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Our objective for the Brainzooming community visioning workshop at the Gigabit City Summit was sharing multiple strategic thinking exercises city delegations from around the United States could immediately use to further their strategic conversations on broadband initiatives.

The objective created a conundrum.

While I wanted Gigabit City Summit attendees to understand they could use the strategic thinking exercises right away within their Summit delegations, it’s unrealistic to imply they could immediately create a successful large-scale collaborative visioning sessions based on a one-hour workshop.

Yet I didn’t want Gigabit City Summit attendees to think we were giving them tools that ONLY worked if The Brainzooming Group were involved in implementation (which is the sense you get from so many workshop presenters).

Giving Away Our Family Recipes

Here’s how I wound up explaining the situation.

Our-Family-Recipes

 

I asked the workshop attendees, by a show of hands, to share how many like cooking for themselves.

Many hands went up.

I next asked how many liked cooking for small dinner parties, and then large formal dinners.

With each question, there were fewer hands.

Finally, I asked how many were confident and interested in applying their cooking talents in a large restaurant setting.

Only one or two of the more than one hundred participants raised their hands.

I then compared their cooking aspirations and the realistic outcomes from sharing our “recipes” for strategic thinking exercises with them.

They could readily and easily use the strategic thinking exercises themselves, with their city delegations, or even with small groups when they returned home. It would be unrealistic to think, however, that without a lot of experience and practice that they could invite fifty, one hundred, or several hundred community members and expect to have a flawless, productive visioning session.

That is where we come into the picture, helping make the smaller group experiences more productive and a large community visioning event even possible.

Strategic Thinking Exercises as Recipes

I share this story about recipes because it helps answer the question we get so often about why we share so many strategic thinking exercises here.

Hearts

They’re all recipes, and we want you to use the recipes, try them out, adapt them to what you need to make happen in your organization. Starting small provides the opportunity to try selecting the right ones, combining them in intriguing ways, and learning from successes and mistakes.

If you need to be ready for a high-stakes event, however, we think you’ll want someone who has experience to make sure everything works.

And that’s where we’d love to work with you to ensure all the success you need when the stakes are high and the recipes HAVE to turn out perfectly the first time!

Could you use some of our best recipes for outside-in innovation?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you confident your organization is making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth?

Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization. This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas.

We invite you to download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

The strategic thinking recipes in this FREE ebook will help generate new ideas and turn them into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth– Mike Brown

 141104 Download EBook

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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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Content marketing strategy workshop audiences are always interested in hearing about best practices. Best practices seems like easy answers; they make it seem as if all you have to do is simply do what another brand has found successful.

The easy answer, however, isn’t always the right answer. What makes sense for another brand won’t necessarily make sense for your brand, whether that is in content marketing strategy or another area.

We find it’s much more valuable to share tools and techniques workshop attendees can use to draft the best strategies and tactics for themselves.

10 Content Marketing Strategy Mistakes Your Competitors are Making

In some industries, however, it is valuable to consider the best MISTAKES your competitors are making and do the OPPOSITE of what they are doing.

Stop-Sign-Istock

Here are ten “mistake practices” we see frequently that fit the bill:

  1. Starting with a big splash and lots of new content all bunched up in the first week of a new blog, then sinking to the bottom of the pool and not updating any of the content for months at a time.
  2. Having a business objective for its blog (i.e., increasing leads for a new product), but never writing blog posts with the business objective in mind.
  3. Writing and publishing new content without providing any context and brand perspective for the content, even though a significant percent of blog visitors are likely first-time readers who are unfamiliar with the brand.
  4. Writing about their brand all the time, including republishing their press releases word-for-word as blog posts.
  5. Sharing only news that has a very short interest life so they get in a trap of not getting long-term value from the investment in creating social media content.
  6. Publishing only when they have something to say and then thinking they never have anything to say.
  7. Handing the social media controls over to a recent graduate ONLY because he or she is young and “gets” Twitter and Facebook.
  8. Never mentioning who is doing the writing in a deliberate strategy to keep the content devoid of any personality, whether brand personality or content creator personality.
  9. Sharing social media content that has nothing to do with the organization’s brand and brand personality.
  10. Figuring all this social networking stuff is free and not making smart investments to get the most impact from the content the brand creates.

As an executive in your organization, you’d do well to spend some time on your social media presences – just in case it’s been some time since you looked at them closely – and see if you are making any of your competitors’ mistakes with your own content marketing strategy.

If you are making these content marketing strategy mistakes, get them fixed – pronto!

Wondering about mistakes in your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

If you are an executive with questions about whether  your organization’s social media strategy is working as well as it can, here’s the answer. In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to your questions.

You can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of your social media strategies with these easy-to-assess diagnostics. To get started right now, download your free copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  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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When it comes to your creative thinking skills, are you an idea builder or an idea slasher?

In other words, when you ask someone for advice, ideas, or creative thinking (or simply declare you need help and someone else responds), how do you immediately react to what they have to say?

Someone with strong creating thinking skills listens to what the other person has to say, then starts to build on ideas being shared. This type of person makes connections to what he or she already thinks, asks for additional information (with positive language), and builds on the creative thinking the other person is offering.

8 Clues You Are an Idea Slasher

A slasher, on the other hand, immediately says things such as:

  • Maybe, but . . .
  • “So and so” already told me . . .
  • I’ve already tried that . . .
  • Here’s what I think about that . . . (followed by negative comments)
  • Yes, but . . .
  • My experience tells me . . .
  • I suppose, but I’m not sure why . . .
  • You don’t understand . . .

Yes, I have heard or even said all these over the past few weeks. We can all temporarily abandon strong creative thinking skills and fall into the idea slasher trap.

creative-thinking-skills-Id

If you are an idea slasher, you will quickly wear out the interest, patience, and enthusiasm of others who might offer you creative thinking, even when you most need it.

Back to the opening question then, “When it comes to creative thinking, are you an idea builder or an idea slasher?”

It is incredibly difficult to listen to ourselves. Because of this, you may not be able to answer whether you are an idea builder or an idea slasher when presented with someone else’s creative thinking. You may have to ask those you most interact with what group THEY think you fit in most of the time.

If you do as others, be prepared for potentially tough responses. Take their comments in and process them before reacting. If you hear the answer you do not want, be sure to simply listen, and DON’T respond with an idea-slashing comment!

Boost Creative Thinking Skills – Download “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

If how you react to new ideas is an area where you need to improve your creative thinking skills, download our free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” today!  This ebook will help boost your creative thinking skills as you interact with those around you.

Taking the NO Out of InNOvation

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 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you. – 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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If you’ve ever seen me present a strategic thinking workshop, you’ve likely heard me say, “People think strategic planning is boring, and I agree with them. I’m a strategic planner, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning. That’s why we make it fun!”

That’s not simply a throw-away line. It’s the absolute truth.

We consciously try to develop fun strategic planning activities.

The reason fun strategic planning activities are so important is they prompt people to want to engage with strategic planning at that moment plus make them eager to participate in the future.

5 Fun Strategic Planning Activities

Funny-Orange-2

“Fun strategic planning activities? You have to be kidding,” you may be thinking. No, we’re absolutely SERIOUS about the FUN part!

If you’d like to incorporate more fun into your strategic planning activities, here are a few ideas we’d offer:

1. Eliminating Boring Introductions

If you’re going for a more enjoyable strategic planning session, it’s important to start on a light note. This ice breaker dumps the typical boring self-introduction and uses introductions where everyone BUT you gets to tell something about you. Here’s one secret for even more fun – have one person make up all the answers they share. When you read this post, you’ll get what I mean by that!

2. Invite Katy Perry for Her Fashion Sense

You have to go see the picture to get this, but Katy Perry’s dress at this awards show a few years ago is all kinds of fun. If your challenge is reimagining old strategic ideas, this strategic thinking exercise will inject fun into your planning.

3. Put the Pin Prick to Your Competitors

This strategic thinking exercise involves targeting a pesky competitor and thinking about every way you can be a complete nuisance for them. You have to keep the ultimate ideas you choose legal and ethical. Before that point, however, anything is fair game and lots of fun!

4. What does Ghostbuster have to do with strategy?

By definition, you aren’t supposed to be able to anticipate black swan events. But when a client wants a black swan exercise, you figure out a way to give them a black swan exercise. This fun strategic planning activity gets its fun from the connection to Ghostbusters that inspired the exercise. Other than that, it should be a LITTLE more serious than the others here.

5. Try Some Shrimp!

This exercise is called “Shrimp,” but you’ll see a picture of a pumpkin throwing up pumpkin seeds on the original post. Yeah, it’s kind of gross, but this particular strategic thinking exercise is a blast. In workshops, I tell the story about when we used it with a group working on a NASCAR sponsorship program. They turned the exercise toward some pretty tawdry topics, yet came out with an idea that led to getting their company’s NASCAR driver on an ABC reality TV show!

Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun*

I wouldn’t necessarily advise trying to use ALL these fun strategic planning activities with one group. But if you do, let me know. THAT would be funny! – Mike Brown

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization. This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

 

*BTW, sorry about that RebeccaRoll.

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 Brainzooming Group, in support of KC Digital Drive, is in the midst of wrapping up producing the Gigabit City Summit today.

Talking with attendees throughout the event, it’s exciting to hear them talk about how smooth, fun, engaging, and meaningful the Gigabit City Summit event experience has been. These sentiments were accentuated during Wednesday afternoon’s general session when we interrupted the regularly scheduled Gigabit City Summit to feature a live webcast of President Barack Obama’s address from Cedar Falls, IA on the plan for accelerating broadband availability in the United States.

Gigabit-City-Summit-Interruption

When it comes to events, here are 10 of my hip pocket tips for designing and implementing a fantastic event experience design. They apply to big meetings, and also to most little meetings. Most of them even apply if you’re only getting a few people together for a meeting.

10 Tips for a Compelling Event Experience Design

  1. When in doubt, incorporate more emotion into your event experience design. Emotion isn’t used enough in professional settings, so you’ll stand out with genuine emotion.
  2. Start with your second biggest thing; end with the biggest thing you have going.
  3. Capture all the TYPES and AMOUNT of content you can during the event, even if you’re not sure what you’ll do with it later.
  4. Restrict yourself (as much as possible) to speakers that someone on the planning group has previously seen. If you’re interested in someone you haven’t seen, figure out a way to see them speak before deciding.
  5. Make sure the technical and audio visual people who are working the show have full visibility to what you’re trying to accomplish with the event experience design. This allows them to support you in ways you might not have thought about.
  6. There are two kinds of people in the world: event people (who understand the mix of strategy and detail to implement a successful event experience design) and everyone else. Make sure you surround yourself with event people.
  7. Be ready to fix things for attendees and know who the people are on your event team that are great at fixing things for attendees. Always know where these people are at the event.
  8. Manage the time aggressively to keep the event on schedule. Know, however, when a slight deviation from the time schedule is important for creating a better event experience (such as when the President delivers an address on your topic during your conference). Also know how much of the extra time you’ll be able to make up during the rest of the event and where it’s going to take place.
  9. Create the schedule so there are multiple compelling reasons in the event experience for attendees to stick around throughout the entire event.
  10. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be looking out for the completely unexpected things that WILL happen that reinforce your event experience while the event is going on. Those unexpected events led to stopping our show for the President, how we opened the first two days of the conference with particular music and video selections, and me trying (at 2 a. m. Thursday morning) to get a last-minute guest into our breakfast and Kansas City tech tour this morning. Those unexpected things are God’s gift to those who are paying attention to them! – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

 

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

 

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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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We’ve discussed the value of having three different strategic thinking perspectives in any strategy work. These three strategic thinking perspectives include people with front-line experience, others with functional expertise, and innovative thinkers that look at opportunities and challenges in new and different ways.

Brainstorming-Session-Google-Fiber

Across these three groups, there are also three types of voices to include, especially when looking at an organization’s vision and related future strategy conversations. These three voices are:

  • Familiar Voices
  • Challenger Voices
  • Emerging voices

These three voices all differ in their backgrounds and what they bring to strategic thinking and strategy conversations.

Familiar voices are individuals recognized for their long-term engagement, their deep and broad networks, and a strong understanding of relevant and significant opportunities and issues.

Challenger voices are those individuals noted for questioning the status quo in constructive ways. They are oriented toward finding answers to lingering issues and are sensitized toward not simply ratifying the popular view and calling it good.

Emerging voices come from organizations and individuals with new visibility in an organization or among its audiences. They have been outside the mainstream conversations and represent a valuable perspective the majority might routinely overlook.

Next time you’re convening a group to meaningfully address the future of your organization, take a good look. Do you have individuals representing all three of these voices?

If not, stop, and expand the strategic voices on your team right away. – Mike Brown

 

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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