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Who could find a connection between the “Hokey Pokey” and internal branding ideas? None other than B2B marketing expert Randall Rozin! Randall, who leads the Global Brand Management function within Dow Corning Corporation, serves as the company’s key strategist on brand creation, internal branding, and strategy alignment. Besides all his corporate accomplishments, Randall is always a popular guest author on the Brainzooming blog.  

How the “Hokey Pokey” Suggests Strong Internal Branding Ideas by Randall Rozin

Randall-Rozin2As kids it was fun, if not somewhat embarrassing, to do the Hokey Pokey at school, at the skating rink or at parties.  The Hokey Pokey (song and dance) goes by many names around the world, but has a common format in that you first create a circle of friends. When the song starts, you begin by putting your right hand in, putting your right hand out, putting your right hand back in and shaking it all about, after which you ‘do the hokey pokey by turning yourself about’.  From there you then proceed with the left hand, each foot in turn, your head, backside and finally your ‘whole self’.

Now take the common Hokey Pokey as a simple metaphor to suggest internal branding ideas.  A stretch perhaps, but let’s have some fun with it as at the end of the day the goal of both the Hokey Pokey and Internal Branding are the same.  We want an employee to put his or her “whole self in” to the brand. This concept applies for both business to business firms as well as business to consumer companies.

7 Internal Branding Ideas from the “Hokey Pokey”

Put your right hand in/out

As the internal branding dance begins, we start slowly with a simple hand to test the waters.  We put our right hand in do an audit of what we know about our brand and what we have been doing to communicate it to our employees.

Put your left hand in/out

With current situational knowledge in place, we put our other hand in to develop a strategy of where we want our brand to be in the future and outline a plan to get there.  Now the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and has a path forward.

Hokey-pokey-right-foot-inPut your right foot in/out

Next we have to get senior management alignment to our strategy and goals with active support for bringing the brand to life with and for employees.  Sometimes this involves a little footwork.

Put your left foot in/out

With visible support from management, we now begin to create awareness of what our brand means, what it stands for.  This involves putting feet on the street to inform all employees.

Put your head in/out

The head in this part of the dance, as with internal branding strategy, is properly timed.  In this phase we move beyond awareness to really helping employees understand what the brand means, why it is important and what role they, as individuals, play in delivering on the brand promises.

Put your backside in/out

With internal branding strategy you want hearts and minds.  We covered minds in the previous step; a way to the heart is by having some fun with your brand to help convey its message in a variety of ways.  In the Hokey Pokey, putting your backside in breaks down barriers by being a bit silly during the dance.  For your internal branding initiatives putting your backside in could include sharing stories, in fun ways, of on-brand behaviors as well as off-brand behaviors and how to correct them.

Put your whole self in

The ultimate aim of internal branding strategy is to have employees’ hearts, minds, bodies and souls committed to supporting your brand in service of your customers.  In essence, getting everyone to put their ‘whole self in’ and do so willingly as they can see the connection between what they do every day at work and why it matters and adds value to internal and external customers.

Enjoy both the hokey pokey and your internal branding ideas and remember to “turn yourself about” to have some fun with it cause “that’s what it’s all about.” – Randall Rozin

 

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Super Bowl 50 featured the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos facing off against one another, with the Broncos coming out on top, 24 to 10. Despite NEVER being a Broncos fan, I was rooting for Peyton Manning to take the Denver Broncos to victory (although we did have a Panthers fan in the house) . . . Now, Cooper Manning will be the son at the Manning Thanksgiving table without two Super Bowl rings . . . . Maybe for the first time in many years, I was more excited about the football than the advertising. I am not sure if I am the only one but I am SO OVER all the hype for Super Bowl ads. In any event, here are my take aways from the Super Bowl (and we all know you have to have a good take away ratio to win the Super Bowl!

Panther-Fan

We had a Panther fan in the house.

