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Devising and implementing an innovation strategy seems as if it SHOULD be easier in certain business environments. For instance, companies depending on innovative products and services as a main driver of customer brand value might give innovation strategy a higher priority. One might also suspect the change management related to innovation strategy would be easier at a place such as Disney; heck, Disney has Imagineers!

A recent Fast Company article suggests, however, that the innovation strategy and change management struggles for the new guest experience at Disney are similar to those at less glitzy brands. Our friends at Armada Executive Intelligence recapped the Fast Company article in their “Inside the Executive Suite” weekly feature, highlighting four change management struggles with a major guest experience innovation strategy at Disney. Here’s the “Inside the Executive Suite” recap:

Innovation Strategy – 4 Change Management Struggles at Disney

The new Fast Company (May 2015) covers the challenge of devising, developing, and implementing a transformational customer experience for a brand. As is typical, upending long-standing processes entrenched employees have created and used to build successful careers stirs up significant resistance.

There’s something atypical about the situation described in, “The Messy Business of Reinventing Happiness,” though. The story plays out inside a major division of a corporation whose R&D staff members are known by the seemingly change-embracing title of “Imagineers!”

Yes, even Disney faces innovation-related change management issues.

Disney-Castle-LeungChoPan

Photo by: Leung Cho Pan via Canva

Realities of Dramatic Change

We recommend reading business magazine case studies with skepticism. The article on the $1 billion Disney investment in MyMagic+, which PROMISES to remake the guest experience at Disney parks, however, rings true. It addresses innovation and change management twists and turns comparable articles often neglect.

We’re highlighting quotes from Fast Company that represent issues most brands face during periods of significant change. Each reinforces important innovation and change management principles.

1. Don’t Look Only Inside and Expect Breakthrough Thinking

Quote: “Flipping through a SkyMall catalog, he (John Padgett, VP of business development) landed on a page featuring the Trion:Z, a magnetic wristband that promised to reduce muscle soreness while simultaneously improving one’s golf swing. The team started to consider whether Disney could create an electronic band that could digitally carry everything a guest might need.”

Situation: Metrics on guest expectations for returning to Disney World were declining. The culprits were high ticket prices, protracted wait times, and a variety of other inconveniences. While guests were identifying significant issues, they couldn’t describe the fixes. Additionally, management team members wedded to the reality of current systems often aren’t able to see breakthrough remedies either.

The MagicBand bracelet, the central piece of the Disney Next Generation Experience (NGE) project, addresses multiple functions, including serving as a digital ticket, money, ride photo organizer, and coupon holder. It also shares information helping dynamically manage the guest experience.

Principle: Your business breakthrough could be what’s new (or even traditional) in another industry. Innovators must continually scan outside inspirations from unlikely places and industries.

2. Knowing “What Matters” Is Vital to Innovation

Quote: “This kind of traffic management wouldn’t just be a service to customers – it could also help Disney fit more guests inside its parks.”

Situation: From an initial visit to the Disney World parks decades ago, one thing was apparent. Nearly everything in the Disney customer experience strategy links to how it keeps guests in the parks for more hours each day for as many days as possible.

Pricing (relatively expensive soft drinks, inexpensive rain slickers plus multi-day pricing packages tied to the number of hotel stay days), access policies (on-property guests receiving preferential early park access), managing time expectations (starting ride experiences many minutes before actually reaching the actual ride), and service niceties (transporting purchases to your hotel room) all made sense for keeping you IN THE PARK longer.

Principle: Even amid dramatic innovation, certain aspects of an organization’s underlying business model may remain sound. Successful innovation strategies benefit from starting with a clear understanding of what needs changing and what needs reinforcement.

3. Not Every Group Thinks the Same Things Matter

Quote: “’You had operations pushback, security and fraud pushback, creative pushback.’ They faced opposition from a powerful corporate force: Disney’s Imagineers…Imagineers argued that the uniformity of the access points (where MagicBands were to be scanned) would disrupt the spirit of their uniquely stylized attractions.”

