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Yesterday, I was at Kansas City’s Gem Theater in the historic 18th and Vine District to live tweet TEDx18thAndVine with streamed, time-shifted sessions from 2012 TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland.

At least that was the original plan for TEDx18thAndVine. Unfortunately, technical challenges at Kansas City’s Gem Theater and with the video server had the production team valiantly scrambling onstage and off to keep the crowd engaged, leading to a generous mix of TED Talk archive videos throughout TEDx18thAndVine. Nonetheless, the day was marked by enough intriguing content under the Radical Openness theme to leave one’s head swimming by the end of the day.

Nine mini-recaps from TEDx18thAndVine TED Talks:

Philosophical Espresso

Fast-talking, performing philosopher Jason Silva starred in a 2012 TEDGlobal Radical Openness theme video and then joined Chris Anderson onstage. Talking with Anderson, he described his rapid-fire musings as “Shots of Philosophical Espresso” and “Movie Trailers for Ideas.” Just one of the big thoughts from Jason Silva: “Awe makes things new again. And that’s ultimately the best drug in the world.”

“RADICAL OPENNESS” – for TEDGlobal 2012 by @Jason_Silva from Jason Silva on Vimeo.

Those Who Remember the Past Too Well Are Doomed to Not Understand the Future

Discussing our need to determine a course of action incorporating climate changes underway and those in the future, environmental policy influencer Vicki Arroyo reminded the audience we are entering uncharted territory, and we cannot use the past to plan. Or as Arroyo put it, “Stationarity is dead.”

Learning and Changing Priorities

Andreas Schleicher (Education Surveyor) discussed what sets apart those countries who are leading in educating their youth.  Three specific ideas from his 2012 TEDGlobal presentation that struck me were:

  • “Everyone says education is important. But how do you weigh that priority against others?” (You can ask this question about anything people think is important.)
  • How well kids can extrapolate from what they know to new situations is a measure of their change preparedness. (When facts change rapidly, this is a fundamental future learning skill.)
  • “Learning is not a place but an activity.” (A small sentence packing a big challenge to the educational system as we have known it for a century or more.)

Eye Contact vs. “i” contact

One of the previous TED Talks shown at TEDx18thAndVine was from the TED 2012 “Connected, but Alone?” presentation by Sherry Turkle. Her focus was how the constant availability of communication devices changes how we think and interact with others. There weren’t necessarily many supporting facts, but there were a variety of standout comments from Sherry Turkle:

  • “If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely.”
  • “I share therefore I am.”
  • “We expect more from technology & less from each other. Technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable.”
  • Facebook and Twitter pages make it seem as if other people are listening to you.
  • People think the problem with conversations is that conversations happen in real time (you cannot control when they happen), and you cannot control and limit the interaction.  What matters most to people is to control their own attention for what they want.

Integration > Innovation

Jonathan Trent from NASA focused his TED talk on the OMEGA project that seeks to grow algae in the ocean to create new liquid biofuel. His wrap-up comments on the OMEGA project and success factors for the future came right out of our Brainzooming innovation work:

Suffice it to say the perspectives Jonathan Trent shared about making change happen were right on target.

The Earth Is Rounder than We Think

Globalization thinker Pankaj Ghemawat shared a variety of statistics form his book World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve It (affiliate link) to support his point of view that the spread of globalization is many times less than the public believes. Pankaj Ghemawat has a word to describe the big messaging behind the earth being flat (affiliate link) and the pervasiveness of globalization: Globaloney. He suggests globaloney is a result of a dearth of data, peer pressure to see the world as one, and what he calls, “technotransis,” or an inability to NOT be sucked up into the expectation that technology will be all-pervasive and solve the world’s ills.

Step Up and Step Back

At day’s end, percussive guitarists Usman Riaz (the young gun) and legendary guitarist Preston Reed (affiliate link) collaborated on a striking, first-time guitar duet. Afterward, TED host Chris Anderson asked them to do something more, acknowledging they may not have prepared anything by saying, “We just want to see another 30 or 40 seconds, and if it goes horribly wrong, it’s fine.”

Sure, go for it in front of a global audience. The two guitarists talked briefly and launched into another number, playing out a great lesson if you’re ever asked to improv with someone else: let the junior person shine (Riaz played lead) and the more experienced individual support, providing background and structure (Reed was more “percussive” than “guitarist”). The natural tendency might be to have a more junior person take a step back, but their collaboration showcased Usman Riaz, while making it apparent that Preston Reed was the underpinning to their guitar collaboration.

Words to Live By

“If you want to make something you love (i.e., TED stage time) better, give it away.” – Chris Anderson

2012 TEDGlobal Wrap Up

As I tell anyone who asks, watching a streamed TED event is different than watching popular TED Talks from the TED website. When looking at individual videos, you’d think every TED Talk is fantastic. When you watch a whole array of them as they’re delivered, your takeaway is that there are boring and ho-hum TED Talks, too.

You also take away, as I did during yesterday’s 2012 TEDGlobal Session 6: Misbehaving Beautifully that it is good to experience people on the fringes, but you need to not confuse yourself by thinking they represent the mainstream. Radical Openness is fantastic, but sometimes Radical Wariness is called for in equal doses! – Mike Brown

 

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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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Most marketers would agree that having and demonstrating they know the customer well is a key to great customer service. Nevertheless, it is possible to go overboard when trying to know the customer well. The signs I found in a Western Kansas Days Inn demonstrate  that knowledge can also be a little disconcerting when it’s less about providing great customer service and appears to be more about micro-managing the customer experience.

Don’t Clean

For instance, not sure I wanted to know—via this sign on the table by the television—that the customer experience of the previous occupants of my room had possibly involved cleaning game or boarding hunting dogs where I was walking around barefoot.

Do Clean

On the other hand, I found it interesting that those same bird-shooting, dog-keeping occupants were significant consumers of beauty aids that must be removed with a special cloth.

Did You Clean Enough?

Finally though, I did appreciate that while the hotel management was going to charge me if I stole any of the linens, that they were going to check daily to make sure that I was following good hygiene practices.

How do you want to see a brand managing your customer experience?

How do you react when it feels as if a brand is micro-managing the customer experience? Do you appreciate the deep knowledge they have about you and does it translate into great customer service? Or would you prefer the brand simply back off and give you some room? – Barrett Sydnor

 

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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 customer service in a smart way without seeming as if you’re micro-managing the customer experience.

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I spent two days last week with a business conference focus, attending two Kansas City events: The iKC Innovation Conference on Wednesday and the Kansas City Digital Storytelling Forum on Thursday. The keynote presenters at both business conferences were worth the price of admission (Michael Raynor (affiliate link) at iKC and Frank Rose (affiliate link) at the Digital Storytelling Forum), which was great because the panel discussions at each business conference were less successful. While that is disappointing, it is not shocking. Weak panel discussion sessions are more frequent at a business conference than free logoed pens.

7 Ideas for Event Planners to Make Panel Discussions Better

What can an event planner do to make a business conference panel discussion a stronger part of the audience experience? Here are seven ideas an event planner and a panel moderator should consider when deciding to include a panel discussion in a business conference:

1. A bad solo presenter isn’t necessarily going to be a compelling panel discussion member

There seems to be a rampant belief among event planners that a bad solo presenter will suddenly be great when placed in a panel discussion. That is simply not true. If someone has a good personality, enthusiasm for a topic, and is engaging BUT simply does not present well individually, a panel discussion slot can be the answer. If the person has a bland personality, little energy, and is not engaging when they interact, however, an event planner needs to forget about a panel discussion slot fixing the problem.

2. An event sponsor’s employees won’t necessarily be compelling panel discussion members either

It is easy for an event planner to offer discussion panel slots to sponsors’ employees as part of a sponsorship package. But if an event planner is serious about great content, then the sponsor’s employees need to be strong panelists to earn an onstage role. Boring panelists from a major sponsor fill up space, but will not reflect well on the sponsor or the event planner.

