5

Want to take on an intriguing personal challenge for the week?

Level 5 Decision MakingNot only make fewer decisions, but also INFLUENCE fewer decisions.

What I am talking about is trying to embrace more Level 5 decisions this week.

Level 5 Decisions

In his book, “The End of Marketing as We Know It,” (affiliate link) Sergio Zyman, former Chief Marketing Officer at Coca-Cola, discussed the five levels of the decision making process he used relative to his team.

My boss, Greg Reid, read the book by Sergio Zyman and employed four of the five levels of decision making with our team:

  • Level 1 – His decision with no input from the team
  • Level 2 – His decision with input from the team
  • Level 3 – Consensus decision (This is the one Greg ruled out; we did not have consensus decisions.)
  • Level 4 – A team member’s decision with his input
  • Level 5 – A team member’s decision with no input or influence from him

Some co-workers found the five level decision making process difficult, but it proved very freeing since you knew ahead of time what type of input or approval you needed to keep an initiative going.

While there were very few Level 1 or Level 5 situations with Greg, I have tried over time to embrace more Level 5 decisions. The key has been not necessarily caring about things less, but caring intensely about fewer things. Now I try to focus on only being an influence on decisions involving what matters strategically.

If nothing else, experience has demonstrated on many occasions that even when a small thing does not go as I wanted, everything still works out and frequently works out in some other unexpected positive way.

Ready to Allow More Decision Making without Your Influence this Week!

I invite you to join me this week to see if there are decisions you used to make or try to shape that can be left to other people. Rather than being nerve racking, as I’d expected, embracing more Level 5 decisions has mainly provided a lot of peace, relief, and importantly, growth for those I work with as they get to exercise their own strategic decision making skills.

So, what do you think about this decision making process? Are you ready for more Level 5 decision making without your influence this week?  – 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 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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4

Thursday, July 26, 2012 was the long-awaited Google Fiber announcement day in Kansas City. The much anticipated and high secrecy corporate communications event played out in the Westport district of Kansas City at the new Google Fiber Space, conveniently located on State Line road, just inside Missouri on the dividing line between it and Kansas.

I scored an invite to the first of several Google Fiber introduction events over the course of two days as Google executives and mayors Joe Reardon and Sly James (of Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, respectively) unveiled the Google Fiber offering.

Since there are already many stories evaluating the offers and packages Google Fiber introduced, there’s not much value in regurgitating what you can read and see elsewhere. Suffice it to say while I’m not personally a huge consumer of many TV channels, the packages appear to deliver the expected speed, flexibility, and coolness factor – all at a price point that has to have other cable players (esp. Time Warner Cable here in Kansas City) quaking.

6 Corporate Communications Lessons from the Google Fiber Announcement

Instead of dissecting the Google Fiber offering, I put on my strategic marketing communications and event strategy hat to share these corporate communication lessons from the largely well-produced, seamless corporate communications event Google Fiber hosted in Kansas City.

1. Use mystery and mystique for all it’s worth in corporate communications.

Google Fiber announcement event invitees received a single email the week before announcing the event with a link to an RSVP form. The email promised future details, with no indication of what or when details would be coming. It wasn’t until the day before an email arrived with a map and timing directions, but not much more. The intrigue behind the event, the agenda, and its location (although reader Paula Holmquist called me a full week before with a correct tip on the venue), along with a pre-rock concert kind of feel in the parking lot all played into getting attendees even more ready for a big announcement.

2. Doing what you’ve communicated all along is still the best corporate communications strategy.

In a discussion with Aaron Deacon after the event, he talked about how the day’s announcements weren’t that far off from what Google had been saying all along – although Google HADN’T been saying (features, affordable price points, starting installations where demand is strongest, etc.) all that much. But because people thought what Google had been saying sounded too good to be true, there was, in some circles, a built in readiness to find disappointment in the announcement (i.e., an inferior offering, too high prices, or some other fatal flaw).

While you can nitpick the offering (it’s missing some cable channel staples), Google basically delivered against what it had been messaging throughout. The simple formula works: If “What You Do” = “What You Say” then you “Win.”

3. Create new language you can (try to) own.

Who had heard of “fiberhood” before today as a way to describe a neighborhood that had banded together to vie for faster Internet speeds? Despite its new application in this setting, you already see “fiberhood” showing up in news stories, blogs, and tweets. (Interestingly, when you Google “fiberhood,” however, you get pages of results about car hoods.)

One potential opportunity for new language Google didn’t embrace, as pointed out by Dave Sandel (who we’re working with on the Gigabit City Summit), was “television.” If they’d been up for it, Dave suggested what Google is offering goes beyond “television” or even “home entertainment.” Google missed the proactive opportunity, at least today, to craft a new term defining the integrated digital environment it’s pitching with Google Fiber.

4. No matter how cool your brand, forced skits with corporate employees trying to act are cheesy.

When we did the Building the Gigabit City large-scale brainstorming event, we were challenged trying to come up with ways to make 100 times faster Internet speeds tangible. We wound up using several about how cooking a meal would take seconds and a work day might last less than 15 minutes. Google added to the mix today with an example about how a car could drive to NYC while a broadband speed car wouldn’t have even made it out of the Kansas City metro area.

Nice example, but when it came time for a demo, the Google corporate employees had to play act a few family situations that were totally forced and pretty awkward. Very few executives are actors, so don’t make them do funny skits if doing so accentuates their lack of acting talent.

5. When you’re attacking a competitor, you CAN be subtle about it.

Time Warner Cable was in the news right before the Google Fiber announcement when it pulled a popular ABC affiliate (KMBC) because of a larger breakdown in negotiations over fees for local station programming. The disappearance caused a furor locally and led to online threats about customer defections when Google Fiber gets here. Within the Google Fiber event there was one brief mention about someone wanting to be able to watch KMBC. There was no need for more, because everyone familiar with the situation knew it was a subtle shot at a player who stands to lose a lot from Google Fiber.

6. Even if your brand is all about digital, use physical space and create experiences to support your brand.

Google created a Fiber Space to serve as its first “storefront” in Kansas City to demonstrate the service and show-off the hardware. Creating cool tech-oriented retail spaces is nothing new, but force fitting one into a former strip center and gym location which happens to be nearly ideally situated geographically (i.e., on the Kansas-Missouri state line and just 4 blocks from the Wyandotte-Johnson county line in Kansas) is.

The Fiber Space not only features video displays demonstrating the equipment and applications for Google Fiber in healthcare, gaming, sports, etc., but also physical representations of Kansas City (including a great Royals and Chiefs sports card display). And in a great use of behind-the-scenes experience sharing, the Fiber Space features the “set” used for the Fiber section of the Google Fiber announcement’s opening video. Just when you think everything is CGI, you get to see there were really physical toy cars used for the video, and they do fall off the track!

And the whole experience was strong enough to make you forget you were walking through a former Little Caesar’s Pizza location!

And there were more corporate communications lessons!

In the interests of time and length, I stopped this list at six corporate communications lessons, but there were more, including:

Were you at the event? Did you watch the simulcast? What corporate communications lessons did you take away from the event? – Mike Brown

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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. 

 

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

Seeing painful examples this week featuring social media completely devoid of real brand personality means it’s time to create a simple social media personality audit.

Social media content with no brand personality?

Social-Media-Personality-AuditExample 1: The Financial Institution

There’s a TV advertisement running in Kansas City for a financial institution’s new blog targeted at women. The TV advertisement features five women in a kitchen, supposedly talking and sharing in a very “it’s just us girls” way. Apparently by “just us girls” though the financial institution means “in a very stilted, formal, artificial, and awkward” way.

When you check out the financial institution blog, the “stilted, formal, etc.” sentiment carries throughout its site. The five women in the ad obviously represent five personas for the blog. But instead of depicting real people, the five women are characters with phony descriptive names tied to each persona’s life stage and some variation of the financial institution’s signature color.

Let’s just say the dearth of activity on the financial institution blog suggests nobody feels like hanging out in the virtual kitchen to talk and share with these phony personalities.

Example 2: The Vet Clinic

Then yesterday, after visiting our vet to pick up the cats, the vet clinic popped up on Facebook with a status update about a new blog post. I clicked the link and scanned the last three vet clinic blog posts. All three blog posts were about products to keep away from your pet. Helpful information, without a doubt. But the information appeared (based on the blog design information) to be generated by a company specializing in on-hold call systems. As a result, the vet clinic blog posts had the personality one would typically associate with an on-hold call.

