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If you’re reading this first thing Monday morning (US time), there’s still time to register and participate in today’s Idea Magnets creative leadership webcast. I’m presenting the webcast for the American Marketing Association beginning at 10 a.m. central daylight time.

The Idea Magnets presentation today is a brand new one in the Brainzooming repertoire. It is an outgrowth of a creative thinking blog post from several years ago first talking about idea magnets I’ve worked with throughout my career.

A New Direction in Idea Magnets

Creating the content for Idea Magnets unveiled multiple realizations about how this direction creative leadership is new for me.

First and foremost of these realizations is how much of our content comes from a “don’t do that” perspective. Think about “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” It doesn’t get much more “don’t do that” than “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.”

Much of the content in the first draft of Idea Magnets started life in a “don’t do that” perspective. I was reminded while editing the webcast, however, that idea magnets don’t think like that.

Idea magnets set out a big vision, objective, or purpose, and aggressively march toward it. They are too busy making BIG things happen to spend much time bothering with fighting anti-creative behaviors.

Idea-Magnets-Title

A Creative Leadership Presentation from the Road

As this new creative leadership presentation came together, it became clear Idea Magnets is where I’ve been heading personally for several years.

“Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” addresses the transition early in my career to think about new ideas and change more positively. Our “Creating Strategic Impact” content bridges the point in my corporate career when we were developing the methodology that became Brainzooming and what we do now for multiple clients across all types of industries.

Finally, it struck me the other day that Idea Magnets is a presentation “from the road.” This means it’s a place I’m heading to and a destination I want to be, but I’m not there yet. Addressing the characteristics idea magnets display, it is evident I do better at some of the characteristics than others.

During most of my career, my creative leadership role was to bring to life the big visions of idea magnets. Since stepping out to a big corporation in 2009 to start The Brainzooming Group, however, I have to articulate our big vision. Sometimes that happens; often it doesn’t.

The Idea Magnets presentation NEEDED to come together, because it’s my own roadmap for where we’re going with The Brainzooming Group.

Idea Magnets is a presentation from the road. The road is great, and it’s exciting. And I can’t wait until I get to where the road is taking us! – Mike Brown

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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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I’m a believer in the idea that variety and trying new things can stimulate creative thinking and improve your performance, even if it is not right away. When you are doing, using, learning, teaching, trying, conquering, and even fumbling your way through something new, you will have do things differently than you have previously.

If you’re paying attention, that newness can be the source of creative thinking inspiration to achieve greater things than you’ve previously accomplished.

This phenomenon isn’t universally smart though.

speed-bump-edit

That hit home talking with someone semi-seriously hoping the “newness will lead to stronger creativity” phenomenon would prove itself out in a “what matters” area. By a “what matters” area, I mean a core belief, relationship, or commitment people generally hold incredibly important.

During our conversation, the other individual was talking about implementing changes to something I (and many people) consider a “what matters” area.

While the thought of making changes for the sake of improving performance makes sense on the surface, the changes under consideration would be so dramatic that the “what matters” area could never hope to remain intact. In this case, what was perceived as tinkering around the periphery would be tantamount to blowing up a core principle.

So be careful out there, kids.

Do you really know “what matters” for you?

Have you explored (and do you revisit) what goes on the short list of the most important things in your life? And do you guard those things as if they truly are the most precious things in the world for you?

If so, then be very, very reluctant to make changes to THOSE things in the interests of newness, variety, and a potentially illusory improvement in performance.

Because that may be exactly what you get.

And what you thought mattered for you, will never be the same again. – Mike Brown

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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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Strategic agility (affiliate link) has come up multiple times recently.

One time was through an audience question during the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association closing keynote I presented on Creating Strategic Impact. Another instance was while curating Brainzooming content on strategic agility for an all-day Creating Strategic Impact workshop we’re delivering for a new client today.

We’ve never formally defined “strategic agility” within the Brainzooming methodology. That may be because my one-word answer to what strategic agility is would be “Brainzooming.” Within our thinking, strategic agility implies knowing and remaining grounded in what matters for an organization (the “brain” part) while moving briskly and flexibly to address it in ways that make sense (the “zooming” part).

In creating a deeper resource on “strategic agility” for our session participants today, however, it’s not all that helpful to say, “Read everything on the blog because it all relates to strategic ability.”

