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Suppose an unwanted opportunity lands in your lap unexpectedly. Maybe it’s an opportunity you expressed interest in prior to it landing in your lap.

Either way, when it ultimately presents itself, it’s an opportunity you are not really interested in accepting.

Do you just come out and say, “No,” to the opportunity?

Maybe that’s what you do. Maybe turning down the opportunity is absolutely the best thing to do.

How about stopping for some strategic thinking first?

Stop-Sign-Wrong

Maybe it’s best, however, to stop and do a little strategic thinking about the undesirable opportunity and consider one of these alternatives:

  • Negotiate to improve the opportunity so it’s more attractive.
  • See if you can defer it to a time when it better fits your objectives.
  • Consider whether there is someone else you can share the opportunity with that would benefit more than you would.
  • Separate out the part of it that is attractive and decline the remainder
  • Sub-contract the opportunity to someone else.
  • Ignore your qualms (i.e., if you tend to over-analyze and look at things too negatively) and pursue it anyway to see how it pans out.
  • Make the opportunity work for just as long as you need it to work, and then abandon it.

There are no hard and fast rules about what taking some time for strategic thinking might yield in the way of viable alternatives.

Just be careful of believing you’re so smart and self-assured that turning down what seems initially to be an unwanted opportunity will still be the correct assessment after you’ve paused for a little strategic thinking.

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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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This tweet from Kansas City entrepreneurial maven and Chief Nomad at Hostel KC, Brittain Kovač, asked what creative thinking skills resources we had to avoid “mental bankruptcy.”

Mental-Bankruptcy

Mental bankruptcy?

Mental bankruptcy is when an entrepreneur expends so much mental energy on the business they run a deficit. This results in coming up lacking when they to produce the mental energy needed to keep everything going, whether “everything” relates to business or personal matters.

Mental bankruptcy is not a term we have specifically used relative to creative thinking skills. We have certainly covered the phenomenon, though. As with financial bankruptcy, the best way to avoid mental bankruptcy is to head it off before you need to do something about it.

Invest in Your Creative Thinking Skills Before You Need Them

In light of that advice, here are creative thinking skills and tips we would recommend entrepreneurs start addressing now!

1. What is your biggest purpose?

Figure out what really matters to you through developing a personal core purpose statement. I know an entrepreneur is likely to say what really matters is focused entirely on developing the business. Understood, but I would advise thinking bigger and more spiritually than simply getting your business going. If that is all that matters, you are setting yourself up to crash and burn in case that is what the business does.

2. Identify your inspiration inventory

Take 10 minutes and create an inspiration inventory that lists what does the best job of mentally recharging you. List all these people, places, and things ahead of time. Then invest the time to see, do, and enjoy them to keep yourself mentally sharp and replenish your mental energy assets on an ongoing basis.

3, Build a relationship with a strategic mentor

Developing a relationship with a strategic mentor can be life changing. A strategic mentor should both challenge you and boost you. The key for an entrepreneur is to identify a strategic mentor outside your direct business life. You want someone as a strategic mentor who will not be going through the same mental energy swings you are!

ebook-cover-redo4. Download “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Mental bankruptcy can definitely be the NO standing in the way of an entrepreneur’s innovation plans. Take advantage of our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook. It is full of creative thinking skills and suggestions for breaking through a variety of mental energy deficits.

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5. Subscribe to the Brainzooming blog

If you have not already, subscribe to the Brainzooming blog. (You think we would miss the Brainzooming blog as a great mental energy booster?) Whether it is coming up with new ideas or figuring out innovative ways to get things done, we are all about getting your Brainzooming whether mental bankruptcy is on the horizon or already a part of your entrepreneurial life!

Creative Thinking Skills Build Your Mental Energy Assets

Whether you are an entrepreneur or work in a bigger company (yes, entrepreneurs, there ARE big company people who work hard enough to put themselves into mental bankruptcy), these recommendations are all solid investment for staying out of mental bankruptcy.  – 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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I spotted a Bloomberg Businessweek story the other day that was a corporate case study, in effect, of the Radio Shack business strategy and the brand’s upward and then long downward trajectory.

One sentence in the Radio Shack case study article says volumes about corporate leadership and how corporate success and failure stories turn into history.

Here is the sentence:

“When asked to pinpoint when everything went wrong, they fell into two main groups: those who argue it had happened right after they left, and those who say the damage had already been done when they arrived.”

That is how the big lie ALWAYS works!

You see so many cases where what really happened in a corporation is reimagined, reinterpreted, and re-reported to suit the personal business storyline that best advances someone’s own career.

Little-Liars

One classic example of the corporate case study big lie in action that I witnessed multiple times involves a celebrity CMO on the speaking circuit who had a several year run at a brand headed for extinction. While he was still at the troubled brand, his keynote presentations consisted of talking about how screwed up the business strategy was before he got there, but that under his incredible CMO guidance, EVERYTHING was turning around masterfully.

That was the story only until he left the still-collapsing brand, however.

THEN his keynotes changed to focus on how screwed up the business strategy was before he got there and how it returned to being completely screwed up immediately AFTER he left!

Well OF COURSE that’s what happened!

NOT!

Would a business celebrity misrepresent the truth?

Yes, ALL DAY LONG!

The lesson?

Be careful whenever an executive shares a corporate case study about a troubled brand where he or she was previously employed. If all the big problems are timed for either before the person got there or right after the person left, go ahead and make the leap . . . that person is telling the big lie of very failed corporate case study! – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

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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AEIB-GraphicAs we do occasionally, we’re featuring an excerpt today from the Armada Corporate Intelligence publication,  “Inside the Executive Suite.” This article was about succession planning best practices IF your organization has no formal succession planning and a team member resigns.

Based on surveys suggesting many organizations lack formal succession planning or don’t follow it closely, their informal strategy for succession planning best practices is a good stop gap. This is especially true early in the year when some people resign after staying around long enough to qualify for year-end bonuses.

These four quick steps for an informal strategy for succession planning could be just what you need to do this week!

Succession Planning Best Practices – 4 Quick Steps for an Informal Strategy

(From Armada Corporate Intelligence – “Inside the Executive Suite”)

Based on the particular survey you find in a quick online search, perhaps 1/3 of organizations don’t have succession planning in place – although the number could be much higher, or slightly lower!

Suffice it to say, even if succession planning is completed, the same surveys report many organizations don’t employ the individuals they would need to implement the succession plans they have.

This absence of succession planning best practices can be a particular issue right after the New Year. Employees that have stuck around only to satisfy the date for an annual bonus often turn in their resignations immediately afterward. Seeing this happen many times, it’s worthwhile to share these steps to take right now, just in case you lack succession plans.

090724-Computer-on-Desk

1. Start your informal succession planning by compiling a very short list of employees you’ll fight to keep

If you do nothing else toward succession planning before January 1, decide which employees you’d make a concerted effort to keep should they announce they are departing.

We recommend making a VERY short list because when most people resign, they have made a mental break they’ll never completely mend – even if they stay because you countered successfully. As a result, the only names on the list should be those absolutely critical to current operations or whose specialized knowledge or expertise would leave a gaping hole.

Also jot down names of employees you’d be happy to see leave, should they do so. Everyone else falls into the, “Not looking to lose them, but it might happen” category.

With this list, you’re in a much better position to implement step 2 if someone announces he or she is leaving.

2. If someone resigns, stay calm, ask questions, and listen

Suppose, it’s January 2nd or February 1st (or whatever date after which bonuses are set) and a key employee resigns. You need to stay calm since this is your opportunity to ask smart questions and listen intently. If the person resigning is on your “fight to keep” list, ask:

  • Are you willing to reconsider?
  • Have you thought about what might make you reconsider?
  • What timing commitments have you made to the new organization?

Understanding these answers begins framing your response for an employee you’re trying to keep since you should have a better idea of what a counter-offer will have to include.

Even for employees on the “not looking to lose them” list, however, asking the last question leads to Step 3

3. Negotiate more transition time if you think it is valuable

For employees not on your “fight to keep” list you’d like in place longer than the two weeks typically offered as a transition period, ask what types of flexibility they have to alter start dates with new employers.

If you think an individual would handle a longer transition period in a constructive, productive way, you may want to negotiate for three or four weeks instead of two. In so doing, you’re not trying to keep them for an extended period; you are, however, trying to buy more time to advance your succession planning and implementation.

4. Find a confidant to vent, then use alone time to think and plan

After asking questions and listening, conclude your meeting. Then go ahead and vent, if you need to do that. Contact a confidant to vent privately without concern for your venting getting back to the office. If you’re frustrated, apprehensive, or even excited, none of these are appropriate emotions to display publicly. Get them out, and return to your calm state quickly.

At that point, begin thinking about what moves you could make to replace the person leaving from among internal candidates. Even if you don’t have someone completely prepared for the job, do you have someone ready for an opportunity that challenges them in dramatically different or more significant ways? If so, there might be no better time to grow them than through stepping into a much bigger role.

Are you ready for people changes with an informal strategy for succession planning?

These steps certainly don’t constitute a full succession planning strategy. If you don’t have one, however, it’s a solid checklist to work through should any staff members announce their departures after the first of the year. – Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

 

 

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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After compiling yesterday’s list of your Top 10 favorite (i.e., most-viewed) new Brainzooming posts from 2014, here are my favorites.

As is often the case, there are stories behind these posts. Sometimes the stories are contained in the posts, sometimes they are not. Nevertheless, there are some overlooked gems in this list (if I do say so myself), that you will enjoy if you didn’t catch hem the first time around in 2014!

Strategy and Creative Thinking – My Favorite Brainzooming Posts for 2014

Strategic Planning Exercises – Have you tried a Zoomference yet? 

This recounts a fun content marketing success story. The original story covering how we use our online collaboration platform to work with teams spread out across multiple locations prompted a two-year Brainzooming reader to contact us. Over a few hours, we put together a strategic plan for her organization that set the stage for 2015.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Identifying Left Field Competitors

I love when questions during workshops turn into blog posts. This competitive strategy post was the answer to a question at the Compete through Service Symposium on how you can push your organization to better imagine surprising competitors.

Left-Field-Fenway

What to Blog About – 11 Buying Process Questions for Blog Topics

Some blog posts are written to share what we’re trying to improve upon in our own business. While content marketing has been a significant part of expanding The Brainzooming Group, we have work to do on linking our content to the steps potential clients are going through in selecting strategy and innovation partners.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Taking Risks with a Live Audience

This post recounts a live experiment that showed why using different types of strategic thinking questions changes what types of answers you’ll get. While I was confident the experiment would work, the possibility that I could have failed is what made it exciting to throw in to a live presentation as an unplanned exercise!

Creating Strategic Impact – Challenge and Change

It seems like there are a few posts similar to this every year, where someone on Facebook or Twitter supplies the missing piece to turn a random idea into a fully realized thought. This was my favorite example from this year, as we teamed up to define what “lle” stands for when it comes to positive change.

Strategic Planning – 10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare

I love this Halloween-oriented GEICO ad because it skewers the improbability of horror films. At the same time, though, it’s a great analogy for the bad judgment you find in organizations that stick with the same old strategic planning approaches instead of trying something new – such as how The Brainzooming Group approaches developing strategy!

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

This strategic thinking exercise to help in designing a new website went from being used in a meeting on a project we were working on to a blog post in less than twenty-four hours. I love when that happens!

Strategic Thinking – Andy Warhol and Practicing What You Preach

I’ve been carrying this Andy Warhol quote around with me since writing a paper on him for a high school “Modern Thought” class with Fr. Gilmary Tallman. I couldn’t believe it had taken this long to share it in the blog post. There just aren’t that many ideas I still have kicking around from back then that haven’t found a way into the blog yet.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A New Type of Big Focus Group

This one is a favorite because of the event, the event’s co-sponsor (Nature Explore, an organization where I’m on the board), and the opportunity to create a self-facilitated focus group of well over one hundred people. And what’s even better is we just reached an agreement to close the 2015 Leadership Institute with another full-audience, self-facilitated strategic thinking exercise.

Nature-Explore-Session

Brand Strategy, Airplane Talk and Rolling in the Aisles

The story of the funniest plane flight I’ve had in years, courtesy of my new friend, Ahava Leibtag. By the time I’d try to explain it, this would be as long as the post. Just click and read it!

Strategic Thinking – Using Caution with Business Content

This post with a recommended disclaimer that should go on all (or at least most) business blog posts is perhaps the truest post ever on the Brainzooming blog.

Strategic Thinking – When to Fix a Business Process that’s Never Failed?

This is a favorite because of the photo. I took a photo of an automated trashcan at the Atlanta airport thinking it would come in handy one day for a blog post about throwing something away. There is the big lesson: Always be taking photos that might fit into future blog posts. ALL THE TIME.

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Okay, maybe THIS is the truest Brainzooming post ever. Even though I KNOW these steps, I cannot seem to avoid them EVERY TIME I prepare a new presentation.

Creative Thinking Exercises – Change and Grow Constantly

I like this post because it reminds me of things we did during live workshops that, if not for the post, would have been lost to me even just a few months later. A reminder to take better notes on what we do rather than just committing it to memory!

Life Lesson – Living Your Life and Dying Exactly the Same

This one is very personal. It started life as a blog post about a former co-worker’s life (and death). When I actually wove the story into a presentation about Aligning Your Life’s Work, I wasn’t sure I’d get through the story without crying. Emotions are a challenge for me. To have a story that forces me to deal with emotions during a presentation says it’s an important message.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A Sex Tip to Boost Strategic Thinking

It’s about sex. And what about that photo?

The 4-Step Career Advice Nearly Everyone Ignores

This is the best, most widely applicable advice I have to offer. And yes, it is also the most-ignored advice I offer when people ask for career advice. That alone puts it on this list of my favorite posts: it’s full of unrealized value just waiting for you to do something about it!

Creative Idea: Jimmy Fallon Turns Brian Williams into a Rapper’s Delight

This one required very little creativity from me, but it’s likely my most-viewed Brainzooming post from the year because Brian Williams doing Rapper’s Delight is a scream!

Social Media Disclaimer: Coming Clean on Humble Brag Social Sharing

This one isn’t a favorite for the written story as much as the untold story behind the two pictures of Kate Jackson and me snuggled up. I always liked the smartest Angel best, I have to admit.

Here’s hoping you enjoy some of these favorites from 2014!

Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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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Next time someone tells you how crazy busy they are or you tell someone how crazy busy you are, remember that crazy busy isn’t necessarily:

  • Productive
  • Profitable
  • Cash flow positive
  • Strategically smart
  • Smart in any way at all
  • Truthful
  • Organized
  • Intentional
  • Leading to growth
  • Anything more than excuse
  • A good idea
  • Creative
  • The real objective

Yes, crazy busy may be a ploy to avoid layoffs in a corporate environment . . .

080816 A Personal Strategy for Avoiding Layoffs

But being crazy busy for the sake of being able to say you’re crazy busy is bad strategy. – 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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A quote from actress, Julianne Moore in Entertainment Weekly (Oct. 31, 2014), is important from a strategic thinking perspective.

“Every actor you talk to, unless they’re fooling themselves, will tell you that you’re at the mercy of who will hire you next. The only control we have is saying yes or no.”

While Julianne Moore applies the quote to actors, the strategic thinking perspective relates to anyone in a role where what’s next after whatever you’re doing now isn’t routinely known.

Julianne-Moore

Framed that way, the quote extends to entrepreneurs, major brands making strategic decisions, and even employees inside companies who have some flexibility on navigating their projects and responsibilities.

Beyond extending the strategic thinking perspective to other fields, turning it into a strategic thinking question adds even more power. Ask yourself, “What am I saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to?”

Are you saying “yes” and “no” deliberately and strategically?

Or are you doing so out of instinct, feelings, boredom, or something else?

It’s not that being less deliberate about saying “yes” or “no” to what’s next is wrong. It might simply mean it’s going to be more challenging for you to learn from and build on past successes and failures to move forward in a specific direction.

No right or wrong answers today. Simply the strategic thinking question you can use as a daily reflection if you so choose: “What am I saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to?”  – 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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