Collaboration | The Brainzooming Group - Part 112 – page 112
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A senior market research executive at a well-known CPG company asked about getting brand managers to narrow the number of questions they want answered in research studies. They specialize in manufacturing long lists of “highest priority” questions because with no ownership of the necessary research resources, it’s easy to deem everything important.

One key we’ve found is ensuring there’s some “pain” involved in prioritization. This means when asking someone to prioritize, we set up the task to ensure that in picking something they want, they’re forced to identify other alternatives as less attractive.

We do this by introducing cost, resource, or time constraints into strategic prioritization. This may be through incorporating actual data or simply creating an artificially constrained resource (i.e., think colored dots for voting).

We also frequently add text descriptions to more typical A/B/C or 1/2/3 prioritization scales. It can be challenging to get the scale descriptions written properly. When it’s done properly, however, it’s much more effective to pick between A and B priorities when everyone has the same understanding of what that means.

These creative approaches go a long way toward quickening and improving the effectiveness of any strategic prioritization effort. – Mike Brown

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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Find yourself mired in an organization (and feel free to substitute relationship, school, whatever outside entity you want here) that isn’t working for you?

No matter what you do, you’re not able to advance ideas, get things done, or maybe even feel like you’re being heard. Worse yet, you can’t afford to walk away even though your frustration feels like it’s eating you up inside.

Sound familiar?

Wonder what you can do?

Here’s an idea – quit complaining and channel your energy into being smarter and more innovative than the system in which you’re stuck!  Possible approaches:

Take the weekend, plan your strategy, be positive, and come in as a new person this Monday! – Mike Brown

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 was in my first meeting the other day of a group expected to help shape strategy  for an organization with domestic and international reach to a mainly young audience. Of the eleven people present, ten were Caucasian males (mostly baby boomers), and the other was a Caucasian female baby boomer.

Ok, big problem looming!

Next time you’re on an input-giving or decision making group, look around at the participants. If you’re lacking diversity on any important dimension relevant to your target audience, voice a concern.

In this case, after challenging ourselves on the group’s composition, one member offered to have his wife take his place. Nice sentiment, but hardly a fix for the underlying problem.

Leaders need to aggressively look out for diversity and ensure it’s taken into consideration, even when it means reaching far outside their traditional networks to include different people. Beyond being an issue of propriety, it’s critical for innovation and sound strategic decision making. – Mike Brown

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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In many circles, “strategy” has become a bad word, right up there with “creativity,” “innovation,” and even “thinking.” There clearly are business people who see strategy as mucking up getting things done. For them, strategy is perceived as simply adding time, cost, and complexity. It’s viewed as an impediment to running a business successfully. And by “successfully,” I mean “by the seat of their pants.”

To try getting a toehold for introducing a strategic perspective in these environments, we talk about strategy at Brainzooming as “addressing what matters with insight and innovation.”

It’s tough for executives to argue against the “what matters” part, especially when making a case for something tactical as REALLY important. It forces them to put up or shut up if an idea is more of a pet project than a fundamental business issue.

Granted, “insight” is a little easier to sell-in than innovation; people don’t want to be “dumb” about the work they’re doing even when they’re willing to accept a “status quo” mindset.

The clear implication the past few years is the simpler and more straightforward the definitions, process, and deliverables of strategy creation and implementation are, the more likely something successful will happen.  – Mike Brown

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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Trends are pushing brands into innovative channels to sell their products and services. These strategies include going through intermediaries who resell, repackage, aggregate, or creates marketplaces for multiple providers’ offerings. These arrangements have been the rise and ruin of many brands.

A specific challenge for parties in these intermediary relationships is that each brand visible to the end customer is bringing its individual brand promise to the sale. In turn, each becomes responsible for the aggregate brand promise, making it critical for various individual promises to fit together in a sensible way for customers. It’s also vital that each provider (and its employees) can and do carry out the aggregate promise of whatever’s being offered.

Our experience last week highlighted the challenges involved. Trying to get our driveway cleared of 9 inches of snow before returning from a trip, we used ServiceMagic.com. It promises to identify a short list of screened and approved professionals for home repair and contracting work, backed with a seal of approval and a guarantee.

We chose the first one to contact us (whose name can best be described as “Generic Subdivision Name Lawn and Garden” company).

Here’s the rub. Beyond whatever else ServiceMagic promises, its name implies something more. It’s not operating under a generic lawn and garden company name. Adding the name “Magic” into the collective brand promise implies an enhanced sense of delight and wonder with the service performed.

Unfortunately, we returned home to find the snow removal only partially completed. The porch, walk, and driveway were still half covered in snow – hardly a magic moment. A call to the snow removal company didn’t get someone back to do the work by the next morning. I wound up finishing the project, shooting a video before and after to substantiate what was and wasn’t done.

As of this posting, no one’s contacted us and we haven’t been invoiced by anyone. Maybe that’s the “magic” part of the service. If this is the case though, it would be a more magic strategy if someone called to say, “Hey, we screwed up, and it’s free!” Doing so would ensure our return for more performances! – Mike Brown

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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What’s your first reaction to a newWindow of Opportunity possibility? And importantly, what are typical reactions to new possibilities from the people who surround you?  Lately, I’m encountering more people whose first reaction is why something won’t work, how they know better than I do about it, or who simply react with a hostile tone.

For someone who espouses openness to ideas, I’m seeing detrimental impacts on my attitude. When you hear enough negatives, it can lead you to also start reacting negatively to new possibilities out of frustration, spite, or self-protection.

What to do in this type of situation? Overtly model positive behavior and hope they get it? Challenge them directly on how they dampen creativity? Leave the relationship for the sake of creative self-preservation?

No single answer works – each choice has its own advantages and peculiar stumbling blocks. Sounds like some type of combo is in order. We’ll see how that possibility works. Mike Brown

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 don’t have kids, something we came to terms with relatively early in our marriage and have accepted as part of life. While it means missing out on a range of incredible experiences, we’ve been able to do things for others (particularly our niece and nephews) that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. The net of it is accepting what life hands you and making the best of it.

Last year, our niece Valerie called and asked to speak with me. This was unusual, but as I’ve written before, Valerie has lived an unusual life. That includes getting married initially in a group wedding ceremony on Valentine’s Day 2008 at Loveland Pass. This was an event the family first learned about when my mother-in-law saw it reported on the Weather Channel!

When Valerie began talking about a second wedding ceremony where friends and family could be present, I was hesitant since we’d have to play a big role in putting it on.

As the phone conversation began, I told her our ability to help was limited since her cousin was getting married about the same time and we might have to get Valerie’s grandma to it. While stating my case, Valerie interrupted to ask, “Would you walk me down the aisle?”

091212-MeAndValWalking a bride down the aisle was something I’d long ago come to accept as an “I’ll never get to do it” moment. Suddenly my tone changed and being able to do something I never thought I would do completely changed my perspective. I was all for wedding ceremony #2 and making it happen.

The life-changing lesson here is the important reminder to remain perpetually hopeful. Things you think can never happen can happen. If there are possibilities you’ve shut out of your life, maybe it’s time to open them back up.

And in true Valerie fashion, she followed her life-changing comment with another incredibly touching one. As we were getting ready to walk into the ceremony, she told me, “Who else would I have asked to give me away. With everything you guys have done for me, you’re like my father.”

That’s Valerie!

Wrap-up: Hope you enjoyed this series on life-changing words!  Have a great holiday and rest of 2009! Thanks for reading Brainzooming!  – Mike Brown

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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