15 Resources on Strategic Agility

Instead, here’s a narrower list of topics we’ve covered to help our Creating Strategic Impact workshop session participants get a handle on strategic agility. And if you’d like to learn more “strategic agility,” it’s fashioned with all of our readers in mind.

Idea-Magnet-Ad

Remaining Grounded in What Matters for an Organization

Anticipating What Lies Ahead

Making Quick Decisions

Including People with Strategic Agility

A Quick List for Creating Strategic Impact

Compiling this list suggests both that there’s a lot here, and there’s more to be covered on strategic agility. We’ll add that to the blog topics list, and get back to you on it! In the interim, if you’d really like to go deep on how strategic agility (or what we call Brainzooming) could benefit your team and organization, let us know, and we can talk through ways we’ve helped other organizations on these very topics. – Mike Brown

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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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I’m in the midst of developing new themes for the Idea Magnets webcast I’m hosting for the American Marketing Association next week (And btw, have you signed up for the webcast yet? If not, here’s where you can register for Idea Magnets).

One theme from an earlier blog post is unique, once-in-a-lifetime creative thinking experiences. What got me thinking about these creative thinking experiences was our involvement assembling more than one hundred diverse people at the Kansas City Library for a large-scale brainstorming session. It struck me that this particular group would likely never convene again for creative thinking. As a result, we had great responsibility for making this unique creative experience a success.

Creative Thinking and Unique Experiences

Looking back through my career, I recognized many more unique creative thinking experiences than I’d ever imagined. It doesn’t require one hundred new people brainstorming to create something that’s once-in-a-lifetime.

Orange-Crowd

Consider any of these eleven possibilities:

  1. Invite a well-known speaker or sports figure kick-off a creative thinking session
  2. Have a less well known speaker or expert new to the group to participate
  3. Hold the creative thinking session in place that you’ll likely never be able to go to again
  4. Never have a creative thinking meeting in the same place twice
  5. Create a completely new creative thinking project for the group to tackle
  6. Take on a project that seems too big for the group to pull-off (but it does anyway)
  7. Devise a never-to-be-duplicated series of creative thinking events
  8. Take your creative thinking interactions on the road visiting and including customers
  9. Use sponsorships your organization has to see if they might provide access to unique venues or people
  10. Secure new tools and resources to develop the group’s creative ideas
  11. Turn a wild idea into a reality for your creative team

Amazingly, one of my strategic mentors (and a true example of an idea magnet), whose birthday is today, brought all these unique creative thinking experiences to life during the time I worked with him. While I appreciated them all as they happened, it never struck me until just the past few days that it’s possible that none of them will be repeated again.

Idea Magnets Create Unique Experiences

So in order to better emulate how an idea magnet approaches creativity, I’ll start asking in our client interactions, “What can we do to make this is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime creative thinking experience?” – Mike Brown

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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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Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactI’m in Dallas today delivering the closing keynote presentation on “Creating Strategic Impact” for the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. This launches a string of Brainzooming presentations and workshops during the summer months focused on translating strategic thinking into business results.

Finding Your Brand’s Strategic Analogs

Prepping for one of these upcoming all-day, company-specific strategic thinking workshops, I was talking with our client on customizing the strategic thinking exercises we’ll teach the group.

She said participants could struggle identifying strategic analogs. By strategic analogs, we mean organizations that perform comparable functions to your brand, even in industries that seem far-removed. Our client’s people struggle with seeing connections between its own business and other industries, quickly dismissing external strategic analogs as irrelevant.

That’s not uncommon.

Since we all try differentiating our businesses, it’s easy to start believing your own messaging that NO ONE does what your organization does in the way you do it. That belief shouldn’t preclude you, however, from using strategic analogs. They are helpful in tracking how other businesses deal with comparable issues your brand may not have yet faced.

For example, at the corporate b2b transportation company where I worked, we spent time thinking about how Disneyworld manages time perceptions. Just as Disneyworld makes it seem as if a line moves faster than expected, we faced a similar task in managing transportation time perceptions.

To develop a strategic thinking exercise on identifying strategic analogs, we’ve collected various questions we’ve used to help business leaders think in new ways about what their organizations do. Look for the strategic thinking questions and the exercise in tomorrow’s Brainzooming article.

