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We’ve said it before, experience its confirmation repeatedly, and will thus say it again: One of the best ways to learn more about what you know is to teach it to someone else.

The latest confirmation took place this week as we created and presented a new Brainzooming innovation workshop on how to develop insights to fuel innovation.  We’re several engagements into a relationship with a client implementing a sweeping innovation initiative across its organization. We developed this new Brainzooming innovation workshop for the management team within the department leading the innovation push.

We routinely present strategic thinking workshops on the exercises and tools The Brainzooming Group uses to develop and implement innovative ideas. This innovation workshop differed in that we taught the insights development techniques we use to prepare for a successful innovation strategy initiative. This required examining and documenting areas we almost always do without explaining to anyone outside our organization.

6 Keys to Facilitating Executive Interviews

innovation-workshop

One new content area involved how to get the most value from an executive interview. Reflecting on our current practices and a career’s worth of executive interviews, here are six keys to facilitating strategic conversations within executive interviews:

  • Show real enthusiasm for both the questions you are asking AND the answers the other person is sharing
  • Display supportive physical cues, such as leaning in toward the other person with an engaged posture, nodding in affirmation, and smiling
  • Take great notes to help recall specific statements and develop themes emerging from the strategic conversation
  • Share encouraging verbal cues through affirmations (i.e., “Great,” “That’s interesting,” “Thank you for sharing that”) and probes (i.e., “Please tell me more,” “Can you go deeper on that topic?”)
  • Don’t be afraid of silence – allow space in the discussion for the other person to think, form ideas, or even try harder to answer a question more thoroughly
  • Know where you want to go next with a question YET move based on the responses from the other person – the key here is having an interview plan that is adaptable to focus on the topic the respondent is ready to address at any given moment

Want to experience these six keys within a non-traditional setting?

This interview of comedian Jerry Lewis by Raymond Arroyo is an outstanding example. While it certainly isn’t a traditional executive interview, it’s a compelling a strategic conversation covering familiar and new ground in a productive and engaging way.

Additionally, at 54:00 Jerry Lewis compliments Raymond Arroyo on his interview approach, suggesting the first of these six keys for executive interviews: “You are articulate. You know what you’re going to talk about. You’re interested in the answer; that’s the key. You’re interested in everything you asked me to see what the answer is. And that draws from me, (making me) eager to do more for you.”

Here is to more productive strategic conversations daily in business.

And if you are developing an innovation initiative, contact us so The Brainzooming Group can have a strategic conversation with you on ways we can assist with an innovation workshop or strategy! – 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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This afternoon, I’m leading a three-hour Brainzooming workshop on creating branded content marketing at the Social Media Strategy Summit in Chicago. While it’s nice to be able to stretch with more time (typically these content marketing workshops are two hours at the Social Media Strategy Summit), I still feel as if there will be a lot of material that we won’t have time to fully cover.

Chicago-Image

In the branded content marketing workshop, we’ll look at generating appropriately branded content from multiple directions.

As a resource if this area is something you are struggling with in your organization, here are links to some of the topics on branded content marketing we’ll cover . . . and some that we won’t:

Taking an Audience-First Perspective

Staying True to Your Brand without Overdoing It

Experience and Interaction-Based Content for Your Brand

Expanding Brand-Related Content Options

Coming at your branded content marketing from these four different directions will open up all kinds of new possibilities.

Here’s the intriguing thing: having rearranged the content into these four groups (which don’t sync with the seven lessons in the workshop as it stands right now), I’m thinking (as I write this over the preceding weekend) that I’m going to rearrange the entire branded content marketing workshop. That’s how much I like this approach!  – Mike Brown

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes
to check your 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 media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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 debuted a presentation on “Results – Creating Strategic Impact,” our mini-book on employee engagement ideas to boost an organization’s strategic thinking. The mini-book focuses on the tremendous value when an organization finds ways to strategically solicit employee insights and perspectives to shape its strategic thinking.

Results-Presentation

One attendee stuck around after the “Results” presentation to ask about a situation his son is facing. He runs a restaurant whose employees are generally high-turnover, lower wage young people. He said his son needs to improve the restaurant’s performance and wants to involve the employees. The question was whether it makes sense to try and engage employees in the ways I discussed when they aren’t likely to be around for very long.

The answer was easy: Yes!

5 Employee Engagement Ideas for High-Turnover Employees

To me, the length of someone’s employment doesn’t have a bearing on whether it makes strategic sense to engage them and their perspectives. We’ve talked before about how one company even uses entry interviews (as opposed to exit interviews) to gain input from new employees before they’ve consumed too much of the incredible corporate Kool-Aid.

Quickly Brainzooming with the restaurateur’s father, here are five employee engagement ideas to get valuable strategic thinking even when turnover is high:

  1. Involve employees as frontline listener-reporters, playing back what they hear from customers.
  2. Solicit their input on problems they are experiencing with internal processes.
  3. Ask them what workarounds they have figured out to make things go more smoothly than they would otherwise.
  4. Have them share suggestions for things they would experiment with, change, or definitely keep as is.
  5. Ask them where you can find more individuals like them to recruit for the business.

No matter how much they are getting paid or how long they’ll be around, those are five employee engagement ideas where even high-turnover employees can contribute strategic thinking to help make an organization’s leaders smarter about business issues.

And who knows . . . by involving them right from the start, you may actually reduce the turnover rate!  Mike Brown

10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Strategic Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

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 stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

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

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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 client raised a question the other day in a Brainzooming strategic thinking workshop about what you can do when you are waiting on someone busy AND important to provide input on an initiative so you can continue making progress.

That is a question I have had to consider and address frequently.

9 Strategic Ideas to Keep Moving without Important Input

I didn’t have time to share all nine of these strategic ideas to keep moving without important input, but I think I’ve used all of them multiple times to try and work around someone else’s slow response when an important timeline needed to keep moving!

  1. Try to get the decision-making authority or latitude to know what things you can advance without going back for input.
  2. Continue advancing the initiative with an eye toward developing several attractive options your input person can review and select.
  3. Reach out to someone that knows your input person well and can provide reliable feedback on how the individual might respond.
  4. Let them know you are using a “you only have until a CERTAIN DATE to provide input or we’re moving ahead” review standard.
  5. Simplify or eliminate other steps in the development process to allow the current schedule to accommodate a longer review and input time.
  6. Keep going on the initiative, making only “safe” choices, i.e., ones that you are sure your input person will approve.
  7. Prioritize work you can easily change if late input derails the direction you have taken.
  8. Prioritize work that does not preclude you from pursuing other viable options your input person might request.
  9. Focus on work that is familiar or adapt something that has already received approval – as long as you understand why the earlier work was approved and can make smart decisions about the new work.

Try one or more of these nine options, and keep pressing for timely input – as best you can! – 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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Internal executive videos are funny things.

Well, actually, they are rarely funny things. More frequently, internal executive videos are boring things. Or odd things. Or cringe-worthy things.

Internal-Video

A friend working at a university sends me links occasionally for internal videos featuring a university leader trying for a “rah-rah, pick them up, congratulate and challenge them, but leave them feeling good about themselves” videos. They are heavily scripted (but trying to act as if they aren’t) and delivered in a syrupy, grating style that defines the standard for cringe worthy employee videos.

As I told my friend, it’s as if these videos are employee morale snuff films.

That’s not the way to advance an internal branding strategy.

Alternatively, talking to a nonprofit executive, the issue with her organization’s internal executive videos is execs SAY they want to create videos where they are approachable and relaxed. They then, however, re-watch, re-think, and reject the edited videos because they seem too casual. The question was what to do to get the leadership team comfortable with actually being casual and approachable on camera.

1 Way to Stop Horrible Executive Videos

My suggestion for these videos to have an impact on their internal branding strategy?

Start recording the executives all the time with phones instead of exclusively using video crews and shooting only planned videos. Tell them you are just getting the video to reference for blog posts or press releases with no intention of releasing it. Then, capture them explaining strategy at employee meetings. Video them talking with employees. Ask them simple, direct questions before or after big meetings. Shoot informal moments when they are interacting and relaxed.

The objective is to get them comfortable being on camera when they don’t think it’s going to matter. Then when it’s no longer a big deal for them to be on camera, you can then start introducing these video moments where they are truly relaxed and approachable.

How you break the news to them that you really ARE going to use the videos you said you weren’t going to use?

Well, that’s up to you to figure out! – Mike Brown

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DInternal-Brand-Strategy-eBoownload Your Free Internal Branding Strategy eBook!

Are you looking for new, more effective ways to engage your employees in shaping and successfully carrying out your brand strategy? You need to download this FREE Brainzooming eBook, published with the Global Strategic Management Institute. You’ll learn three effective strategies to engage employees as an internal brand team.

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

 

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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What a strong first day at the Brand Strategy Conference in New York. There were lots of great ideas and very little free time!

The kickoff presentation on the first day was from Kodi Foster, Vice President – Data Strategy at Viacom. Kodi’s presentation focused on fusing creativity and data innovation to drive brand growth.  His discussion on the need to integrate science and art was on the money.

Five Things Your Content Marketing Strategy Should Deliver

While Kodi Foster presented lots of great ideas, that whole very little free time necessitates focusing on one item: this photo which details five things Kodi says audiences expect a brand’s online content marketing strategy to deliver for them.

  1. Education – Delivers systematic instructions or provides an enlightening experience
  2. Information – Delivers facts or knowledge about something or someone
  3. Inspiration – Stimulates the audience to do or feel something
  4. Entertainment – Provides amusement or enjoyment
  5. Utility – Provides a useful or beneficial function or capability

Content-Marketing-Strategy

His five-points form a strong checklist with which to assess your content marketing strategy. How many of these areas does your content touch? And what are you doing to tackle content that doesn’t address ANY of these five areas? – Mike Brown

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DInternal-Brand-Strategy-eBoownload Your Free Internal Branding Strategy eBook!

Are you looking for new, more effective ways to engage your employees in shaping and successfully carrying out your brand strategy? You need to download this FREE Brainzooming eBook, published with the Global Strategic Management Institute. You’ll learn three effective strategies to engage employees as an internal brand team.

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

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 am in New York today delivering a Brainzooming branding strategy workshop on Engaging Your Internal Brand Team. The event is the Brand Strategy Conference. Our content addresses collaborative ways to strategically engage employees in creating and delivering the best brand experience.

Empire-State-Building2

The branding strategy workshop came about from talking to too many executives that think it’s okay to let employees in on branding changes at the same time (or even after) customers learn about them.

THAT is a horrific idea for delivering a great brand experience.

We will introduce a new Brainzooming Fake Book soon that includes the exercises we will cover in the branding strategy workshop.

Branding Strategy – Engaging an Internal Brand Team

Here are links to fourteen articles integrated within the workshop.

Identifying Opportunities for Employee Input on Branding Strategy

Collaborating with Employees to Enhance the Brand Experience

Supporting a High-Performing Internal Brand Team

Inviting Employees into Branding Strategy Conversations

Mike Brown

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

 

DInternal-Brand-Strategy-eBoownload Your Free Internal Branding Strategy eBook!

Are you looking for new, more effective ways to engage your employees in shaping and successfully carrying out your brand strategy? You need to download this FREE Brainzooming eBook, published with the Global Strategic Management Institute. You’ll learn three effective strategies to engage employees as an internal brand team.

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

 

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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