6

I’ve been thinking lately about differences between the words “innovation” and “innovative,” not so much in the dictionary sense though. More about what the two words suggest to people – where they overlap and where they are different.

For me, innovation implies something process-oriented, structured, and clearly intent on creating something markedly new and different from what existed before.

Innovative seems like something more subtle; more of a perspective than an end result. It might be a strategy for adjusting a process or pre-existing entity to make it better or more efficient without being a revolutionary change.

As part of the ongoing tweaks (i.e., innovative modifications) to the Brainzooming blog and its contents, I’m curious about how you in the Brainzooming community think about and draw distinctions (if any) between these two words.

Let me know your perspectives and what angles on each of them are of greatest interest and value to you. – Mike Brown

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

Bloomberg Business Week featured a story this week on the idea submission and evaluation process for strategies to deal with the BP Gulf oil spill. The magazine reports that as of last week, some 35,000 ideas had been submitted within the first month of the crisis. Offered online and via phone, each idea represents its submitter’s strategy for how to effectively address the spill and the rapidly expanding long-term ramifications.

The story includes a diagram of the idea vetting process. The 35,000 submissions have yielded about 800 ideas seen as practical and currently untried. A roughly 2% ratio would be low for a structured innovation session, but maybe it isn’t out of line for a full-on crowdsourced idea submission process such as the one underway for this crisis.

One hurdle criteria you’d expect to be up front in the evaluation strategy process is whether an idea is coming from an established company active in related technologies or industries. It seems an idea from someone in the business should get priority consideration for evaluation ahead of an individual with an idea coming in over the transom.

Based on reactions to the evaluation process, however, it’s tough to tell what some of the early stage criteria might be. While the story focuses on two entrepreneurs with products they claim aren’t getting due attention, it also notes that of 4 possibilities currently in testing, two ideas under consideration originated with Academy Award winners (James Cameron and Kevin Costner). So who is submitting the idea may play a role, and if you can open with big box office results, you obviously get to the front of the line. –  Mike Brown

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

If you’re suffering under a bad boss, vacation time this summer is a great opportunity to figure out your strategy for what you’re going to do about it. Your best strategy may be to get out ASAP, but that may not work for you for a variety of reasons.

If you’re stuck for now, here are five things you should learn until you or your boss move on:

Learn what a boss shouldn’t do – This sort of goes without saying, but figure out all the things you shouldn’t do if you want to be a strong leader. I’ve only had one really bad boss, and the “what not to dos” I learned have been invaluable in my career.

Learn how other people react to pressure – The uproar a bad boss creates for a team will trigger a spectrum of coping behaviors among staff members. While the situation sucks, watching how you and others deal with it will help you better interpret what’s going on with people who exhibit stress-driven behaviors in the future.

Learn who your real friends are – Our bad boss had no idea how close people who worked in the department became. Those days forged some of the strongest business friendships I’ve ever had. Because of these friendships, we wouldn’t allow the boss to play us off against one another. Among the team, it quickly became clear who had your back and who didn’t.

Learn where you can become stronger - It’s true – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You aren’t going to die from a bad boss, but dealing with one should make you a better business person. The key is stepping back far enough to keep the situation in perspective. Through having to report to our boss what everybody said and did in meetings, I developed a much sharper strategic sense of the motivations driving others’ behaviors. This skill has been tremendously helpful in subsequent years.

Learn what you’re willing to tolerate – Everybody in our department figured we’d be gone within a few years. People had already started transferring to other departments by the time our bad boss finally departed (YEA!!!). Suddenly, even though the business was in crisis for a variety of other reasons, work seemed much easier. Relieved of the political nonsense and snooping we’d endured, being able to conduct ourselves based on talent and expertise allowed us to immediately do much better jobs. And sticking it out led to lots of great strategic learning from the much better bosses I subsequently had.

Let me reiterate: my best advice is to get out sooner than later with a bad boss. If that’s not in the cards, however, start going to school the day you get back from summer vacation, if not sooner! – Mike Brown

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

I’m excited to see “Trust Agents” co-author Chris Brogan present in person for the second time this year at the BMA Engage conference tomorrow. Having seen him earlier at the Kansas City IABC Business Communications Summit in February, his innovative presentation style is one unlike I’ve never seen, and I really can’t imagine anyone else pulling it off successfully.

Speaking from what seemed to be a handwritten “set list” on a folded up piece of paper, Brogan spent an hour sharing his strategic perspective on how people behave, interact, and expect to be treated. Quite frankly, he struck me like the smart, quiet guy you see in a corporation who observes everything, sees the strategy gaps the big business so obviously misses, and figures out all the answers while hardly ever getting the chance to share them.

Through a patient strategy of freely sharing insights and perspectives from his innovative viewpoint, Brogan has created the opportunity to share his strategic wisdom in increasingly rarified venues. For all the “GET MASSIVE FOLLOWERS, BE A SOCIAL MEDIA ROCK STAR QUICK ” scams floating around the web, Chris Brogan has transferred a consistently, strategically constructed online platform to an IRL business where he routinely gets the chance to share his much sought-after answers.

Among the great strategic insights at his Kansas City presentation about better cultivating and growing customers with the help of social media:

  • A company can best help its people understand what it means to represent the brand by providing some level of media relations training to every employee.
  • The best social media people come from customer service. They’re used to talking with customers and representing the business across many situations.
  • The first steps in social media strategy should focus on prepping for crisis communication, marketing at the time of need, better addressing customer service, and conducting research on customer needs.
  • Don’t spend so much time on yourself. Brogan tries to communicate 12 times more about others than about his own stuff (a remarkable strategy considering some of the authors who pound relentless tweets and Facebook updates all about themselves).
  • A brand lives or dies by its database and how the company cultivates it between the times it is marketing to people.

His most important statement? The importance to Brogan of keeping people who matter to you when you don’t need anything at all from them. It’s an important life lesson, irrespective of whether you use social media or not.  – 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 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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5

First day back from a long weekend, no one needs anything too heavy dumped in their lap. So here’s an easy strategic assignment.

Look at the list below. On the left side are typical left-brained, analytical skills. The right side includes the more classic right-brained, creative talents.

Review the list and pick out the skills you possess. For each one you don’t have, identify which close friend or team member you can easily reach out to for help who possesses the characteristic. For each item still without a name by it, set out to find someone over the next weeks and months to bring into your formal or informal strategic thinking (and doing) team to fill the gap.

Why should you do this? Because if you have a gap within your personal strategic team on any of these vital roles, you have real challenges ahead of you, if not already.  – 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 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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1

Last week, I attended a Kansas City Media Mix luncheon featuring Scott Jones, the CEO of ChaCha. ChaCha is a free, text-based question answering application; simply text a question to 242242, and you’ll receive an “answer” to your question, along with some type of targeted ad integrated into the text-based response.

Jones shared that the predominant audience for ChaCha is 17 to 23 years of age, reflecting the intense texting activity in this age segment. He cited a recent study showing 68% of teens identified texting as their preferred communication channel. In fact, based on the age distribution chart Jones showed, I might be the oldest known ChaCha user as it has become my trial application for a couple of weeks.

After asking several questions of ChaCha, you get a four-question text-based survey to understand your age, location, gender, and phone configuration. This set of questions allows ChaCha to start profiling you, and along with your question history, provide targeted advertising opportunities. This is where it appears ChaCha is generating its revenue, since competitor KGB charges 99 cents per question. Interestingly, Jones reported that ChaCha had a large spike in usage about 5 minutes after the Super Bowl ad KGB ran. He attributed this to people trying KGB while teens in the room suggested using the free ChaCha service.

Texting is obviously an area of interest for marketers, especially those trying to reach a young audience. Of 280 million mobile phone subscribers, 233 million have text capabilities, and 70% of marketers are currently using or plan to use mobile within marketing campaigns.

It’s a long holiday weekend, so if a question comes up and you’re stumped, text a question to ChaCha and see what you get. The answers I’ve received so far have been in the ballpark, but often miss the mark relative to the desired level of detail. But, hey, it’s free.

And just in case ChaCha doesn’t know when Brainzooming will publish a new post again, it will be Tuesday. See you then! – Mike Brown

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

A recent post highlighted strategies for creating an informal social media team within your organization to help carry out social media strategy.

Debra Feldman was nice enough to tweet a link but gave it the frown emoticon for not being applicable to solopreneurs. I promised to create a comparable list for individuals in business for themselves. Hopefully, these twenty strategies, based on experience with Brainzooming, will help those building their small businesses (or personal brands) more effectively manage social media.

Managing Your Presence

  • Select several social media platforms supporting your business strategy and objectives; concentrate your presence on these alone. You might have one location for content (i.e., a blog or micro-blog), a second for networking (maybe Twitter or LinkedIn), and a third for community interaction (Facebook or LinkedIn).
  • Divide social media time into 3 roughly equal parts – reading and monitoring social media in your topic area, commenting and participating on other peoples’ sites, and creating content for your own site. From this framework, decide how much time weekly you can invest on social media. Really work to stick to your time expectations.
  • Before blogging, determine how many times monthly you expect to blog. Pre-write that many posts to see if the frequency is viable and to build a month-long content cushion for when time is limited.
  • Choose creating and consistently delivering less content over wild swings in activity. Faithfully writing one blog post weekly and three tweets daily is better than three posts your first week with lots of Twitter activity then going silent for weeks.

Generating Content

  • Exploit your best communications talents aggressively in your social media effort. These might include article writing, headline writing, shooting video, illustrations, photos, etc.  Design a content strategy allowing you to use these talents to be as efficient in creating content as possible.
  • Write down at least two potential blog topic ideas daily where they’ll be available later as idea starters.
  • Cut your writing time and keep it short. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) write thousand word blog posts. Stick to one idea in a couple of hundred words.
  • Save tweets and comments you make on other blogs to use as the basis for blog posts.
  • Solicit material from your audience, providing a brief description of what type of content, topics, and format you’re seeking.
  • At a minimum, set up Google Alerts on relevant topics to create readily available content for sharing online.
  • Find an intern from a local university to assist your business in its social media strategy.

Promoting Your Presence

  • Use common hashtags and keywords to increase visibility and pass along mentions.
  • Place social media buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share your content within their own social networks.
  • Sync your various social media sites so one item feeds multiple platforms (i.e., send your tweet about a blog post to LinkedIn and Facebook automatically).
  • Offer simple, fun give-aways to your audience to incent participation in commenting, retweeting, social bookmarking, etc.
  • Take time to write a brief bio and company overview for use on every social media site. Use a service such as KnowEm.com to secure your identity on many platforms, with links back to your main sites.
  • Create an informal network of friends (onine and IRL) with relevant networks and agree to tweet about each others’ work.

Continuous Improvement

  • Attend in-person or webinar training on effectively and efficiently using social media applications to build business.
  • Identify someone within your network who is more knowledgeable or efficient at social media than you. After figuring out how to use your best talents to help them, offer to trade for regular help (i.e., tips) on your social media effort.
  • Do at least an informal ROI assessment – is your social media effort generating the type and volume of business results that make your time investment worthwhile?

There are certainly many other ideas and technical approaches you can use to be more efficient in your social media implementation. What things have you tried that are working for you?  – 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 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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