Situation: Despite the importance of maximizing guest time in the parks, other views of “what matters” exist within Disney. For Imagineers, what matters is immersing park guests in another world of delight that brings them back multiple times. When seamless immersion is “what matters,” even innovative ideas that might disrupt a guest’s experience or could grow stale quickly deteriorate what they are trying to create. Trendy change isn’t good; it’s seen, in fact, as dangerous.

Principle: While a company with a strong strategy creates understanding of its strategy throughout the company, “what matters” DOES differ as multiple levels and parts of the organization implement it. The internal tension in determining the best combination of initiatives to bring the overall strategy to life is why strategy setting isn’t a one-time endeavor. Strategy is lived out daily and employees need support in interpreting and shaping it.

4. Bring Innovation to Life As Soon as Possible

Quote: “The NGE team built out its advanced R&D lab, or what (Executive VP, Nick) Franklin calls a ‘living blueprint’ that would ‘sell the vision.’ With typical Disney flair, the soundstage became a storyboard brought to life, with a full-scale living room…where the archetypal family would book their Disney vacation…(plus) a flight-arrival stage of the set…the hotel set…(and) mock-ups of the in-park experience.”

Situation: It’s one thing to discuss an innovative concept matter-of-factly. It’s another to share compelling stories about it. It’s off the charts to create an immersive prototype to help strategists, executives, and team members experience and react to the concept. As Disney-knowledgeable sources put it, the “’theater’ of selling an idea is more important than the idea itself.’”

Principle: Most organizations don’t have a movie set to prototype a new concept with an immersive experience. Every organization does, however, have prototyping resources. If the innovation is a new product concept, go to the manufacturing floor to demo it. If you are imagining ways to interact with a B2B customer, mock up the customer’s environment in a meeting room. We saw a trucking company do this to re-create a traffic manager’s office. Suddenly innovation opportunities were readily apparent. – Armada Executive Intelligence

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




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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It’s one thing to have the creative thinking skills to bust creativity barriers when imagining new creative ideas. It’s another to pave the way for successfully pitching ideas internally or externally. Here are seventeen articles touching on the creative thinking skills you need for pitching ideas with greater impact.

Anticipating Receptivity to Change

New-Street

7 Lessons to Get Ready for Change Now

Don’t wait for the time when you’re going to pitch the idea to start getting ready for change. Start early. Start right now, before you need to start.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

Depending on your organization’s strategic situation sets the stage for determining the right mix of emotion, fact, and intensity to pitch new creative ideas.

3 Strategies for Navigating a Political Environment

If your organization’s environment is overtly political (or even subtly political), you need to be thinking about how it will affect reactions to your creative ideas.

Bringing Creative Ideas to Fruition

Dinner-Table-Food-Fight

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are times to challenge creative ideas within a project team, and there are times you don’t. Here is a way to help team members understand which is which.

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

How you finish up a creative idea, pitch, or prototype can impact how the idea is received. Even if you have to rush through the preparation, you can avoid calling attention to parts that aren’t as fully developed as others.

Creative Thinking Skills – 5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally

It’s far better to invite naysayers to challenge your idea before the big day comes to pitch your creative idea in the limelight. Here are five types of critical thinkers to invite to the challenge party.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Who is the Positive Devil’s Advocate?

While we’re big on challenging the flaws in a creative idea to anticipate any potential issues, it’s also valuable to think about the challenges of outrageous success with your idea.

Packaging Creative Ideas

Framing-Ideas

Why Serve Up Your Treasure Like Trash?

Don’t short change presenting your creative ideas. The lack of impact in how you present creative ideas can directly reflect on perceptions of your ideas.

How Are You Staging Your Next Idea?

Giving tangibility to your creative idea can make it easier to pitch the possibilities of how it can strategically change your organization’s situation.

Project Management Techniques – 5 Final Report Success Tips

Sometimes you’re communicating your creative ideas in a report format. Here are five tips to set your communication up for success.

Customer Experience Strategy – 11 Ways to Demo an Intangible Service

If your idea is intangible, this article, focused on demonstrating intangible services, features strategies that can extend to demoing creative ideas.

Creative Thinking Skills: 9 Ways to Present a Business Strategy with Panache

If you really want to go over the top in sharing your new ideas, here are nine possibilities you need to explore.

Building Connections to the Audience

Mike-Brown-Making-Big-Ideas-Happen

Making Challenging Content Accessible: 5 Steps to Creating a Nick Cave Fan

If you suspect your creative ideas are going to be challenging to the audience’s sensibilities, here are ways you can build a connection to an audience that may really struggle to understand your perspective.

Innovation Strategy with a New Audience

When you are introducing a new idea to an unfamiliar audience, go out of your way to complete the homework that will unveil the similarities you share so you can start from a point of agreement.

Improve the Success of Your Letters to Santa – Guaranteed!

While the title suggests this post only applies to letters to Santa, it’s really a four-part recommendation formula that is tailor-made to communicate creative ideas to busy executives.

Managing Clients Who Love Their Creative Ideas

It may be that you are in a client situation where the client LOVES their own ideas. If that is the case, there are ways to dissect the ideas to keep what’s good and take a shot at changing what isn’t good in a completely acceptable way.

Structuring the Evaluation

Strategic Questions – 19 Ideas for Reviewing Creative Design Work

Don’t walk into an evaluation of your creative idea and have it turn into a like / don’t like conversation. Instead, provide a framework to evaluate the idea that allows you to showcase how your creative ideas are both creative AND strategic. – Mike Brown

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Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic impact, and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

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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.

Download Your Free

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’m presenting an updated version of our “Busting Creativity Barriers – An Inspiring Dose of Brainzooming” today, right in the heart of World Creativity and Innovation Week. If you’d like to bust your creative thinking barriers, here are twenty-two source links for the three major creative thinking skills themes in the presentation. Enjoy busting your creative barriers!

Creativity Thinking Skills for You and Your Team

On-the-Road---ET-and-Friend

Creative Structures and Creative Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Busting Creativity Barriers

One-Creative-Step

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




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 will admit to not being the most perceptive person in the world.

Even if I would not admit it, however, my wife would tell you that (assuming she reads the blog, which she does not).

In any event, over the course of my career – and I’m sure yours as well – it’s been imperative to get better at addressing the right strategic thinking questions to read other people’s interests, priorities, and behaviors. This is vital to making sure we can help someone else be more successful. Often, there is a clear tie between facilitating overall business success and whether you can assist an individual leader in becoming more personally successful.

What do you watch for to get a good read on someone else?

This question surfaced recently while trying to anticipate whether someone would engage and actually take action to move an initiative ahead. Up until that point, the person was talking a good game, but not delivering on the talk.

21 Strategic Thinking Questions for Reading Someone Else

read-other-person

This is not an exhaustive list of strategic thinking questions for reading someone else, but it is the list running through the back of my head based on this recent experience:

  1. What things intrigue this person?
  2. Where does he/she spend her time?
  3. Does the time investment match up with what money, words, and visible behaviors suggest are most important?
  4. What is the ratio over time between this person being successful and falling short?
  5. What events or patterns always happen when the person is successful?
  6. What events or patterns always happen when the person falls short?
  7. How does the person talk about others?
  8. What do other people around this person have to say about him/her?
  9. Is the person timely most of the time?
  10. Do they focus on the big picture, the details, or both?
  11. Do they get it right on the big picture, the details, or both?
  12. Does this person act in largely consistent patterns, and if so, what are they?
  13. Is this person predictable or not?
  14. If the person isn’t predictable, are they predictably unpredictable or not?
  15. How can you fit seemingly disconnected pieces about the person into a bigger story that suggests future behavior?
  16. What personal strengths does he/she gravitate toward?
  17. Which personal strengths does he/she avoid?
  18. What personal weaknesses doesn’t this person realize?
  19. How often does the person do what he/she says?
  20. How often does the person do things he/she doesn’t talk about in advance?
  21. Can this person think outside him/herself, or is it all about what’s good for him/her?

What does your arsenal of strategic thinking questions for reading others include? – 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 learned in a Bible class that one meaning of the word “holy” is “to be set apart.” In the case of religion, obviously, whatever is considered holy is being set apart for God.

Extending this idea to business can help explain executives who act as if they are the only ones involved in developing strategy for their organizations.

Many executives commonly think, believe, and act as if strategic planning activities are “holy” since they are set apart as something in which only leaders can participate.

Everyone else gets told (ideally) or not (far too often) what the company strategy means for employees, customers, and other stakeholder groups. This communication about strategy may be so superficial it is nearly impossible for an employee to understand and connect to the business strategy to effectively it to life with customers.

Who Participates in Strategic Planning Activities?

At its heart, how the broader organization participates in strategic planning activities is a philosophical issue about what “owning” a company’s strategy means. This extends to who in an organization (or even outside an organization) provides input, hypothesizes about, develops,  shapes, articulates, and implements strategy.

From spending most of my career in the Fortune 500 world leading and participating in developing strategy, the approach The Brainzooming Group supports is that strategy SHOULD NOT be considered “holy.” We push for and support more people participating in developing strategy because it paves the way for dramatic marketplace success.

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Our thinking about strategy permeates the content here.

Creating Strategic Impact and Results!!!

Additionally, The Brainzooming Group has published a new mini-book for senior executives called, “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact throughout an Organization.”

In this mini-book, we share ten lessons for how senior executives should approach developing strategy as an open, collaborative process that meaningfully involves participants and insights from inside and outside their organizations.

These lessons from our work with clients across industries lead to discovering new ideas and changing how organizations serve customers more successfully. The lessons include how to efficiently incorporate a wide number of perspectives about delivering value and more seamlessly linking strategy and implementation throughout the organization.

Download your copy of “Results” today and get a big head start beating your competitors to new heights for strategic impact and dramatic results!


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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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You want to innovate. You know it’s important to innovate. Your customers’ behaviors are screaming it is beyond time to develop an innovation strategy and do something about it.

A problem we hear about often, however, is you have few resources to develop an innovation strategy and get started innovating.

Insights, capital, time, expertise, strategic support, people, data, materials, and processes could all be missing resources. None are necessarily standalone resources. They are typically connected to one another, i.e., a lack of insights could be because of lack of data, no people to analyze or identify insights, or no processes to turn insights into tangible innovation.

16 Keys for Innovating with No Resources

If you have hit the “no resources to innovate” wall (once or multiple times), here are sixteen areas to explore for new ideas on innovating with no resources (or at least fewer than you think you might need).

Empty-Cupboard-Canva

These questions are built around the six infamous storytelling words (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How). Each is coupled with the important word, else, as a way to find alternatives and get around any walls that stand in the way of a successful innovation strategy with tight resources.

WHO ELSE . . .

  • Might participate in our innovation strategy?
  • Would know someone who wants to participate?
  • Is already addressing new product innovation in this area?

WHAT ELSE . . .

  • Would permit us to innovate with fewer resources?
  • Could be an input to leapfrog our innovation strategy?
  • Might spin off resources available for innovation?

WHERE ELSE . . .

  • Could we advance this idea with a different audience?
  • Might we tap additional people to help develop parts of this new product innovation idea?
  • Could we get a head start in learning what others already know about innovation in this area?

WHEN ELSE . . .

  • Might we get resources in place to support this innovation strategy?
  • Could we build support with new audiences we could reach?
  • Would we be better prepared to launch this new product innovation?

WHY ELSE . . .

  • Would others support this innovation strategy?
  • Could we persuade others in our organization to support funding this innovation?
  • Might customers want to get involved with this new product innovation sooner rather than later?

HOW ELSE . . .

  • Could we organize our innovation strategy to start innovating right away?

This is just a start. You can adapt and customize the list to your specific situation.

Rethinking Your Innovation Strategy

Whether you’re on your own or part of a small (or even larger) team dedicated to developing an innovation strategy in the apparent absence of resources, use these questions and get everybody to start adding possibilities.

Do it quietly (where each person adds answers to a list) or loud (where the group is hearing and contributing answers all together). Either way, in 15 minutes, 30 minutes at the most, you’ll have so many more options to get around whatever the resource limitations you think you have are.

Try this. It will work for expanding your range of strategic options so you can get started innovating. – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

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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