This is in stark contrast, however, to a very friendly and warm vet clinic where vets, techs, and other staff have shown us tremendous support as one cat faded and get genuinely excited and have a special nickname for our other cat when she visits the cat clinic.

10 Question Social Media Content Personality Audit

These two social media examples so devoid of brand personality sent me looking for definitions of individual personality and brand personality to spur my creative thinking.

Based on the words suggested in the Wikipedia entries and our experience with good and bad social media content, here are 10 questions the financial institution, the vet clinic, or your brand can ask to see whether you are putting enough personality into social media.

Apply this 10 question social media personality audit to see how any social media content from a brand does. Give two points for every “Yes” answer and no points for every “No” answer:

  • Is there an overriding emotion this social media content suggests?
  • Would you know the attitude employees of this brand embody from its social media content?
  • Are the behaviors your people display when they go above and beyond to help customers clearly suggested?
  • When you see this content, does it appear as if it could be shared in a genuine conversation or letter exchange with someone who knows you?
  • Is there a level of familiarity suggested that customers or potential customers would expect when they dealt with your employees in person?
  • Does this social media content have a spark of imagination and spirit?
  • Will the information shared via social media pass the “straight face” test?
  • Does the tone and delivery of the social media content treat the reader with clear respect?
  • Will a reader walk away from this social media content enriched both intellectually and emotionally?
  • Would people legitimately want to spend more time with the person delivering this social media content?

Let’s see how you did!

Grading the Social Media Content Personality Audit

Here’s how to score a brand on the social media personality audit:

  • 18 or Greater: “A” – You are delivering personality throughout your social media content
  • 16:  “B” – You’re showing more personality than most are in social media
  • 12 – 14: “C” – Social media content you produce might reflect aspects of your brand personality, but it could easily be missed
  • Less than 12: “Fail” – Your social media content probably has drab stock photos (even for what should be employee images), copy that should be on your website and not your blog, and status updates that read like short-form press releases

Who is doing it right?

If you want to see a local brand that has really impressed me of late by oozing its brand personality in social media content, check out the Kansas City store, STUFF on Facebook. It’s located on my favorite creative block in Kansas City, and in the face of a lot of generic retail social media content, STUFF shows you can showcase your brand personality in an imaginative way every day.

Oh, BTW, there is a caveat

Most of the creative questions, strategic thinking exercises, and innovation-inducing tools shared on the Brainzooming blog spring from real-life organizational situations and have been tried and tested.

This social media audit hasn’t, at least in this form. It’s all stuff I fully believe and espouse, but this attempt to share it in a new way isn’t client tested. Because of that, I’d love to see you apply it, and let us know if you think it’s appropriately categorizing the good and bad of social media content you see. – Mike Brown

 

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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.

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8

“When Everything Is in the Cloud, What Does ‘Place’ Mean?”

That was a quote from the inaugural Gigabit City Summit courtesy of Josep Piqué, Director Strategic Sectors – 22@Barcelona during the wrap-up section of the inaugural Gigabit City Summit. Amid so much great discussion and information sharing during the global conversation, this comment from Josep Piqué stood out to me as a very rich, life-changing strategic question in the years immediately ahead.

As more of the “things” we work and play with are digitized, they have the potential to become omnipresent. When you start to digitize organizations and the structural elements that give organizations their presence and power? Well then, if not all, than a whole bunch of bets are off.

This was exactly the point that Simon Kuo raised when the early Building the Gigabit City results were shared. Simon talked about how education and businesses will be turned over as physical structure is completely re-envisioned.

These points got me thinking about some of the areas affected if “places” becomes irrelevant. I will admit, this list is not based on extensive research or philosophical exploration. I simply started a list of ideas about what place might mean and some of the related areas that could start to change.

What Does Place Mean?

Place is where someone or something is from . . .

  • It shapes a person or object’s history and background
  • It’s somewhere you stay or leave and may return to in the future

Place is where people meet and congregate . . .

  • Governing happens
  • Learning happens there
  • Information and opinions are shared
  • Spiritual beliefs are celebrated
  • Friends are made

Place is where functions are carried out . . .

  • People work
  • Marriages happen and families are created
  • Money is saved, spent, and invested
  • Teaching and learning happen

Place is where people are entertained . . .

