16

There is clearly tremendous value in having diverse, positive creative thinking skills on your creative team. What you might be overlooking, however, is the value of having access to creative thinking skills that might not typically be considered particularly constructive for a creative team’s success.

Consider It “Critical” Thinking

While creative instigators can be vital to the robust development of creative thinking, you can’t afford to let it coast its way toward implementation without being challenged. “Critical” thinking  make your creative thinking stronger near-term and your creative thinking skills sharper over time.

Don’t let a premature implementation push leave your creative thinking work vulnerable to critical challenges too late in the creative development process.

Select your creative team to make sure you identify the individuals who will supply five critical thinking perspectives to make your creative thinking stronger:

1. The Skeptic

The skeptic isn’t going to believe anything you tell them the first time. The skeptic will demand proof for the creative thinking you’re trying to sell to them. The skeptic making you prove everything, however, forces you to ensure you have the strategic and insight-driven support for your creative ideas.

2. The Short Attention Span Theater Fan

Certain people will not or cannot sit still for an in-depth explanation of your creative thinking. You might have only three PowerPoint slides worth of time to provide the background, make your recommendation, and show your supporting rationale. When someone on your team has a short attention span, you’ll get much better at getting to the point . . . or you’ll be talking to yourself in an empty room!

3. An Argumentative So and So

We all know people who object to everything. Everything is wrong; nothing will work. And they are ready to let you know all the things you can expect to fall short with your creative ideas. Talk about critical thinking! As a result, making your case to an argumentative person will cause you to be ready to answer all kinds of passionate, unexpected objections to the creative ideas you believe in so strongly.

4. The Dense Person

Some people simply don’t “get” things as fast as others. You can explain a new idea and see it in their eyes or in their body language: something about your creative idea isn’t clicking. Even if your dense creative team member does get the idea, he or she will not get it the next time you discuss it, so you’ll have to explain it again. While it may feel as if repetitive explanations are taking up time, repeating your creative idea multiple times will productively challenge the consistency of your thinking and your attention to strategic detail.

5. Your Narrow Minded Associate

The creative team member who has a clearly different, and markedly narrower, perspective than you can be maddening most of the time. These people do not (or simply refuse to) see the bigger picture. They also don’t have much time or respect for alternatives viewpoints to their own. Where they are beneficial as you try to sell your creative ideas, however, is when they force you to find (or incorporate) benefits to address non-believers in your audience.

Do you know who the problem people are on your creative team?

Are these “critical” creative thinking skills accounted for on your creative team? Are there other challenging creative thinking skills  you depend upon for your creative success? Let’s hear about them! – Mike Brown

 

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

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creativity 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

7

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It used to be a holiday steeped in religion and prayers of thanks for blessings we have received.

Now, it seems to be less about giving thanks and more about prayers of supplication:

So while there are still lots of prayers involved with Thanksgiving, they are hardly the types of prayers one might hope for on this day set aside to reflect on our blessings.

Speaking of Blessings in the Challenging Parts of Life

Thinking about the past few years, the most important thing I’ve learned is there are blessings in everything we’re presented in life – whether we perceive those things as good OR bad.

That hadn’t been my mindset before. Previously, I looked at good things as blessings and (apparently) bad things as annoyances that were there primarily because of something going awry. And those things needed to be FIXED to turn them into blessings.

Through a lot of reflection (and listening to a lot of EWTN), it’s become apparent how much good comes out of things I’d have considered as debacles just a few years ago.

One example?

Early in 2011 I was headed to Columbus, OH to work with Nate Riggs for several days of client meetings. Since it was February, I purposely booked my flight to arrive the day before to account for any potential weather delays. Sure enough, I flew in a day ahead of the great blizzard of 2011.

Just as we were pulling into Nate’s office, I received a call from our client asking when I was planning on getting into town. He informed me they not only had an emergency all-department meeting been scheduled for the next day (when our meetings were supposed to be going on), but because of the blizzard, the company was likely going to be on ½ days for the next several days. His hope was that I hadn’t left Kansas City so we could simply cancel everything.

