11

From our experience with The Brainzooming Group and ongoing business innovation research, there are fairly common situations blocking business innovations across companies, irrespective of corporate culture. Not all ten of these challenges to business innovation in organizations exist everywhere, but the presence of just a couple of innovation barriers within a corporate culture will scuttle even modest dreams of implementing business innovations expected to create value for customers.

Download Taking the NO Out of InNOvation for Free!

The good news is none of these ten business innovation barriers are insurmountable. As a result it’s important to understand what business innovation challenge issues you face in your organization. With that understanding, you can take appropriate change management steps to navigate each innovation challenge, enhance your corporate culture, and get business innovation going. That’s what “Taking the No Out of InNOvation” is all about doing:

1. NO Knack for Disruptive Innovation

There simply isn’t an orientation toward business innovation in your corporate culture. It may be a mature industry, a company that’s had success with an intense focus, one that’s grown through M&A, or has been burned on previous formal innovation efforts. Whatever the reason, innovative ideas don’t appear to be in the company’s DNA.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

2. NO Direction

Without a top-level mandate for innovative change management, it’s tough for a business innovation-oriented corporate culture to flourish. It could be that innovation is outside the company’s vision, there’s no upper management champion for disruptive innovation, or a lack of alignment stands in the way of these efforts.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

3. NO Rocking the Boat

There’s an unmistakable signal within the corporate culture (whether it’s uttered directly by upper management or not): “If it isn’t broken, don’t mess with it. We’re not interested in risk taking; let’s just maintain the status quo.” These messages make it clear that good things don’t await those interested in innovative ideas or disruptive innovation.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

4. NO Talent Pool

The company may have convinced itself the right people aren’t in place to make innovative ideas happen. It could be a perceived lack of “creatives” or “outside the box” thinkers. More likely though, this innovation challenge stems from a failure to get people with diverse perspectives together and let them thrive in innovation teams. It’s more about diverse talent not working together than not having the right talent for effective innovation teams.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

5. There’s NO Tomorrow

This innovation challenge springs from the conviction things will be won or lost in the short term, so there’s little need for long term business innovation development. Or it may be there’s no patience for protracted realization of opportunities. If a business innovation is going to be pursued, it needs to be developed and start paying out by the next quarter. In a challenging business economic environment, this sentiment becomes more prevalent.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

6. NO Resources

As with the “no tomorrow” innovation challenge, lowered interest in applying resources to business innovation may be more acutely felt during periods of uncertainty and intense change. The absence of specific resources can be broad, including management attention, available time, and investment dollars. Without these vital inputs, innovative ideas often stall or never take off in the first place.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

7. NO Motivation to Innovate

Something’s lacking that dampens an internal drive to innovate. It could be an environment that doesn’t promote cooperation, no opportunity to receive credit for your effort, or a lack of other meaningful incentives to bring ideas forward and develop them. The net result is that innovation isn’t happening as naturally as it might.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

8. NO Process

There are instances where innovation appears to emanate naturally from the corporate culture. Chances are though that it’s been cultivated and developed through an innovation process, even if it’s a relatively small scale and informal one. Without some type of planning and organized innovation process, bureaucracy and innovation challenges in organizations can easily block innovative ideas from coming to fruition.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

9. NO Implementation Success

Innovative ideas and concepts are cool, but only have value ultimately if they lead to successful implementation and deliver benefits for the intended audience. There are various roadblocks to successful implementation, including flaws in how ideas are recommended, prioritized, developed, and marketed to target audiences. With all those potential change management and innovation challenge issues that exist, it’s a wonder anything new actually takes place!

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

10. No Measures

It’s difficult to sustain a formal business innovation strategy without metrics in place to report return on investment (ROI), showcase positive improvements, and troubleshoot issues with innovations. Even earlier in the innovation process, the absence of metrics makes identifying and prioritizing opportunities a shot in the dark. Simply put: no metrics = no hope of long term success from innovations.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

All the best to you in addressing the specific NO’s you face standing in the way of innovations your organization is seeking to identify and implement.

If you’d like more information on exploring the personal perspectives you need to approach your whole life more innovatively, you can download an eBook version of “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” It’s a great companion on your mission to bring business innovations to life! – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational 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 your organizational 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.

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2

With Father’s Day on Sunday, it seemed appropriate to share some more personal versus business or organizational advice. A number of years ago, I noticed that Greg Reid, my boss and strategic mentor, talked with his father by phone a lot. As Greg told me, someday your parents aren’t going be there, and you’ll regret not having taken the opportunity to talk to them daily when you could.

His statement had a big impact on me.

I made a concerted attempt to switch from once weekly Sunday phone calls to my parents (who live hundreds of miles away) to trying to talk with them via phone daily.

It was a big change, but when my dad was in the hospital for ten weeks a few years ago, and it wasn’t clear whether he’d make it or not, I was so glad that Greg’s comment had prompted me to earlier change what I was doing. If something HAD happened to my dad, there weren’t going to be any regrets about things I’d wished I’d said but never had.

Ultimately, my dad was finally released from the hospital right before Father’s Day in 2009 thanks to lots of prayers, incredible support from my mom, and strong medical care that helped him navigate through a variety of conflicting medical conditions.

Now, I usually try to catch up with my parents most weekdays in the late afternoon, usually while they’re going for a ride in the car (and I’m driving home). I’m not perfect at it, especially when my schedule gets messed up (which seems to have happened a lot the last two weeks), but I don’t miss a call lightly.

So I pass on Greg’s parental advice (who happens to have a big birthday on Father’s Day) to all of you who can take advantage of it: make the decision to call your parents (and/or close loved ones) daily when you can so there won’t be any regrets or things left unsaid when you can’t do it anymore. – Mike Brown

 

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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.

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0

At the end of yesterday’s post, I mentioned today’s topic would be recapping a project case study we’ve been involved with the past few months. Because of client confidentiality on strategic plans, it’s not often we can openly discuss learnings from what we do to help clients. In this case, we can.

Bring More Insights back from Boston

The Brainzooming Group has been working since earlier this year with the Centurions Leadership Program for future Kansas City leaders. The two-year program with more than 70 active members conducts an annual trip to another city for a learning and listening tour to meet with its leaders and bring back lessons for strategic plans and actions in Kansas City.

Before this year’s Centurions trip to Boston, Jake Jacobson of Garmin, one of the trip’s organizers, reached out to us based on his experience with The Brainzooming Group process at the Google Fiber brainstorming session. Jake wanted to see if we could help the Centurions do a thorough job of capturing and building upon learnings during the Boston trip to bring them back to Kansas City.

A Mobile-Based Brainzooming Approach Is the Answer

After talking further with Jake and Shawn Hickey of Perceptive Software, we designed a targeted mobile-based approach to capture reactions among the Centurions as each half-day of the April trip was completed. We also designed a more comprehensive wrap-up survey to gauge reactions to the trip overall. Through this effort, the Centurions identified a robust base of real-time reactions on a variety of pertinent topics including education, innovation, entrepreneurship, arts and entertainment, infrastructure, and biotechnology.

This approach allowed Jake and Shawn to have an interim recap of major learnings to close out the Boston sessions. It also set up our activity today, where we will be working with the Centurions during their Wild Card community service day to turn the concepts they highlighted into the start of strategic plans and actions.

Sticky Notes? We Don’t Need No Sticky Notes!

One of the important aspects of The Brainzooming Group process is flexibility, and we’ll be demonstrating that for today’s session.

We’d typically facilitate plan-building with a multiple strategic thinking exercise approach and lots of sticky notes. The venue for the Centurions session (a small restaurant with little available wall space, about 35 minutes of working time, and mostly tiny tables) won’t support our typical approach. Since we don’t have the time to adapt the venue, we’re adapting our process to fit the client need.

During lunch, we’ve designed a single strategic thinking exercise for the Centurions to tackle high-level strategic plans and actions on thirteen concepts from the Boston trip. The initial strategic plans and actions the Centurions will be working on will involve describing desired outcomes, important resources, and initial steps for each concept. It will be a lively discussion with much progress over this short luncheon planning session. Right after we’re done, the Centurions will be off to more community service activities around Kansas City.

A Real Impact for the Future of Kansas City

We look forward to how the Centurions will ultimately prioritize and move forward with these concepts from the Boston learning and listening tour. There is a real opportunity for this fantastic organization to make a real impact and improve the Kansas City community with their efforts! – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational 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 your organizational 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.

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1

Are you making sure the strategic questions you use are “open, neutral, and lean”?

There is a lot on the Brainzooming blog about the value of collecting and asking great strategic questions. Complementing those articles, a recent piece from the Pointer Review Project Blog by Jason Fry on the ESPN website highlighted a recommended strategic question formula. The recommendation comes via John Sawatsky, a well-known Canadian investigative reporter.

Sawatsky uses a method he developed systematically over the last thirty years that centers on open, neutral, and lean questions. The breakthrough to his strategic question formula occurred working with students to conduct research for a book on Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Each week during the project, he gave all his students the same questions to ask potential interviewees. He expected some students to be good interviewers and some not so good, but nearly without fail, the type of question determined success more than an individual interviewer’s skills.

Sawatsky found that “open, neutral, and lean” questions were consistently more successful at getting interview sources to open up with answers that yielded useful information and insight.

What are Open, Lean, and Neutral Questions?

Here are the three characteristics and how they play into the strategic question formula:

  • Open questions – These can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Open questions probe on what, how, and why.
  • Neutral questions – The queries avoid adding value statements and judgments, which distract and bias the respondent.
  • Lean questions – As the name suggests, these are brief and conceptually simple. Lean questions keep the respondent on point and don’t allow them to pick and choose what they want to answer.

This strategic question formula is an intriguing guide in not only developing new questions, but checking those already in use to make sure they’re as productive as possible.

What ways do you hone strategic questions you use? How might the open, neutral, and lean question formula influence your approach? – Barrett Sydnor

 

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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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There was an American Restoration marathon on the History Channel recently, so I bought in for multiple hours of the Pawn Stars spin-off. American Restoration features Las Vegas’ Rick Dale and the crew at his business, Rick’s Restorationsn. They specialize in restoring classic objects that time has not treated very well, turning them into show pieces by hammering out dents, repainting, and tracking down all the missing parts and pieces that used to be there.

Photo by: ohNe22 | Source: Photocase.com

When you think about it, the restoration strategy principles on the American Restoration television show (affiliate link) are similar to what we face in business when a product, program, or process that was once shiny and new isn’t anymore, but it’s too valuable, for whatever reason, to eliminate. These types of business restoration situations aren’t pure turnarounds since you can’t apply the same type of scorched earth strategy a turnaround often requires.

Working from that rationale, here are five product, program, or process business restoration strategy principles to implement:

1. Understand expectations for authenticity and the restoration’s ultimate vision.

Before launching into a restoration, Rick Dale asks a customer about the ultimate vision for what the restoration looks like. There’s a different restoration strategy if they want it like brand new versus improving it but leaving the look and feel of an object that’s clearly been used. With a business restoration strategy, you similarly need to understand customer and management expectations upfront. Are you going for a complete refurbishment to take it back to day one, or are you trying to refresh and make it more valuable, even if it only suggests what it used to be?

2. Document where you are starting from so you have a reference point.

On American Restoration, they take multiple photos of an item coming into Rick’s Restorations before the restorers start working. These photos provide an important reference point for how the item looked originally, the placement and nature of specific features, and a measure to benchmark results. When beginning a business restoration, documenting your starting point (through various means) plays a similar role as a comparison point throughout the restoration and to measure your progress.

3. Be willing to do short term harm in the interests of a stronger end result.

When restoring a valuable item that is damaged, the experts on American Restoration may take steps which seem extreme, i.e. using a pickle bath of acid to loosen rust. This potentially harmful move, however, is necessary to remove the negative effects and potentially ongoing damage being done to the item. Taking on a business restoration, you will have to come to grips with the possibility of destroying particular elements of the current product, program, or process to revive performance. Rigorous analysis, an innovative perspective, tough decision making, and rapid implementation make up one formula for the “acid” needed to start a business restoration.

4. Be willing to completely redo something to make it seem more like the original.

Someone brought a really old baseball arcade game in horrible shape into Rick’s Restorations. The images on the game’s backdrop – which depicted the upper decks of a baseball stadium filled with fans – were barely visible. Rather than trying to rehabilitate the old backdrop to maintain authenticity, Rick Dale and his crew created a new backdrop. This freed them to use the old backdrop as a model to paint a new one that looked exactly like the original when it was new. The same principle can apply in business restorations: ditching an old component process or system can lead to a better result, even if it isn’t completely authentic.

5. Infuse the final restoration with emotion.

Rick Dale adds a special flair unveiling the shop’s work to customers. At a minimum, restored items are usually draped or behind some type of moveable surface to create a synchronized reveal. After restoring a toy wagon, they wrapped it as the original Christmas present it was originally. While there may be natural emotional components to the projects on American Restoration, these examples are good reminders to incorporate the right emotional experience when you’re ready to reveal the results of your business restoration effort.

