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imageA prospective client asked about the brainstorming dynamics we address to generate a large volume of new ideas and concepts to replenish a new product pipeline.

My short answer was, “It’s all in the math.”

While that’s the short answer, it’s also the answer at the heart of designing a Brainzooming creative thinking session so it generates many new ideas.

The Math of Brainstorming and New Ideas

As we identify a client’s objectives and desired outcomes, it comes down to the math of how much creative thinking productivity we need from a group to generate the desired volume of new ideas. Among the variables we evaluate are:

  • The number of diverse participants
  • How much time we have for creative thinking
  • The inherent productivity of various creative thinking exercises
  • How many people will be able to share new ideas simultaneously

When you start putting numbers to those variables, you quickly get a sense of how many new ideas a brainstorming session will yield.

Turning Creative Thinking into Ideas

Once the math is done, that’s when the real work starts of actually arranging, designing, and structuring the Brainzooming creative thinking exercises to bring the math to life!

So how many new ideas do you need? We’d be happy to do the math AND turn it into actual ideas! Just call or email to get started! – 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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3

AgreeX3My friend Tony Vannicola used to remark when everybody at a meeting was piling on to say the same thing, “Sounds like we’re all in violent agreement.”

I always loved that phrase.

Over time, I realized how much project management time gets wasted with people rehashing topics where they are truly in violent agreement.

When time is limited, and you need to get things done, however, you don’t want to waste time on areas of violent agreement. You want to focus your project management efforts instead on areas of violent DISAGREEMENT.

7 Project Management Techniques to Spend Less Time Agreeing

Try these seven project management techniques to get to disagreements faster so you can turn them into agreements, or at least see if there are solid reasons to disagree.

  • Use online surveys to understand a group’s sentiment before or during a project
  • Have individual conversations with group members about their initial perspectives
  • Ask team members to write down their personal perspectives then collectively plot them on a matrix or scale to isolate disagreement areas
  • Run through a checklist of potential issues to see if there are any you can dismiss with no further discussion
  • Set a time limit on conversations in a meeting and only extend the time if there are conflicting points of view
  • Keep a running list of previously agreed to decisions posted so you don’t unnecessarily revisit them
  • Use multiple small groups and try to keep the “agreement talkers” bunch together

All these project management techniques work.

Quickly pick those you agree with and try them with a project team where you want to efficiently focus on where you disagree. – 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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2

Do you ever need to explore and describe a new product idea?

Opposite-ExpectationsIf so, here’s a productive twist on a new product ideation strategic thinking exercise we used just this past week that you can use too.

Having limited time with a current client who is exploring a new product idea within a joint venture, we had to cover both the basics of the product definition and some more extreme ideas all at one time.

The answer was to combo up a strategic thinking exercise focused on new product idea basics with another one using extreme creativity questions.

New Product Idea Basics and Extremes in 30 Minutes

This is a worksheet adaptation of the strategic thinking poster we used to create a big head start on new product idea possibilities in less than 30 minutes. We first asked all the basic new product ideation questions followed by the extreme questions. Each question received about 3 to 4 minutes of attention before moving on to the next one.

Brainzooming-New-Prod

Strategic Thinking Exercise with Extreme Creativity

Within the few questions in this strategic thinking exercise, we covered a lot of territory. Additionally, incorporating the extreme creativity questions with the new product ideation basics introduced an intriguing dimension for even an already creative group.

Once we started asking the extreme creativity questions, it was as if the group went, “Oh, you want us to go THAT far. Okay, I’ll go there!” Those questions definitely brought out distinctly different and bolder ideas than the basic questions generated.

Go ahead and have a go with this strategic thinking exercise worksheet, and be sure to let us know how it expands your new product ideas. – 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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1

Some Dilbert comic strips are hilarious because they are so accurate. Other Dilbert comic strips are sad and pathetic because you suspect they are too accurate.

This Dilbert comic strip is in the latter category.

If this is how things go at your workplace in the way management tries to surface new ideas and judge whether new ideas are great ideas, you have my sympathies. And if this IS like where you work, the seething resentment created by doing all of that in such a ham handed way will seem way too familiar.

Trying to Come Up with New Ideas in a Bad Place

Dilbert.com

4 Ways Better than Dilbert to Come Up with New Ideas

stickman-drawingIf nothing else, this Dilbert comic provides an opportunity to highlight potential remedies in case any of these behaviors DO seem too much like your work place.

And since I don’t want to leave you in a creatively bad place, here’s a fun feature to lighten everything up – go draw a stickman– Mike Brown

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s success!


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

We don”t necessarily have a lot of traditions around here.

Angel-prayingBut if there is one, it’s sharing our creativity prayer annually on Ash Wednesday as the the Lenten season starts. During Lent, Christians are called to increase their time devoted to prayer, reflection, and sacrifice as a way to detach from the demanding distractions of daily life. 

Perhaps more so than in recent years, I’m struggling with my own calls to prayer, fasting, and alms giving for this Lenten season. I’ve been praying about it for a couple of weeks and still haven’t “heard” exactly what I’m being called to do.

Maybe that’s the lesson – some Lents begin with very clear definition; others are true journeys to find where God is trying to lead you. Perhaps this is because of changes I’ve undergone personally in the last year. Some have given me more confidence and peace, while others have left me tremendously unsettled.

In any event, my hope remains, as always, that sharing this creativity prayer will provide creative inspiration for you and prompt you to seek new inspiration for your creative efforts in the coming weeks and year!

A Creativity Prayer

Lord,

Thank you for creation itself and the incredible gifts and talents you so generously entrust to me. May I appreciate and develop these talents, always recognizing that they come from you and remain yours.

Guide me in using them for the benefit of everyone that I touch, so that they may be more aware of your creative presence and develop the creativity entrusted to them for the good of others.

Help me also to use your talents to bring a creative spark and new possibilities to your world, living out my call to be an integral part of your creative force. Amen.

Copyright 2008, 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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4

I was facilitating a strategic planning session and letting the conversation among participants extend much longer than typical.

To my surprise, several participants in the strategy session repeatedly apologized throughout the day for “talking too much.” 

As I told them multiple times, I was allowing the conversation to take up more time than expected because the group needed to address certain issues and better understand each other’s perspectives. This was vital since we needed to reconcile their differing perspectives before creating the organization’s strategic plan.

I reassured them that the minute they drifted off into unproductive conversation (i.e., discussions that didn’t move us toward creating a stronger strategic plan), I would most certainly shut it down and take the group to the next strategic thinking exercise.

5 Reasons to Cut Off Conversations in Strategic Planning Sessions

StoplightAnd what would constitute unproductive conversation not moving the group forward toward a stronger strategic plan?

The answer is akin to the Justice Potter Stewart reply to the question about what is or isn’t obscene: I know it when I see it.

In the interests of being more definitive, however, here are five behaviors that stand in the way of productive conversations within strategic planning sessions:

  1. Needlessly restating obvious information or view points
  2. Over-sharing knowledge in a way that stops out others from contributing
  3. Heading into off-topic issues that don’t contribute to delivering expected planning outcomes
  4. Filibustering (on even a relevant topic) without adding anything new to anyone’s understanding
  5. A group or key individual who refuses much needed help to improve

So if we’re facilitating a strategic planning session for your organization and call “time” on a meandering conversation, you can come back to this list to figure out what just happened! – 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.

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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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4

New-Product-SessionThere was a time back in the corporate world when our company brought in a big-time business book author to explore strategic initiatives and new product development brainstorming with employee teams selected from throughout the organization. 

The book author’s partner in crime designed the methodology for teams to document and advance initiatives. The partner was a rocket scientist, with all the baggage that career background implied.

Everything about the process was as complicated as rocket science, and as with so many consultant-envisioned strategic planning and product development processes hoping to speed things up, everything other than the consultant’s billable hours were compromised in the interests of speed.

The consultant’s ill-defined process, however, had to be completed at every step.

How The Brainzooming Group Approaches New Product Development Differently

The Brainzooming Group approaches things fundamentally differently. I was explaining this to a prospective client while discussing early stage work for brainstorming ideas for new product development. The potential client is a leader in a business-to-business product market. It also uses its products to provide related services for other companies.

When The Brainzooming Group designs new product development brainstorming sessions we:

  • Start by identifying the desired new product development outcomes and designing the session around delivering those outcomes
  • Eliminate process steps that don’t add any real value or new product ideas
  • Create interactive strategic thinking exercises that directly use the client’s business objectives to generate new product ideas

Instead of using standard tools and exercises to identify off-the-mark new product development ideas, we design a new product development innovation session’s foundation around fundamental business strategy and objectives.

Brainstorming Ideas Grounded in Business Strategy

The difference in using The Brainzooming Group approach is we deliver more targeted new product development ideas to address a client’s business strategy and objectives. Clients enjoy the advantages of getting to “Fire” quickly, but without having to postpone the all-important “Aim” step until later.

Sound good?

Give me a call, and let’s work together brainstorming ideas where you will see the successful difference for your organization and your new product development effort. – Mike Brown

 

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

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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