The old me would be at the peak of frustration from having traveled to Ohio to have the client tell me our meetings (which we were told were a big deal to get done ASAP) were now in several days of TBD status.

The newer me realized there must be some reason I was supposed to be in Columbus, and it was important to sit back and see what it was.

I learned the reason the next morning, when our suddenly open schedule provided the opportunity for Nate and I to visit the Arvey store and meet Cheri Allbritton. Our visit probably wasn’t more than 20 minutes, and it’s the only time Cheri and I have met in person. But that time with the three of us talking in her office was a vital part of cementing a friendship that has flourished online. And this friendship was especially important as Cheri went through a very difficult 2011. I had the blessing to learn from the grace with which Cheri handled the real life challenges she was facing.

Without the snowstorm, there never would have been time to meet.

And guess what?

We got all our meetings done in a compressed time frame, and even though Chicago had been shut down the day before, I flew through Midway with no delays.

That’s only one example. I could go on with others, but won’t . . . at least not right now.

Being Thankful

So here’s my prayer for you on Thanksgiving: that we’re all able to embrace and learn from the challenges we face – big and small – and have the gift of patience to look for and discern the blessings behind each challenge.

And I guess that prayer even applies to the challenge of missing out on the last iPad deal you waited in line for hours to get at the big box electronics store!

Happy Thankshopgiving! – Mike Brown

 

Subscribe for Free to the Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic new ideas! For an organizational creativity 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 innovation 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

A business associate returned  from a manufacturers’ conference reporting new opportunities for growth and business development among attendees were generally coming from them looking at current clients in new ways.

What a great, often overlooked, reminder.

While it may be easy for organizations to get bored with their same old clients, surprising, unrealized new opportunities are often present with clients you have had for years. To discover new opportunities with current clients, however, can depend on pushing what you’re already doing on business development into new areas.

Five Ideas to Discover New Opportunities with Current Clients

Here are five ideas for taking your business development efforts into new, unexplored territory, by discovering new opportunities with current clients:

1. Go beyond just knowing your client’s job responsibilities

Make sure you know the range of duties for which your client contact has responsibility. Also find out, however, where your client spends too much or too little effort versus how they would like to allocate their time. A client spending more time than desired on an activity signals an opportunity to offer new ways to streamline and reduce demands on them. Areas where they aren’t spending enough time could be new opportunities to address what’s missing in their desired efforts.

2. Discover your customer’s business challenges beyond your category

After calling on a customer for some time, you may only focus on challenges they have tied to your product or service. Work to discover a customer’s biggest challenges outside your business category, too. With a broader view of a customer’s challenges, you can identify additional opportunities to solve, situations a partner can help address, or completely new business solutions to stretch your organization.

3. Ask how all your customer’s vendors are performing

It’s always helpful to play the Spy vs. Spy game of trying figure out how you’re doing relative to direct competitors. Additionally, start concerning yourself with how the providers of any product or service your client uses are making your client more successful. You can uncover value-creating approaches other vendors have identified for your client that you may be able to engineer into what you deliver for them.

4. Take a backward look at your client’s purchase decisions

If a customer is doing business with you, they’re “satisfied,” or they’d choose one of the many other options available to them. Instead of focusing on satisfaction levels when talking directly with clients, spend time discussing why the client STARTED and continues to buy from you. This line of discussion provides the opportunity to see if you’re still meeting initial expectations, if you’ve expanded the value you’re delivering, and if new needs/decision factors are shaping the client’s CURRENT expectations.

5. Dig for the problems being created for your client by . . . (wait for it) . . . you

It’s nice to hear nice things about how you are performing for a client. Beyond probing for what’s going well, it’s critical to uncover the customer’s biggest issues and how your organization could be unknowingly exacerbating them. Getting to the heart of this yields vital insights into how products, services, and processes your organization considers standard gum up the works for your clients and hold back your growth in serving them.

