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Obviously, innovation is a key topic on the Brainzooming blog. Here’s a recap of fifty innovation in business articles from 2012, including several by Woody Bendle.

INNOVATION STRATEGY

1.       Innovation Success – Innovating, Strategy & Pissing Off People – You’d think from reading many innovation blogs that you have to piss someone off to demonstrate your innovative thinking skills. I don’t buy that.

2.      Strategic Thinking Exercise – Black Swan Events in Your Plan – Will the completely unexpected thwart your innovation strategy? You can’t predict the unpredictable but you can anticipate your responses.

3.      The Waiting Game Strategy and “Wait” by Frank Partnoy – Making It Work – Strategic patience is much overlooked as a solid innovation strategy. Here’s one point of view on considering a patience strategy.

4.      Incremental Innovation – In Praise of 3 Creative Examples – Barrett Sydnor’s report from the road and home on how incremental innovation may be more than enough.

5.      Innovation – Can Successful Innovation Only Happen in a Certain Way? – It was the year when Jonah Lehrer (who I seemed to always disagree with) was discredited. This rant, from before Jonah Lehrer was discredited, took issue with his anti-brainstorming perspective.

6.      Google Fiber Innovation – Paul Kedrosky on 4 Important Lessons – Barrett Sydnor recaps a presentation by venture capitalist and senior Kauffman fellow Paul Kedrosky on the innovation strategy opportunities presented by Google Fiber.

7.      15 Ways Whoever Is Going to Disrupt Your Market Isn’t Like You – Your traditional competitors may be a pain right now, but they aren’t likely to be the ones who will kill your company without a sound. When it comes to disruptive innovation, your threats don’t typically look like your organization.

8.      Innovation Strategy Lessons from Moneyball – I don’t watch movies often, but when I do watch a movie, I’m looking for business lessons. Here are innovation strategy lessons gleaned from Moneyball.

9.      Television Program Ideas – How Many Ideas Per Television Series? – A real life example from ABC to demonstrate how many total ideas are necessary to get to a hit TV show. Preview: it’s not a two ideas for every hit TV show ratio!

10.  Customer Service Experience Innovation – Your Big Opportunity by Woody Bendle  – Many companies are trying to differentiate on customer experience. If you expect to pursue customer service experience differentiation, it will take a robust approach.

INNOVATION CHALLENGES

11. Disruptive Innovation, Change Management & Taking the NO Out of InNOvation – An updated exploration of the ten barriers to innovation in businesses with links to Brainzooming posts for each NO.

12.  16 Employee Idea Killers Your Management Team Could Be Committing – Some idea killers are blatant. Some idea killers are subtle. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of ways management can kill ideas if that’s their goal.

13.  24 Ideas for Dilbert (and You) When a Great New Idea Is Lacking – Inspired by a Dilbert cartoon, you never have to give up on coming up with a new angle on an idea, unless it’s simply easier to give up than try something new.

14.  When Creative Thinking Exercises Quit Providing Value – The brainstorming tools that help you generate new ideas can outlive their usefulness. At some point, an idea stands on its own, irrespective of how it was generated.

15.  Brainstorming Ideas – 10 Signs You’re Done Brainstorming – You may be done brainstorming well before you’re brainstorming session has reached its scheduled close.

16.  Brainstorming Is Challenging with these 6 Brainstorming Session Types – There are certain types of people who pose real challenges to effective brainstorming. Here are six types of people you may have to work around to keep the brainstorming ideas going.

INNOVATION TECHNIQUES

17.  Innovation Success Through Planning, Preparation, and Organization by Woody Bendle – An overview of the nine-step, end-to-end, i3 Continuous Innovation Process prolific guest blogger Woody Bendle developed and uses to introduce new innovations.

18.  7 Innovation Lessons for the Google Fiber Project from Nick Donofrio – Seven innovation lesson takeaways shared by Barrett Sydnor from a Google Fiber-related presentation by former IBMer, Nick Donofrio.

19.  Creativity and Innovation Lessons from Desperate Housewives – Even if you never watched Desperate Housewives, the producers share valuable creativity and innovation lessons you can put to use.