What works for you?

What are your go-to strategies when you have a business restoration project ahead of you? At The Brainzooming Group, we help direct a lot of business restoration efforts for clients, so if you’d like to learn more about specific steps we find valuable, let’s talk!

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog 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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17

This is the final installment of creative ideas from the June 2012 issue of Fast Company featuring its list of The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012. These final thirty-six creative storytelling and creative process tips, as with the other from earlier ones, were all inspired by individual profiles on on the Fast Company 100 Most Creative People in Business list.

I hope this slightly different take on The Most Creative People in Business list profiles has been helpful now and in the future. For me personally, I pulled away perhaps five big idea possibilities for The Brainzooming Group. They tied specifically to business development and user experience ideas. Quite frankly, I’d hoped for a more, but the shortfall may be because of the abbreviated nature of the profiles Fast Company features on each person listed.

Now that our coverage on the creative people list wraps with these thirty-six creative storytelling and creative process tips, I guess it’s up to all of us now to get on with our creative work to try and make the list in 2013!

Creative Storytelling

What’s your story? Write your story. Then share it. Over and over.  - Bradford Shellhammer – Cofounder, Chief Creative Officer, Fab.com (#50)

Make stories. Tie together important touch points and create stories from them.  – Steve Porter – Viral Video Producer (#60)

When you develop your own material you can create it in the way you want, with the people you admire, and end up with creative output that works for you.  - Aziz Ansari – Comedian, Actor, “Parks and Rec” (#87)

Curation isn’t exclusively selection. It’s about playing out a perspective that connects to the audience.  - Maria Popova – Editor, Brainpickings.org (#51)

In conveying information (whether infographics or not), start with analysis, followed by determining the size and breadth of the insights, and finish with making it accessible.  - Eddie Opara – Partner, Pentagram (#52)

Introduce new content to your audience every day wrapped in great creative storytelling with strong characters, plot twists, surprising resolutions and a hint at what happens next.  - Andrew Wilson – Executive Vice President, EA Sports (#40)

In what ways does every piece of new content you create build on your amazing story?  – Jeremy Heimans – Founder, Purpose (#11)

Dress the creative part. It’s your obligation to wear jeans if it allows others to see you in the proper light.  - Cyrus Massoumi – Cofounder, ZocDoc (#57)

Creative Process Tips

It’s harder to sustain your creativity than it is to work to get your creative break. Focus on only doing what counts to make or keep your creative break. Don’t let yourself become distracted.  - Ceelo Green – Entertainer (#5)

You can’t sit still and expect ideas will just pop out of your head. Go do something!  - Elvis Chau – Executive Creative Director, JWT Shanghai (#84)

How much nonsense stuff are you doing? Is it good nonsense (that spurs creativity) or bad nonsense (it saps creativity)?  - Andrew Yang – Founder, Venture for America (#27)

If you’re the creative force in your organization can you afford to personally “touch” everything your organization produces? Can you afford not to?  - Pamela Love – Founder, Pamela Lover N.Y.C. (#93)

Make every square inch of your work space creative and fill it with people who have both the creative and technical talents to create through your entire process.  - Tony Haile – CEO, Chartbeat (#64)

Hold a weekly “Inspiration Friday,” event to share anything that’s been a creative inspiration in the past 7 days.  - Neil Blumenthal – Confounder, Warby Parker (#92)

Try a “walking meeting” to talk and walk and solve.  - Andrew Hsu – Founder, Airy Labs (#68)

Spit out as many ideas as fast as you can to get them out and captured. Then think about the connections and context among them.  - Greg Gunn – Entrepreneur in Residence, City Light Central (#85)

Take an experimental view and put together unconnected things to find the strategic connections- Masashi Kawamura – Cofounder, Creative Director, Party (#47)

When you’re in a partnership, one person’s passion for an idea or approach trumps the other’s reticence.  - Anand Rajaraman & Venky Harinarayan – Coheads, Walmart Labs (#53)

When you’re creating a fantasy world, there still should be a solid internal logic to it.  – Thomas Tull – Founder, Chairman, CEO, Legendary Entertainment (#55)

Share a starting idea or piece of creative work with the crowd, and let the crowd edit, change, or rank it to create the final version.  - Roy Price – Director, Amazon Studios (#15)

Invest more time in the visualization of whatever you do or create.  – Miriah Meyer- Computer Scientist, University of Utah (#24)

Every creative effort has to incorporate time to consider its aesthetics.  - Janet Iwasa – Molecular Animator, Harvard University (#25)

If you have different strategic efforts focused on the same creative goal that are difficult to compare, come up with a new success metric that works for both.  - Stefan Olander – VP, Digital Sport, Nike (#7)

If you’re addressing multiple audiences and can’t play creative favorites among them, create a prototypical audience member who is both everyone and no one at the same time.  - Kibwe Tavares – Cofounder, Factor Fifteen (#91)

Turn teaching into an experience of a class creating something together.  - Michael Karnjanaprakorn – Founder, Skillshare (#18)

When education is the goal, contact and interaction is a fundamental aspect of the process.  – Anka Mulder – President, OpenCourseWare Consortium (#19)

If you don’t want to seem abrupt to your audience, signal what you’re planning to do before you do it.  - Leila Takayama – Research Scientist, Willow Garage (#30)

When signaling change, physically destroy a representation of the attitudes that are getting in the way (i.e., put negative culture characteristics on beer bottles and smash them).  – Jeff Charney – CMO, Progressive Insurance (#35)

Audiences are more accepting of new content being delivered without as much polish, allowing you more room for trial, error, and learning.  - T.J. Miller – Actor, Comedian (#58)

Personal relevancy and engagement drive not only why people open things online, but also why people want to interact with anything.  - Ron J. Williams – CEO, Cofounder, Knodes (#62)

Invest more of your creative time and energy on creating incredible transitions in your work.  - Danny Trinh – Designer, Path (#66)

Maybe literacy in the Arab world is bad because of bad typefaces. Great reminder to keep asking, “Why else could this be happening?” until you get to very surprising answers.  - Nadine Chahine – Type Designer, Linotype and Monotype Imaging (#69)

When thinking about creative executions for mobile applications, strip things down to their simplest, tiniest forms.  - Ethan Marcotte – Freelance Web Designed (#75)

When someone’s pushed to the breaking point in a process you discover what they REALLY believe vs. what they’re doing simply it seems like the right thing to do.  - Carrie Brownstein – Writer, Actor, Portlandia (#95)

If there’s a problem with even one part of your creative output, there’s a problem with all of your creative output.  - Robin Guenther – Principal, Perkins + Will (#61)

When there’s a problem, look at the things that are still working and rewind them until everything seems to function in an expected way. Then restart.  - Nina Tandon – Research Scientist, Columbia University (#26)  Mike Brown

 

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Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

 

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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9

Following up the previous post on the June 2012 Fast Company list of The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2012, today’s list of creative thinking ideas from the Fast Company issue focus on disruptive and divergent thinking along with suggestions for enhancing your creative perspective. As with the other lists in this series, these creative ideas were inspired by the profiles in Fast Company. My intent was to pull a single creative thinking idea or creative lesson from each of the 100 profiles.

One interesting note about the Fast Company 100 Most Creative People in Business list is that the numbered rankings don’t seem to have any real meaning. At least I draw that conclusion from how certain groups of people who have similar characteristics (i.e., apps developers, two-person teams, fashion industry leaders, etc.) are given consecutive numbered rankings. That would be just TOO much of a creative coincidence.

Despite this indication the numbered rankings are so much hooey, each of the thirty-three creative thinking ideas below references the person whose profile inspired it, along with the person’s number on the 100 Most Creative People in Business list.

Here’s hoping these creative ideas get you thinking and provide ideas for enhancing your own creative efforts.

Disruptive and Constraint-Based Thinking

What’s your creative imperative – the one thing that HAS to be part of your creative effort?  - Leslie Berland – SVP, Digital Partnerships and development, American Express (#6)

What in your past is like what you’re doing today? What did you learn that applies to what you’re doing now?  - Steven Zeitels – Director, MA General Hospital’s Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation (#14)

When evaluating data or an idea, challenge what’s being presented from the completely opposite point of view to determine how strong the strategic thinking is.  - Rebecca Van Duck – Head of Consumer Marketing, Facebook (#2)

What are multiple ways you can create more strategic connections than anyone else does?  – Garet Hil – Founder, National Kidney Registry (#9)

Compile and share information to connect separate audiences who don’t have any basis to talk to each other right now.  - Ma Jun, Director – Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (#1)

Take on creative initiatives that allow you to collect massive amounts of data you can mine to direct your own organization or sell to others. For Foursquare, it’s about connecting information on people, places, and time-specific actions.  - Alex Rainert – Head of Product, Foursquare (#77)

How can you substitute easier processes for the hard parts your audience deals with every day?  - Ben Horowitz – Cofounder, Andreesen Horowitz (#8)

For cool ideas and design to be successful, they can’t be embarrassing to wear or use.  - Steve Lee – Product Management Director, Google [X] (#20)

If you’re facing creative detractors, how can you create creative baby steps they’ll find more acceptable for getting started?  - Maelle Gavet – CEO, Ozon Holdings (#10)

Innovate with only things that already exist in your business. Put together new combinations from pre-existing elements.  - Adam Brotman – Chief Digital Officer, Starbucks (#3)

Invite people to exercise their creative talents . . . maybe no one has ever asked them about creativity before?  - Rosario Dawson & Maria Teresa Kumar – Founders, VotoLatino (#12)

Find a compelling motivation (and the associated process) to allow customers to commit to purchases earlier than they might now to make it practical to buy things that would never make it to market on spec.  - Aslaug Magnusdottir – Cofounder, CEO, Moda Operandi (#78)

Apply design and pleasing aesthetic principles to the most necessary, thankless, and joyless tasks humans have to do to raise the creative energy from them.  - Jessica Alba – Cofounder, The Honest Company (#17)

Consider every interaction as a performance and allow the audience to participate, shape the outcome, and leave with the results.  - Björk – Musician (#36)

Creative Thinking Perspectives

Design isn’t a liner process, so incorporating strategic thinking is vital to successfully handling a problem that doesn’t have a nice, neat structure.  - Matthew Schmidt – Assistant Professor of Political Science, School of Advanced Military Studies (#22)

Be okay when the first examples of your creative work aren’t what you expected.  - Wes Anderson – Director, Moonrise Kingdom (#28)

Go do the equivalent of whatever “biking around the neighborhood” would be in your market and soak up the inspiration from a different perspective than you have before.  – Marcus Samuelsson – Chef, Owner, Red Rooster (#90)

Throw out how you usually categorize things and come up with a completely different categorization approach.  - Ron Johnson – CEO, JCPenney (#4)

Defy the creative rules of your world while still delivering a cohesive creative whole.  - Kin Ying Lee – Creative Director, Madewell (#31)

Don’t be afraid to call someone’s bluff and create what they say you can’t or shouldn’t do.  - Marvin Ammori – Lawyer, The Ammori Group (#32)

What incredibly worthwhile activities are hiding behind the “scary monsters” in your world?  – Tim Schafer – Founder, Double Fine Productions (#39)

Explicitly pick a time or point in your life and use it as a reference to solve creative or design problems faced now.  - Ken Parks – Chief Content Office, Spotify (#33)

Create so that what you’re creating is “stunning” to at least one of the senses.  - Diébédo Francis Kéré – Architect, Kéré Architecture (#34)

What would an experience look like that is destined to “disturb the universe”?  – Ross Martin – Executive VP, MTV Scratch (#46)

How can you use your creativity to add more serenity to your customers’ lives?  - Leah Busque – Founder, TaskRabbit (#42)

What would you change about your product to make it more inviting to people?  – Deborah Borda – CEO, Los Angeles Philharmonic (#44)

How would Sesame Street (or Romper Room, if you’re old enough to remember it) teach new things to people who think they’re too old to learn new things?  – Bruktawit Tigabu – Founder, Director, Whiz Kids Workshop (#45)

Change the natural order that things happen to spark innovative ideas, i.e. What if you focused a picture after it’s taken?  - Ren Ng – Founder, CEO, Lytro (#70)

Get out of the office or conference room and go look around at people, places, and things both relevant and tangential to your creative objective.  – Rick Barrack – Chief Creative Officer, CBX (#79)

Not everyone that makes the “Fast Company 100 Most Creative People in Business” list has a strong enough profile to yield even one creative inspiration of substance.  – Chris Milk – Director (#83)

What are you doing today to make your product, business, or market wildly controversial? Are you doing enough?  - Rufus Griscom – Cofounder, General Manager, Babble Media (#88)

Think Africa. “There’s something really exciting about the word . . . It evokes an emotion in everyone.”  - Tal Dehtiar – Founder, Oliberte Footwear (#96)

Who would you fire if you fired co-workers or clients that aren’t good for your business?  - Jimmy Smith – Chairman, CEO, Chief Creative Officer, Amusement Park Entertainment (#43)  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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