Implementation | The Brainzooming Group - Part 118 – page 118
0

5I like revisiting a strategic thinking formula that works.

Monday night, Social Media Club of Kansas City buddy Sarah Wood suggested she’d like to read a blog post about staying focused while working from home during a blizzard. Based on Sarah’s suggestion, I wrote the post and it set near-term records for the percent of Brainzooming blog visits garnered by a new post on the day it published. A variation on the topic led to Wednesday’s post, making it a two-from-one idea!

Last night, while exploring a blog topic for today (it’s been that kind of week), I tweeted Sarah for an idea. She had another great one: the Top 5 Brainzooming posts to read for new readers (or even long-term ones) of  the Brainzooming blog.

With around 1,400 published posts on the Brainzooming site, Sarah’s top five post idea for new readers is fantastic to provide a quick guide to our thinking on strategy, creativity, and innovation.

The Top Five Brainzooming Posts to Read for New Readers

It didn’t take long to generate this short list of Brainzooming posts targeted at new readers. The underlying theme for selecting each of them is to provide new readers insight into the underlying strategic thinking and perspectives running through nearly all other Brainzooming blog posts.

1. Brainzooming – A Strategic Thinking Manifesto

This post, among the blog’s longest, compiles the first five blog posts written for the initial Brainzooming site. The original working theme for the blog was “157 Ways to Be a Better Strategic Thinker.” With that theme in the background, this strategic thinking manifesto laid out the case for why everyone in an organization needs to be a strategic thinker along with ways to put this aspirational idea into action.

2. Seven Personal Success Strategies

From a personal branding and performance standpoint, I try to take these seven principles to heart in my career. I’m hard-pressed to say how long it took to assemble the list, but they weren’t all things I knew or even believed when staring my career. While I don’t do all of them well, it’s a good representation of the scorecard by which I judge my career progress.

3. Six Gifts Behind Personal Career Accomplishments

Some readers say I don’t put enough of myself into the Brainzooming blog. That’s definitely true visually. It’s partially true in terms of written content, too. I don’t view the Brainzooming blog as a personal journal. It’s more of a teaching resource featuring information I’ve shared with co-workers over the years who wanted to learn more and set themselves apart. This post, prompted by a question during a presentation, gives perhaps the deepest insight into who you’re dealing with if you decide to become a regular Brainzooming blog reader.

4. 26 Creative Ideas – How to Be Creative When Creativity Is Blocked

These ideas for being creative when being creative is hard represents our attitude toward creativity: with the right combination of structure, tools, and perspectives, everyone is creative. We don’t see creativity as something precious, elusive, and dependent upon mysterious inspiration. We view creative thinking skills as just that – skills everyone can and should develop for both personal and professional benefit. Bonus: At the bottom of this post, we invite you to download our eBook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to learn the perspectives that cultivate creative thinking skills and an innovative approach to your life.

5. Delivering Results that Are Quick and On-strategy – That’s Brainzooming

People have also said it’s not completely clear from the blog exactly what The Brainzooming Group does. There are various reasons for that – some are intentional and others stem from the challenge of briefly describing what we do. Our experience suggests the easiest way for people to fully understand what we do is through seeing it in action. That’s where the excitement, speed, and solid results from compelling strategic thinking really hit home. We’ve just made an investment in an online collaborative platform which will allow us to extend the Brainzooming experience to more readers, but more on that later. This post does the best job so far, in getting what we do and the benefits we deliver down in writing.

Happy Exploring!

If you decide to check out these posts, thank you for your time to peruse them. If you happen to be a longer-term Brainzooming reader, are there other Brainzooming posts you’d suggest should be on the list?  – 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 creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

image

Today’s post is all in the picture, so email subscribers, please display the image to read the post.

Mike Brown

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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

7

Kansas Citian, Sarah Wood tweeted last night that she would like to read a blog post about ways to make sure you are staying focused while working at home during a blizzard. Since Kansas City is having its second blizzard in a few days, staying focused while working at home is a natural topic to address, at least in the center of the US.

Staying Focused While  Working at Home during a Blizzard

Here are my eight ideas for staying focused when your whole work team is “working” from home during a blizzard. And as was pointed out when I sneak previewed the list on Facebook last night, this is definitely oriented toward those without kids also at home for the day. That’s unfamiliar territory for me since we don’t have kids. While our feline Director of Enthusiasm demands attention, it’s every now and then, not fourteen hours straight. Because of this, your actual results may vary with these eight ideas!

1. Get up at your regular time.

Sure, you’re not going to have to commute, and you may not spend nearly as much time as you normally would getting ready, but the earlier head start you can get on your day’s to-do list, the sooner you’ll feel the warm glow from a sense of accomplishment.

Blizzard-Work-at-Home2. Don’t watch updates about the weather.

You’re home. You’re not going anyplace. You have no need to be monitoring reports about ½-inch increases in snow totals or all the crap happening on the roads with people who didn’t have the sense to stay at home. So no Weather Channel, no local weather, no scanning endless Facebook photos of patios being covered in more and more snow. They’re all unnecessary time wasters today.

3. Work from a to-do list, but don’t go crazy with it.

Yes, if you play your cards right, you have a great opportunity to be more productive at home than when you’re at work, but it’s a marginal level of productivity improvement. Try to be ten or fifteen percent more productive (whatever that may mean for you). Forget about being 3x more productive; it isn’t going to happen.

4. Test your boss early.

At some point early in the day, ask a question or even better, send some type of update with a question attached, to your boss. This is the epitome of putting the ball in your boss’ court to see if your boss is focused on work tasks during the snow day. It’s all about being “visible” even during white out conditions.

5. Step your way through the day.

Set interim goals for throughout the day, i.e. by mid-morning, you want to have completed some specific to-do items or some number of them. Using a few interim goals, you have beneficial productivity stepping stones to help you focus throughout the day.

6. Make yourself take worthwhile breaks.

Don’t let yourself take a bunch of single-purpose breaks (i.e., stop to get a drink and then go right back to work). When you take a break, make it a worthwhile one. If you’re getting up to go get something to drink or go to the bathroom, look out the window, stretch, walk around, and then go back to work. Far better to take ten minutes and go back to work refreshed, than to take twenty breaks during an hour to stare out the window for 30 seconds each time.

7. If you have to visit Department Z, go ahead.

If you need a nap, take a quick nap. You know you catch a few winks during meetings (especially conference calls) or facing away from the opening of your cube when you’re at work, so go ahead and do it at home. Set a timer / alarm and crash during the afternoon if you need it.

8. Plan to wrap up the day early.

Take advantage of your early start, your to-do list focus, and your refreshing breaks to shoot to get your day’s work done 60 or 75 minutes earlier than you would if you were at the office. That’s the payback from your fifteen percent productivity improvement. Shovel, make a snowman, throw snowballs, or take a nap. Whatever you’ll enjoy doing, have at it!

How do you handle working at home during a blizzard?

What things do you do to make sure you are staying focused when you are working at home, especially now that you don’t have to spend time checking out job openings at Yahoo!? If you have kids, how do your staying focused strategies vary? – Mike Brown

 

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

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

4

Woody Bendle is back with one of his favorite strategies for getting past creative blocks, using a creative thinking exercise we explored early in the days of the Brainzooming blog under the name “Change Your Character.” I really enjoy Woody’s very fun take, turning the brainstorming questions from “Change Your Character” into a creative thinking exercise that puts the FUN into a creative funk!

Overcoming the Funky Creative Funk with Scooby Doo and Friends by Woody Bendle

We’ve all heard of “creative blocks” and most of us have probably experienced one at some point in our lives.  If you have experienced a creative block, you know they can be frustrating and sometimes even worse.  So, where do they come from, and what are some strategies for getting past creative blocks?

Creative-Funk-PosterA creative block is generally regarded as a common and temporary psychological condition.  I personally call it “creative funk.”  And if your livelihood depends upon creativity and producing creative ideas or solutions, a creative funk can feel devastating. Time in a creative funk feels like an e  t  e  r  n  i  t  y and is exceptionally nerve racking, especially if there is the looming pressure of a deadline.

For some, a creative funk can even begin to feed on itself and snowball, creating anxiety and sometimes even leading to a person seriously doubting one’s ability to be creative at all.

That’s a major creative funk!

Creative Funk and a Bad Brainstorming Session

Creative funks can be caused by a number of things ranging from fatigue, to stress, to criticism (or fear of criticism), to obsessing over self-imposed performance expectations (perfection).

And, if you’ve ever participated in a poorly run brainstorming session with your organization, you’ve probably experienced all of theses things, and possibly even more.  There aren’t too many things worse than a bad brainstorming session.

Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar. You’re cooped up for hours with a bunch of corporate stiffs in a small, sterile conference room with buzzing fluorescent lights; getting hopped up on M&Ms, Twizzlers and Coca-Cola, and you’re being told to come up with a bunch of good, game-changing ideas because you’re organization’s future (and your job) depends on it.  Yep, that’s a recipe for a real funky creative funk. YIKES!

On its own, the pressure of having to be imaginative or creative under a time crunch can be stressful.  But, add the pressure of having to be brilliantly creative in front of your peers (or perhaps, even your bosses) – it can almost be paralyzing.  I mean let’s admit it, we’re human right!  And even though you’re told that the two most important rules for brainstorming are: 1) there are no bad ideas, and 2) do not criticize the idea, you naturally might be worried about making a bad impression and being judged.

So, what do we do?  Scooby Doo!

Scooby Doo and Friends to the Brainstorming Rescue

Scooby-DooOne technique I’ve found particularly valuable in breaking through a funky creative funk is something I call, “What Would Scooby Do?”

I use Scooby Doo as my illustrative cartoon idea sleuth, but I recommend inserting as many different characters (cartoon, TV, or movie) as you like. The idea here is to put yourself into your character’s mindset and approach solving your problem as they might.  This exercise can be particularly fun in a group!  When everyone is assigned a very different character, and is asked to think about as many different ideas that character might bring to the table, some pretty interesting things can happen.  But the most important thing that happens is that the creative funk gets broken and the creative ideas get flowing!

This creative thinking exercise can help you, and your team break through your funky creative funk for the following reasons:

  1. You focus on the character and not yourself – which can instantaneously de-funk your creative funk
  2. A character has permission to provide “whacky”, off the wall ideas – it’s their idea, not yours
  3. People often see characters quite differently and can offer additional very interesting opinions about how any given character might approach solving the problem, last and perhaps most importantly
  4. It’s a ton of fun and you feel like a kid again! And who doesn’t want to have a little more fun every now and then?

Scooby Doo in Brainstorming Action

So, let’s say you’re team has been charged with coming up with a revolutionary new way to get remove dust from delicate, high-tech surfaces.  There are a number of products out there already that do this pretty well, but how many of those solutions were created by, Rambo, or Wile E Coyote, or MacGyver, or Harry Potter, or Tigger, or Po (Kung-Fu-Panda), or Ferris Bueller, or Kenny (from South Park), or Granny (from the Beverly Hillbillies)?  You’re getting the idea by now I bet.

Each one of these characters would likely approach the problem quite differently and have VERY VERY different ideas about how to solve it.

  • Rambo might just decide to blow the surface up – screw the dust and the stupid surface it’s on!
  • MacGyver might use duct tape – because what can’t he do with duct tape?
  • Tigger might hop up and down to vibrate the dust off.

We could go on like this for hours!  And that’s actually the point in the first place. You’re looking to break down your creative funk, and once you get the ball rolling with this technique, it’s actually hard to stop those creative juices from flowing!

I’ll admit that “What Would Scooby Do” might not be the solution for every creative funk, but what have you got to lose?

Have your own techniques for breaking down creative blocks?  I’d love to hear about them! – Woody Bendle

 

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 creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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.

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

More Posts

Continue Reading

6

Thinking back through teams I’ve led in my career, there are clearly project team members you’re always happy to have on a project team. There are also team members you dread having involved on your project.

Want to be one of those always in demand project team members?

Fingers-Team

Photo by:; jarts | Source: photocase.com

Here’s a seven-step recipe to follow when it comes to project team meetings:

  • Rather than bringing challenging questions you’re anticipating asking to a meeting, send them to the group leader ahead of time. This allows the team leader time to think about the questions – and potentially answer the questions at the meeting before you even have to ask.
  • Take time to prepare the pre-work you’ve been asked to do. While you’re at it, anticipate other pre-work the team leader should have asked for but didn’t and work on that too.
  • Show up early for the meeting to lend support (and to get a sense of the meeting venue, too).
  • Come to the initial meeting – whether in-person or online – with whatever form of a smile and a nodding head is appropriate for the meeting format.
  • Encourage others on the team by being a cheerleader for the group.
  • Let small mistakes or issues during the meeting that concern you but aren’t tripping anyone else up slide until you can discuss them privately with the team leader after the meeting.
  • Stay late to provide affirmation to the leader and see what else you can do to help make the effort successful.

Trust me . . . if you do these things, you’ll be in more demand than you can imagine! – Mike Brown

 

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

Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the project management techniques 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

12

Do expectations of making something to your own standards of perfection ever create a creative block that stops you from getting started?

Getting-Started-BlockThat was the case a dear friend described as she struggled getting started creating a very special book of reflections about her husband. She could see the book perfectly in her mind. But her apprehensions about the potential disconnect between the perfect book of reflections she saw in her mind and her expectations of how the final product would fall short created a huge creative block to getting started.

The thing is the book of reflections will be a truly incredible gift – no matter what it ultimately looks like.

Creative Block vs. Getting Started Block

When you have expectations of perfectionism on a high stakes creative effort, it’s possible for an apparently huge creative block to form. My contention though is it is less about a creative block than a getting started block.

Thinking about the situation that evening, I created this list of eight questions that might be helpful for her or you when facing a similar situation and expectations of perfection prevent getting started.

Honestly answer these eight questions about your creative situation:

  1. How many people (other than you) will notice if it’s not perfect?  ___
  2. How many people (other than you) will care if it’s not perfect?  ___
  3. How many people will change their opinion of you if it’s not perfect?  ___
  4. How many truly great future opportunities will you lose if it’s not perfect?  ___
  5. How many significant problems will you create for yourself or others if it’s not perfect?  ___
  6. Have people who might help you to do the best you can refused to help you?  Yes | No
  7. Is anything stopping your from practicing ahead of time to help you do better?  Yes | No
  8. Will something prevent you from starting over or adjusting if it’s not as good as you’d like?  Yes | No

Add the numerical answers to the first five questions with the number of “Yes” answers to the last three questions.

Getting Around Your Getting Started Block

In some cases, the number may be large – if you’re Beyoncé and supposed to sing the National Anthem live at the presidential inauguration. In most cases, however, the total number is probably very small. In my friend’s case, I’d contend the number was “zero” for all eight questions combined.

If you find the number seems too large, your answers can show where to adjust your creative situation to minimize the getting started block.

With my friend, I was helping her create cartoons for the book (question 6), she developed her own handwriting font to allow her to format and adjust the book’s written sections on the computer (question 7), and she found a book style that allowed pages to be removed and added (question 8).

In a follow-up phone call, she was still hesitating. I asked her how many pages were in the book compared to how many pages she needed (a version of question 5). Her answers revealed she had 50% more pages than she needed for her completed book. Think about that – even with all the concerns, she could still have a 50% “failure” rate and be okay!

It’s far easier to see how someone else should just be getting started than it is when we’re the one facing an apparent creative block. Ideally, these questions (which I readily admit AREN’T perfect) can help you in getting started next time you’re the only one stopping you from getting started with your first creative step.  – 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 creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

Some people seem to suffer from serial career challenges. Not just nuisance issues or problems related to every business working with fewer people and more to do. No, these career challenges come in the form of never being able to get things done effectively, and being surrounded by team members who don’t apparently seem to cooperate, contribute, or carry their own weight. And typically the same issues follow these individuals from job to job.

If this scenario sounds like someone you know (or even sound like you), it could very well be the person in question simply can’t get out of their own way and allow other talented people to help them achieve success.

sos-Gräfin-photocaseSigns There Are Career Challenges with Letting Talented People Help You

There may be several signs someone has a problem letting talent people among their team provide meaningful assistance. These include:

  • Higher than typical churn among team members and / or staff
  • A personal sense of having too much work to do
  • An ongoing challenge in meeting important objectives
  • Self-frustration with having to handle too many details to be able to get projects completed
  • An inability to effectively involve others in key projects to move them ahead

If a few of these signs are familiar, it’s smart to try (or to impose) corrective actions to fix the ongoing career challenges.

8 Ways to Let Talented People Help You

Here are eight behaviors to address, all of which can let others help a boss or team leader be more effective. If you’re the person looking to improve on your career challenges, focus on:

  1. Pinpointing areas where you have weaknesses and identifying who on your team is stronger and can compensate for your personal weaknesses
  2. Making sure to simply state project objectives without telling / showing others HOW the effort should be accomplished
  3. Making sure you are hitting your own deadlines and not causing undue delay to others by delaying project decisions or natural delegation points
  4. Providing others background on how you make decisions and judge performance to allow them to act without having to constantly check with you or have their work closely supervised
  5. Allowing people who have demonstrated appropriate responsibility and ownership to take on more leadership
  6. Being open to listening to ideas from others and then responding quickly and clearly when your team seeks input
  7. Sharing your input when it’s needed and there is still time to act, but then forever holding your peace
  8. Sticking with the decisions you make so others have the latitude to act on them

These behaviors can lead to those you work with being able to use their own talents and meaningfully contribute instead of being in the frustrating position of order taking and / or being continually second guessed. While improving in these areas requires determination, as one improves, there are tremendous benefits from suddenly finding there ARE people around who are freed up to perform better for all involved. – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Mike Brown

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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading