2

I find it surprising when someone discusses the advantages of entrepreneurship and mentions, “You don’t have to work for somebody else.”

This sentiment seems incredibly naive.

Amid this second round of entrepreneurship in my career, it’s clear you certainly DO work for somebody else

In fact, if you serve multiple and varied clients, an entrepreneur works for more somebody elses than is ever typical in a corporate job.  That’s been the case for me without exception. Despite a variety of competing interests and priorities in the corporate world, it was easy to separate the one or two people I was working for versus all the other people who thought I was working for them.

Such clarity isn’t necessarily there as an entrepreneur.

Serving a B2B market, I’ll admit that it’s not always clear what is going on inside a client’s four walls. It’s easy to be on the outside and NOT looking in as internal politics, cumbersome processes, and questionable motivations slow down what should seem to go more smoothly and quickly.

I realized the other day, however, what people are really talking about as the “not working for someone else” advantage entrepreneurs have.

Talking with someone who works for a company that provides services in the B2B market, she was reflecting on a recent client interaction. The client hadn’t provided solid planning information upfront. As a result, there was confusion about how vital processes and decisions would proceed. Her sense was that she, as the client contact for a relationship her employer held, couldn’t set the client straight. She wound up biting her tongue on multiple important issues because it was a client. The best she felt she could do in challenging the situation was to offer two strong suggestions to attempt to correct the situation.

Having my own business, however, I’d have been in a different position to act. If pushing back to the client resulted in losing the business, I would be in the position to fully understand that impact and shoulder the full ramifications of it. As an employee, she wasn’t in a position to do that.

If you have someone paying you, you are working for somebody else whether as an entrepreneur or as an employee. Maybe what people really mean about not working for somebody else is that an entrepreneur can talk back and take action against the whoever is paying more effectively than an employee.

In that case, I’d have to agree with them. – Mike Brown

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When something bad happens that NEVER happens, and it screws up your time-tested business process, how much effort do you invest to make changes and minimize the chances of it ever happening again?

That was the strategic thinking topic for a recent dinner conversation.

Trash-Can

After sitting through another organization’s design process that went bad in a way it never had over many years of use, we were diagnosing what could have been done differently. And while I was sitting there observing the whole time, it wasn’t completely clear to me what I would have done differently:

  • Would I have isolated a problematic, unnecessarily detailed team member to try and salvage the effort of the participants who were being productive?
  • Would I have called time out to try to pin down the apparent leader of the effort on who the real decision maker was?
  • Would I have improvised a quick exercise to make the group prioritize the seemingly never ending and odd array of constraints the problematic team member kept introducing?

Or all three?

Fortunately, it wasn’t my deal so I didn’t have to decide.

In talking with the facilitators later, I learned that this design session’s arc was unlike any encountered in many years of using their process.

While I was quick to offer strategic thinking about what they could change in their business process, I ultimately called B.S. on myself. I told them they should dismiss my advice because I spend WAY TOO MUCH time fixing one-off bad facilitation situations that will never happen again. Doing that makes me feel better and more comfortable, but it may really be wasted effort that never delivers real benefit.

So, no strategic thinking answers today.

Only that nagging question: When is it worth the effort to fix the once in a lifetime crappy situation with a business, just in case it might happen again?

It’s a strategic thinking topic ‘m mulling over, as I’m sure they are.

What do you think? – Mike Brown

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2

It never fails.

If I am creating a new presentation, I go through the same tortured creative thinking stages EVERY TIME.

As I pass the various STAGES, they always feel familiar based on past experiences.

Yet no matter how much creative thinking I do or how much I recognize the stages and WANT to skip over those that cause the most frustration and anxiety, I repeat them every time while creating a new presentation.

image

Creative Thinking Stages for a New Presentation

After seeing how my last new version of a presentation went, and in the midst of creating not one new presentation, but working on three new presentations this past week, I listed these twenty-five stages of creative thinking in the hopes of avoiding the most painful ones.

I am not sure that hope will ever come to fruition, but at least now, there is a road map to know where I am at in the twenty-fives stages of creating a new presentation.

