6

Following up yesterday’s personal strategic TEDxKC reflection, today’s TEDxKC review focuses on specific presentations at the August 12, 2010 strategic, innovation-rich event. In keeping with the brisk TED/TEDx format (no presentations are intended to be over 20 minutes), here are brief highlights from TEDxKC:

Francis Cholle – Intuitive Intelligence Is What the World Needs Now

Author Francis Cholle’s main premise is strategic business thinking typically ignores creativity and doesn’t recognize the importance of the unconscious in how we process information. His model for intuitive intelligence rests on 4 strategies:

  • Think Holistically – Look at situations from all possible perspectives.
  • Think Paradoxically – As you look from different perspectives, allow yourself to accept blatantly contradictory elements co-existing together.
  • Listen for the Unusual – Pay less attention to thinking and more attention to feelings our brands’ customers are having.
  • Lead by Influence – Surrender control and give people the autonomy to step off into the unknown.

Given this strategic approach is at the heart of what we’re trying to do with innovation at Brainzooming, his talk really resonated with me.

 

Jane McGonigal – More Online Gaming Is What the World Needs Now

From her innovative perspective as an online game designer, in the only video presentation at TEDxKC, Jane McGonigal shared her firm belief the world is spiraling to its imminent collapse and can only be saved by the types of epic wins taking place 24/7 in online gaming.

She shared how online gaming allows people to rapidly try, experiment, and learn effective innovative problem-solving in epic situations. Online games do this particularly well because they are built around epic stories requiring epic strategies, players are matched to challenges suiting their talents with tons of collaborators, and feedback is constantly provided to innovate, adjust, improve, and succeed.

In the past several years, she’s concentrated on developing online games focused on solving major world problems – energy (World without Oil), human extinction (Superstruct), and the crisis in Africa (Evoke).

Her global prescription is for the people of the world to spend 21 billion hours per week in online gaming to innovate and create the epic wins which will allow the world to survive. While my initial reaction was very much, “WTF,” I’m so thankful Jane McGonigal’s video was included at TEDxKC. She ultimately helped me see a previously unsuspected connection between online gaming, strategy, and rapid process improvement techniques and how they could work together to catalyze innovative global problem-solving strategies.

Dr. Michael Wesch – Meaning Makers Are What the World Needs Now

Kansas State University anthropology professor Michael Wesch, the YouTube star of the evening, spoke to the need for individuals to move from knowledgeable to knowledge able, with skills and critical thinking capabilities to successfully filter the blast of media we all receive daily. As he pointed out, technology has wrought absolutely revolutionary expansions in our capability to:

  • Connect
  • Organize
  • Share
  • Collect
  • Collaborate
  • Publish

Importantly though, Wesch’s point was while technology makes it easy to perform these six activities, they are tremendously hard to do well. The challenge then is using the technical tools to become compelling meaning makers and not just meaning seekers.

Mike McCamon – A Way to Deal with Waste Is What the World Needs Now

I have at least a passing knowledge of McCamon’s water.org organization through meeting Erin Swanson of water.org (@ExplodingSoul on Twitter) regularly at Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfasts. For whatever reason, McCamon’s TEDxKC presentation was incredibly brief. It provided staggering statistics about the amount of solid human waste that’s left untreated globally in a world where more people have access to mobile phones than toilets. His contention is the issue doesn’t get more attention because it’s a private one whose solutions are realized household-by-household and the very visual celebratory experience which exists with clean water solutions (i.e., kids playing in water) doesn’t exist with solid waste solutions.

At one point during TEDxKC, McCamon said, “Someone always lives downstream.”  While the comment was delivered most directly to water and sanitation issues, its much larger application is for all processes globally, big to small, where one group or individual tries to get the good stuff for themselves only to let the next person down the line deal with the negative aftermath.

Dr. Brené Brown – Vulnerability Is What the World Needs Now

At the core of Dr. Brown’s comments is the contention we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability. Rather than vulnerability being synonymous with weakness, Brown sees vulnerability as the birthplace of joy, creativity, faith, and many other very positive aspects of life. As the rejection of vulnerability has spread, we now find:

  • Joy has shifted to foreboding
  • Disappointment has developed as a lifestyle
  • Perfection (or the perception of perfection) is used as a false shield
  • Extremism surfaces as a defense mechanism
  • Medications, alcohol, drugs, credit, and all types of other things are used to numb the pain

She challenged the TEDxKC audience to regain joy in our lives by practicing gratitude and honoring the ordinary in life since filling emotional reservoirs with joy and love is critical to getting through bad things which may eventually happen.

Quixotic Fusion – Both a Skeptical and a Hopeful Eye Is What the World Needs Now

This intriguing performance art group Quixotic Fusion opened and closed TEDxKC. It’s important for me to say upfront, “I don’t get dance.” I so don’t understand dancing, I’ve threatened to make myself take a class about choreography to force at least some better strategic sense of it.

As a result of my cluelessness about dancing, let me just say the take-away for me of the Quixotic Fusion TEDxKC performance was a strategic reminder about illusion. You can put separate elements together (i.e. a dancer and pre-programmed light patterns), and with skill, you can create the appearance of a causal relationship that doesn’t really exist.  If you’re prone to seeing causality in everything, the strategic message is be careful about jumping to conclusions. If, however, you’re a literalist who thinks everything has to be exactly as it is, realize you have some creative room to play with, so take advantage of it.

That’s the presentation recap from TEDxKC, a tremendously content-rich strategic innovation event! Thanks to sponsors VML, Populous, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and Harvest Productions for staging TEDxKC for the Kansas City community!  – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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3

Thanks to Brenda Bethman, I received a last minute ticket to TEDxKC last Thursday at The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Titled “What the World Needs Now,” five speakers (four live, one on video) and a visual/musical/performance art group presented rapid-fire perspectives not really answering the title question – since it wasn’t stated as a question – but more as persuasive speeches on innovative global strategies in a college communications class.

The Set-Up

That isn’t to say TEDxKC wasn’t thought-provoking; it was just never designed as an interactive dialogue on our collective future. Unless you call the audience mingling and getting to write on a big poster what we think the world needs now after the event (all over 1 free drink) an interactive experience.

TEDxKC was certainly much anticipated (although not necessarily well-publicized) in town, with the original 300 free tickets for the Nelson Gallery auditorium being claimed in an hour. Another 500-600 people were ultimately accommodated via video feed in a separate Nelson viewing gallery.

Personal Resonance

Because of a client meeting, I never had an opportunity to vie for a TEDxKC ticket. Having known people who have attended TED and TEDx events, however, TEDxKC certainly felt like an innovation-rich event to attend. Looking back in light of my personal experience and the relevance of the innovation messages, a TEDxKC ticket materializing Thursday afternoon couldn’t have been an accident.

The strategic, unifying thread for meat TEDxKC was the speakers articulating aspects of themes touched on and evolving within the Brainzooming and Aligning Your Life’s Work blogs over several years.

As I’ve said, writing a blog, absent all the other human interactions which are vital to surround it, is a pretty isolated experience. With my professional situation changing so much in the past year(moving from a corporation to pursue The Brainzooming Group full-time), that’s been even truer. The original target persona for the blog was me: someone in a not particularly innovative or creatively-oriented organization wanting to grow, develop, and have a bigger positive strategic impact on those around them.

As my life has changed, I’ve wondered whether my new perspectives resonate with all of you who are so generous to share your time in following Brainzooming. While new innovation-oriented themes have emerged for me professionally and found their way into the blog (thus all the social media and here’s what The Brainzooming Group does content lately), it was tremendously helpful as TEDxKC put into a global context the core strategic themes which mean so much to me personally and professionally:

The strategic innovation messages at TEDxKC really resonated, serving as catalysts for my thinking right now. Tomorrow, we’ll recap the great TEDxKC speakers and the important innovation messages they shared.  – Mike Brown

When it comes to conferences, high impact presentations, and live event social media content, The Brainzooming Group is expert at shaping the right strategy and implementation to create unique attendee experiences before, during, and after an event. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can do the same for your event!

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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8

It’s the end of the week (sort of, but not really), and it’s time for a short post about a long-term problem I finally did something about this week.

When I proofread a blog, presentation, or strategic planning document, I typically start at the front and work backward.

No problem if I get through the entire blog, presentation, or strategic planning document EVERY time. When that doesn’t happen (which is very often), it creates a problem. By the time the whole thing is finished, I may have edited the front section 5 or 6 times more than the end.

I was about to make the same mistake again the other day when it became clear the end of the plan I was working on was nowhere near completion even though the front section was in pretty good shape, save for a little editing. Instead of giving the front of the plan yet another round of attention, I consciously moved to the end of the document to work on the fundamental writing needed to get the strategic planning document in decent shape.

If you’re guilty of the same habit of always starting at the front when proofreading, begin at the end next time with the fresh eyes and full attention the front of the document usually receives. It’s a great way to deliver a much more consistent effort reflecting your expertise all the way through.  – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can get your 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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1

Recently I was in a client’s conference room talking about its brand. What it meant, how it should be communicated, what its attributes were. We were talking with a person who had worked there many years to get his perspective on what attracted customers to the brand’s products. He wanted to make a point about one of the products and how it carried the logo. But when he looked around the conference room there wasn’t a logo in sight. Nor were there any depictions of its products or services, or of customers who might use those products or services.

Mid-week I attended a public conference in a beautiful corporate auditorium. Other than the conference banner, the corporation’s logo was nowhere in sight. Nor was there any permanent depiction of its products or services, or of customers who might use those products or services.

At the end of the week I was in another client’s primary meeting/training room and . . . I think you know where this is headed—no logo, no products or services, no customers.

The places where we gather to plan and make decisions about our business, the places where we invite the public, the places where we expect to convince our customers they are important to us should be replete with reminders of who we are, what we do, and for whom we do it.

There may have been an excuse for this absence when photography was difficult and expensive, when video was hard to produce, and when we needed lithography to produce logos. With the advent of digital cameras, Flip recorders, and ink jet color printers, that time has passed.

Make it a point this week to determine whether your logos, your products and services, and your customers are permanently and prominently displayed in the places you plan, host, and sell. If they are, good for you. If not, you have a job to do.  - Barrett Sydnor, Strategic Contributor

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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5

At last week’s Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Aaron Bollinger of KickApps.com did a strategy-instigating presentation on “Creating a Unique Social Experience.” He also bought breakfast for everyone in attendance (including me – just want to make sure the FTC is taken care of here).

One of Aaron’s central ideas was how KickApps can allow a social network audience to participate in social media commentary in one click. One case study demonstrated the positive participation, traffic, and subscriber impact of allowing visitors of local TV news websites to provide a one-click reaction to stories vs. taking the time to write a comment.

Removing barriers to make it easy for social network audiences to share their perspectives prompted me to share six others things we should avoid with audiences online and (to the extent they apply), offline as well:

1.  Don’t require audience members to go where they aren’t interested in going, especially for content of lesser value.    It’s not an audience-enhancing move to require members to leave a content-rich environment to go somewhere less content-rich for an essential function. So if you want your audience to leave Facebook to visit your website, you better have an even richer experience waiting at your landing page.

2.  Don’t divide your audience into groups so small they become unsustainable.     We’re seeing this a lot in live event social media right now. Conference organizers want to create very niche forum discussions among an audience of a few hundred people. In every case, the strategy has fallen flat because an average-sized audience, divided 15 ways, can’t be expected to actively engage and keep a social network sub-community viable.

3.  Avoid placing unnecessarily high hurdles in front of social network members to participate with you or with each other.     This was at the heart of Aaron’s presentation, but it extends further. As a marketer, I love having all kinds of data on current and potential customers and want to gather it anywhere possible. But in asking lots of registration questions online and making them required, how many potentially valuable community members do you lose in your network? Instead, make it easy to join the audience and grow in your knowledge of audience members over time as you become more valuable to each other.

4.  Don’t make them suffer through your brand identity crisis.     This can be especially challenging for solopreneurs and small businesses with less considered brand identities. A huge part of a brand promise is predictability. Even if your brand is edgy, it should be predictably edgy. So when communicating with your audience, make sure you behave in a way that’s consistent with what your audience expects.

5.  Never make your social media audience wonder where you are or when you’ll return.     I’m always preaching to anyone who will listen – be consistent in your brand engagement, especially in social media. Instead of introducing your social media presence with heavy activity and then disappearing, engage with your audience regularly and with a dependable rate of frequency. Even though there will be times when you’ll be more active in your network than others, muster the strategic discipline to be visible and participatory on a regular schedule.

6.  Don’t make it easy for your social network to get off the hook.     I first learned about the concept of “high performing customers” at Arizona State University. The concept focuses on the vital roles customers play in service delivery processes and the importance of putting mechanisms in place so they can fulfill the roles effectively. It’s an interesting one when applied to social media where a high performing customer’s role is typically some form of participation. This implies taking the time to think strategically about how you instruct, cultivate enthusiasm, and reward audience members for fulfilling their necessary roles in making social networks stronger and more viable.

In order to embrace the “make it easier to participate” concept, click your reactions to this post in the brief survey at the end of this online post!

If you’d like to go further than simply voting, please share your ideas: What are other things we should all avoid with our social network audiences? - 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a brand strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your customers.

[memedex: pollid#492312]

 

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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10

Since a lot of people ask about the challenges of writing a blog 5 days a week, I thought we’d follow yesterday’s post on opening your creative perspectives about topics with how you can turn topics into 25 creative blog topic ideas. Here are 25 formats you can use to turn a topic into blog content of value for your audience.  In a blog post, you can:

  • Share Your Opinions
  • React to Others’ Opinions
  • Report News
  • Report News with Your Opinion
  • Ask a Question
  • Answer a Question
  • Make a List
  • Teach Something
  • Provide Background Info
  • Provide Reference Info
  • Do a Demonstration
  • Issue a Challenge / Task
  • Make an Offer
  • Reflect on Past Events
  • Speculate About the Future
  • Summarize a Topic
  • Cover a Topic in Depth
  • Relate an Anecdote
  • Report on a Conference / Event
  • Interview Yourself
  • Interview  Someone Else
  • Review Something
  • Organize Information in New Ways
  • Revisit a Topic
  • Combine Two of These Posts
  • REPEAT Any or All of the Previous Ones

These formats work for your own blog and also for guest blog posts (once again…hint, hint for potential Brainzooming guest bloggers) where you want to showcase your expertise on someone else’s blog. If you consider video or audio posts using any of these formats, the 25 potential posts immediately turn into 75 possibilities!

Additionally, depending on the class and specific assignment, this list could also be helpful in structuring essays for writing classes in school.

If you’re still on the sidelines about blogging yourself or guest blogging, ideally these posts will prompt you to give it a try.  – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can develop an integrated social media and blogging strategy for your brand.

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

Paying too much attention to Twitter one night last week while needing to write a new blog post for Stepcase Lifehack, I saw this tweet come past from Shawn Gallagher:

I quickly tweeted Shawn he could break his creative block by writing about what’s more interesting than writing a blog post. He was skeptical about it being a real idea to beat a creative block, but he rose to the challenge and wrote a nice blog post on 4 things more compelling right then than blogging.

It’s something we all face – distractions which get in the way of what we’re supposed to be doing. Because of its universality, it makes a great topic, even if it springs from something mundane.

What to do when you’re facing a similar creative block while writing for your own blog or trying to write a guest blog you’ve promised someone? (Hint, hint to a few of you who’ve said you’d do guest Brainzooming posts.)

My advice is follow the “George Costanza Blogging Strategy.” I named it after an exchange in a Seinfeld episode called “The Pitch.” Jerry and George were trying to sell an NBC executive on their idea for a show about nothing. In explaining the concept, George asked the exec what he had done that morning. When the executive said he’d gotten up and gone to work, George exclaimed, “That’s a show!”

Adopt the same attitude toward blogging when you’re facing a creative block about a potential blog topic. Especially if it’s a personally-oriented blog, anything that happens to you can be transformed into a blog topic:

  • You’re facing a creative block for new ideas? That’s a blog post!
  • You’re bored with what’s on TV? That’s a blog post!
  • Your favorite restaurant raised its prices? That’s a blog post!

Of course, you still have to make the topic tie back to the underlying direction and purpose for your blog. But that’s often a lesser issue than simply getting around the creative block to find an idea to get started.

How do you find ideas to blog about when you’ve got a creative block?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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization make a successful first step into social media.

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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