  • Movies are shown
  • Concerts are performed
  • Sports are contested

Place is where goods and services are consumed . . .

  • Goods are sold and bought
  • Medical treatment is provided

Places are where people reside . . .

  • Property is sold, bought, and owned
  • They are defended
  • People live, raise families, and are buried
  • Taxes are paid

How would you change this list?

There are clearly duplications and omissions among this list inspired by Josep Piqué and Simon Kuo. Would you help build and improve it by sharing your ideas on what “place” means and how it shapes our lives today . . . and will in the future? – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

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. 

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 Brainzooming Group joined with the Social Media Club of Kansas City in summer 2011 to plan Building the Gigabit City. The initial Building the Gigabit City effort was a large-scale brainstorming session to imagine what Kansas City could be like with ultra-high-speed Internet courtesy of the introduction of Google Fiber on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line.

The initial Google Fiber brainstorming session continues to lead to a variety of other outputs, including the free 120-page “Building the Gigabit City” report recapping the concepts and ideas generated at the session. The session also produced a recap video with a variety of brainstorming session participants sharing their hopes for a new Kansas City.

What’s Next? The Gigabit City Summit: A Global Dialog on Smart and Connected Cities

Most recently The Brainzooming Group has partnered with Curiolab and Sandel & Associates to create and produce the Gigabit City Summit, A Global Dialog on Smart and Connected Cities. This series of global discussions held through Cisco Telepresence, is allowing experts worldwide to meet, share their expertise, and convey best practices from the implementation of next-generation city efforts. Participants throughout the Gigabit City Summit sessions will include:

  • City leaders at the forefront of next-generation communities
  • Industry and community experts who manage smart/intelligent community initiatives
  • Vertical experts in industries highly subject to disruption by a faster, more seamless Internet, including media, healthcare, education, government, entrepreneurship, and venture capital

We held the first Gigabit City Summit session on June 27 to set the stage for the entire series of events. Presenters included Mayor Joe Reardon from Kansas City, KS (Wyandotte County), Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO, and author Tim Campbell who provided an overview from his book Beyond Smart Cities – How Cities Network, Learn and Innovate (affiliate link). You can listen to the entire inaugural Gigabit City Summit session online to get a sense of the topics we’ll be covering monthly.

 

 

Participate in the Gigabit City Summit

As a Brainzooming reader, I want to personally invite you to listen and participate live via WebEx, courtesy of the Smart + Connected Communities Institute, to the next session on Leadership, Organization and Community Challenges. The session will take place live on Wednesday, July 25th, 7:00-9:00 am CDT and will be available for replay afterward.

The second Gigabit City Summit will features representatives from innovation hubs around the world, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hyderabad, Singapore and Toronto. In addition the co-chairs of the Mayors’ Bistate Innovations Team, Mike Burke and Ray Daniels, along with David Warm, Executive Director of Kansas City’s regional planning organization will talk about preparation for the arrival of Google Fiber, which is scheduled to make a major announcement about the Kansas City Google Fiber product launch on July 26th.

Sponsor the Gigabit City Summit

Beyond listening to the sessions, there are sponsorship opportunities for organizations who would like to engage in these global, next-generation cities conversations.

Gigabit City Summit sponsors can take advantage of exclusive networking, content marketing, and thought leadership opportunities, in addition to a variety of other sponsorship assets. The sponsorship document below highlights the Gigabit City Summit and the related sponsorship opportunities for the series of events.

Contact me at info@brainzooming.com  if you’d like to discuss how your organization can become directly involved as a Gigabit City Summit sponsor.

 

Let’s keep the conversation going! – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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. 

 

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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5

Someone tweeted recently about making great progress on a creative project on which he was working when he suddenly hit a creative block. His experience prompted me to tweet in reply that sometimes a creative project is “done” even though outside project management indicators (i.e., the deadline, the completeness of expected deliverables for the creative project, etc.) suggest otherwise.

Multiple Ways to Be Done

When you are working intensely on completing a creative project, it is easy to block out anything other than the deadline and the steps you have identified you need to complete to measure your progress.

If that is the case though, you may miss that despite the fact that even though the calendar deadline and the steps for project completion have not synced up, your creative effort is effectively done.

As a recovering perfectionist, I have become particularly attuned to my own and others’ incessant tinkering on a project that could clearly be considered done. It’s the “just can’t leave it alone” syndrome in project management which sometimes leads to improvements on a project, but can just as easily translate into wasted time that you could apply to a new creative effort, if you were just willing to move on to something else.

8 Signs a Creative Project Is Done

The Twitter exchange got me thinking about these eight project management tips to suggest where a project is “done” even though the calendar and your perceptions of the level of completion suggest it isn’t done:

  • You bit a creative block and can’t advance the creative effort any further –even if the calendar says it isn’t done yet.
  • The strategic direction for the project from management has changed to a new path.
  • Your support team has mentally quit on you and/or the effort.
  • Your options in continuing to work on the project are worse than your options from stopping work.
  • A stakeholder tells you he/she is happy with its completion and outcome.
  • Everybody has gone home – physically, mentally, or virtually.
  • You have run out of time to complete it and can’t negotiate for any more time.
  • Others view the effort as a success, even if you don’t quite yet.

These were the first eight I wrote down; surely there are more than this.

What Signals to You a Creative Effort Is Done?

Do you wrestle with the ability to back away from a creative project that’s effectively done? When does this remain a project management challenge for you, and what project management tips do you use to stop torturing yourself for a level of completion no one is expecting? – Mike Brown

 

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Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the wherewithal to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented project management techniques 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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8

Extreme creative ideas are fascinating, and I always wonder about the processes people who consistently display extreme creativity use to come up with what they do. This fascination with extreme creative ideas prompted a series of “Extreme Creativity” Brainzooming blog posts starting back in 2010 to identify some of the lessons we can learn from these folks for how to dramatically improve creativity.

We now have 50 extreme creative ideas sprinkled across 10 articles on the Brainzooming blog. You will notice a definite reality TV theme to these extreme creativity sources. Included in these 10 articles with extreme creative ideas are also some focusing specifically on where extreme creativity can fits as a strategy and drawing your team into the possibilities.

Overview of Extreme Creative Ideas

Extreme Creativity and Creative Playmaking – Both Are Important

Extreme creativity implies being able to implement your outrageously creative ideas. Fall short of that, and it’s just playing around.

Create an Extreme Creativity Makeover Project Team

There is a Bugs Bunny cartoon where every time someone had a different type of hat on their head, they immediately took on the personality of that profession. Similarly, if you want your team to come up with and implement extreme creative ideas, give them titles that SCREAM “extreme creativity.”

50 Extreme Creative Ideas

7 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss” and 5 More Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss”

Buddy Valestro, the Cake Boss and owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ, prompted the early posts on this list with his outrageous cake creations. In Buddy’s world, cake is not necessarily what you would think of as cake. In the world of Buddy Valestro, cake can be wood, pipe, and Rice Crispy treats. And he is getting even more extreme now!

Extreme Creativity – 6 Lessons from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives

I’ll admit to watching many, many episodes of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Good thing I’ve only visited a handful of the restaurants featured, though. Guy Fieri and the proprietors of dives across the country are an incredible wealth of extreme creative ideas that start with food, but can extend to other areas as well.

4 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour”

Lady Gaga’s HBO special got me interested in her extreme creative vision and how she seems to continually reshape her creative palette. As the post acknowledges, I don’t agree with her on many of her perspectives, but you can’t argue she’s a force for outrageous creative ideas. BTW, sorry the video in this post was pulled down, but I’ve left it in the post just in case they are able to get it reinstated at some point.

2012 TED – 8 Takeaways on Extreme Creativity and Amazing Innovation

The TED conference is always good for dramatic ideas. The 2012 TED conference was especially ripe for extreme creative ideas in healthcare, energy, and music, among other topics.

9 Extreme Creativity Questions from Peter’s Laws

When I first saw a poster with Peter’s Laws in a New Orleans poster shop, I realized it described the operating philosophy of one of the extreme creative forces in my life. This post takes some of Peter’s Laws and turns them into questions you can use to dramatically improve creativity in your career.

Extreme Creativity – World’s Largest Van Gogh Sunflower Painting

This video of the world’s largest Van Gogh sunflower painting in Goodland, KS plays to one of the core extreme creative idea lessons – GO BIG! – 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 creative 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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