, an Innovation Workshop”), I’ll share multiple strategic techniques exercises to derive even greater value from an innovative conference experience.

And if you want to follow along, track The Big Ideas Education Conference on Twitter at #BigIdeas12. – Mike Brown

 

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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 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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19

Some business conferences you attend are beneficial because of specific content presented. Other business conferences are beneficial because of all the creative ideas they trigger, irrespective of whether the ideas were actually discussed by presenters. The Innovation Summit presented by Kansas City Kansas Community College last week soundly delivered on triggering ideas for strategic questions for disruptive innovation in markets.

In fact, the free, half-day Kansas City Kansas Community College Innovation Summit was a veritable bonanza since I walked away with a variety of ideas triggered by the presenters. Those ideas included ones for several new Brainzooming creative thinking exercises I’d never before imagined.

To do a little sharing, the presentations from keynote speaker Dean Teng-Kee Tan (of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Bloch School of Business) and several Kansas City innovators suggested eleven strategic questions to ask relative to imagining potential market disruption opportunities:

11 Strategic Questions for Disruptive Innovation

1. What feature can you create that’s missing in someone else’s product?

2. Where can you disrupt significant cost areas in physical goods?

3. How can you digitize a physical element, action, or experience – or digitize all three?

4. What steps can you take to create a service out of your strongest / most prevalent support capability?

5. How can you inject a completely emotional experience into what you do?

6. Ever thought about ways to digitize a service?

7. How is it possible to smooth demand for inefficient / difficult to provide capabilities?

8. What would it take to turn in-person interactions into remote interactions?

9. How can you digitize scarce resources to put them in more places simultaneously?

10. What could you do to help push the biggest player in your desired market to leave the marketplace?

11. If the most prominent player in your market did go away, what opportunities would it open up?

Asking the Right Strategic Question

Again, none of the presenters necessarily mentioned these strategic questions for disruptive innovation. The questions were derived from the various case studies and examples presenters shared and by asking one of my favorite questions:

What strategic question (or questions) could cause someone to come up with the same answer the original innovator did?

And when you land on great strategic questions, you can much more easily generate lots of innovation ideas. – 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. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

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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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The creative inspiration, in part, for Monday’s post about whether “Successful Innovation Can Only Happen in a Certain Way” was Saturday’s “Creating” article in the Wall Street Journal about Italy-based gallerist and creative visionary, Carla Sozzani. The article highlights how over the past 20-plus years she has created 10 Corso Como, a fashion and design-oriented art, retail, and publishing complex in Milan.

Carla Sozzani’s perspective, as portrayed in the Wall Street Journal article, is of a creative visionary driving a strong personal creative vision throughout 10 Corso Como with apparently little need for collaboration or outside creative input. While that’s not me, the confidence to make a strong personal creative vision work absent robust collaboration is both fascinating to me and a source to learn from and better apply in my own creative life. Here are 5 ideas I took away from the article:

1. Exclusively integrate your own creative sensibilities into everything

As mentioned in the intro, 10 Corso Como defies simple categorization. As much as anything, it sounds as if the connecting factor is Carla Sozzani herself, since she selects every item for sale. She extends her creative sensibilities into the experience as well, making clients sit during a purchase to bask in the luxury of time. It’s clear your common creative thread doesn’t have to be an idea or a theme. Your common creative thread can be YOU and your sensibilities!

2. Don’t ask for creative advice if you don’t want, need, or plan to use it

Sozzani eschews asking her audiences for feedback or input on direction. She states boldly that she has no interest in trying to please everyone since it’s impossible to do. Instead, she scans for popular products that have yet to turn trendy and features these at 10 Corso Como.

3. Secondary research has a legitimate place in creative expression

Secondary research implies looking for answers to questions others have already asked and answered. Sozzani extends this concept to “secondary creativity,” looking all over for creative inspiration on what to include in 10 Corso Como. Her creative inspiration appears to come from diverse exploration across creative media, geographies, and popularity, among other things. Sometimes it even extends to buying something simply to get the contact info for the producer to source a related item.

4. Understand how you can best be your own self-editor on creative decisions

How fast do you make decisions? And when you’re making a creative decision on your own, how do you validate them? Carla Sozzani says she makes decisions very quickly – in a matter of seconds – and if she hesitates on a creative decision, she takes it as a sign it’s not the right decision.

5. Regularly wipe your creativity clean

Every August while Italians head to the beach, Sonzatti shutters 10 Corso Como for 10 days. During this period, everything is removed for cleaning and painting. This 10 day hiatus also imposes an important creative refresh and reimagining of the space.