What are you doing to look at current clients in new ways to discover new growth opportunities?

There are obviously many more approaches to look at current clients to find new opportunities. These five ideas, however, can definitely open up unaddressed possibilities in any long-term business relationship. – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re struggling to create or sustain innovation and growth, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our  strategic thinking, brainstorming, and implementation tools to help you create greater innovation 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 innovation and implementation 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

12

There is, not surprisingly, a lot of activity on the Brainzooming blog on strategic thinking exercises since they are vital elements in effective strategic planning. As The Brainzooming Group looks at it, strategic thinking exercises are devices to help individuals or teams imagine and address ways to advance organizations / products / programs toward important goals.

What are the characteristics of the best strategic thinking exercises?

Here are six characteristics we design into the strategic thinking exercises we create for strategic planning engagements with clients.

They all need to:

1. Allow everyone to participate – even those with little or no direct experience

We preach the importance of multiple thinking perspectives in developing great strategy. We know some people who participate in strategic planning will have less experience than other participants will. Great exercises, however, accommodate these differences in experience and do not leave anyone without a role based on what they know or have done.

2. Incorporate emotion

It does not necessarily matter which emotion strategic thinking exercises incorporate. It could be fear, angst, frustration, humor, hope, or passion. Or another emotion. Or some combination of all of those. If your strategy development only depends on logic and does not incorporate emotion, you are missing something.

3. Require people to think atypically

If everyone comes into and leaves a set of strategic thinking exercises without having thought in new ways, there is a major disconnect. There needs to be specific variables built in to ensure people are thinking along new paths and in ways they have not had to consider previously.

4. Introduce a strategic twist that doesn’t match expectations or reality

If you want different perspectives from your current strategy, strategy and brainstorming questions need to go beyond simply what the current situation looks like. They should incorporate an unexpected twist or thinking detour to make participants feel uncomfortable with their standard way of thinking.

5. Create new questions

The more you attempt to answer strategy and brainstorming questions, the more new questions will emerge. Strategic thinking is about exploration. If it’s fruitful exploration, you’re going to uncover strategic paths that will be laden with new questions.

6. Leave room for unanswered issues

This goes along with triggering new questions. Successful strategic thinking exercises can’t be expected to answer everything. The future isn’t certain. The objective should be to consider as many possibilities as possible, even if some, or even many of them, can’t be completely answered right away.

Want examples of our favorite strategic thinking exercises?

Here are some of our go-to strategy exercises and brainstorming questions. We invite you to look at how these could fit into your strategic planning and innovation work:

As usual, they all carry our standard disclaimer: “These exercises appear easier to use then they really are.”

If you want the best results from them, you need to call The Brainzooming Group! When we’re on the case, we’ll guarantee these exercises will be successful as part of your innovation or strategic planning! – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

Do you ever suffer from “client block”?

As I’d characterize it, client block is a subset of creative block when you are specifically challenged making progress on a project for a particular client. That client may be an external or internal one to your organization. The point is something is getting in the way of delivering what you are on the hook for as the project outcome for a specific client, rather than an overall creative block.

Why Client Block Happens

Considering times I’ve suffered client block, it has happened because a client:

  • Has a world view that doesn’t have a lot of regard for the project’s focus
  • Doesn’t have a willingness to absorb much information
  • Isn’t open to accepting their view of reality isn’t borne out by facts
  • Isn’t interested in what they really need to know or understand
  • Knows what they DON’T want but can’t articulate what they DO want
  • Refuses to productively engage in shaping what the project deliverable they want contains and/or looks like

The result of these client block situations may be something that feels like creative block where you are unable to get started on a project. It could also simply be a lack of interest or motivation in determining how to address the specific issue a client could have with the project outcome.

Solutions to Client Block

Considering the issue the other day with someone while talking about creative block, we brainstormed a variety of approaches to combat client block. Some potential ideas to combat client bock include:

  • Creating a strategic outline that’s a mix of what the client wants and what you think should be delivered and working to get buy off on it from the client.
  • Moving ahead with what you believe is the right direction, realizing you’ll have to sell in your approach much harder.
  • Being an “order taker” and resolving to deliver whatever the client wants, whether you think it’s the right thing or not.
  • Using a previous project deliverable similar to what you need as a template or roadmap.
  • Not starting at the beginning of the deliverable but starting where you can most easily get started to fuel yourself with an early sense of accomplishment.
  • Determining the easiest way for you to create the deliverable and start using that direction, even if you modify and adapt it later.
  • Pulling someone into the project who can challenge your thinking and help identify a place to get started.
  • If you’re able, delegating or outsourcing the deliverable to someone who has a better sense of how to start and complete it.

What do you do to combat client block?

These eight ideas are a start at addressing client block. Have you tried any of them to deal with client block successfully or unsuccessfully? Are there other ways you’ve been able to work around a client block?

We (and be “we,” I mean “I”) would love to learn your solutions and give them a try! – Mike Brown

 

Subscribe for Free to the Brainzooming blog email updates.

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic new ideas! For an organizational creativity 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 innovation 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

6

There’s clearly a sub-theme running through social media content I track (now that the brainstorming doesn’t work theme has died down a bit) saying if you’re not pissing someone off, you’re not innovating or doing anything remarkable. And there are certainly social media stars who have built public personalities around the concept that the strongest differentiation comes from the lone wolf visionary innovating in ways status quo lovers will hate.

While I get the social media attraction of the message that pissing off status quo-oriented people represents innovation, I am never going to be there strategically. It is just not in my DNA, or if it ever were, it has been consciously unwound and left by the wayside somewhere along my business career.

Instead, the foundation shaping my personal view of business brainstorming and innovation success is at the other end of the strategy spectrum. In fact, the saying that best sums it up is actually a Bible verse (which has probably never appeared in popular social media channels) that is on my mind particularly today.

Innovation Based on Participation, Brainstorming, and Sound Strategy

I have lectored at 6:30 a.m. mass nearly every Tuesday for perhaps twelve years. Every two years on this Tuesday (during the 32nd week of the liturgical year), my favorite business-oriented bible verse is part of the first reading at mass. It is from the letter to Titus (Chapter 2: 7-8):

“Show(ing) yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.”

As I said before, basing your approach to innovating on this Bible verse from the letter to Titus is definitely the opposite of demonstrating your innovative nature by telling social media followers to forget brainstorming and concentrate on pissing piss off people!

Innovation Success through Creating Attraction

For me, the height of innovation success comes through demonstrating a sound strategy, making a compelling logic-based case, or successfully appealing to another’s emotions. When you create such an attractive strategic alternative that even those who initially disagreed with your innovative perspective (perhaps out of fear of innovation) have no choice but to embrace it.

This isn’t about people pleasing.

It’s about creating something that people WANT to be a part of because they see the connection between where they are now and the opportunity of the new innovation – even if the connection pulls them far away from where they are right now.

The possibility of creating innovation that is clearly different than the status quo, developed through brainstorming and ideas from a variety of people, and makes all the sense in the world for people to embrace?

That is what the innovation The Brainzooming Group helps organizations achieve is all about.

Maybe that point of view doesn’t generate as much social media buzz, but if THAT innovative approach sounds attractive to you, let’s work together to make it happen. – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re struggling to create or sustain innovation success, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our  strategic thinking, brainstorming, and implementation tools to help you create greater innovation 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 innovation and implementation 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

4

While the Brainzooming blog (which has its fifth birthday on November 10, 2012) wasn’t originally intended to be about project management techniques, it’s become a much more significant topic area the past several years.

The increased prominence for project management techniques on the Brainzooming blog has come about as we’ve experienced and helped more clients work through implementation challenges. Having a strong, innovative plan is only part of the Brainzooming equation. Implementing innovation for organizations reluctant to embrace changes needed to survive and grow requires another set of skills for people playing project manager and project team member roles.

Here are twenty-one articles organizing the project management technique strategies we’ve been sharing with clients to create needed changes in their organizations.

Project Management Techniques for Starting Strongly

Project Management Techniques – 6 Project Manager Mistakes to Not Repeat

Getting a project started right is lot easier when you’re not making early mistakes. These are six mistakes I’ve made on project management techniques so you don’t have to make them.

Implementation Problems? 7 Signs You’re Understarting, Not Overthinking

Strong project management technique requires both thinking and starting. One won’t work without the other.

Twenty-One Project Management Implications of Wanting Things FAST

When the pressure is on for completing a project fast, there are related implications an organization and a project manager have to contend with successfully.

Project Team Interactions

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are right and wrong ways for project team member communication to take place. There are also right and wrong times for how you communicate within your project team.

March Madness and What Outstanding Point Guards Bring to Business Teams

A strong project manager is the equivalent of a great basketball point guard on a project. An outstanding project manager is selfless, a leader, and has multi-dimensional talents to contribute to the project team.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (To Get the Stuff Done that I’m Waiting For)

There are many ways to prioritize what you do next. When you’re in the midst of a project, consider prioritizing based on what other project team members are depending on you to finish.

Change Management

Built for Discomfort – An Alternative Prioritization Strategy for Innovation

If your organization tends to select strategies and prioritize projects that are comfortable, here’s a way to more overtly push for change.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

The best approach to create change will differ based on expectations about the status quo and the demand for dramatically different results.

8 Change Management Lessons from Major Changes in the Mass Translation

Wide-scale change in a change-resistant organization provides a unique set of project management challenges and potential remedies to achieve the maximum beneficial impact.

Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps

Big changes are rarely “one and done” efforts. Prepare ahead of time for the ongoing reinforcement and change management techniques a project manager and project team will need to implement.

Project Management Technique Challenges

No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem

If your organization has a habit of failing to successfully implement new projects, here are thirteen problems to watch for and fix.

Checklists – Helping Visualize the Uncertain When Plans Fall Through

If a project isn’t going as planned, step back and make sure you have a checklist to guide your way back to normalcy and stronger performance in a hurry.

Dealing with Difficult People – 16 Articles on Help and Support for Prickly People

If you handle project management on enough projects, you’re going to wind up working with challenging people. If you can’t avoid them, at least be ready to successfully lead them (and the rest of the project team) to success.

Project Management – 7 Steps to Winning a Fuel Mileage Race Project

NASCAR teams are used to stretching one of their main resources (fuel) with creative, winning strategies. Smart project teams can learn and apply some of the principles NASCAR teams use for success with less.

Improving Decision Making

Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

It’s easy for certain personality types and organizations to take too long on decision making. In these seven situations, there’s no need to extend decision making time unnecessarily.

Making Decision Making Easier – She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

One factor that can slow decision making speed is too many available choices. Here is a low-tech, very direct way to narrow your decision options and move directly toward decision making.

Level 5 Decisions – Decision Making without Your Influence

One way to speed project-related decision making is when the senior person on the project delegates appropriate levels of decision making to team members and makes the delegation clear. Here’s a solid approach to make this happen.

Project Management Techniques for Finishing Successfully

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

When time is running down on a project, project management rules don’t necessarily change, but how you apply them can. These techniques can close out a project more successfully when timing is running down.

Convergent Thinking Week – A BDTP Perspective

When time is running down on a project you have approached with higher than expected standards, consider relaxing those standards. Getting done can definitely be more important than being perfect.

Project Management Tips – 8 Signs a Creative Project Is Done

While we often consider a project done when all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached, that’s not always the case with a creative project. A creative project could be done before all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached.

Strategies for Finishing a Project

Closing out a project the right way can set the stage for future success. A strong project closeout won’t simply happen by accident though. The closeout phase needs to be project managed, too.  – Mike Brown

 

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

Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the project management techniques to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented project management techniques will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call  816-509-5320  for a free consultation on how to get started.

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading