Collaboration | The Brainzooming Group - Part 112 – page 112
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Speaking and travel are both great sources of inspiration for blog topics. Twitter has become another one as well. This week, we’ll feature posts inspired through each of these sources.

Brainzooming – Being Perceived as a Strategic Leader

Last Thursday I spoke at Max Utsler’s Innovation in Marketing Communications class at Kansas University, debuting the new version of “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” summarized here a number of weeks ago. It seemed very appropriate since the first version of the presentation came from speaking to Max’s class 5 years ago!

One topic we discussed was the idea of very subtle ways to demonstrate a strategic perspective. This includes taking notes and recapping meetings to allow you to shape the conversation as it happens and afterward. One student voiced the concern that taking and typing notes can get you cast in an “administrative” role. It’s a valid concern, yet one that’s easily avoided. Here’s how:

Employ these two approaches and meeting participants will notice the difference. You won’t be mistaken as playing an administrative role. Trust me – I’ve seen it work time after time.

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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Over the Christmas holiday, several of us (despite being on “vacation”) came into work to pull together a project plan from several disparate sources. It was quickly apparent the three of us, each fairly detail oriented in our own ways, could take all week to get this done.

Wanting to get back home as quickly as possible, I went over to the easel pad in the room and wrote in large letters: BDTP

I explained to the other two guys that the acronym stood for a variation on a statement made by an A.T. Kearny consultant: Better Done Than Perfect.

The phrase is a great reminder at appropriate times that my standards for an end product may be beyond what is called for in the normal course of business. It’s a slightly different twist on the 80-20 rule that helps me stay focused on maximizing my contribution in relevant ways across as many areas as possible (vs. cratering myself with outstanding work in a very narrow area).

Think about your own efforts. If you tend toward perfectionism, consider whether a BDTP attitude might free you to have the greatest overall business impact.

For us, it meant finishing in two days vs. spending the whole week and having our deliverable spill into the new year.

And with that, while this week’s posts on convergent thinking may not have been perfect, they are certainly done. Have a great weekend!

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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Here’s a variation on the 4 p.m. List approach with a slightly dishonest implementation method.

I was leading an all-day group session on a contentious topic. We’d spent much time in divergent thinking mode with interesting discussions exploring many points of view. Still, we hadn’t clearly advanced toward a recommendation even though we had to make demonstrable progress by the end of the day.

I broke away during lunch and handed Dawn, the front desk receptionist, my cell phone number, asking her to call it at 1:15 p.m. and not worry about what would be said.

When the phone soon vibrated, I made a point of heading to the back of the room and starting a loud, faux conversation with the project’s sponsor expressing my displeasure with him scheduling time with our CEO at 3:30 p.m. to review our recommendation. Given the timing, we’d have to wrap-up by 3:15 p.m. to get him ready. By the end of the call, I had everybody’s attention (and had Dawn wondering what was going on).

Playing back the other end of the conversation for the group, our challenge was clear – get to agreement within the next couple of hours so we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves by not having our project sponsor ready for the CEO. All of a sudden, it became easier to find points of agreement, determine how we’d solve uncertain areas, and structure what a final report-out included.

As 3:15 approached and the sponsor didn’t show up, group members noticed something wrong. I admitted the meeting was a ruse designed solely to get the group moving. While they were frustrated, they quickly realized the satisfaction of finishing the assignment outweighed two hours of pressure.

If you want to borrow this, know that you can only use it once with the same people, so pull it out when you don’t have other better options to force closure. While enough time has passed to probably try it again, sharing it here means I won’t be able to use it for another year!

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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Working to identify criteria describing attractive target customers, our small group had spent several weeks considering, selecting, and tracking down what we thought were the most relevant variables. There was a sense we could spend weeks more refining and tweaking things to get to our list of top prospects. Problem was we didn’t have time to do that.

At that point, the group’s leader made an intriguing suggestion. Our meeting was set to end at 4 o’clock. His direction to the group was to assume we had to report our list of 15 accounts by the end of the meeting. If that were the case he asked us, did we have confidence in our ability to come up with a defensible recommendation. Our answer was a resounding “Yes,” and we generated our list based on the work we’d done to that point.

With our proposed short list, we had an artifact for our effort. In additional analysis we did, we quickly matched up new possibilities against what became known as the “4 p.m. List” to see if they provided significant improvement. In all, the list paved the way for us to wrap up our recommendation in a timely fashion.

We learned from this, and with one of my strategic thinking partners, all we have to say is, “Let’s do a 4 p.m. list,” to know it’s time to force a recommendation assuming we know most of what we’re ever going to know at that point.

So if you’re stuck on a project, turn the clock to 3:50 p.m., and wrap it up!

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 you’re challenged, who will _______________________?

  • Inspire you?
  • Have a philosophical conversation with you?
  • Give you a pep talk?
  • Guide you through it?
  • Help you be a better person?
  • Tell you things will work out?
  • Challenge you some more?