Strategic Thinking Exercises in a Workshop for Entrepreneurs

If you’re in Kansas City and want to sharpen your strategy skills, I’m teaching a two-hour workshop on Creating Strategic Impact for Entrepreneurs at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County (ECJC). This Brainzooming workshop is Thursday, June 26,2014 from 11 am to 1 pm.

The workshop focus is how entrepreneurs can take advantage of strategic thinking exercises we use for large corporations to efficiently and effectively spend time working ON instead of only working IN their businesses.

We’ll feature ideas for creating strategic impact that work well even if an entrepreneur has to do the strategic thinking and implementation solo or with a very small, and perhaps less experienced, team.

You can learn more about session and register at the ECJC website. Hurry though; space is limited for the workshop. We’ve been fortunate that most previous Brainzooming workshops at ECHC (all focused on social media and content marketing) have sold out, so get your registration completed today! – Mike Brown

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Are you an idea magnet?

Idea magnets come up with great creative ideas. And just as importantly, through encouraging and motivating others, idea magnets attract other innovators and creative leaders with incredible ideas into their circles. Idea magnets make work and life more exciting, fulfilling, and successful!

Idea Magnets – 7 Keys for Creative Leadership Skills

Idea-MagnetsWould you like to boost your creative leadership skills to become a stronger idea magnet?

Then you need to join me for the LeadOn Webcast: “Idea Magnets – 7 Keys to Attracting and Cultivating Creative Business Leaders.”

This exclusive webcast, sponsored by the American Marketing Association on June 23, 2014, springs from a popular Brainzooming article highlighting lessons from idea magnets I’ve worked with during my career.

The webcast features a wide array of new Brainzooming creative leadership skills content not covered in our other innovation and creativity workshops. We’ll talk about:

  • ​Strengthening your creative leadership impact with a diverse team
  • Identifying unique connections to maximize new thinking and creative leadership impact
  • Translating creative thinking into effective change, progress, and results​

I would love to have you join us for this webcast! You’ll learn great techniques you can start using right away, plus “Idea Magnets” represents a first-time collaboration that is creating a new look and tone to our Brainzooming content.

Idea Magnets – A New Collaboration

This exciting new collaboration is with long-time friend Leslie Adams who is creating the visuals for the Idea Magnets webinar.

Leslie-Adams-CrownMany people know Leslie as a writer. Over the past few years though, she’s been showcasing her creativity online with her wonderful photography. She has become very active on Instagram and in the Instagram community in Kansas City.

While reviewing Leslie’s Instagram and Flickr portfolios for images to incorporate in the webcast, I was reminded of a unique aspect to Leslie’s work that integrates two areas of her creative talents: you have to look at her photos AND read the captions she creates for them. It’s easy enough to glide through virtual contact sheets and not notice what’s written about the photos. In Leslie’s case, you’ll want to do both because her words contribute so much to pointing out the subtle details and motivations for her photos!

In fact, many of the captions and quotes Leslie has included with her photos are inspiring ways to expand and add new texture to the webcast’s content.

We’re hoping our collaboration will turn into an eBook to accompany this new Idea Magnets content.

Register Today for “Idea Magnets – 7 Keys to Attracting and Cultivating Creative Business Leaders”

Step one is for you to join us for the Webcast on June 23, 2014. Register today for the webcast, which is open to both members and non-members of the American Marketing Association, on the AMA website.

We’ll see you on June 23 as we attract all kinds of new ideas to develop your creative leadership skills! – Mike Brown

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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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Data-savvy marketing & innovation expert, Woody Bendle takes a look in this guest post at the relationship between customer centricity and growth, or more specifically the lack of both among a select group of traditional retailers.

And just so you know, beyond being a fantastic resource on brand strategy and innovation, Woody has set a new high bar for guest contributors at Brainzooming. He delivered this most recent guest blog post along with a slab of his homebbqed ribs! So, for all the people who send us emails about wanting to guest post with “incredible, unique content,” the question is, “How good are you at grilling?”

Now, here’s Woody!  

 

Brand Strategy – Customer Centricity and Growth by Woody Bendle

Many of America’s largest retailers recently reported financial results falling short of analysts’ (and undoubtedly their own) expectations.  The table below recaps the highlights (or low lights) among select national retailers.

Retail-Q1-2014

Many of them attributed this winter’s unusually cold weather and continuing economic struggles among core customers for their economic shortfalls.  But digging deeper into their numbers shows more to the story. Many of America’s largest retailers are finding it much harder to generate profitable growth in the traditional manner, which has been opening stores in new (domestic and international) markets, expanding product assortments, and becoming more effective and efficient through operational and executional improvements.  Or as I like to say, just getting bigger and better.

The graphic below, which I use when discussing business growth strategy, illustrates the concept of growing a business is pretty straight forward. As the businesses above demonstrated this past quarter, however, it isn’t always easy.

Growth-Framework

To grow any business, you have four options:

  1. Get existing customers to buy more of current products or services
  2. Get new customers (i.e., in different markets) to buy current products or services
  3. Develop or find new products or services for existing customers
  4. Develop or find new products or services for entirely new customers

For roughly fifty years, growth path for nearly all of the retailers above has focused on cells A, B, and to some extent C (i.e.,  Walmart and Target expansions into grocery).  For much of this time, most of these businesses have had incredible success, but growth has become harder the past several years.

What’s changed?

Two things that are fundamentally different about today’s business environment:

1. Market power has shifted away from many businesses to the consumer, due to radical decreases in the costs associated with information and geography.

The internet and mobile technologies have greatly improved the consumer’s ability to be better informed (about alternatives and competitive prices globally) and have enabled disruptive businesses to emerge (i.e., amazon.com – note its 26% growth in North America this past quarter). These have diminished the need for customers to travel to a physical store to make a purchase.

2. The great recession fundamentally changed the consumer mindset, resulting in a “new normal” in consumer behavior.

This is best summed up by The Future’s Company:“Consumers everywhere … are working from a new orientation about what they want and how they buy… [They] are now battle hardened, having found ways to survive and even thrive on the new opportunities a more competitive market has yielded.”

The result is the traditional path to growth – getting bigger and/or getting better – is nearing its limit for many businesses.  This necessitates businesses rethinking their growth strategies, with adopting customer-centric business practices as one avenue for new growth!

Growth through Customer Centricity

Something fascinating about the Strategic Business Growth Framework is the customer/consumer is actually present in every cell.  Through my own consumer experiences, however, it doesn’t often feel like many businesses realize this.  How many of you have heard a store associate say something like, “I don’t know how I’m going to get my job done with all of these customers in here”?

Many businesses are either product or operationally focused.  Nearly every decision they make starts with what they sell (or plan on selling), or how they go about doing what they do.  These businesses put what they do and how they do it in front of whom they do it for.

This is a primary reason why it has taken so long for many traditional businesses to embrace fully integrated multi-channel or omni-channel practices.  While most understand it makes sense to the consumer, they haven’t figured out how to make it make (financial) sense given what they already do, how they currently do it, and how they currently measure all of it.

A customer centric business, however, thinks exactly opposite.  Its decisions start with the customer. Activities (and incentives) are aligned to profitably deliver goods or services maximizing value for customers – and, in turn, their shareholders.  Once they identify an opportunity to create more net value over time, they systematically figure it out, sometimes at the expense (temporarily or permanently) of existing business.

It’s all about creating new customer and shareholder value!

The Next Customer Centricity Step Is Yours

My intent is to shine a light on a different path, not provide the playbook for becoming a customer centric organization.

If you want to become more customer centric, here are eleven questions to help decide if customer centricity is right for you and to help on your journey:

  1. Why do my customers come to us vs. the competition?
  2. What value do we provide to our customers today?
  3. What are all our customers’ needs?
  4. Have our customers’ needs changed? How and why?
  5. What customer needs do we currently meet / exceed today?
  6. How well are all of their needs being met by the marketplace today?
  7. Are there new competitors who are satisfying some of our customers’ needs in a different way?
  8. What can we do better (or differently) to uniquely meet and exceed those needs today and tomorrow?
  9. What else can we do to create even more value for our customers?
  10. Are we willing to put customer’s interests at the center of our decisions and processes?
  11. How much are we willing to change?  Really?

And as you answer question 11, don’t confuse how much change you are willing to undergo with how much that change is noticed by customers and whether they value it.

Those are three separate questions for all you operationally focused people. There’s no “extra credit for efficiency” in trying to answer them all together. To the contrary, you’ll definitely be penalized for thinking efficiency at the expense of thinking about your customer! Woody Bendle

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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.

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