1

Recently, venture capitalist and senior Kauffman fellow, Paul Kedrosky, gave the last of four scheduled presentations at the Kauffman Foundation relating to Google Fiber. He concentrated on what Kansas City should do to make sure it—and the U.S.—gets the most out of the Google Fiber innovation opportunity. Here are four specific lessons on Google Fiber innovation from Paul Kedrosky that likely apply to our organizations as we strive for greater innovation.

1. Co-location

Kedrosky said some applications are not appropriate for development in Kansas City. Development must take place close to where they will eventually be used because even with extremely fast internet connects, execution or feedback will not be fast enough. The reason for this may be physical (in the case of stock trading, the speed of light is the limitation) or they may be sociological or cultural.

The lesson: Make sure that functions in your organization requiring nearly immediate feedback are in proximity—in terms of both physical location and where they fit in the hierarchy. Think sales and marketing, or production and engineering as examples where co-location is critical.

2. Upload/download symmetry

No matter how fast you can download information, it really does not matter if your upload bandwidth is too narrow. Eventually the download will become “occluded,” that is stopped or slowed because the response (upload) moves too slowly

The lesson: If senior management is not giving fast enough feedback and providing enough information, it makes no difference how much capacity an organization has. The organization will eventually stop what it is doing because it is waiting for senior management direction.

3. Understand the advantage/inevitability of flat-rate pricing

Historically the trend in communications is to flat rate pricing. The same first-class stamp takes your letter across the street or across the country. Likewise, long distance calling is rarely metered anymore. Widespread adoption and use becomes the counterbalance for falling prices.

The lesson: Customers shy away from pricing that involves cognitive complexity and risk. They ask questions such as, “What happens if I go over my limit?” or ”What else might I want to do with this product that I won’t be able to?” Look for ways you can make your pricing model flatter. Think restaurants and buffets. Also, consider making standard the options and add-ons that customers want or need. Price in a way that forgoes some upfront revenue but creates more satisfied customers—who, in turn, are likely to return and buy more.

4. Encourage playful experimentation and waste

Paul Kedrosky believes Kansas City will only make the creative breakthroughs in using Gigabit speed if it actively encourages, even demands, playful experimentation and waste. Indeed the title of his presentation was “Waste Lots, Want Lots.” Waste should come in two forms: waste of bandwidth and waste of latency.

The lesson: Ask these questions: Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time in the back shop soldering seemingly random circuit boards together? Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time, lots of time, trying to figure out a more systematic way to meet girls? If the answer is no, then you would have not been in on the founding of either Apple or Facebook. You may say that there are no Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg working for you. You are most likely right, and we could know at least one reason why. –Barrett Sydnor

 

How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

Continue Reading

2

If you’re in the middle of a long work week, how about trying some corporate fun ideas? Here are ten oddball ideas to liven up ANY long work week. And yes, I did some version of all of these ten corporate fun ideas. And still kept my job. Amazing.

10 Corporate Fun Ideas for a Long Work Week

10. Volunteer to dress up as the corporate mascot. Demand that your identity not be revealed. When people ask you who you are, do imitations and claim to be various corporate officers. Walk into the CEOs office & put your feet on his desk.

9. Introduce a unique made-up, but plausible, jargon word (i.e., a jargonym) in meetings. See how long it takes for others to start using it.

8. Next time you have to create a PowerPoint slide for someone else, make the first letters of the bullets on slide spell out a dirty word.

7. If you have a deadbeat employee working for you, get them promoted & transferred to your nemesis. The deadbeat employee will be even more wrongly self-satisfied, plus you get rid of them. That’s called a win-win.

6. Create an anonymous Twitter profile and start making fun of co-workers with impunity!

5. Make up some faux Successories posters and put them into presentations. And around your office. Here’s where to get started making them.

4. Paint your toe nails the official corporate color (only classifies as corporate fun if you’re a guy, btw).

3. Volunteer to do the wrap-up for a week-long sales training class. Put on a shirt that corresponds to every topic covered. Do the recap via a striptease covering the topics from Monday through Friday.

2. Do a funny (and by “funny,” I could mean “wickedly cruel”) top 10 list about something. Perhaps the top 10 list could be about the winners and losers in the latest round of “Senior Management Shuffling the Deck Chairs?”