20. Five Innovation Lessons from Improv Comedy – by Woody Bendle – Guest blogger Woody Bendle makes the tremendously helpful connection between how improving your improve chops will benefit your innovation skills.

21.  New Business Ideas and a Creative Block in Your Organization – If you suspect your organization is suffering from creative block, it may just be you haven’t taken best advantage of the ideas it has already brainstormed.

22.  Brainstorming Doesn’t Work, Groupthink, and the Brainzooming Method – Some more Jonah Lehrer-inspired perspectives here along with a discussion of how the Brainzooming methodology addresses shortcomings in some ideation approaches.

23.  Continuous Innovation and Continuous Improvement – By Woody Bendle – A strategy for making both  innovation and improvement continuous in an organization as a result of adopting repeatable processes and systematic approaches.

INNOVATIVE PLANNING

24.  Stupid Questions? A Call for Asking Stupid Questions by Woody Bendle – A plea from guest blogger, Woody Bendle, for more questions – no matter how hard, not matter how stupid they may be perceived as being!

25.  15 Innovative Strategic Planning Questions to Get Ready for 2013 – We’re firm believers that great questions lead to great innovation strategy. Here are fifteen innovative strategic planning questions helpful at any time of the year.

26.  Extreme Creative Ideas – 50 Lessons to Improve Creativity Dramatically – This recap article features links to a variety of extreme creative ideas from big creative personalities.

27.  Strategic Thinking Exercises – 6 Characteristics the Best Ones Have – Not all strategic thinking exercises will lead you to innovative thinking. Look for these six characteristics to make sure you have the best chance of pushing productive new ideas.

28.  Creative Process – 5 Creative Ideas with a Twist for Product Design – Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a personal favorite for extreme creativity ideas. With all the wild food ideas shared on Triple D, it’s also a great source of product design ideas too.

29. Creating Cool Product Names for a New Product Idea – 8 Creative Thinking Questions – Eight questions that will work harder for you than a random brand name generator to imagine what your new product, service, or program should be called.

30.  11 Strategic Questions for Disruptive Innovation in Markets – These questions don’t guarantee disruptive innovation, but they’ll start you down the path of thinking about your own (or somebody else’s) market in a disruptive fashion.

31.  Quickie Strategic Thinking Exercise: Bad Practices to Make You Better – While business people talk about best practices all the time, the key to innovation success could very well be doing the opposite of what notable business failures have done.

32.  Chasing Cool Ideas vs. Solving Consumer Needs – By Woody Bendle – Short story? Cool ideas are only cool if they really solving consumer needs. Target legitimate needs, not imaginary coolness.

33.  Richard Saul Wurman – No New Ideas – TED creator Richard Saul Wurman on his contention there is very little new thinking and no new ideas anymore. Do you agree that all ideas masquerading as new are really derivations of old ideas?

TEAMS AND INNOVATIVE THINKING SKILLS

34.  Creative Thinking Skills – 5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally – People with challenging points of view shouldn’t be excluded from innovation. At the right times and in the right amounts, critical thinking is vital to innovation success.

35.  Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions – While divergent thinking can be among the most enjoyable parts of innovation, there are times where too much thinking can get in the way of making a decision and moving on.

36.  Brainstorming for Creative New Product Ideas – Dilbert, Basketball and Oflow – A comic, a quote, and a new app to all shed light on your innovation efforts.

37.  Visual Thinking Skills – Getting Them in Shape with Letters and Shapes – Even for people who don’t view themselves as artistic or particularly strong in visual thinking skills, a few basic letters and shapes are enough to improve your visual thinking effectiveness.

38.  61 Online and Social Media Resources for Motivating People to Create – Inspired by the Adobe “State of Create” study, this listing of online resources should inspire innovative thinking in many different ways.

39.  The Process of Strategy Planning: 5 Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating – Even a well-intentioned boss can stand in the way of innovative thinking within a team. Here’s how to get around that challenge.

40.  Reinterpreting Creative Inspiration – 7 Lessons to Borrow Creative Ideas  – Not every new idea is completely new. You can borrow creative inspiration, but there are right and wrong ways to do it!

41.  Batter Up! Ten Moneyball-Inspired Innovation Roles by Woody Bendle – One of two Moneyball-inspired innovation posts, this one from Woody Bendle highlights ten innovation roles . . . nine players plus the designated hitter’s worth!

42.  Dirty Ideas? Let Others Clean Up Your Creative Thinking – It may be the best way to generate innovative ideas among your team is to not finish your own thinking. Get started, but don’t clean up your work before handing off what you’ve developed so your team can play with your dirty ideas.

INNOVATION IN PRACTICE

43.  Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps – Major change definitely isn’t one and done. Following any significant innovation, you’ll have stragglers who will need to be brought along with more attention.

44.  Outsider Perspectives – 6 Vital Insights They Offer – Don’t shut yourself off from people who have less or no experience with what your organization does. People with outsider perspectives will always uncover things you haven’t seen before.

45.  Skepticism – Selling Ideas to Answer 10 Skeptical Perspectives – There are no guarantees that everyone will love even the most innovative thinking. Here are ideas for addressing die hard skeptics standing in the way of implementing innovation.

46.  Making Big Ideas Happen – 9 Ways to Address Innovation Fear – As you roll-out innovative ideas, fear is a roadblock emotion. Successful innovation means you have to combat  fears  status quo lovers cling to in resistance.

47.  No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem – The best innovative thinking doesn’t count for much if you can’t get it implemented. Here are thirteen issues to manage as you shift to implementation mode.

48.  Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options – Before you launch into innovation, determine what your organizational environment suggests about what level and type of innovation makes the most sense now.

49.  March Madness and What Outstanding Point Guards Bring to Business Teams – There are many similarities between what makes a great point guard in basketball and what makes a successful innovation implementer.

50.  Creative Thinking and Idea Magnets – 11 Vital Creative Characteristics – Certain people bring out the most innovative thinking from those around them. This article covers eleven of the vital characteristics idea magnets bring to the table. – 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.

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5

At a recent Brainzooming client creative thinking session, the company’s Chief Operating Officer told a story about seeing a car with both an anti-corporation bumper sticker and an Apple logo on it. His point was how interesting it is that Apple had transcended being a huge, very profitable corporation by the car owner.

His story made me blurt out, “Did you hear about the Harvard Business Review journalist who wrote a very thorough comparison between the innovation styles of Steve Jobs and the management team at Sunkist?

“He was widely criticized for comparing Apple and oranges!”

Feel free to insert your guffaws here! When we get brains zooming (even our own), who knows what types of connections will be made?

Comparing Apples and Oranges

“Comparing apples and oranges” ranks with “think outside the box” as one of my least favorite business jargon phrases. “Comparing apples and oranges” is typically used by a strategic dolt to shut down creative thinking and obscure connections that may very naturally exist between two or more things.

Apples and oranges actually have MANY things in common. Even though they aren’t identical on the surface, there are multiple strategic and creative comparisons to be made about their similarities and differences.

In fact, considering ways of comparing apples and oranges can help your creative thinking skills. Next time a strategic dolt tries to get in the way of your creative thinking by saying you’re comparing apples and oranges, remember these ways the two fruits (or anything you’re examining that may seem unrelated) can be compared:

1. Apples and oranges move through comparable PROCESSES

The supply chain bringing apples and oranges together at a grocery store or fruit stand for sale is obviously a point of comparison. When you’re comparing potentially disparate things, look for comparable processes they each experience.

2. Apples and oranges are SUBSTITUTES for one another

Since both apples and oranges satisfy the need for food, in general, and fruit, specifically, they serve as potential SUBSTITUTES for one another. As you look at potentially dissimilar items, consider how they might meet the same or related needs.

3. Apples and oranges can be made MORE SIMILAR

You can manipulate apples and oranges for greater similarity (i.e., by cutting them into similarly-sized pieces, or putting them into recipes as ingredients). When making a comparison others think is a stretch, transform the two things to accentuate their similarities strategically, numerically, chronologically, or in other ways.

4. Compare the REASONS FOR DIFFERENCES between apples and oranges

You can explore the reasons apples and oranges are or are not appropriate for comparison and make comparisons about that! Similarly, when comparing two things others think don’t match up, dive into why they appear to be different, whether because of strategic direction, motivation, nature/nurture, etc.

5. Acknowledge the differences and COMPARE THEM ANYWAY

Maybe apples and oranges are all you have to analyze. In that case, to better understand them, comparing and contrasting the differences is your only option. Being able to compare things to provide context and contrast is vital to analysis.  When others lack the creative thinking skills to see the similarities in two things you’re analyzing, turn it around and simply compare differences.

6. Make a FANCIFUL COMPARISON between apples and oranges

Many strategic business conversations have an air of seriousness and a resistance to anything not grounded in reality. Don’t let that stop you. If people shut down more realistic comparisons as inappropriate, get crazy on them with a really outlandish comparison. The conversation you’ll stimulate will likely yield the greatest creative value.

7. Even if apples and orange were completely unrelated, RANDOM ITEMS trigger creative ideas

Pick any two things that really ARE completely unrelated. Looking for the comparisons and contrasts between them will get peoples’ minds working on new paths, sparking creative ideas. What will those creative ideas be? It’s tough (maybe impossible) to imagine in advance what a particular group will come up with creatively when considering random inputs, but be prepared for dramatically new thinking

Seven Apples and Oranges Comparisons for Creative Thinking

There you have it. Seven ways to consider comparing apples and oranges (or other things perceived to be dissimilar) to counter a strategic dolt trying to squash creative thinking. Simply remember you can push a strategic comparison based on:

  • Process similarities
  • A potential substitute realtionship
  • Changes to accentuate similarities
  • The reasons for underlying differences
  • Comparing elements that shouldn’t be compared
  • Fanciful similarities
  • Completely random connections

So when was the last time YOU were accused of comparing apples and oranges? I’ll bet now you can’t wait for the next time it happens! – 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.

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8

This was purely random, but beyond Monday’s post on career challenges, today’s Brainzooming post ALSO addresses career change.

I was talking with a friend in the midst of a big mid-career change, leaving a lifelong, non-traditional, essentially entrepreneurial profession for various reasons. His goal as a mid-career professional is to take very relevant experiences related to his former profession and turn them into a unique role that COULD fit into a corporation or some type of marketing / advertising agency.

The concept he has created for why he makes sense in this type of role held together for me as he described it.

His case focuses on being so multi-dimensional through his varied experience that he becomes highly billable on many types of client projects (in an agency world) or can help reduce outside provider costs (for a corporation of some size).

I was originally able to offer only a couple of people he should talk with for networking when we talked. Hours later, however, I realized other career tips for him to consider.

4 Career Tips for Making a Career Change as a Mid-Career Professional

As with Monday’s career challenges post, the four career tips here could be applicable to others too. That is especially true for any mid-career professional (i.e., with 15 or more years of experience in one profession) trying to make a big mid-career career switch:

1. Forget leading with a traditional resume as a mid-career professional

With a big mid-career career change, a traditional resume isn’t likely to help all that much in getting your foot in the door (in my opinion). Even converting from a chronological resume to a skills-based resume will simply beg a lot of questions for a mid-career professional seeking a career re-direction. That’s why it’s so smart to create a concept for how you contribute. Your first step in bringing your concept to life is devising an advertising agency-oriented pitch about you, the convertibility of your experience, and how you will bring your concept to life. You goal is to “stage” your concept to sell you, just as real estate agents stage houses to sell them.

2. Go beyond staging and turn your career change concept into reality

If at all possible, figure out how you can actually make your concept completely tangible. For my friend, there are social media-related opportunities to implement his concept in ways that feature his talents and demonstrate he really can fill all the roles he’s proposing. Far better to show that at least elements of your concept actually are working rather than just talking about it. Creating a concept demo (along with the math to back up the business case) can help a decision maker make a positive decision about you.

3. Target non-traditional organizations

For someone in their mid-career phase, making a big successful move won’t happen with a company that has a cookie cutter view of HR, staffing, and job descriptions. That means you have to find a company that looks at its people and its business with a decidedly different world view. One quick test about the right organization? If they don’t know what to do when you say you want to do a pitch presentation for them as part of any interview, they AREN’T the right organization for you.

4. Target senior executives for your pitch

A typical HR manager isn’t going to make the case for a non-traditional hire. A typical HR manager is looking to fill a pre-existing box on an org chart with a candidate who presents the least risk. For that matter, most hiring managers are trying to do the same. As a mid-career professional with a concept and seeking a career change, you should be networking to senior executives who can look beyond the traditional way of hiring people and then do something about it.

