Communication | The Brainzooming Group - Part 90 – page 90
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There’s a scene in an early episode of the HBO mini-series “John Adams” where Benjamin Franklin cautions Adams to temper his statements. Adams asks him if he doesn’t believe in speaking what’s on one’s mind. Franklin’s responds, “Thinking aloud is a habit responsible for much of mankind’s misery.”

I’m not sure if Franklin actually made this remark, but there are certainly advantages to thinking out loud. It allows you to:

  • Elicit more immediate reactions – Thinking aloud lets others hear perspectives right away and react. When time constrained, it allows for more quickly constructing, developing, and vetting potential scenarios and arriving at a selection.
  • Gauge whether emerging ideas sound logical / persuasive – How an idea sounds in your head can be very different when you express it aloud. Thinking aloud can force more structure into an idea early as it comes to life through the spoken word.
  • Have others start building on your thinking – Speaking a newly formed idea allows others to hear and build off it right away. Within a group that’s comfortable, open, and non-censoring, that process has tremendous value in generating more and stronger possibilities.
  • Introduces an idea in a more raw form – Voicing an idea as it first occurs results in less self-censorship and adjustment of the idea to make it more familiar and comfortable.
  • Create more energy – In a brainstorming setting, the verbal exchange of new possibilities can create a tremendous energy buzz as people go back and forth in adding and shaping the idea.
  • See if a point of view is aligning or dividing – If your group is strong and fairly homogenous relative to people’s titles, thinking aloud provides a quick opportunity to see whether your point of view aligns or divides the group. These reactions allow you to decide on modifying or advancing your point of view to help the group move ahead.

Although quiet thinking is most comfortable for me, with close strategic and creative team partners, thinking aloud is great because it allows for rapidly building on one another’s perspectives.

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 creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Abraham Maslow

“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” – Gore Vidal

“Delay is preferable to error.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

“If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” – Anatole France

“50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong.” – Elvis Presley

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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Powerful comparisons are important to many creative thinking exercises. While the types of comparisons may vary, for the more than twenty-five “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises on the Brainzooming blog, delegating an opportunity or challenge to someone you wouldn’t typically think about selecting to do your work yields a wide variety of creative ideas.

Creative Ideas from an Unlikely Character?

The Change Your Character creative thinking exercises use someone in a completely different line of work to help you look at your own situation with a fresh perspective.

Here are the steps for Change Your Character:

  1. State the business challenge that you’re addressing – it could be an opportunity, a problem, a new process or approach, etc.
  2. Pick who you want to work on your situation. This could be a real person, a fictional or cartoon character, or even another business that faces an analogous situation.
  3. Once you’ve identified who you’ll put on the job, list 8 to 10 approaches that the person, character, or business uses to address opportunities or challenges.
  4. Using the 8 to 10 approaches, apply them to your situation to generate at least 3 new ideas each for solving it.

Each of the Change Your Character creative thinking exercises does steps 2 and 3 for you. This allows you to focus primarily on step 4 – creative idea generation.

25 “Change Your Character” Creative Thinking Exercises

Here’s a compilation of 25 of these creative thinking exercises you can bookmark for use in successfully addressing future opportunities. Within each category, the situations and characters covered are listed, along with a link to the original article.

Strategy

Relationship & Brand Building

Team Building

Management & Problem Solving

Professional Skills

Just a note – I used Bart Simpson recently, and it worked very well. Give it a try and have great success Changing Your Character! – Mike Brown

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Learn all about Mike Brown’s creative thinking and innovation presentations!

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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There’s a Peanuts cartoon I wrote about recently showing Snoopy sitting silently with Charlie Brown, a checker board between them, and Charlie wondering what Snoopy’s next move will be. He suspects Snoopy has a fancy strategy planned given how quiet and tricky he is; the more Charlie thinks about it, the more he wonders what Snoopy is thinking. In the last panel, Snoopy is silently trying to recall whether he’s playing red or black checkers!

I’ve used the cartoon many times because like Snoopy, I often think quietly, even if I’m actually “thinking” about something much more basic than people expect. That’s just one advantage of thinking quietly. If you don’t usually do it, you may want to consider using it more to your advantage because thinking quietly:

  • Can provide mystery and cover – Quiet time allows you to potentially mask when you don’t understand something or don’t have a good idea to contribute right at that moment. Quiet thinking can also create a sense of mystery, as in the Peanuts cartoon. Particularly in an adversarial situation, causing the other person to think about what you’re thinking (thereby losing focus on their own thoughts) can provide some advantage.
  • Creates a learning opportunity – I hardly ever learn while I’m talking, but there’s a lot to learn when others are sharing their perspectives. Shutting your mouth and listening is a great way to go to school on what others are thinking and expressing.
  • Is great if you don’t want to influence others’ opinions unnecessarily – One of my mentors uses a relatively unconventional approach – in a team meeting, he always expresses his views last. The most junior person on the team always comments first so that they can respond without influence from statements by their boss or other senior team members. People express their perspectives in order of increasing seniority until the most senior person speaks.
  • Allows you to build off of others’ ideas – Relative to the previous item about commenting in reverse order of seniority, it’s a great advantage to be thinking as you hear the perspectives that others are expressing. Having been one of the most senior people, I usually get to go next to last. There’s a tremendous advantage to be had in being able to listen to and vet your own thinking based on what others are thinking. Even if you’re not in a position to adopt this approach, gain the advantages by letting others get a word in before you do.
So what do you think? And don’t worry people who don’t think quietly; future posts will extol the virtues of thinking in other ways too.

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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Thanks to everyone responding with website comments. Based on your ideas and my objectives for it, look for:

  • “Creative Quickies” – brief creativity starters – running Mondays and “Brainzooms” appearing several times monthly as strategic thinking prompts. Shifting toward creativity-oriented material reflects my focus as  I work on a “Creative Instigation” book.
  • The “Change Your Character” exercise to stop appearing Wednesdays. Following this week’s exercise and next week’s summary, it will run once or twice monthly.
  • Shorter articles.
  • Guest authors and more variety in communicating content (including first-version looks with original sticky notes, cartoons, and concept sketches).
  • Experimenting with brief surveys and other ways to solicit your participation.
  • More personal perspectives where it makes sense.

Taking advantage of other ideas depends on your active participation:

  • Some suggested topics are outside my areas of expertise or personal passion. Consider this an open invitation to you to create guest articles for the website on these related areas. One suggestion was doing more on strategic games & puzzles, especially related to chess. I’ll follow up with Seth Chapin (who’s been posting great comments on Brainzooming) about some possibilities!
  • If you have blogs or other links you find interesting, please send them. Leslie Adams has been great at suggesting intriguing sites. Look for your ideas to appear in future “Surf’s Up” pieces.

 

 

  • If it’s convenient, sign up for an email of each day’s article (upper left on the page). Provided through Feedburner, you get a daily email, generally by 6:30 am central time. It’s a great way to forward articles to others who might find them of value.

 

 

  • Whether via email or other means, please suggest the website to others and link to it on sites you visit. This can help build the richness of the discussion for the benefit of you and other readers. Thanks to Amy Hoppenrath for suggesting the blog in answer to a LinkedIn question!

 

After all that, you’re probably still wondering – who won the book? I decided to give away two, with Seth Chapin and Bob Kizer winning “Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide.” Congratulations!

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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Someone showed me a list of nearly 30 salesperson expectations in their company; these were things salespeople were expected to be informed about and follow at all times. Most of the processes and behaviors were reasonable, although the list came across as sprawling because there was no attempt to help readers make sense of its varied topics.

It was a classic example of intellectual laziness – failing to make the effort to help the audience process and act on information successfully. The lesson is if you must share a long list of complex or diverse information with a broad audience, do the hard work yourself of organizing it in ways to make it more memorable and easily implemented.

Understanding that people can only remember about 7 things at one time, look for meaningful groupings in a big list. Some possibilities could include:

  • Categorizing it by subject or type
  • Using a chronological sequence in particular steps or phases
  • Assigning clear priority levels to tasks

These are just a few possibilities; there are certainly others. The key point is to place yourself in the reader’s role, imagine you know nothing about the information, and think through and organize it in a way that allows your audience to spend much less time on deciphering it, and much more time on doing something with it.

Today’s Get ‘Er Written Approach Eliminating a theme that wasn’t relevant (in this case, cutting out a rant about bosses and teamwork that was getting in the way).

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 can all recall great school teachers who made otherwise boring subjects come alive and taught lessons that shape us still.

We’re all teachers in our own ways. There are people that we work and interact with daily who look to us for both technical learning and life lessons. Let’s explore great teachers’ approaches and see what they can teach us about our teaching roles. Great teachers:

  • Present challenging concepts
  • Are passionate about their subject(s)
  • Use vivid stories to illustrate lessons
  • Ask you about the subject area even outside the class room
  • Are true to the principles they teach
  • Teach heuristics to master & use the content
  • Make complex topics understandable
  • Are interactive
  • Make learning fun and rewarding
  • Don’t simply give answers away for the asking
  • Are still actively learning themselves
  • Have a love for the material / topic
  • Adapt to students’ various learning styles

Identify three new ideas for each of the approaches above that you can adapt to become a better teacher to those around you.

This post is dedicated to Dave Wessling, for so many reasons. May he rest in peace.

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

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

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