3. A panel moderator should watch Charlie Rose, Larry King, and The McLaughlin Group beforehand

The panel moderator has the job of starting the conversation, creating a compelling flow, making connections, and tying topics together. These hosts all handle(d) group interactions in different ways, but each is worth watching and learning from for any new panel moderator.

4. The panel moderator should talk with panelists individually

While pre-session group calls with panels are fine for getting to know each other, the panel moderator should talk to each panelist individually as well. One-on-one interviews are used to identify individual topics specific to each person so there’s fresh content for panelists to react to when the panel is live onstage.

5. Discuss topics, not questions, with panel members ahead of time

It’s great to have panelists well-versed on the subject matter. But it doesn’t make for an interesting panel discussion when panelists have all the questions upfront to rehearse answers. When that happens, you have both a bad presentation (because the remarks are all prepared) and a bad panel (because interaction evaporates).

6. Identify areas of healthy disagreement to explore during the panel discussion

When everyone on a panel agrees, it’s boring. Without different perspectives, there’s no basis for healthy (and interesting) interaction. It’s up to the organizer to assemble a panel that represents differing perspectives and experience. It’s up to the moderator to identify areas where panel members can exchange differing perspectives and then challenge them to do so.

7. Not everyone has to answer every question

The point of a panel isn’t to take a 45-minute chunk of conference time and divide it evenly with each panelist getting equal time. Yet, so many panel sessions try to have equal participation to the detriment of the overall session. Let panelists address questions that make the most sense for them (even if it’s not all equal) and interact with each other. It may seem less orderly to the event planner, but it will definitely provide a more compelling audience experience.

Do you enjoy panel discussions at business conferences?

Granted, I’ve taken a pretty harsh view of panel discussions here, but there are some redeeming qualities and compelling content that can emerge. What  do you enjoy or not enjoy about business conference panel discussions? – Mike Brown

 

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If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Emailus at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

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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2

The Wall Street Journal featured a review this past Saturday of “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay” by Frank Partnoy (affiliate link) by Christopher B. Chabris. The review highlights Frank Partnoy’s challenge to those espousing the need to act right away, lest opportunities be forever lost and his support for the waiting game strategy in both business and personal lives. The question of using the waiting game strategy is something we have talked about here on Brainzooming before as “strategic patience.”

Affiliate Link

In “Wait,” Frank Partnoy offers examples of the waiting game strategy paying off in a variety of situations. These include a baseball batter who can wait on getting the right pitch to 3M waiting twelve years between the discovery of a low-stick adhesive and the introduction of the Post-it Notes the adhesive made reality.

As with many books, Christopher B. Chabris points out in his review that Frank Partnoy offers examples, but no answers to know when and how long to wait because “there is no formula for getting the right answer.”

I don’t necessarily have a formula either.

But as one who likes to use the waiting game strategy, thinking back through lessons from both my business and personal lives suggested six characteristics of situations where a waiting game strategy can work and two critical success factors for one being more successful.

Six Characteristics where a Waiting Game Strategy Can Work

Thinking about situations where you are considering waiting over acting, you’re likely to find a waiting game being successful if these six characteristics are in place:

1. Waiting is consistent with a longer-term strategy you have in place

This implies a pre-determined reason for waiting that was baked into your initial strategy.

2. Your longer-term strategy is flexible and can accommodate several situations or time frames

When your strategy could apply to a variety of different market and organizational scenarios, waiting for the best of these is a viable approach.

3. Your opportunity and risk exposure is so small that you are willing and able to sustain the window of opportunity going away completely

This is the classic negotiation technique. If you are in a waiting game, you have to be able to walk away from the deal (or have it walk away from you) and still be okay.

4. You are still learning or receiving benefits while waiting that improve your ability to respond

This reflects the advantage played out by fast followers. Rather than jumping in first and learning by trial and error, fast followers watch the leader and go to school on their mistakes before launching a similar effort.

5. You are able to move forward with actions supporting a definitive path to be pursued later

If you’re able to make progress while keeping your strategic options open, that’s a real benefit.

6. Future options are not being shut down (and in fact be expanding) with the passage of time

As long as you’re in the position of being able to decide your course of action (as opposed to having inaction making decisions for you), waiting can still make sense.

Two Critical Success Factors for Making the Waiting Game Strategy Work

To better ensure you do not miss too many opportunities while you are content to wait, make sure you:

1. Don’t let the opportunity you are waiting on be pushed out of sight, out of mind

You need listening posts to monitor market and competitive actions relative to the opportunity you are waiting on to make sure you actually pull the trigger at the latest and best possible time.

2. Have individuals in your close circle that will instigate for action and keep forcing the issue

You want to make sure that even during a period of strategic patience you have people in your organization who are advocates for taking action. As much as you may be fine waiting for things to play out over an extended period of time, you want someone pushing action to keep you honest.

Don’t wait to share what you think!

What are your thoughts on this idea of strategic patience, a waiting game strategy, and the areas Frank Partnoy is addressing? If you’re someone who pursues it, how do you make it work for you? If, instead, you are a person of immediate action, what works best about that approach for you?

We’re waiting to hear what you have to say! – 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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It’s a fantastic time to revisit and explore strategic options in front of you both personally and professionally. Here is a 10-item checklist for thinking and action to help guide your efforts.

Photo by: kallejp | Source: Photocase.com

10 Strategic Options for Thinking and Action to Explore this Week

1. You are allowed to define yourself. Make sure not to pick all your weaknesses and try to force them into your self- definition.

2.You can accomplish nearly any strategic options you enjoy. Just explore strategic options when it’s time to explore strategic options and make decisions when it’s time to decide.

3. It’s a bad strategy to stick with what you’ve done until something goes tragically wrong. “Been there, done that” is boring.

4. Possibilities are fantastic, but ultimately, they aren’t realities. You have to cultivate both of them.

5. Those who obsess on history are doomed to miss the future.

6. A practice you thought was good in a previous difficult business situation could have really been the best of many bad practices.

7. There are so many situations where when you think you’re not ready to start, it’s exactly the time you should be starting.

8. Some “good” strategic options take WAY TOO MUCH TIME to make happen.

9. The longer you put off pursuing a goal, the more it can grow to seem like an insurmountable challenge. Find the right time & force yourself to get started.

10. Every person’s path is going to be different. Compare your path to others’ paths a little, but ignore the paths others are on a lot. – 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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4

One of beautiful thing about brainstorming is the greater the diversity of people you have involved in a brainstorming session, the better the output should be. One challenging thing about brainstorming is, however, the more people you involve in brainstorming sessions the more likely you are to run into six types of people who have trouble being productive within typical brainstorming rules.

6 Challenging Types to Manage in Brainstorming Sessions

 

 

1. The Approval Seeker

Approval seekers will share an idea, but quickly look around the group for signs of approval. While we all want to feel supported in our ideas, having someone continually going out of their way to get approval can slow down and distract the brainstorming group from the immediate task.

2. The Dominant Authority Figure

When the “big boss” is in the brainstorming session, there’s always a possibility he or she will wind up playing the part of the dominant authority figure. They may try to dominate the conversation, withhold participation if they don’t like the session’s direction, or pass judgment on everything that’s shared.

3. The Over-Participating Team Member

An over-participating team member can’t help but share all kinds of information about the topic the group’s brainstorming is addressing. By sharing lots of personal knowledge, they subtly (or not so subtly) wind up trying to sway the group results to a personal worldview.

4. Mistake Haters

These brainstorming session participants are characterized by silence. Afraid of saying the wrong thing, causing a negative reaction from others, or simply feeling as if there isn’t enough time to think about ideas in the session, mistake haters sit back and watch the action without offering their own ideas.

5. Judges

As the name implies, judges are ready to assess each idea as it is shared in the brainstorming session. They often do this in the spirit of time efficiency and saving the brainstorming group (or the broader organization) from wasting time on ideas they know won’t work.

6. Apologizers

Another name for Apologizers could be “Extroverted Mistake Haters” since when they share ideas they typically start with, “This probably . . . doesn’t make sense / has already been considered / isn’t a good idea.” Through judging ideas themselves, they are either seeking to beat the Judges to the punch or lower expectations for their contribution among the brainstorming group.

What brainstorming techniques work in these cases? We know!

Getting these people to think in a brainstorming session isn’t impossible, but it requires brainstorming techniques and an adept facilitator who can manage brainstorming rules and the session. Sometimes you know who will be challenges when planning brainstorming sessions. In other cases, it doesn’t become evident until brainstorming is already underway.

If you expect these challenging types will struggle generating concepts and ideas in your organization, let’s talk to help think through planning brainstorming sessions that will contribute to your organization’s objectives.  – Mike Brown

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Is your organization challenged with new thinking and ideas that lead to successful business results? The Brainzooming Group and our tested approach to generating concepts you can act on successfully will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 for a free consultation on how to get started.

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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0

The Proliferation of Free Speech Expectations

I received an email the other day asking me to speak for a private organization because it would be really good for its audience to hear what I had to say. To APPLY to speak, I was asked to complete a multi-page form that made it clear speakers would not be paid and had better not promote any product or service during the “free speech.”

Wow.

Wow, but not unusual.

With the great free online content explosion the past few years, there’s a similar expectation that any content, including content delivered live to an organization that is being paid to host the event where the content is being delivered, should be free speech.

Remember “gunga galunga” from Caddyshack? It’s kind of like that; there will be no money, but MAYBE for your effort you’ll receive total consciousness on your deathbed. So you’ll have that going for you.

What is Fair Trade Speech?

As someone who has both done some free speaking AND asked others to speak for free, here’s an alternative, and potentially much more successful strategy, for event organizers to use:

Realize that there is value to content, even if you don’t think you have the dollars to pay for it. In those cases, be creative so you can deliver commensurate value to the speaker you’re trying to attract.

The key to implementing this fair trade speech strategy successfully is for an event organizer to understand what resources you have that might be valuable to the speakers you’re trying to attract for “free speech.”

A Fair Trade Speech Strategy Instead of Free Speech

This list is by no means exhaustive, but from speaking myself and working to book speakers, here is a list of 18 resources that could be valuable for speakers:

Website & Publication-Based

  • Include links to the speaker’s website
  • Promote the their business or whatever it sells
  • Promote/feature the speaker’s content (book, blog, etc.)
  • Incorporate logos for the their company

Networking

  • Arrange for interaction opportunities with the speaker and target attendees (whether meetings, meals, or even additional sessions)
  • Ensure introductions to attendees the speaker wants to meet
  • Provide a list of attendees for the event

Exposure & Audience Building

  • Demonstrate you are investing in a real marketing effort to build attendance for the event
  • Host a pre- or post-webinar to provide more exposure
  • If it’s a multi-presentation event, mention the speaker’s session and company in general sessions
  • Allow them to share a promo spot or advertisement for their business online or in-person
  • Handle a pre- or post-event email to attendees from the speaker
  • Video and edit the presentation they deliver at your event for their promotional use
  • Offer to do recommendations for the speaker on LinkedIn or on video

Other Financial Offsets

  • Offer to handle administrative details (i.e., filling out registration and other forms, making travel arrangements, etc.)
  • Buy the speaker’s content to give to attendees
  • Offer to produce a speaker’s handouts / promotional materials for the event
  • Provide one or more free or reduced-cost admissions for their use with clients
  • Pay for Travel and Lodging
  • Use the talents and resources within your organization to do something for the presenter (i.e. one recent conference I attended updated a speaker’s website as a trade-out)

As I said, this list of fair trade speech ideas isn’t exhaustive. But please don’t take the omission of coffee mugs, pens, and bulky and liquid gift items when the presenter is flying as accidental omissions. They aren’t. Trust me.

Give a Fair Trade Speech Strategy a Try

Go to a speaker you’re trying to sway to with a free speech (or drastically reduced speaking fee) plea and use this list (along with the background about the worthiness of your cause) to see how a fair trade speech strategy works.

I guarantee you’ll have better success with a fair trade speech strategy than sending them an application and a threat about self-promotion.

Trust me.  – 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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