Do you have answers to all these questions? Are you the answer to some (all) of these questions for the important people in your life? If either answer is “no,” you have some reaching out to do with others!

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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Wrap up for “Let Other People Talk” week features a few more quotes and links on various Brainzooming-oriented topics, nearly all from Twitter.

Quotes
@CynthiaY29: “Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

@artrox: Charles Handy “The modern economies will not be constrained by lack of resources but only by lack of creativity & ideas.”

RT @boxofcrayons: RT @joevans: From Sir Ken Robinson: “If you are not prepared to be wrong — you will not come up with anything original.

RT @CreativityBoost: Action is the best way to give doubt the middle finger. via @johnhaydon
Best quote heard so far this week: “Slow down and think so you can go fast.”

RT @Orrin_Woodward: “The successful leader gets superior performance from ordinary people”. ~Al Kaltman

RT @sallyhogshead: We were born w/ the ability to do 1 thing better than anyone else on earth. Trick is to find out exactly what YOURS is.

@AdamTheHutt: Some interviewee on NPR just declared that “motherhood is the necessity of innovation”…funny idea if you think about

@Zindella: Aristotle once said: Today I am short of time, so I am going to write you a long letter.

Links

Free Ideas Ready for You to Implement! Wacha Waitin’ For? RT @plish: Hamster Burial Kits & 998 Other Business Ideas http://post.ly/1Yb

50% of companies look for strategic thinking RT @davidharkleroad: Best Companies for Ldrs, Chief Exec Magazine: http://tinyurl.com/bhuc5p

The importance of group dynamics RT @stef: The qualities that make a successful innovator are actually ones a group shares http://is.gd/juOB

Also from Heart of Innovation – 100 Lamest Reasons Not to Innovate in 2009 http://tinyurl.com/79t3t3

Heart of Innovation on “56 Reasons Business Innovation Fails” http://tinyurl.com/5df2mm
RT @mindfulmimi: Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity – Bo Bennett http://ff.im/13vPD

Comment: New way of presenting food groups RT @plish: Mindmap of foods to boost productivity (and creativity!) http://tinyurl.com/cz5h4c

Cool cust exp mktg! RT @gabysslave:..sometimes wish i had clients prepared 2b challenged w/ really great ideas like this http://bit.ly/Po7Fp

Read the Great Springboard Blog! RT @kevinfullerton: Follow Your Connections to the End http://tinyurl.com/cxad3u

Hope you’ve enjoyed the variety this week. See you back here next week!

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 a contemplator and planner by nature, trying to figure out all potential angles first. It’s who I am.

When starting the blog, however, Kathryn Lorenzen, a wonderful career coach (trust me – contact her), suggested diving in more aggressively before understanding everything about blogging. Great advice, and much of Brainzooming is about approaches to do that more.

One way I’ve become comfortable with the idea is being more open to noticing and following “hints” placed in front of me and acting on them.

An example last week was participating in the Twitter-based IDEF140 contest devised by Stone Payton. The week was full of “hints”:

Follow that Tweet@stonepayton tweeted Saturday, January 17 on a contest to define “innovation” in less than 140 characters with a $100 prize. Sounded cool, so I wrote one (Innovation = A fundamental, valuable improvement relative to the status quo) and tweeted it Saturday, thinking that was it.

Reach Out – I considered lifting the contest idea since $100 is cheap for diverse input on Twitter to help expand understanding on a topic (i.e. “creative instigation”). That was until Stone raised the potential prize to $1000. Suddenly stealing the cheap idea involved a higher prize expectation. After tweeting Stone (jokingly) about pricing “idea thieves” out of the market, it created a tweet and email conversation about alternatives. That led to visiting each others’ blogs, LinkedIn networking, and finding Chuck Dymer as a common connection.

Keeping Up with @Macker – Throughout the week, definitions were added to IDEF140 (as it became known). @Macker seemed to have an unlimited number of definitions. Seeing that forced me to write others, including a more mathematically oriented one and another (my personal favorite) tied to “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.”

Mounting a Campaign – When voting started Thursday, I wasn’t planning much campaigning. Then two hints surfaced – Sally Hogshead voted for entry #2, and the organizers said a modest get out of the vote campaign could mean a win. That prompted a more aggressive Twitter, blog, and email effort (including a cut and paste tweet) for votes. My dad and Jan Harness signed up for Twitter and some infrequent tweeters returned to Twitter!

What Matters Is Helping Others – Trying to win wasn’t about the eventual $200 prize. It was about learning of possibilities from new online endeavors. After discovering I won (thanks everybody that voted!), I saw Stone supports the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta which helps recently homeless people and others in challenging situations secure basic furniture items (i.e., bedding, sofa, etc.). That seemed like a lot more appropriate recipient for the prize money, so it went to @FBMA.

That was last week. Diving in and following hints led to “meeting” intriguing people, challenging myself to think more about innovation, introducing friends to social media, identifying a potential opportunity to work with Sally Hogshead, and helping people financially who really need it!

Thanks for the “diving in” advice Kathryn. As always, it’s been a huge help!!!

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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