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I love Big Ideas.

That’s why I’m so excited about attending and speaking next week at The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference at Rutgers University.

And in a clear departure from other higher education conference programs, even though The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference (#BigIdeas12) is for educators, the TED-oriented and Inside the Actor’s Studio-style sessions will largely be delivered by non-educators. And having gone through the speaker bios in-depth to prepare my own session, there’s an incredible group of amazingly talented and accomplished people presenting at the two-day conference.

But Where Are the Educators at this Higher Education Conference?

Since there’s an expectation some attendees are going to struggle with the absence of a full slate of higher education presenters, my last-afternoon session is to help attendees in capturing big ideas and making strategic connections among the various sessions so they can start making things happen with The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference content.

As I said to The Big Ideas in Higher Education Conference organizers, it would be better to do my session near the start of the conference rather than at the end. Alas, it was too late to change things around.

Instead, here are some thoughts for attendees at any conference where there are going to be speakers who may seem to have little direct connection to what you do. Even if that’s the case, there are always going to be opportunities to learn, especially from someone who knows nothing about what you know.

Capturing All Your Big Ideas and Making them Happen

Here are 3 key steps for capturing big ideas at a conference where the presenters or material are outside your focus areas:

1. List what you want from the conference beforehand.

List a few opportunities, challenges, or issues you want to address from the information presented at the conference. This will help keep your most important objectives top-of-mind throughout the conference.

2. Don’t take notes. Capture ideas and thought starters – even challenging and apparently irrelevant ones.

It’s great to take notes at a conference. But in addition, capture and keep a separate list of ideas & comments from the presenters. These are the concepts that really get you thinking, even if you don’t know what to think about them. Maybe it’s an interesting statistic. It could very well be something that connects with you on emotional level (think: excited, stunned, energized, angered, stimulated, challenged, etc.), even if it’s apathy or boredom from wondering why the presenter is sharing information you don’t think connects with you.

Organize these ideas and thought starters relative to how much you relate to the information and how much the concepts intrigue you. The matrix below presents a way to organize your notes:

3. Start Making Strategic Connections

Some strategic connections between your list in number 1 and ideas / concepts shared at the conference will be naturals (“Lessons” should be directly applicable to your interests; ”Familiar” ideas may need a little creative sizzle).

Other strategic connections will be more challenging to identify, but those are often the most fruitful ones for innovation opportunities.

To help identify potential strategic connections look for the following relationships between your list and the conference ideas:

  • Similarities
  • Stark differences
  • Shared characteristics
  • Similar inputs and/or outputs among them
  • Sequential relationships between items on each list

After having identified these relationships, you should be able to more easily find “Big Ideas” within the “Ideas” quadrant. This will occur as you link your related to opportunities/challenges to ideas / concepts from the conference content.

Ideas in the “Huh?” category should provide relatively fertile ground for additional brainstorming to identify innovative connections you missed seeing the first time through.

What’s Next?

These first three steps will get you started in looking at ideas shared at an innovative business conference in new ways.

What’s next in terms of additional techniques for innovatively adapting ideas to your organizational situation is the topic of my presentation for The Big Ideas in Education Conference?

Coming out of my session (“Take all of your Big Ideas and Make them Happen, an Innovation Workshop”), I’ll share multiple strategic techniques exercises to derive even greater value from an innovative conference experience.

And if you want to follow along, track The Big Ideas Education Conference on Twitter at #BigIdeas12. - Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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There’s been a great reaction to the Brainzooming article on 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the Food Network celebration of off-beat restaurants hosted by Guy Fieri.

Since becoming a fan of this Food Network show, I’ve made it to three featured restaurants. The most recent was RJ’s Bob-Be-Que in Mission, KS earlier this week for Buck-a-Bone Tuesday, which means $1 per rib. That’s good eating!