1. Spread toys around your office that talk whenever anyone picks them up.

What corporate fun ideas are you going to do this week?  – Mike Brown

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

This past weekend CityCampKC, the Kansas City version of the international unconference, focused on innovative strategies in Kansas City for municipal governments and community organizations. The event culminated in a CityCampKC hackathon with a sold-out crowd of programmers and non-programmers working on developing an app to help metro residents and visitors better bike, walk, and use public transit.

Before the hackathon, however, there was morning of presentations that included lots of innovative ideas and sources. I picked out nine innovative strategies showcasing cool people, places, and things at CityCampKC that struck me as particularly interesting:

1. BikeShareKC – Sarah Shipley gave a high energy, visually intense presentation about the new public transportation option that is coming to Kansas City in June.

2. They’ve Got It, You Want It, How to Get It – David Herzog, associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, detailed OpenMissouri.org, a tool the jschool has developed to help connect citizens to data that is stored offline by state and local government.

3. Ten Things about Troost – There are lots of innovative things happening along Troost Avenue, long something of a racial border within Kansas City. One of the ten was the the greatest community service operations you can imagine, Operation Breakthrough.

4. Aaron Deacon and the Ecosystem – Aaron Deacon of The Curiolab talked about “New Models of Civic Progress: Infrastructure + Ecosystem.” Very interesting points he made about using technology to make us both individually and collectively more productive rather than just consumptive.

5. Embrace the Flyover – Jabbar Wesley wants us to show that innovation, particularly multicultural innovation, does not just occur on the coasts. To demonstrate this, Jabbar Wesley and his organization, Social Feen, are putting on Novel Day 2012 this November.

6. SeeClickFix – See a problem in your neighborhood, report it with a few clicks and then track when/how it gets fixed.

7. A Streetcar Named Twitter – New applications of mass transit have been virtually dead in Kansas City for decades. Now it looks like there is at least a chance streetcars in Kansas City may be coming (back) to downtown. Streetcar Neighbors used Twitter and Facebook to build support for a plan that would allow a vote to fund streetcars in Kansas City through a special taxing district.

8. You can go to Harvard and/or MIT – Big deal universities are offering online courses, often for free. LABx, founded by Darrin Ragsdale, is helping flip the classroom with OpenCourseWare technology support for Harvard’s Introduction to Computer Science, CS50, with support for more classes to come.

9. Shareabouts – The platform used to build the app that resulted from the CityCampKC hackathon. –Barrett Sydnor

 

How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

Continue Reading

2

I was talking with an organization’s leader the other day about how the boss can participate in the process of strategy planning and managing for change without compromising the team’s results. In his case, he was concerned that if he sat back and let his team take the lead in the process of strategy planning, they wouldn’t push for enough change. If, however, he talked first to demonstrate how far the organization needs to go in managing for change, he feared the team would agree with his comments without challenging ideas “the boss” shares.

He asked me what I’d recommend to help mitigate this particular challenge of the boss dominating in the process of strategy planning.

In this case my recommendation was based on a quick assessment that he legitimately wants his organization to undergo dramatic changes. My answer would differ if the question were coming from a leader who talks about change yet every obvious action suggests change isn’t a good thing.

With that backdrop, my first recommendation was to bring in an outside strategic facilitator (i.e., The Brainzooming Group!) so he isn’t in the dual role of trying to both participate and facilitate at the same time. Unless it’s a very rare situation, a leader has to pick one role or the other. Trying to facilitate and also participate is a recipe for problems.

Five Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating Strategy Planning

Beyond that important recommendation, here are five other ways to deal with this challenge:

  • Incorporate anonymous responses from the team so they can say their peace and suggest ideas without being identified.
  • Reduce the leader’s presence in the strategy planning process so they are not “visibly” participating in front of all team members at all times.
  • Vary the leader’s participation so the leader isn’t always talking first, but is talking first when it makes sense to do so.
  • Use different strategy questions than the organization typically asks so employees won’t know as readily what answers to expect from the boss.
  • Use a new or clearly neutral location for the planning session so the boss can’t sit in the usual power position in a room where the team typically meets.

Those are a few of the general techniques we use to get the broadest and most balanced participation during the process of strategy planning.

Are You Facing this Same Challenge?

What things have you done successfully to ensure the boss doesn’t overly-sway a team when it’s trying to be effective at managing for change? Are there things you do that haven’t worked as well? Let’s hear them!