Super Bowl 50 Winners

Lady Gaga set the new standard for singing the Star Spangled Banner, whether at the Super Bowl or ANYWHERE else. And to all the people going, “Remember Whitney Houston,” I say, Gaga Number 1, Whitney Number 2 . . . Hyundai scored early with Kevin Hart using the auto’s Car Finder technology to keep an eye on his daughter and her date to make sure the boyfriend stayed away from any precarious tunnels. I guess Car Finder is the modern father’s best substitute for a chastity belt . . . The Doritos crowdsourced Pregnancy ad introduced a new paternity test (the baby goes after Doritos just like dad does) and introduced (whether intentionally or not) a pro-life message.

The Skittles and Steven Tyler ad worked. I wanted to see it again, and I had already seen it . . . While there were various #SuperBowlEXP tweeters bashing it, I gave shout outs to Toyota for getting more product mentions in its Prius ad than all other Super Bowl ads combined. It was a smart use of repetition and tackling challenges to product perceptions. All that, plus it featured an OJ Simpson mini-series tie-in and was capped off by another ad after the game’s finish. Of course, as my wife asked, “Where is Jan from Toyota in all this?”

Super Bowl 50 Losers

Pizza Hut featured an early ad for its Garlic Knots. That product name perfectly sums up what my stomach would be like if I ate that stuff . . . There were questions about why the advertisers seem not to understand the value of integrating social media and digital with their $5 million thirty-second advertisements. A hashtag is easy to cook up (unless you are Bud, which put a space in a hashtag a few years ago on a Super Bowl ad), and a hashtag is just scratching the surface . . . I completely missed the PayPal ad. I then Googled it to watch it online and missed it again. PayPal should have featured PeyTon in its ad . . . By the way, did you see the Papa John guy catch up with Peyton as the game was ending?

Peyton-Kubiak

When it came to the Half Time Show, I’m not sure what connection Bruno Mars had to Coldplay, but Bruno Mars was actually enjoyable to listen to by comparison . . . By the second half, the ads seemed to be mostly snoozers. With commercials about constipation, diarrhea, and toe nail fungus, one #SuperBowlEXP tweeter asked, “When is this shit going to stop?”

Fun Facts from Super Bowl L

A word to the wise advertiser: there’s a place between no spoken copy (Acura, PayPal, Budweiser) and too freakin’ much spoken copy (RocketMortgage) where a $5 million Super Bowl ad actually works . . . Of all the Super Bowl MVPs, Joe Montana is the only one I have had a brush with greatness with previously. When he played for the Chiefs, we saw Joe and Jennifer eating at a local restaurant for a late lunch. One other time, Joe Montana came in for take-out at a restaurant where we were enjoying a Friday night happy hour . . . Thanks to all the tweeters who corrected me on thinking it was Denis Leary in the Snickers / Marilyn Monroe ad. Yeah, you were all right, it was Willem Dafoe. But I still contend it would have been funnier with Denis Leary . . . The whole Puppy-Monkey-Baby thing, contrary to what Mountain Dew would want you to believe, represents three things that need not have ever been combined in a Super Bowl ad. Same as with chronic pain, opioids, and constipation. And BTW, OIC missed a cool sponsorship opportunity. Constipation should have been the official NFL sponsor of all False Start penalties in the Super Bowl . . . It sounded like Peyton Manning changed his trigger call from “Omaha” to “WhatThe” at one point during the game . . . It took Avocados to get Scott Baio, cramped airplanes as torture chambers, and the infamous is it blue/black or gold/white dress into the Super Bowl. Good job.

blue-black-gold-white-dress

Finally, the Super Bowl Babies ad was interesting the first time, but I am not sure it had as many legs as the NFL tried to get out of it. Of course, that may be sour grapes because the sad fact is all the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Babies are 45 years old.

Well, there is always next year for the Chiefs, and for some better Super Bowl advertisements, with maybe a classic advertisement SOMEWHERE in the mix. Here’s to next year’s LinkedIn-sponsored, Super Bowl LI. – Mike Brown

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Our buddies at Armada Corporate Intelligence addressed what sections you should include in your go to market strategy plan in their “Inside the Executive Suite” feature. They highlighted ten different sections to include your strategy plan. (Note: If you want to learn more about the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief system and get in on this great publication for an incredibly low monthly rate, please visit the Armada website.)

Go-To-Market-Space

10 Sections Your Go to Market Strategy Plan Should Include via Armada Corporate Intelligence

AEIB-GraphicThe term “go to market” strategy cropped up perhaps fifteen years ago. In b-school and for years in the business world, we created “marketing” plans. Maybe consultants coined the new term. We see the difference between a marketing plan and a go to market strategy focusing on how the latter incorporates an understanding of customers, what attracts them, and what a brand does to introduce and win share with a successful product or service. (For brevity, we’ll use “product” to represent both products and services from here on.)

We haven’t found a perfect list of what a go to market strategy incorporates. The list here, however, is what we’ve identified and used. It’s a starting point to adapt from as you work on bringing new product initiatives to market:

Target Market

You need to communicate the primary targets you are trying to reach based on a product’s design, intended experience, and marketing. “Everyone” is not an answer to describe the target market. You should pursue a definable, distinct portion of the available audience. Although targeted, it needs to be large enough to deliver on revenue and profit objectives. When targeting multiple groups, communicate which one is the primary target versus others you might include in your marketing.

Brand Strategy

This isn’t just about logos, advertising, and colors. That’s only a part of brand strategy. The go to market strategy should address alignment between your employees, product quality and experience, audience communications, and everything else reinforcing your brand and how you’ll introduce and market a new product. The brand strategy sets guidelines for the go to market approach and provides a platform for new, smart ideas to integrate the product within the overall brand.

Positioning & Messaging

Positioning addresses where you want to place your product in the marketplace relative to competitive offerings. The position (and messages conveying the position to the market) should be distinct versus competitors’ market positions. Developing a product’s ideal position incorporates what the target market expects and will accept from the brand. It also includes what customers will reward through positive buying behaviors. Articulating the position is a start; the remainder of your go to market strategy addresses delivering on the position daily.

Value Proposition

A value proposition can take various forms. Two common elements are needed irrespective of the format. Initially,  the value proposition must clearly communicate how customers, through using your product, will receive more in return than the sum of what they paid and the other “costs” associated with using it. The other essential is the value proposition isn’t just a statement. It must translate to real world product purchase, use, and support experiences.

Sales and Distribution Channels

This covers the varied means of selling and getting the product to customers. It could include strategies for direct sales, inside sales, inbound marketing, wholesalers, distribution partners, alliances, affiliates, etc. It also incorporates all the elements necessary to support channels and relationships, including recruiting, hiring, training, tools, deployment, and the supply chain.

Customer Touch Points

You won’t just reach customers through the sales and distribution channel touchpoints. This strategy component addresses how the product will rely on direct and indirect online contact (web, social media, content), front line service providers, the customer service team, and any other places where you expect customers will interact with your brand and form perceptions about the experience.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy must fit with all other sections to strategically and effectively support the market position and value proposition. It’s impossible to cover creating a pricing strategy in one paragraph. There’s one common trap, however, we see trip up many companies: the pricing strategy may have nothing to do with the production costs. Pricing isn’t necessarily your cost plus a certain percent added as a mark-up. You develop a pricing strategy to support the right value proposition in the marketplace; getting costs in line to support that position is a separate issue.

Marketing Communications Strategy

As with brand strategy, many executives incorrectly think this is the only part of a go to market strategy. Within this section, make sure you have the right mix of online presence and content, advertising, collateral, event marketing, public relations, and internal communication to support the product’s position and intended messages.

Supporting Technology and Systems

More than ever, technology is an integral part of developing and launching products. Smart marketers invite the IT team to the table early when planning a new product. They can help identify innovative ways to use technology to maximize the customer experience and improve efficiencies that create a more attractive cost position.

Metrics

Whether at the start or end a go to market strategy, develop and refine relevant metrics throughout creating the approach. Rather than simply including only sales units, revenue, and profitability targets, metrics should be in place to help identify progress and challenges during the entire implementation process. – Armada Corporate Intelligence

 

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On the Way to the Arch

Sidewalk-Signage

I took the picture above on the way to morning mass at the church underneath the St. Louis arch.

A sidewalk message to navigate the way to what is already a very visible landmark reminds me of my wife’s marketing activities in college.

St-Louis-Arch-Church

Before we dated, she was in charge of marketing for student activities at Fort Hays State University where we both earned our bachelor’s degrees. She was famous for using sidewalk signage to cut through the clutter and let students know which way they should walk to get to the latest music or entertainment program on campus.

Back to this sidewalk signage pointing the way to the St. Louis arch, however, it suggests multiple strategic thinking questions you can ask for your brand’s success.

7 Strategic Thinking Questions on the Way to Your Brand?

These seven strategic thinking questions focus on what happens to your customers on the way to your brand.

Put another way, is your brand visible in all the places your customers are going to be as they start toward, get closer to, and are nearby your brand – or your competitors’ brands?

Using the St. Louis arch sidewalk signage as inspiration, think about the following strategic thinking questions to imagine where your brand needs to be to reach potential customers on the way to your brand:

  • Where might customers begin in making their way to find and explore our brand?
  • How many different paths do customers take to reach our brand category?
  • What are all the other parties trying to get in from of our brand’s customers?
  • What types of messages stand out from competitors’ messages trying to reach our potential customers?
  • When our customers are looking “up,” “down,” or “to the side,” what are they going to see as they pass by our brand?
  • How many possibilities are available to reinforce our messages before customers reach our brand?
  • In what ways might we be able to use pre-brand messages so potential customers know they are getting “warmer” or “colder” relative to our brand location?

Run through these seven strategic thinking questions and see what possibilities your answers suggest.

See if you don’t uncover some new opportunities in answering these strategic thinking questions where you can make it easier and more apparent for your customers to find your brand from among all the competitive options! – Mike Brown

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What do you LOVE about your business?

Love-Your-Brand

Yes, I’m serious about that strategic thinking question.

Can you say what you LOVE about your business, and what it does? Or what your business enables? Or the bigger set of activities your business makes a reality?

If you struggle with those questions, take a time out right away and do the strategic thinking needed to get back in touch with the love in what you do.

What brought this up was a planning and strategic thinking workshop we were conducting for a business-to-business client. While its clients are businesses, it is ultimately a part of a consumer market that is ALL about love. Yet when the client’s executives were participating in strategic thinking exercises and discussing the business, their comments suggested a dry, emotionless, and routine business completely devoid of any love.

Even in discussing its direct clients, who are often motivated by a love for what they do, there wasn’t any hint of love in the business.

HUGE MISTAKE.

If you’re missing the love about your business, how in the world can you find the best opportunities?

How can you uncover the special, memorable, and lasting moments your brand can create?

How will ANYONE care about using your brand?

Yes, even if you are in the most apparently mundane and boring industrial product, you need to find the love. SOMEBODY must love SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE in what your brand does or enables.

And when you answer the strategic thinking question about the possibilities and find the love, THAT’S WHEN you are going to find the great opportunities that seem to have eluded your brand up to this point.

Find the love. Find what’s special about what you do. Find it RIGHT AWAY! – Mike Brown

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When a brand strategy change is planned, what happens first?

An earlier “Inside the Executive Suite” article from Armada Corporate Intelligence addressed this important brand strategy question about how changes are rolled out to the public. The issue is this: When announcing a new brand promise, you need to give employees adequate time to understand and embrace the brand promise before announcing it to customers.

“Nearly simultaneously,” unless there are completely inescapable circumstances preventing advance notice, is not adequate time. Yet, discussions and presentations at a brand strategy conference indicate many brands act as if “nearly simultaneously” is sufficient.

You're-Gonna-Love-this-Plac

They’re wrong, and here’s an example included in the Armada piece. It’s a second-hand anecdote on the downside of not making sure employees know about branding announcement before customers, along with the fundamental differences in how brands are developed vs. implemented.

Brand Promises Are Developed and Communicated in Different Directions (From Armada Executive Intelligence “Inside the Executive Suite”)

“(There are) differing ‘directions’ in which smart brands develop and introduce their promises.

Many organizations first look inward to determine what they want the brand to be. They then develop related brand messages they launch with great fanfare in the marketplace. This is developing the brand promise ‘inside-out’ and communicating it ‘outside-in,’ implying employees are learning about the new big brand promise at the same time as customers.

“That approach is fraught with problems as evidenced by a story shared by a CMO we (worked with). He was flying on United Airlines as it introduced ‘United Rising.’ The brand campaign focused on United dramatically changing to deliver better service to customers. After enduring a day of cancellations and delays at O’Hare with no timely updates or apologies from United, passengers finally boarded a plane in the evening. One flight attendant welcomed passengers, acknowledged their long, frustrating day, apologized, and said the crew would have them home soon.

“The CMO told the flight attendant she was the ONLY person all day who displayed anything resembling United Rising-type behaviors. She asked what United Rising was. He explained it was the new United brand message. She replied, ‘Oh, they don’t tell us about those things. We’re always the last to know.’

“That highlights the problem with first communicating a brand promise in the marketplace. If the market learns about a new brand promise before employees, they aren’t in a good position to bring the brand promise to life for customers – and they may even wind up undermining it, as in the United Rising episode.

“The best brand promises are developed outside in. A brand starts by understanding what the market perceives about it and how much latitude it has to change. Brand promises are then communicated inside out. The communication process starts with employees before the market hears the message, making sure they understand it and are supported in delivering on it. Then, when the first customer comes through the door (whether a physical, figurative, or virtual one), employee behaviors and every other brand element can strongly align to what customers have heard.”

Even if there are regulatory or confidentiality issues involved, it behooves a brand to establish considerable groundwork with its employees in advance, perhaps over many months of time. This could come via broad employee involvement in providing input to the strategy. It could also include sharing foundational concepts that will support the eventual brand position. In that case, when the new brand is announced, brand management can link the new information on the brand to what has already been shared. That at least provides SOME context and preparation for employees to be able to communicate about and carry out a new brand promise more effectively.

Don’t mess this one up: Communicating your brand starts on the inside, NOT the outside!  – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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Great branding strategy examples abound. You just have to be on the lookout for them when they come across your path.

We were in St. Joseph, MO for a client session. The highlight of the car trip was driving by this ice cream stand, Kris and Kate’s Ice Cream Treats. Can you believe how cute this place is? Although the sign outside said it is closed until March, a stop on the way back through town was mandatory to get a few pictures.

Kris-Kate-Ice-Cream-Treats

It was only after pulling into the parking lot at Kris and Kate’s Ice Cream Treats on the return trip that something even more incredible than the building’s design jumped out: the best brand promise ever.

“If you can think it, we can make it.”

Brand-Promise

I don’t know if Kris and Kate’s Ice Cream Treats thinks about this as a brand promise, a slogan, or something else. It really doesn’t matter, because it is the best brand promise ever – and not just for an ice cream stand in St. Joseph, MO.

If your organization specializes in one particular area, your branding strategy discussions should include the question: “If our customers can think it, can we make it?”

If that were your organization’s brand promise, what would you have to do differently with your branding strategy when it comes to:

  • Responsiveness?
  • Flexibility?
  • Your commitment to figuring things out?
  • The ability to anticipate your customers?
  • Being ready for unusual requests?
  • Having resources in place to act?
  • Support organizationally for improvisation?
  • Support and guidelines instead of rules for employee behavior?

It gets pretty dizzying in a hurry!

But wouldn’t the ability to do these things make your brand promise be the best brand promise ever?

I think we just stumbled over our newest brand experience exercise!  – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. 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 leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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

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