I’m Taking Note

My creative style and aspirations are markedly different than Carla Sonzatti’s, but I’m so excited to think about how I can incorporate what I learned from this article into my creative pursuits! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation 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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12

I’m not sure if public sentiment has changed or if I’m simply more attuned to it right now. But ever since the publication of Jonah Lehrer’s book “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” there seems to be a rash of seemingly contrarian articles with titles suggesting creativity or innovation have to happen in a certain way to be successful.

Recent examples have included “If You’re Not Pissing Someone Off, You’re Probably Not Innovating” from the Harvard Business Review, “Sustainable Innovation Stems from Individuals, Not a Group” via Fast Company, and “Failure Is the Only Path to Innovation” on the Innovation Excellence blog.

Typically, when these articles appear, someone will ask me what I think about them.

My response?

I’m bored with all these authors claiming successful innovation HAS TO happen in the way they espouse.

C’mon. We’re talking about creativity and innovative thinking here people. These two wonderful things (or experiences or phenomena or processes or whatever you want to call them) are so glorious BECAUSE there are so many ways you can realize them:

Okay, I’m definitely not Dr. Seuss, but I hope you get my point. If you’re a creative genius, go ahead and be individually, singularly creative and never look back.

If you don’t consider yourself a creative genius, then surround yourself with other people, tools, and inspirations to help you be more creative. That’s the stuff I write about here, because I’ve used these techniques and have experience with them working successfully.

If someone wants to share another way innovative ideas originate, I’m all about hearing what they have to share.

But if they’re going to simply point out how successful innovation can only happen in a certain way (or how it won’t happen in some other way), well, then I’m just not that interested.

What do you think?

Does innovation only work one way for you and your organization? – Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic 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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5

There’s been a great reaction to the Brainzooming article on 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the Food Network celebration of off-beat restaurants hosted by Guy Fieri.

Since becoming a fan of this Food Network show, I’ve made it to three featured restaurants. The most recent was RJ’s Bob-Be-Que in Mission, KS earlier this week for Buck-a-Bone Tuesday, which means $1 per rib. That’s good eating!

But in the interest of turning my fascination with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy Fieri into something other than extra pounds, it’s time for more reality TV-driven extreme creativity! To the earlier 10 brainstorming questions, let’s add these 6 extreme creativity lessons gleaned from a recent Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathon:

1. Go be a fish out of water

Maybe extreme creativity is tough for you. If it is, one way to turn yourself into an extreme creativity force is taking your talents and applying them in a completely unexpected and new environment. There are a variety of “Triple D” stories where a chef radically changed geographic location or work environment to trigger extreme creativity. Put a Louisiana-influenced Cajun cook in Minnesota, and you have a fish out of water recipe for extreme creativity. Where can you be a fish out of water?

2. Fuse unrelated creativity channels together

It seems like there have been several stops lately on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives involving a parked food truck supplying the kitchen facilities for a bar or restaurant. There’s an idea for you. How can you fuse two or more apparently unrelated creativity channels together to create something people don’t expect?

3. Do your extreme creativity old style

Despite modern innovations available to cooks, many manifest extreme creativity by foregoing new ways of doing things. For instance, despite the availability of incredible industrial food mixers, there are many instances where cooks are mixing things by hand because it provides closeness to the work and an awareness of quality variations. Do you have a similar opportunity to apply old style techniques to your creativity to turn it into extreme creativity?

4. Figure out the equivalent of deep frying in your area of extreme creativity

Watching any episode of “Triple D,” it’s clear you can deep fry any food, and it has a high probability of being very good. The more outlandish the food, the more outrageous the success. There’s got to be something to this. What’s the equivalent of deep frying in your focus area? What’s the one thing you can do to make your creativity extremely crispy, crunchy, and incredibly tasty? Whatever it is in your field, pursue your own version of deep fried extreme creativity!

5. Smash different parts into one

Most meals are served in separate courses: appetizer, entrée, side dishes, dessert. It’s not surprising to see all those courses smashed together into one menu item at restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. How can you employ the same idea? How can you take what would normally be separate creative pursuits and smash them together into one colossal creative feast?