If you’re a mid-career professional who has made a successful career change, what career tips do you have?

I’m asking for your perspectives on career tips to help my friend.

Admittedly, I had one job for most of my career, so it’s not like I was getting a lot of experience selling myself into new jobs. As a result, my career tips are more from a hiring manager than a job seeker perspective. So if you’ve made (or helped someone make) a big career change as a mid-career professional, what are your lessons learned? – 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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12

If you haven’t started already, there’s not much time left to make sure your organization is asking itself innovative strategic planning questions and looking for top opportunities before 2013 starts.

The good news in all this, however, is it’s ALWAYS a good time for strategic thinking and considering innovative strategic planning questions. No matter when it is, you can use great questions to push your strategic thinking and move you into increasingly smarter, more differentiated, and successful market strategies.

Strategic Thinking Questions for 2013

Reviewing conference tweets, Brainzooming strategic planning engagements, and leftovers in our strategic thinking exercise R&D lab, here are fifteen innovative strategic planning questions (plus a bonus ice breaker question) to move to the top of your strategic planning questions list – whether you’ve started planning or not!

Strategy & Purpose Questions

  • When we say our purpose and messages aloud to someone outside our business, do these statements make sense? (Evan Conway, president of OneLouder, a Kansas City-based mobile app developer)
  • What would you do differently if you HAD TO get 10x better / bigger in the next 12 months? (An incredibly challenging question was inspired by Chuck Dymer – Brilliance Activator)

Strategic Marketing Questions

  • How can we shift more value to the front end of a customer relationship, not charging anything until later when the customer fully realizes the benefit? (Inspired by TEDxKC presenter, Shai Reshef)
  • Have we set a pace for our brand experience to allow a customer to get the maximum value from our brand? (Inspired by Julian Zugazagoitia, Director of the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art at TEDxKC)
  • What are our organization’s passion and purpose, and how are we effectively and innovatively marketing them? (From BigIdeas12 conference tweets)

Strategic Innovation Questions

  • How can we get more ideas at early stages when it’s easier and less expensive to incorporate great ideas? (Inspired by Rob Grace of Bazillion Pictures)
  • What can be removed from what we do / produce? (A variation on a Steve Jobs question to drive simplicity, via Ken Segall, author of “Insanely Simple” affiliate link)
  • In what ways can we innovate to offer “more for less”? (Michael Raynor, author of “The Innovator’s Manifesto” affiliate link)
  • To identify potential innovation opportunities, what are the most frequent workarounds customers are asking our sales, customer service, and other representatives to perform?
  • How can we break up big change into pieces too inconsequential to fail (i.e., no matter what happens, we’ll either meet our objectives or learn so much when we don’t, we still win)?

Customer and Market Questions

  • Who specifically is representing the customer 24/7 in our business?
  • What benefits are our customers seeking when they buy from us, and who else is poised to deliver those benefits to them?

Learning Organization Questions

  • Who are our rising stars two jobs away from ever being included in strategic planning that need to be included starting right now?
  • What makes the work our organization does worth it for our employees? (From author of “The Commitment Engine” author, John Jantsch at TEDxKC affiliate link)
  • How are we learning (individually and as an organization) by doing, failing, collaborating, creating, and teaching? (Danya Cheskis-Gold of Skillshare at BigIdeas12)

And a Bonus 16th Strategic Thinking Question – My New Favorite Ice Breaker

  • If you could have the characters in any painting come to life, which painting would you choose? (A wonderful ice breaker from Amy Dixon of CreativeRN.com on Twitter that elicits very diverse and insightful answers)

Still Need to Get Your Strategic Planning Set for 2013?

If you’d like help in developing your annual plan done faster than ever, call us at 816-509-5320 or email info@brainzooming.com. Our Brainzooming name means what it says: we’ll stretch your brains through strategic thinking exercises to consider new opportunities and quickly zoom them into a plan that’s ready for next year when next year starts! We’d love to help you hit next year zooming!   – 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.

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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.

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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

 

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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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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

 

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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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

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