But in the interest of turning my fascination with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy Fieri into something other than extra pounds, it’s time for more reality TV-driven extreme creativity! To the earlier 10 brainstorming questions, let’s add these 6 extreme creativity lessons gleaned from a recent Diners, Drive-ins and Dives marathon:

1. Go be a fish out of water

Maybe extreme creativity is tough for you. If it is, one way to turn yourself into an extreme creativity force is taking your talents and applying them in a completely unexpected and new environment. There are a variety of “Triple D” stories where a chef radically changed geographic location or work environment to trigger extreme creativity. Put a Louisiana-influenced Cajun cook in Minnesota, and you have a fish out of water recipe for extreme creativity. Where can you be a fish out of water?

2. Fuse unrelated creativity channels together

It seems like there have been several stops lately on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives involving a parked food truck supplying the kitchen facilities for a bar or restaurant. There’s an idea for you. How can you fuse two or more apparently unrelated creativity channels together to create something people don’t expect?

3. Do your extreme creativity old style

Despite modern innovations available to cooks, many manifest extreme creativity by foregoing new ways of doing things. For instance, despite the availability of incredible industrial food mixers, there are many instances where cooks are mixing things by hand because it provides closeness to the work and an awareness of quality variations. Do you have a similar opportunity to apply old style techniques to your creativity to turn it into extreme creativity?

4. Figure out the equivalent of deep frying in your area of extreme creativity

Watching any episode of “Triple D,” it’s clear you can deep fry any food, and it has a high probability of being very good. The more outlandish the food, the more outrageous the success. There’s got to be something to this. What’s the equivalent of deep frying in your focus area? What’s the one thing you can do to make your creativity extremely crispy, crunchy, and incredibly tasty? Whatever it is in your field, pursue your own version of deep fried extreme creativity!

5. Smash different parts into one

Most meals are served in separate courses: appetizer, entrée, side dishes, dessert. It’s not surprising to see all those courses smashed together into one menu item at restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. How can you employ the same idea? How can you take what would normally be separate creative pursuits and smash them together into one colossal creative feast?

6. Don’t clean up after you’ve gotten all creative

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of places on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives aren’t all that clean. Some of the chefs even take pride in how the flavor of the cooking builds up over time on utensils and cooking surfaces. While that’s a little disconcerting, there can definitely be something to it creatively. Having the afterglow of past creative highlights on your tools might be just what you need to inspire some extreme creativity. – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation 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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Recently, venture capitalist and senior Kauffman fellow, Paul Kedrosky, gave the last of four scheduled presentations at the Kauffman Foundation relating to Google Fiber. He concentrated on what Kansas City should do to make sure it—and the U.S.—gets the most out of the Google Fiber innovation opportunity. Here are four specific lessons on Google Fiber innovation from Paul Kedrosky that likely apply to our organizations as we strive for greater innovation.

1. Co-location

Kedrosky said some applications are not appropriate for development in Kansas City. Development must take place close to where they will eventually be used because even with extremely fast internet connects, execution or feedback will not be fast enough. The reason for this may be physical (in the case of stock trading, the speed of light is the limitation) or they may be sociological or cultural.

The lesson: Make sure that functions in your organization requiring nearly immediate feedback are in proximity—in terms of both physical location and where they fit in the hierarchy. Think sales and marketing, or production and engineering as examples where co-location is critical.

2. Upload/download symmetry

No matter how fast you can download information, it really does not matter if your upload bandwidth is too narrow. Eventually the download will become “occluded,” that is stopped or slowed because the response (upload) moves too slowly

The lesson: If senior management is not giving fast enough feedback and providing enough information, it makes no difference how much capacity an organization has. The organization will eventually stop what it is doing because it is waiting for senior management direction.

3. Understand the advantage/inevitability of flat-rate pricing

Historically the trend in communications is to flat rate pricing. The same first-class stamp takes your letter across the street or across the country. Likewise, long distance calling is rarely metered anymore. Widespread adoption and use becomes the counterbalance for falling prices.

The lesson: Customers shy away from pricing that involves cognitive complexity and risk. They ask questions such as, “What happens if I go over my limit?” or ”What else might I want to do with this product that I won’t be able to?” Look for ways you can make your pricing model flatter. Think restaurants and buffets. Also, consider making standard the options and add-ons that customers want or need. Price in a way that forgoes some upfront revenue but creates more satisfied customers—who, in turn, are likely to return and buy more.

4. Encourage playful experimentation and waste

Paul Kedrosky believes Kansas City will only make the creative breakthroughs in using Gigabit speed if it actively encourages, even demands, playful experimentation and waste. Indeed the title of his presentation was “Waste Lots, Want Lots.” Waste should come in two forms: waste of bandwidth and waste of latency.

The lesson: Ask these questions: Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time in the back shop soldering seemingly random circuit boards together? Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time, lots of time, trying to figure out a more systematic way to meet girls? If the answer is no, then you would have not been in on the founding of either Apple or Facebook. You may say that there are no Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg working for you. You are most likely right, and we could know at least one reason why. –Barrett Sydnor

 

How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

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I was talking with an organization’s leader the other day about how the boss can participate in the process of strategy planning and managing for change without compromising the team’s results. In his case, he was concerned that if he sat back and let his team take the lead in the process of strategy planning, they wouldn’t push for enough change. If, however, he talked first to demonstrate how far the organization needs to go in managing for change, he feared the team would agree with his comments without challenging ideas “the boss” shares.

He asked me what I’d recommend to help mitigate this particular challenge of the boss dominating in the process of strategy planning.

In this case my recommendation was based on a quick assessment that he legitimately wants his organization to undergo dramatic changes. My answer would differ if the question were coming from a leader who talks about change yet every obvious action suggests change isn’t a good thing.

With that backdrop, my first recommendation was to bring in an outside strategic facilitator (i.e., The Brainzooming Group!) so he isn’t in the dual role of trying to both participate and facilitate at the same time. Unless it’s a very rare situation, a leader has to pick one role or the other. Trying to facilitate and also participate is a recipe for problems.

Five Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating Strategy Planning

Beyond that important recommendation, here are five other ways to deal with this challenge:

  • Incorporate anonymous responses from the team so they can say their peace and suggest ideas without being identified.
  • Reduce the leader’s presence in the strategy planning process so they are not “visibly” participating in front of all team members at all times.
  • Vary the leader’s participation so the leader isn’t always talking first, but is talking first when it makes sense to do so.
  • Use different strategy questions than the organization typically asks so employees won’t know as readily what answers to expect from the boss.
  • Use a new or clearly neutral location for the planning session so the boss can’t sit in the usual power position in a room where the team typically meets.

Those are a few of the general techniques we use to get the broadest and most balanced participation during the process of strategy planning.

Are You Facing this Same Challenge?

What things have you done successfully to ensure the boss doesn’t overly-sway a team when it’s trying to be effective at managing for change? Are there things you do that haven’t worked as well? Let’s hear them!

And if you’re facing this same challenge, give us a call so YOU can do the most and get the most from your team’s planning effort.  - Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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To follow-up a recent post on business branding, we wanted to offer another brand compilation featuring articles from The Brainzooming Group related to customer experience. Examining your brand through a customer experience perspective is vital when considering brand strategy modifications you hope will solidify relationships with current and future customers.

These twenty-two articles on multiple aspects of brand strategy and customer experience can help you strengthen how you’re considering and evaluating your branding approach. This is especially important if you’re losing customers unexpectedly, being attacked by competitors disrupting the marketplace, or considering expanding into new markets. If you have efforts such as these under consideration or underway, call or email The Brainzooming Group for a free check-in consultation to make sure you’ve framed up your brand strategy efforts to maximize success.

Behaviors

Customer Buying Cycle

Customer Involvement

Consumer Goods

Service Businesses

  • Delivering on the Brand Promise – Just Try Harder – A brand promise isn’t just a few words. If you aren’t going to carry out your brand promise, you should come up with a different one your brand can perform.
  • Branding Lessons with the Newlyweds at Elitch Gardens – A great brand lesson demonstrating that a brand isn’t a name. A brand is all about the customer experience, and you have to make sure the brand name IS aligned with all parts of the customer experience.
  • Helping People Help Themselves – Too often, brands go the self-service route purely out of cost savings with little regard for the impact on the customer experience. With just a little forethought, you can devise a self-service strategy that might even add value for your customers. Here are 26 potential self-service benefits to consider.
  • How Can You Reinforce Your Smelly Brand? – Just because you’re in a service business doesn’t mean you can’t use experience cues taken from physical attributes of your brand and integrate them more directly into your brand experience. Here’s proof it’s possible!
  • Strategic Thinking from the Customer’s Seat – Front line employees can generate great ideas to improve the customer experience, especially for niche customer groups who wouldn’t typically show up in the data. Are you listening to your front line employees to see what customer experience ideas they have?
  • Customize a Customer Brand Experience Very Simply – You don’t necessarily need loads of technology to provide customized customer experiences. A little forethought and some helpful suggestions (call it experience curation, if you must) can provide customized customer experiences as well.

Crisis Moments

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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Spend enough time on social media networks and you will see a variety of negative online behavior. During the last few years on Twitter, I have observed such bad social media practices as:

  • A live-in couple breaking up via back and forth tweets
  • An adult harassing a child as the child’s mother responded in a state of terror
  • An individual being targeted and antagonized repeatedly by multiple people with various troll-like behaviors

Beyond these two-way online attacks, there is another distinct strain of online vigilante attacks. This troll-like behavior involves certain individuals (usually an online expert) waging an attack against bad social media practices the online vigilante has labeled wrong, harmful, or disingenuous, all in the spirit of protecting (and supposedly educating) others.

Attacking Bad Social Media Practices?

I watched one of these play out recently.

A self-appointed online vigilante went after a competitor (and certain employees of the competitor) for disingenuous social media behavior. What started as a post bemoaning the competitor’s bad social media practices (supported by an uploaded screen grab of the competitor’s site) triggered supportive comments from the online vigilante’s followers. This was followed by the online vigilante’s more pointed invective. Finally, an employee at the competitor under attack responded with a mea culpa and a request to put a stop to the feeding frenzy underway.

While the original comment was a valid opinion about the competitor’s presence, it was a situation where the parties KNOW each other. Rather than pointing out a competitor’s weakness to the online vigilante’s large follower network (under the guise of being shocked by the competitor’s shortcomings), it could have been handled privately. Or even ignored completely. There was no compelling reason to call out a competitor’s bad social media practices – other than to belittle the competitor in the eyes of potential clients.

I might have believed the online vigilante’s claim that no harm was ever meant in the original post except I’ve seen the same type of attack in several venues. And each time, the same motivation is claimed: to simply point out something the online vigilante found surprising or incredulous about a competitor’s social media practices.

Acting on Our Behalf?

Looking at this situation and others, online vigilantes are characterized by a rather unsavory set of personality traits and behaviors, including:

  • Being disingenuous (which is why they like to call it out in others)
  • Sarcasm
  • Vindictiveness
  • A strong sense of personal superiority
  • Detraction
  • Narcissism

Sounds like someone you’d want to hang out with, doesn’t it?

There are certainly other and more appropriate ways to wage social duels and fight with some level of online etiquette. Yet in this case and others, online vigilantism seems to attract thousands of followers in spite of, or heaven forbid, because of their negative online behavior.

And to that, I guess all I can say is, if we’re following them (and I obviously am), then we, as an audience, get what we deserve.  – Mike Brown

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download 6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!

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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1. The problem with beating yourself up is since you know all the best places to punch, it really hurts.

2. Minimizing a situation’s risk can be simply a personal mental challenge. Change your point of view and the risk evaporates so you can take action.

3. Why is it we so often become what we have scorned before we were in the other person’s shoes?

4. Respect your adversaries. Not everyone who disagrees with your ideas is an idiot.

5. Take the high road even when it feels as if you are the only one on that road…because you are not alone, even if no one is in sight.

6. You’re you. They’re them. You can’t control THEM, so if you want to change the situation, you had better start changing YOU.

7. We aren’t perfect. When we THINK we are perfect, we DO become perfectly wrong. So when a mistake or something wrong happens, ask, “How is this result better than what I had planned? What new ideas does this present?”

8. What if you applied the energy required for thinking up ideas for how to blame someone for your mistakes and just worked on solving what went wrong?

9. When you get better, you’ll find, amazingly, that others get better.

10. Don’t think you’ll recognize the decisive when it happens. Tomorrow’s decisive probably looks like today’s happenstance. - Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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