6. Don’t clean up after you’ve gotten all creative

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of places on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives aren’t all that clean. Some of the chefs even take pride in how the flavor of the cooking builds up over time on utensils and cooking surfaces. While that’s a little disconcerting, there can definitely be something to it creatively. Having the afterglow of past creative highlights on your tools might be just what you need to inspire some extreme creativity. – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation 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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1

Recently, venture capitalist and senior Kauffman fellow, Paul Kedrosky, gave the last of four scheduled presentations at the Kauffman Foundation relating to Google Fiber. He concentrated on what Kansas City should do to make sure it—and the U.S.—gets the most out of the Google Fiber innovation opportunity. Here are four specific lessons on Google Fiber innovation from Paul Kedrosky that likely apply to our organizations as we strive for greater innovation.

1. Co-location

Kedrosky said some applications are not appropriate for development in Kansas City. Development must take place close to where they will eventually be used because even with extremely fast internet connects, execution or feedback will not be fast enough. The reason for this may be physical (in the case of stock trading, the speed of light is the limitation) or they may be sociological or cultural.

The lesson: Make sure that functions in your organization requiring nearly immediate feedback are in proximity—in terms of both physical location and where they fit in the hierarchy. Think sales and marketing, or production and engineering as examples where co-location is critical.

2. Upload/download symmetry

No matter how fast you can download information, it really does not matter if your upload bandwidth is too narrow. Eventually the download will become “occluded,” that is stopped or slowed because the response (upload) moves too slowly

The lesson: If senior management is not giving fast enough feedback and providing enough information, it makes no difference how much capacity an organization has. The organization will eventually stop what it is doing because it is waiting for senior management direction.

3. Understand the advantage/inevitability of flat-rate pricing

Historically the trend in communications is to flat rate pricing. The same first-class stamp takes your letter across the street or across the country. Likewise, long distance calling is rarely metered anymore. Widespread adoption and use becomes the counterbalance for falling prices.

The lesson: Customers shy away from pricing that involves cognitive complexity and risk. They ask questions such as, “What happens if I go over my limit?” or ”What else might I want to do with this product that I won’t be able to?” Look for ways you can make your pricing model flatter. Think restaurants and buffets. Also, consider making standard the options and add-ons that customers want or need. Price in a way that forgoes some upfront revenue but creates more satisfied customers—who, in turn, are likely to return and buy more.

4. Encourage playful experimentation and waste

Paul Kedrosky believes Kansas City will only make the creative breakthroughs in using Gigabit speed if it actively encourages, even demands, playful experimentation and waste. Indeed the title of his presentation was “Waste Lots, Want Lots.” Waste should come in two forms: waste of bandwidth and waste of latency.

The lesson: Ask these questions: Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time in the back shop soldering seemingly random circuit boards together? Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time, lots of time, trying to figure out a more systematic way to meet girls? If the answer is no, then you would have not been in on the founding of either Apple or Facebook. You may say that there are no Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg working for you. You are most likely right, and we could know at least one reason why. –Barrett Sydnor

 

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. 

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2

If you’re in the middle of a long work week, how about trying some corporate fun ideas? Here are ten oddball ideas to liven up ANY long work week. And yes, I did some version of all of these ten corporate fun ideas. And still kept my job. Amazing.

10 Corporate Fun Ideas for a Long Work Week

10. Volunteer to dress up as the corporate mascot. Demand that your identity not be revealed. When people ask you who you are, do imitations and claim to be various corporate officers. Walk into the CEOs office & put your feet on his desk.

9. Introduce a unique made-up, but plausible, jargon word (i.e., a jargonym) in meetings. See how long it takes for others to start using it.

8. Next time you have to create a PowerPoint slide for someone else, make the first letters of the bullets on slide spell out a dirty word.

7. If you have a deadbeat employee working for you, get them promoted & transferred to your nemesis. The deadbeat employee will be even more wrongly self-satisfied, plus you get rid of them. That’s called a win-win.

6. Create an anonymous Twitter profile and start making fun of co-workers with impunity!

5. Make up some faux Successories posters and put them into presentations. And around your office. Here’s where to get started making them.

4. Paint your toe nails the official corporate color (only classifies as corporate fun if you’re a guy, btw).

3. Volunteer to do the wrap-up for a week-long sales training class. Put on a shirt that corresponds to every topic covered. Do the recap via a striptease covering the topics from Monday through Friday.

2. Do a funny (and by “funny,” I could mean “wickedly cruel”) top 10 list about something. Perhaps the top 10 list could be about the winners and losers in the latest round of “Senior Management Shuffling the Deck Chairs?”

1. Spread toys around your office that talk whenever anyone picks them up.

What corporate fun ideas are you going to do this week?  – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make a Strategic Planning More Fun?

Yes, strategic planning can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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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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