And if you’re facing this same challenge, give us a call so YOU can do the most and get the most from your team’s planning effort.  – Mike Brown

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

5

Is your organization challenged in identifying robust social media topics to share, especially via blogging? If you are struggling with this, I’ll bet you aren’t taking advantage of an outside-in blogging strategy.

The Challenge of Creating Robust Social Media Topics

That was the challenge for someone I talked with recently who is blogging for an Alzheimer’s care facility. Because of patient privacy restrictions and the fact that people would probably rather not have to think about life in a long-term, senior care facility, the organization was struggling with what they could write about regarding the center. She asked what ideas I had for alternative blog topics.

As with so many organizations, I pointed out the primary problem was with the organization’s writing perspective.

We generally find organizations of all types just moving into social media approach it as they would other corporate communications efforts, i.e. starting with a list of topics the organization wants its audiences to know about on an ongoing basis.

While that might work (maybe) in traditional communication channels, this type of inside-out blogging approach is tremendously limiting.

Unless you have rabid brand fanatics who are consumed by your brand, you probably occupy a pretty small share of even a great customer’s interest. They have lives outside of what you do for them. They think about and are really interested in what’s going on with their lives, not what’s going on with your organization. So when you try and wedge what you care about into the relatively tiny mind share they have for you, there just aren’t that many compelling topics you can successfully cover.

Creating An Outside-In Blogging Strategy

When your organization moves into social media, you need to adopt an outside-in blogging strategy.

An outside-in blogging strategy implies you start identifying topics based on what your audience is interested in and then identifying how you can credibly address those topics. With an outside-in blogging strategy, you need to begin with a strong audience persona (or perhaps multiple ones) that describe a typical reader, their lifestyle, and their interests. As a generalized portrayal of a blog reader, the persona can be formed from market research, audience profile information, and insights from internal staff. We often create personas for our clients through a 10 question interactive exercise to create an initial persona for use in social media.

Once you have an audience persona developed, you’re in a fantastic position to start thinking about what your audience cares about and seeing which of their concerns you can address.

Getting back to the Alzheimer’s care center blogger, in our brief conversation, we described her target audience member as Joan, a married woman in her late forties with a mother exhibiting early stage Alzheimer’s. She is caring for her mother in her home, along with a couple of older kids. From that background, we generated five new topic ideas within a minute:

  • Managing financial issue for older parents
  • Meals that are fast to prepare
  • Providing full-time care without losing yourself
  • What to do when you can’t do any more than you are doing right now
  • How to make sure your parents are getting the best care

You can easily imagine all of these topics being of very high interest for Joan. While none are specifically related to the Alzheimer’s care center, it has a basis to address them, either with its own experts or through reaching out to others as guest contributors.

And most importantly, this list was generated in a minute using an outside-in blogging strategy. If we’d have kept going, this list of ideas would have grown to 100 within 15 minutes.

Getting Started

If you haven’t adopted an outside-in blogging strategy for your organization, now is the time to start. And if you need assistance getting an outside-in blogging strategy started, call The Brainzooming Group. We’ll get you going on it very quickly! – Mike Brown

 

If you’re struggling with determining ROI and evaluating its impacts, download “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track” today!  This article provides a concise, strategic view of the numbers and stories that matter in shaping, implementing, and evaluating your strategy. You’ll learn lessons about when to address measurement strategy, identifying overlooked ROI opportunities, and creating a 6-metric dashboard. Download Your Free Copy of “6 Social Media Metrics You Must Track!”

 

Mike Brown

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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

Last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal “Books” section featured an article called, “The Agony of Writing” by Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen. With a not very hopeful opening sentence (“I hate to write”) matching the title, Quindlen shared her approach to the creative performance secrets of her craft in “The Agony of Writing.”

Her strategy can be generalized into to the seven following steps to deal with creative blocks and sustain creative performance. Most are comparable to creativity instigators we’ve discussed, but she introduced some intriguing creative strategy twists along the way:

1. Force yourself to start creating

Even if your particular pursuit for creativity is a dreaded struggle, put yourself in a position to start. Whatever the motivation (i.e., intense fear, important obligations, pending financial doom, etc.), motivate yourself to stop procrastinating and start creating.