  1. I’m tired of all the old presentations, so how about creating a new presentation?
  2. What have I gotten myself into here?
  3. This outline for the new presentation came together pretty easily.
  4. I have a lot of previous material I can reuse.
  5. There’s so much raw material here it’s tough to wade through and get it organized.
  6. I should perform some secondary research to test my ideas.
  7. There are a lot of other people already addressing this, and they’re probably smarter and have better experience than I do.
  8. I’ve got a mess on my hands and the original outline for the new presentation doesn’t make sense anymore.
  9. Maybe it would work to start over, do some more creative thinking, and develop a new outline in PowerPoint.
  10. The new presentation outline seems to work, of course, there isn’t a strong beginning or end, so now it’s just a matter of moving SOME of the big file of content into the new PowerPoint.
  11. I don’t have nearly enough material to fill the time.
  12. I’m going to have to develop a whole new handout, and who has time for that?
  13. I just got the attendee list, and EVERYBODY who’s coming to this session already knows WAY MORE than I do.
  14. This shorter version is finally starting to make some sense.
  15. With the beginning added, the new presentation feels good.
  16. Looking at it now, this new presentation is about 20% too long so I’m going to have to cut some slides.
  17. I really don’t have a lot of this content committed to memory, so I had better listen to recordings of similar content I’ve already presented.
  18. There are several stories from those recordings that should go into this presentation.
  19. The new presentation is close, but going back through the attendee list, I’m still not sure what they’re going to learn.
  20. I’ll work through the notes on the plane there.
  21. After hand writing my notes on the plane, this new presentation really clicks, especially after a few more tweaks.
  22. Sitting here the night before, it’s still way too long and the ideas aren’t meaty enough for these attendees.
  23. Going through the presentation last night, I fell asleep because it was so boring to me, so it’s going to be boring for the attendees.
  24. It’s time to give the new presentation, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.
  25. That went REALLY well.

With the new presentations I’ve been creating the last week, I’m at around stages ten through thirteen on all of them.

I have a long way and a short time to go until stage twenty-five.

Wish me the best! – Mike Brown

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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 and strategic thinking 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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12

Talking with reader and number one Brainzooming fan Stephen Lahey recently, the conversation turned to the strategic thinking behind reasons to integrate one’s spirituality and business life.

I shared my personal strategic thinking and perspective with Stephen. That perspective has been heavily shaped by the seemingly rhetorical question, “If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Relative to Stephen’s question, integrating my spiritual beliefs into my communication whether in person or online provides more evidence to “convict” me.

st-marys-church-ne-city-ne

5 Reasons to Integrate Spirituality and Business

Additionally, trying to be more direct about my religious beliefs in business also:

  1. Addresses the most important relationship and activities in my life.
  2. Creates accountability for me to live to the standards and ideals I communicate.
  3. Brings me into stronger alignment with my personal core purpose statement.
  4. Helps weed out potential clients who might see my spirituality as a stumbling block. This is helpful because us helping clients depends heavily on their ability to be open to ideas that do not completely match their own.
  5. Tries to make it clearer that any good I bring to a business relationship is not directly because of me, but because of the good flowing from the blessings of a deepening religious devotion.

That is where I am right now as I pray about and explore ways to make the importance of my religious beliefs more visible to more people.

Why do I want to do that?

It is not because it is good or bad for business. It is because it is invaluable for each of us to know that God loves us, and is incumbent on those that already know that love to share it with everyone else!

What’s your strategic thinking about this?

I always appreciate you sharing your perspective on blog topics, and if you have thoughts on integrating spirituality and business, it would be particularly helpful to know you strategic thinking about it. Stephen and I are scheduled to record a show for his Small Business Talent podcast, and it would be wonderful to bring your strategic thinking and perspectives to the conversation.

So, what DO you think? – Mike Brown

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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 TheBrainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us atinfo@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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0

If you’re interested in creating strategic impact, now is a natural time to be asking if your organization needs a strategic plan. The question makes sense whether you are considering an update to a previous strategic plan or something completely new.

From our perspective, it’s not a question you ask and answer as some type of check box, i.e., “We have a strategic plan, so we can check that off the list!”

Instead, you should address the question of whether you need a strategic plan in light of important aspects of how it would help your organization in creating strategic impact. Some of the questions to consider include:

  • Given your situation, is it essential to your organization’s success that you take the time to look ahead and consider dramatically new opportunities and directions?
  • Does your organization need stronger alignment for its direction?
  • Is there a need for more strongly communicating the organization’s strategic direction to everyone in the organization?
  • Do you need to need the guidelines and impetus to change the management discipline in your organization so you accomplish the important activities you spend more time talking about than addressing?

Yes answers to any of those four questions could indicate it’s time to take on developing a new strategic plan for your organization.

If you want to get the maximum value from a strategic planning process, any of the reasons above should suggest a different type of planning process geared to deliver those organizational results.

Not sure where to start with accomplishing that?

Let us know. It’s what we deliver for clients so strategic planning creates real results and beneficial impacts throughout their organizations. All that, plus we make it a rewarding, stimulating, and fun experience.

So does your organization need a strategic plan?  – Mike Brown

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

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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3

Suppose you are stuck with a crappy project at your job.

Further suppose, you cannot really get out of it in any way that will lead to future career success.

So it is easy to feel like you are stuck with a crappy project that has nothing but “loser” written all over it.

Do you have any options?

Penske

Sure, you have options.

You can transform a crappy project, with a little thinking and a lot of ingenuity, into something that CAN lead to career success.

7 Ideas to Transform a Crappy Project into Career Success

You could:

  • Take time to imagine previously unsuspected upsides that make it worthwhile, even if you have to make them up.
  • Think seriously (and lie to yourself if necessary) about whether all the downsides you imagine with this crappy project are likely to happen.
  • Modify the project so it looks like a great project you have been successful with previously.
  • Figure out a way to renegotiate expectations or other particulars of the crappy project to make it less crappy.
  • Approach it your own way so that even if it is a crappy project, you can put your own personal stamp on it.
  • Use this opportunity to experiment like crazy so it becomes an incredibly new learning experience.
  • If you feel very confident, completely change the objectives and approach in whatever way that delivers more value for the organization.

Hey, it is a crappy project . . . what do you have to lose from trying to transform it with a completely unconventional strategy that could ultimately lead to career success? – Mike Brown

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2

When it comes to designing and conducting Brainzooming sessions, we know providing creative thinking exercises and structure to participants creates a more productive, efficient, beneficial, and stimulating experience, along with much better results.

In spite of that, what actually happens when people interact and use our process is that our creative thinking exercises change and grow constantly.

This change is a direct result of giving people the freedom to use our Brainzooming creative thinking exercises as a jumping off point for exploration, not as structures to follow without variation.

I understand how integral everything in the last three paragraphs is to what we do.

Yet our experiences the last two days conducting large (fifty and more than one hundred person) sessions suggests starting creative thinking exercises with ground rules and sharing what we expect to accomplish implies to many people that the Brainzooming approach is rigid.

poster-pic

Change and Grow Constantly

Case in point, one recruited facilitator for yesterday’s incredible session at the Nature Explore / Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute reported to me that he had “subverted me” by telling a table that multiple people could write ideas instead of picking one person as I had suggested earlier. I told him that was fine, he wasn’t subverting me, and he didn’t even need to let me know . . . whatever he told them to do would make sense.

A participant at another table close by asked about varying the instructions for how they applied sticky dots during a voting exercise. I reiterated what I had told the group, but said if she did it differently it would be fine and that I’d never have any idea afterward.

It’s those variations to the creative thinking exercises as a session happens that make them grow and get better.

What I don’t tell participants is how much variation I throw at them that’s never apparent to them. In these last two days, we went “off script” through:

  • Changing from a two-facilitator to a three-facilitator session right before it happened.
  • Having each small group approach a planned set of creative thinking exercises in a completely different path to compensate for suddenly having three facilitators.
  • Telling groups they could take their posters outside and work instead of staying in the crowded conference room to hear the ongoing instructions.
  • Taking precious, limited time with the group to have one hundred people sing Happy Birthday to one of the participants.
  • Using the last two minutes of extra time (when I couldn’t get more sticky dots to people) to spontaneously have people draw hearts on ideas they loved.

None of those variations was part of our internal instructions for the session beforehand.

All of them and more (including audience-suggested changes) were implemented on the fly to make the most of the creative thinking exercises as they were happening.

Creative Thinking Exercises Use Structure and Variation

We design and plan a session in tremendous detail whether it includes five people or more than a hundred people. Once we have a plan, however, we’re open to changing it like crazy to get the most from and deliver the most to a group.

Does it work?

As one participant from Chicago at the Leadership Institute told me as she was getting ready to leave, “I see there’s a difference between brainstorming and Brainzooming. Brainzooming is fun.”

I’ll take that as a huge validation for the power of structure and variation working together! – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming 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 brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.

 

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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