4

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

6 Challenging Types to Manage in Brainstorming Sessions

 

 

1. The Approval Seeker

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

2. The Dominant Authority Figure

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

3. The Over-Participating Team Member

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

4. Mistake Haters

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

5. Judges

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

6. Apologizers

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

What brainstorming techniques work in these cases? We know!

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

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

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

Mike Brown

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

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0

The Proliferation of Free Speech Expectations

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

Wow.

Wow, but not unusual.

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

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

What is Fair Trade Speech?

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

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

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

A Fair Trade Speech Strategy Instead of Free Speech

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

Website & Publication-Based

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

Networking

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

Exposure & Audience Building

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

Other Financial Offsets

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

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

Give a Fair Trade Speech Strategy a Try

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

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

Trust me.  – Mike Brown

 

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

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

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

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4

Friend and author Jim Joseph recently led a webinar on his book “The Experience Effect for Small Business” (affiliate link). During the question and answer segment, someone asked about how much a business should “spend” on brand building. I quickly tweeted:

“How much to spend on your brand? Zero. Instead, INVEST in brand elements that generate ROI.”

The tweet prompted Margie Clayman, Director of Client Development at Clayman Advertising, to ask what I meant exactly with my tweet. Her question prompted a great back and forth Twitter exchange about marketing investment vs. spending. At the conclusion, I promised a follow-up blog post on marketing investment to respond more completely to Margie’s initial question.

Don’t Spend Anything on Brand Building?

Back in the corporate business-to-business world, when trying to increase our organization’s emphasis on building a brand in all forms (service quality, awareness building, customer service, sponsorship marketing, etc.), we were seeking significantly more resources for activities we believed would benefit the company.

But instead of talking about our request for more resources as “spending,” we made ourselves talk about our marketing INVESTMENT strategy for brand building.

Why the distinction?

In our business-to-business organization, SPENDING implied we simply wanted more dollars because we were marketers, and marketers SPEND money on frivolous, nice looking things that don’t matter. INVESTING, on the other hand, was what the organization did to secure equipment, facilities, and everything else perceived to be vital to performing the services we sold.

Banning use of the word “spend” in favor of “marketing investment” created five clear benefits. Some of the benefits were organizational. Others simply made us be better marketers.

Investment both implies and forces you to think about your strategy in a new way:

1. A marketing investment implies an underlying business objective

You can spend money on anything. You invest in assets expected to generate a positive return and address important business objectives. Displaying a marketing investment attitude makes you ground brand building programs in real business objectives, not just creating new advertisements because the old ones are boring to the marketing department.

2. Talking about return on investment (ROI) adds credibility and makes building a brand seem (and become) less squishy

Making yourself discuss a program with all the elements incorporated in an ROI calculation makes a marketer take on a whole business perspective and not that of someone who simply designs advertising or tweets for a living. You’ll directly benefit as you help the organization learn that marketing and branding don’t simply involve logos, but instead focuses on the entire experience customers (and prospects) have with your organization.

3. Talking about marketing investments will get Marketing into early conversations with Finance

One of the most challenging business relationships for a marketer focused on building a brand is with the finance function in your organization. When you start building a brand thinking about your marketing investment levels and ROI, you’re going to need to reach out to Finance to ensure you are in sync. That outreach will get challenging conversations started sooner than later, which will pay tremendous dividends financially and organizationally.

4. An investment attitude will force you to make sure you’re doing enough to meet your return objective

When you put yourself on the hook to forecast a return associated with your marketing investment strategy, it causes you to look at your plans and make sure you are planning enough of the right types of strategic actions to generate necessary returns. Far better to consider those strategic actions upfront than when your program is falling short of goal half-way through implementation.

5. Making marketing investments forces you to ensure you have measures and listening posts in place to capture necessary ROI metrics

Considering upfront what it will take to calculate an ROI from your marketing investment strategy causes you to evaluate whether you have the measures and listening posts in place to measure the positive returns you expect to generate from building a brand. If you were simply “spending,” you might find yourself at the end of a marketing program knowing how many dollars went out, but with insufficient metrics to demonstrate any returns.

The Final Tweet on Marketing Investment and Building a Brand

I thought Margie Clayman’s final tweet was a perfect summary to our conversation:

Investment really does say you’re putting something into your brand AND expecting something back for it.

So what words do you use (and not use) relative to your brand building efforts?  – 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.

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11

From our experience with The Brainzooming Group and ongoing business innovation research, there are fairly common situations blocking business innovations across companies, irrespective of corporate culture. Not all ten of these challenges to business innovation in organizations exist everywhere, but the presence of just a couple of innovation barriers within a corporate culture will scuttle even modest dreams of implementing business innovations expected to create value for customers.

Download Taking the NO Out of InNOvation for Free!

The good news is none of these ten business innovation barriers are insurmountable. As a result it’s important to understand what business innovation challenge issues you face in your organization. With that understanding, you can take appropriate change management steps to navigate each innovation challenge, enhance your corporate culture, and get business innovation going. That’s what “Taking the No Out of InNOvation” is all about doing:

1. NO Knack for Disruptive Innovation

There simply isn’t an orientation toward business innovation in your corporate culture. It may be a mature industry, a company that’s had success with an intense focus, one that’s grown through M&A, or has been burned on previous formal innovation efforts. Whatever the reason, innovative ideas don’t appear to be in the company’s DNA.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

2. NO Direction

Without a top-level mandate for innovative change management, it’s tough for a business innovation-oriented corporate culture to flourish. It could be that innovation is outside the company’s vision, there’s no upper management champion for disruptive innovation, or a lack of alignment stands in the way of these efforts.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

3. NO Rocking the Boat

There’s an unmistakable signal within the corporate culture (whether it’s uttered directly by upper management or not): “If it isn’t broken, don’t mess with it. We’re not interested in risk taking; let’s just maintain the status quo.” These messages make it clear that good things don’t await those interested in innovative ideas or disruptive innovation.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

4. NO Talent Pool

The company may have convinced itself the right people aren’t in place to make innovative ideas happen. It could be a perceived lack of “creatives” or “outside the box” thinkers. More likely though, this innovation challenge stems from a failure to get people with diverse perspectives together and let them thrive in innovation teams. It’s more about diverse talent not working together than not having the right talent for effective innovation teams.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

5. There’s NO Tomorrow

This innovation challenge springs from the conviction things will be won or lost in the short term, so there’s little need for long term business innovation development. Or it may be there’s no patience for protracted realization of opportunities. If a business innovation is going to be pursued, it needs to be developed and start paying out by the next quarter. In a challenging business economic environment, this sentiment becomes more prevalent.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

6. NO Resources

As with the “no tomorrow” innovation challenge, lowered interest in applying resources to business innovation may be more acutely felt during periods of uncertainty and intense change. The absence of specific resources can be broad, including management attention, available time, and investment dollars. Without these vital inputs, innovative ideas often stall or never take off in the first place.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

7. NO Motivation to Innovate

Something’s lacking that dampens an internal drive to innovate. It could be an environment that doesn’t promote cooperation, no opportunity to receive credit for your effort, or a lack of other meaningful incentives to bring ideas forward and develop them. The net result is that innovation isn’t happening as naturally as it might.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

8. NO Process

There are instances where innovation appears to emanate naturally from the corporate culture. Chances are though that it’s been cultivated and developed through an innovation process, even if it’s a relatively small scale and informal one. Without some type of planning and organized innovation process, bureaucracy and innovation challenges in organizations can easily block innovative ideas from coming to fruition.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

9. NO Implementation Success

Innovative ideas and concepts are cool, but only have value ultimately if they lead to successful implementation and deliver benefits for the intended audience. There are various roadblocks to successful implementation, including flaws in how ideas are recommended, prioritized, developed, and marketed to target audiences. With all those potential change management and innovation challenge issues that exist, it’s a wonder anything new actually takes place!

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

10. No Measures

It’s difficult to sustain a formal business innovation strategy without metrics in place to report return on investment (ROI), showcase positive improvements, and troubleshoot issues with innovations. Even earlier in the innovation process, the absence of metrics makes identifying and prioritizing opportunities a shot in the dark. Simply put: no metrics = no hope of long term success from innovations.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

All the best to you in addressing the specific NO’s you face standing in the way of innovations your organization is seeking to identify and implement.

If you’d like more information on exploring the personal perspectives you need to approach your whole life more innovatively, you can download an eBook version of “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” It’s a great companion on your mission to bring business innovations to life! – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

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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25

There have been a variety of articles about what to blog about here on Brainzooming. Admittedly though, the articles providing ideas on what to blog about are scattered over the last few years. Maybe these posts appear when I’m struggling with topics for blogs, but I can’t be sure of that.

To make it easy to find as many ideas for blogging topics as you can in one place, today’s post is a compilation of 187 ideas for what to blog about, with particular emphasis on business blogging situations. In addition, there’s another blog post with a creative thinking exercise you can use to generate your own long list of ideas for topics for blogs.

187 Ideas and Topics for Blogs

Just think, with 187 potential topics here, you could write about each topic twice and have a whole year’s worth of blog posts!

15 Ideas on What to Blog about from Your Daily Life

Just look around what you do every day for a treasure trove of topics for blogs.

93 Business Blogging Topic Ideas – Things to Blog about When You’re out of Ideas 

If you’re creating content for business, you have all kinds of stories to tell that make sense for your readers. These ninety-three possibilities for blogging topics are just a start!

10 Quick Blog Posts – Ideas for When You Need One Now

When you need blogging ideas in a hurry, look to content you already have around as a quick fix.

28 Reasons to Write a Blog Post

If you have good reasons to write, it can be helpful to revisit your reasons to generate new blogging topics.

25 Creative Blogging Topic Ideas You Could Write Today

Ready-made blogging topics you can build into a monthly editorial calendar for your blogging efforts.

16 Popular Topics for Blogs – A Completely Unscientific Study

I have no ideas whether these are really the most popular blogging topics, but if you want to go for maximum potential audience and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of adherence to a strict editorial vision, go for it!

Want Hundreds of More Possibilities for What to Blog About?

Social Media Content Ideation: Think – Know – Do

If you’re willing to do a little of the work to come up with ideas, this creative thinking exercise has been proven to generate a hundred ideas for creating content in 15 minutes! Just get a few friends, some sticky notes, and go to it! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

 

 

 

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

This week’s Saturday Surprise will mean a lot more if you’re adept at foreign languages, but there should still be enough visual impact in the article and video to back up that this Saturday Surprise is an intriguing demonstration of creativity floating around the Internet.

And in the case of this Saturday Surprise, “floating” can be taken literally.

This post, originally tweeted by previous Brainzooming guest blogger Tanner Christensen, features Berndnaut Smilde, a Dutch artist who uses the right atmospheric conditions and a fog machine to create create clouds inside rooms. You can check out the article on Berndnaut Smilde and his methods, in addition to watching the YouTube video. If you happen to speak German, you’ll obviously get a lot more out of the video. But at least the video does allow you to see the clouds form!

Enjoy your Saturday Surprise!  – 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 new ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these innovation 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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2

With Father’s Day on Sunday, it seemed appropriate to share some more personal versus business or organizational advice. A number of years ago, I noticed that Greg Reid, my boss and strategic mentor, talked with his father by phone a lot. As Greg told me, someday your parents aren’t going be there, and you’ll regret not having taken the opportunity to talk to them daily when you could.

His statement had a big impact on me.

I made a concerted attempt to switch from once weekly Sunday phone calls to my parents (who live hundreds of miles away) to trying to talk with them via phone daily.

It was a big change, but when my dad was in the hospital for ten weeks a few years ago, and it wasn’t clear whether he’d make it or not, I was so glad that Greg’s comment had prompted me to earlier change what I was doing. If something HAD happened to my dad, there weren’t going to be any regrets about things I’d wished I’d said but never had.

Ultimately, my dad was finally released from the hospital right before Father’s Day in 2009 thanks to lots of prayers, incredible support from my mom, and strong medical care that helped him navigate through a variety of conflicting medical conditions.

Now, I usually try to catch up with my parents most weekdays in the late afternoon, usually while they’re going for a ride in the car (and I’m driving home). I’m not perfect at it, especially when my schedule gets messed up (which seems to have happened a lot the last two weeks), but I don’t miss a call lightly.

So I pass on Greg’s parental advice (who happens to have a big birthday on Father’s Day) to all of you who can take advantage of it: make the decision to call your parents (and/or close loved ones) daily when you can so there won’t be any regrets or things left unsaid when you can’t do it anymore. – 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 new ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these innovation 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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