2. THINK creative; DO something else

Quindlen uses a variation of the phenomenon of coming up with great ideas in the shower to her advantage daily. She begins each day with a one-hour walk where she works on the story flow for her current work. While this isn’t a new creative strategy, until reading her description, I’d never simplified it to, “THINK creative; DO something else.”

3. Remove quality as a hurdle for getting started

Anna Quindlen says she doesn’t “believe in writer’s block.” Her attitude is to start writing, even if it isn’t great writing. She has found anything that feels close to creativity (even if it’s lacking) can lead to better output later. Essentially, crappy is better than nothing when it comes to working through creative blocks.

4. Identify something to put you in your creativity zone

One way to instigate creativity is with a physical object or setting that establishes your mood. Anna Quindlen uses a physical article that puts her into the world about which she is currently writing. I really like the idea of anchoring a cerebral creative process with a physical object. That helps me explain the toys and squeeze balls on my desk.

5. Identify and protect a scheduled creative time that works for you and your creativity rhythms

Your focused creative time has to consistently and predictably support your creative efforts. Quindlen calls her creative time the “elementary school schedule,” since it runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or the time the kids are away from the house. She even shuns lunches out to avoid breaking her creativity rhythms during the day.

6. Direct your creativity and creative energy to production

Author Truman Capote was noted for talking about his work a lot. Talking about writing isn’t writing, just as talking about ideas isn’t the same as doing something with ideas. Quindlen cautions against using mental energy to talk about your creative task without ever working on it. She also advises individuals to not take on additional jobs or pursue hobbies tapping your primary creative energy. She believes she has only a certain number of words available per day and tweets, emails, and writing for some other purpose use up those precious words.

7. Quit midstream

Anna Quindlen always ends her writing for the day in mid-sentence. Because she hasn’t finished up the day with a completed sentence, she has a natural place (and a head start) in getting started the next day. This was a different take for me, and I suspect for most people. It seems people usually try to stop at a “natural stopping place,” which is a point of completion, even if it’s an interim one. I’ll definitely try to quit midstream and see how it works.

Well?

That’s what a Pulitzer Prize winnder does to sustain creative performance. Can you see yourself incorporating these ideas into your creativity regimen? Are there other creative strategies working better for you?  – Mike Brown

 

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

8

To follow-up a recent post on business branding, we wanted to offer another brand compilation featuring articles from The Brainzooming Group related to customer experience. Examining your brand through a customer experience perspective is vital when considering brand strategy modifications you hope will solidify relationships with current and future customers.

These twenty-two articles on multiple aspects of brand strategy and customer experience can help you strengthen how you’re considering and evaluating your branding approach. This is especially important if you’re losing customers unexpectedly, being attacked by competitors disrupting the marketplace, or considering expanding into new markets. If you have efforts such as these under consideration or underway, call or email The Brainzooming Group for a free check-in consultation to make sure you’ve framed up your brand strategy efforts to maximize success.

Behaviors

Customer Buying Cycle

Customer Involvement

Consumer Goods

Service Businesses

  • Delivering on the Brand Promise – Just Try Harder – A brand promise isn’t just a few words. If you aren’t going to carry out your brand promise, you should come up with a different one your brand can perform.
  • Branding Lessons with the Newlyweds at Elitch Gardens – A great brand lesson demonstrating that a brand isn’t a name. A brand is all about the customer experience, and you have to make sure the brand name IS aligned with all parts of the customer experience.
  • Helping People Help Themselves – Too often, brands go the self-service route purely out of cost savings with little regard for the impact on the customer experience. With just a little forethought, you can devise a self-service strategy that might even add value for your customers. Here are 26 potential self-service benefits to consider.
  • How Can You Reinforce Your Smelly Brand? – Just because you’re in a service business doesn’t mean you can’t use experience cues taken from physical attributes of your brand and integrate them more directly into your brand experience. Here’s proof it’s possible!
  • Strategic Thinking from the Customer’s Seat – Front line employees can generate great ideas to improve the customer experience, especially for niche customer groups who wouldn’t typically show up in the data. Are you listening to your front line employees to see what customer experience ideas they have?
  • Customize a Customer Brand Experience Very Simply – You don’t necessarily need loads of technology to provide customized customer experiences. A little forethought and some helpful suggestions (call it experience curation, if you must) can provide customized customer experiences as well.

Crisis Moments

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading