Collaboration | The Brainzooming Group - Part 37 – page 37
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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article shared ways to increase the strategic thinking in your organization without holding an offsite meeting.

Here’s another way to improve daily strategic thinking. It builds on one idea in yesterday’s post (“Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter”).

This approach leads to developing a list of targeted questions specific to your business situation. You can complete it in a week, but we recommend spreading it over several weeks or during a typical month of activity.

4 Steps to Customizing Your Strategic Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Step 1. Anticipate

Before the week or month you have selected, list typical business issues and conversations you have with your team and other groups you work with regularly.

Step 2. Categorize

Group the issues and conversations into general categories. Possible examples include:

  • Understanding things (analysis, evaluation)
  • Developing things (innovation, creativity)
  • Building things (operations, manufacturing, efficiency and process improvements)
  • Growing things (creating more sales, implementing more initiatives)
  • Fixing things (diagnosis, correction)
  • Forecasting things (projections, estimates)

Step 3. Track

With the list in Step 2 complete, use it during your selected timeframe to keep track of how many issues and conversations pertain to each category. If you need to add other categories, add them.

Step 4. Compile

After you’re done monitoring your conversations and activities, see where your focus is. Work on developing a custom list of ready-to-use questions in each area. You can mine our extensive lists of strategic thinking questions for ones to use. Here are links to some of our most popular lists:

This focused approach will pay dividends with your ability to develop a solid command of strategic thinking questions for daily use to boost strategic thinking in your team, yourself, and everyone you work with in the organization.  – 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.

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Want a quick innovation strategy formula you can easily commit to memory?

A 5-Step Innovation Strategy Formula

Here’s a five-step innovation strategy formula that fits the bill:.

Step 1. Try lots of stuff.

Step 2. See what works.

Step 3. Heavy up on stuff that works quickly.

Step 4. Quickly kill stuff that doesn’t work.

Step 5. Revel and repeat.

5-Step-Innovation-Formula

Say it three times, and you’ll have it in memory. Follow this five-step innovation strategy formula, especially if you’re in an environment that’s resistant to change, and you’ll soon start reaping the benefits of greater innovation success.

Need more help leading your team’s innovation strategy for new product ideas?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookDo you need to take better advantage of your brand’s customer inputs and market insights to generate innovative product ideas?

With the right combination of perspectives from outside your organization and productive strategic thinking exercises, you can 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.


Download Your Free Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I was demonstrating several Brainzooming techniques for identifying valuable business analogies during a workshop on creative thinking exercises. Small groups were identifying comparable situations to a situation where individuals were being moved within an organization, quickly forming new groups, and leaving challenges in the wake of the moves. Each group used the “My situation is like” creative thinking exercise to generate multiple analogies.

Some analogies were very specific and creatively rich in possibilities (i.e., a beehive where drones are dying off or a sports all-star team quickly forming and performing). Others were overly general, such as “doing more with less.”

There’s an important lesson in this experience about how specific or general you should be with creative thinking exercises.

Bee-Hive

How Specific Should You Be with Creative Thinking Exercises?

In certain creative thinking exercises, general examples allow people to think more broadly about their own situations in a less encumbered fashion. Often, however, a more general description is only needed to help identify a very specific, analogous example to use as further creative thinking inspiration. Specific, possibilities-rich examples work well with creative thinking exercises such as, “What’s it like?”

Using a general situation, such as “doing more with less,” makes it too easy for a group to simply focus on their typical day-to-day roles and regurgitate the same things they always do.

With a very specific and markedly different analogy, however, group members begin playing a different role and thinking about their situation in a new way.

The lesson?

Pay attention when you’re using creative thinking exercises to prompt a group’s new consideration of its opportunities and challenges. Do you need to view the issue on the table specifically or generally? Decide early and use strategic thinking exercises to guide them accordingly because whichever direction you pick has a major impact on the creative thinking that follows.

Need help guiding your team’s creative thinking for innovative product ideas?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookDo you need to take better advantage of your brand’s customer inputs and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? With the right combination of perspectives from outside your organization and productive strategic thinking exercises, you can 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.

Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

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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The April 2015 Psychology Today has a story on Tania Luna. Ukrainian-born and Brooklyn-based, Ms. Luna is a “Suprisologist.”

What, you might ask, is a Surprisologist?

At least I asked that question.

As a Suprisologist, she has her own company, Surprise Industries, devoted to creating unique surprises for its customers. Luna has also co-authored a book, “Surprise: Enhance the Unpredictable & Engineer the Unexpected” on the importance of surprise.

Luna admits in the interview that she definitely has had a preference for control during her life. She links this, at least in part, to an unpredictable environment as a child. Controlling things and having a “no surprises” outlook was a coping mechanism to feel “safe and secure and in charge.”

Why My Personal Life Is No Surprises

Her admission caught my eye. I operate between an appreciation for surprise and a living situation causing me to go to extreme measures to make sure there are “no surprises” because of the harm they could cause.

No-surprises-fortune-cookie

My wife has Fibromyalgia and related health issues. This includes particularly harsh reactions to many foods and environmental conditions. As a result, the “unexpected” is bad.

One extreme example?

My wife offered to visit a seafood restaurant I wanted to try even though she can’t eat seafood any longer. We went during a happy hour and grabbed a seat at the bar. She scoured the menu to find SOMETHING she could eat and settled on onion straws as the only option. When the waiter brought our food, she took two bites and said, “I don’t think these are onion straws.” Her neck was already turning completely red and she was having trouble breathing. The bartender admitted he had mistakenly served her calamari.

We quickly paid and headed to a drug store. She was moving too far along in the food reaction, though. I drove like crazy to a nearby hospital emergency room where they gave her intravenous medicine to counteract the reaction. As I told the restaurant owner when we met him later at an event, “Your bartender’s mistake could have killed me wife.”

These types of possibilities are why everything is about no surprises and making sure unexpected events aren’t part of our life.

Any restaurant we visit has to be a familiar, “safe” restaurant (knowing they can become “unsafe” via an unannounced recipe change). Nights out at a concert or a movie are subject to cancellation or being cut short because of health issues, so we stay home. We can’t travel together because of her discomfort and concerns about being away from the coping structure home offers. Even trying to do something nice for her that’s not pre-approved can backfire in a big way.

It’s ironic.

While extolling the benefits of new experiences on creative thinking, the most important relationship in my life is focused on avoiding surprises, changes, and unexpected events.

Creative Thinking and Surprises

I find myself thinking a lot about how to keep things new for me since it’s an essential part of our livelihood, while maintaining the view I’ve always had about our relationship as a team. That means not maintaining separate lives, even if it results in staying home because we CAN do that together.

One counter approach to boost my creative thinking reserves is putting myself in other peoples’ hands that are familiar with being adventurous whenever I’m doing something for business. If it’s a lunch, I suggest someone else pick an unusual restaurant. If it’s a meeting, I want to go to unusual locations. I seek out new churches at home and on trips for daily mass (although returning to the same churches years later, you see the same faces in exactly the same pews).

Now you see why a Surprisologist intrigues me so much.

The search for surprises in the narrow part of my life that doesn’t have to be “no surprises” needs the intriguing attention a Surprisologist could deliver! – 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 creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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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I love speakers who hit the stage and have the effective presentation skills to engage and audience immediately, bringing them into a learning and growth experience throughout the time together.

On the flip side, I cringe when speakers inadvertently start erecting a wall between themselves and the audience either through arrogance, indifference, insufficient preparation, a lack of presentation skills, or some other reason.

Effective Presentation Skills – 16 Ideas to Immediately Engage an Audience

Audience-Wideshot

Sitting through a painful presentation where a speaker decided about ninety percent of the way through the presentation to try to engage the audience (and failed), I jotted down this list of sixteen ideas you can do to immediately engage an audience:

  1. Work with meeting planners beforehand to ensure audience members don’t feel cramped or are sitting on top of each other
  2. Have audience members mingle with each other even before starting what you’re going to do
  3. Get off the stage (for at least a few moments) and walk among the audience
  4. Be self-deprecating
  5. Do funny stuff early and let the audience know it’s okay to laugh
  6. See if audience members are doing (or have done) the thing you are talking about and let an audience member explain it to the group
  7. Ask audience members to share safe, non-self-incriminating opinions
  8. Use questions with the group that have multiple right answers
  9. Prompt physical demonstrations of being awake – applause, standing up and moving, raising their hands, etc.
  10. Have everyone do the same thing as a group activity
  11. Talk to a few audience members ahead of time and identify which ones would be willing to get things started
  12. Have audience members perform a safe ice breaker that doesn’t make them feel silly
  13. Invite audience members to do something they know how to do in a slightly different way
  14. Have audience members create something that is easy to create
  15. Fall down in excitement or exasperation
  16. Share positive things you’ve learned about their organizations and ask them to tell the audience about why they are having success

Those are sixteen ideas I’ve seen work.

What have you seen work for speakers to immediately engage an audience that we should add to the list? – Mike Brown

 

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

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your 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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We were talking during a business development call about the advantages and approaches to what is commonly called “influencer marketing,” and how a consumer brand might incorporate it into its social media strategy.

The Limitations of Most Influencer Marketing Strategy Implementations

Ingluencer-MarketingPut simply, influencer marketing involves a brand attempting to engage with individuals that have attractive, targeted audiences the brand hopes to reach with its marketing messages. The potential influencers can range from celebrities – either the “real” or the “Internet” type – with large audiences to experts and personalities attracting audiences with shared interest in particular subject areas.

My comment was the way we see brands approach influencer marketing, the strategy and execution is typically woefully lacking.

Too often (at least based on the inquiries The Brainzooming Group receives), the initial engagement comes via email or Twitter right when the requesting brand expects help and support. There’s an assumed interest in devoting time, effort, and attention to promote a book, app, or event simply based on the presumption that whatever the organization is pitching will be interesting for your readers.

The Right Way to Build Mutually-Beneficial Relationships

Contrast that with the initial and ongoing interaction we’ve had with Stephen Lahey of the Small Business Talent podcast. Stephen, who is the recognized number one Brainzooming fan, started actively sharing Brainzooming content within his network several years ago.

After some time, he reached out to talk on the phone months in advance of starting his Small Business Talent podcast. It was a two-way conversation about both our businesses and aspirations, including his plans for the podcast. That and subsequent conversations turned into a request to be a guest on the new podcast at a mutually convenient time.

Our relationship has grown into multiple appearances on the podcast, creating completely new, three-part Brainzooming content for Stephen’s audience, and regularly commenting and sharing new podcast updates. In addition, we have regular calls that continue the discussion about our business strategies. And all the while, Stephen remains unbelievably generous in sharing our content daily with his audience across multiple social networks.

The thing is that’s not an exclusive relationship Stephen has with Brainzooming. He’s doing the same things with other past and future podcast guests.

That’s what building an engaged network of supporters is all about.

The challenge is though, it takes planning, it’s not immediate, it’s not quick, and you couldn’t easily hire an agency to implement the strategy for your brand. Brands thus default to what passes for influencer marketing, thinking they can check that box off the social media strategy list.

7 Lessons for Improving an Influencer Marketing Strategy

If you want to pursue relationship building and engagement (as opposed to simply influencer marketing) here are our seven recommended lessons:

  1. Don’t make your initial contact a request for someone to do something for your brand.
  2. Go beyond electronic communication to engage personally and actually TALK with each other.
  3. Start by GIVING something to the individual you want to build a relationship with so you have done something for them before you ask them to do something for your brand.
  4. Have a variety of ways for the individual to engage so he or she can pick something that fits their aspirations and needs.
  5. Introduce the individuals you are targeting to one another and others within your network to create stronger connections.
  6. Do as much of the work for them as possible to increase the likelihood they will share your messages.
  7. Concentrate as much on elevating their stature as your brand’s stature because doing so will in turn increase your brand’s exposure.

These recommended lessons are harder than a slapped together influencer marketing strategy. They’ll actually work to create long-lasting relationships with your brand, however.

You decide what strategy makes more sense for your brand. – Mike Brown

 

Want to Learn More about Small Business Talent? You can find Stephen Lahey and his online resources at www.smallbusinesstalent.com (subscribe to the podcast and find more of your ideal clients using The SmallBusinessTalent.com LinkedIn Power Checklist® – it’s free).

 

“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social business strategies with these nine diagnostics. 

You're minutes away from stronger social media success!  Download



 

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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Before a creative thinking workshop, a “front row” participant (you know, the “walking in the room already engaged in the content” type of participant) asked what school of thinking The Brainzooming Group belonged to with respect to our creative thinking approaches. She dropped a couple of potential names she suspected as possibilities. I may have already been in pre-presentation mode and didn’t completely catch what she said, because only one name sounded familiar.

I shared with her that we borrow from anywhere when it comes to schools of thought for creative thinking, and that many are quite non-traditional. I mentioned she’d see one strategic thinking exercise just added back into the workshop based on Ghostbusters (Yes, THAT Ghostbusters)!

Creative-Inspiration-Bulbs

One advantage of looking broadly for creative thinking influences is we’re never stuck waiting for some expert to publish a new book or article to expand our set of strategic thinking exercises. To the contrary, the Brainzooming repertoire changes and grows continuously through new techniques and influences.

The discussion prompted telling her the proper answer should be a Brainzooming blog post. In a similar vein, we’ve covered the A to Z of Strategic Thinking Exercises (which referenced some influences), and discussed in another where strategic thinking exercises in  workshop originated.

This list of creative thinking influences, however, is different.

Reviewing the slides, stories, and blog posts from the creative thinking workshop deck yielded this list of fifty-nine influences. They aren’t in any specific order, and it certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of all our influences (especially since very few people I have worked with directly are on the list).

Nevertheless, this gives you a good representation of why it’s tough to describe a specific school of thought you can connect to Brainzooming.

59 Creative Thinking Influences

  1. Chuck Dymer
  2. Edward de Bono
  3. Greg Reid
  4. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
  5. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
  6. Ted Williams – The Science of Hitting
  7. A.T. Kearney
  8. Gary Singer
  9. Interbrand
  10. Monty Python
  11. Sue Mosby
  12. 75 Cage Rattling Questions
  13. Linus Pauling
  14. Woodrow Wilson
  15. Ghostbusters
  16. The Wall Street Journal
  17. Business Week
  18. Fast Company
  19. Cake Boss
  20. What Not to Wear
  21. The Bible
  22. Dilbert
  23. Milind Lele, Ph.D.
  24. Presentation Zen
  25. Tom Peters
  26. Don Martin
  27. Hank Ketchum
  28. The Scream
  29. The Squirrels in Prairie Village, KS
  30. Steve Bruffett
  31. Enterprise IG
  32. David Bowen, Ph.D.
  33. Arizona State University Center for Services Leadership
  34. FedEx
  35. Seth Godin
  36. Joe Batista
  37. Tony Vannicola
  38. Peter’s Laws
  39. Whoever invented the 4-box matrix
  40. Gordon MacKenzie
  41. Appreciate Inquiry
  42. David Cooperrider, Ph.D.
  43. Benjamin Zander
  44. Keith Prather
  45. Brett Daberko
  46. Philip Kotler, Ph.D.
  47. Robin Williams
  48. Improv Comedy
  49. Jim Collins
  50. Jay Conrad Levinson
  51. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  52. Jan Harness
  53. Muhammad Ali
  54. R.E.M.
  55. Music Fake Books
  56. Seinfeld
  57. Gilligan’s Island
  58. Whoever came up with the concept of Reverse Engineering
  59. The Family Feud

Shout outs to everyone and everything on this list. It’s clear we need to write blog posts on a variety of these creative inspirations because Brainzooming wouldn’t be what it is without you! – 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