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During a pitch for a broadband community visioning engagement (similar to work we’ve done in Kansas City before and after the Google Fiber launch), the city project team asked how we handle what we call “challenger” voices. These are individuals within the community who have alternative perspectives about community issues. They challenge commonly-held perspectives. They can effectively slow and (ideally) improve the direction of popular opinion.

A positive outcome can come about when challenger voices are effectively embraced and incorporated into community visioning.

If not, it’s easy for them to challenge for the sake of challenging without realizing any benefits from the energy required for countering popular opinions.

100414-Argue

How to Maximize the Benefits of Challenger Voices in Community Visioning

There are multiple ways to produce positive results from overtly inviting challenger voices into community visioning:

  • Ask them to organize and articulate their thoughts in writing to share them more broadly.
  • Invite challengers to raise their issues in a private setting. Also give them an insider’s view or understanding of the community issue under consideration.
  • Request challengers turn their objections into recommended solutions (individually or as a group). This helps even if the recommendations only apply to certain elements of the overall opportunity.
  • Develop defined times and venues throughout the development process where the challenger voices are put front and center to share their perspectives.
  • Create “jobs” for them. As you develop the plan for a community initiative, identify varied roles where people with contrary perspectives can most effectively help move things forward.
  • Introduce challengers to others with equally passionate perspectives that don’t agree with them and let them duke it out mentally.

There may certainly be other options for involving challenger voices. These are all collaboration strategies we have used and have worked to produce successful results. Granted, they haven’t always been successful, but if challengers have open minds and are honest in their willingness to positively participate, they are tremendous in improving community visioning and the direction the community pursues. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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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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Suppose you usually employ impeccable project management techniques to stay on top of all the details of your work. But maybe, just this once, in spite of your best intentions on making progress on a project, other factors have gotten in the way.

While the big five thousand pound weight of not staying on top of the project has not fallen on your head yet, it seems like it will soon.

You just do not know when.

If you are in that position now on a project, or think you may be in the future, it is good to know what project management techniques you can use to come from behind.

Strategic Thinking Exercises for Social Media Policy

14 Project Management Techniques to Come from Behind

Take Short Cuts

  1. Look for nice-to-have steps or deliverables you can eliminate.
  2. Prioritize the aspects that you can most easily complete with the biggest relative impact on the project.
  3. Simplify expectations.
  4. Take advantage of work you have previously done that can be used or adapted.
  5. Take advantage of forms and structures you have previously done that can be used or adapted.

Reach out for Help

  1. Invite others to help you jumpstart or accelerate progress.
  2. Create examples or templates that others can follow.

Manage the Clock

  1. Negotiate for more time.
  2. Schedule dedicated time blocks to work on it.
  3. Figure out what small pieces you can break off and make progress with in very small chunks of time while you are waiting for other things to progress.

Attack the Project Differently

  1. Figure out a different order of steps that could work better and faster than how you would typically approach things.
  2. Make a fast pass through the entire project that is more than an outline but involves less time than a typical first draft or prototype.

Make Your Progress Clear

  1. Create an artifact to give some tangible form to your progress.
  2. Create an outline or checklist of activities to monitor your progress.

There’s a starting list of project management techniques to try.

Pick what might work for you, and get started coming from behind! – Mike Brown

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When you’re on the road, lots of things are going on, and you’re up at 4:30 a.m. trying to write, you get very creative about what you can share in that day’s blog post.

At least that’s what happened with these strategic thinking quotes for today!

These strategic thinking quotes all came from some of the earliest, pre-Brainzooming strategy sessions we were doing in the Fortune 500 world. Some are serious; some were meant to take friendly jabs at our economist; some (specifically the last one from me) were made up to get a laugh when one was needed in the middle of the afternoon.

Blah-Blah-Blah

16 Strategic Thinking Quotes on Ideas

“Most people don’t take the time to think. I made an international reputation for myself by deciding to think twice a week.”  – George Bernard Shaw

“No brain is stronger than its weakest think.” – Thomas L. Masson

“The man who gets the most satisfactory results is not always the man with the most brilliant single mind, but rather the man who can best coordinate the brains and talents of his associates.” – W. Alton Jones

“I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson

“Our best thoughts come from others.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”  – Dr. Seuss

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to look after them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

“The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.” – Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance

“To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains.” –Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” – Georg C. Lichtenberg

“Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.” – Thomas Dewar

“I dwell in possibilities.” – Emily Dickinson

“If you have to forecast, forecast often. “ – Edgar R. Fiedler

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” – Laurence J. Peter

“For a successful strategy session, keep the food light, the lights bright, and drink caffeine all night.”– Mike Brown

“Generating exciting new ideas burns 325 calories per hour and has no carbs. Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. Rambling aimlessly about a point that someone has already made burns only 3 calories per hour.” – Mike Brown (Definitely don’t quote me on this one!)

 

10 Keys to Engaging Employees and Creating Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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.

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There is no one right way to gather information when you’re working with multiple parties. That’s why it’s beneficial to think upfront about what ways might work best for you.

Ask the Same Questions Over and Over

One natural way to gather information from separate, multiple groups is asking the same strategic thinking questions repeatedly so you can aggregate or compare answers from among all participants. This is the basis of quantitative survey research. You can employ the same strategy in more qualitative settings too, such as in focus groups or when evaluating between separate groups or individuals (think of a job interview or a vendor review process).

This same approach underpins much of our strategy work.

For example, it’s what happens when you answer the same questions annually about an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Asking the same strategic thinking questions of multiple people each year provides a basis for making effective comparisons.

We employ this approach for strategic thinking questions across many situations.

Identify What Answers You Need and Ask Different Strategic Thinking Questions

There is another valuable technique for using strategic thinking questions, however, that many organizations overlook. We use it actively, however.

Strategic-Questions

We inventory upfront what information we need to learn or insights we need to develop to move a strategy forward. With this inventory of strategic thinking ANSWERS, we can make decisions on whether the asking same strategic thinking questions repeatedly will deliver what we need OR if asking varied questions will work more effectively and efficiently.

This questioning strategy to information and insight planning provides various benefits:

  • If a key piece of information comes up earlier than expected during our process, we can capture it than and have it available when we need it later.
  • Asking strategic thinking detour questions allows people to share new insights and answers that won’t emerge from the standard questions.
  • Varying the strategic thinking questions we use provides greater flexibility and is less monotonous for participants.

Neither of these two approaches replaces the other one. Used together, however, the two approaches open up many more opportunities for stronger information gathering and developing new insights. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees and Creating Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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.

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Professor John Bennett responded to the recent Brainzooming long list blog post on 26 ways to leave a trail of genius. He wondered about why we write long list posts and how we expect readers will use them.

John’s question and the personal and student examples he shared deserved something more than a comment response, thus this blog.

Long-Lists

3 Reasons Why We Write Long List Posts

Before sharing how we expect readers might use long lists, it is worthwhile to highlight why we write them based on both reader AND writer preferences:

  • Readers gravitate toward list posts. Every year, the most-visited Brainzooming posts are invariably filled with long lists. We’ve hypothesized previously about how a long list of possibilities gives readers a chance to find SOMETHING they can embrace and do.
  • A mega list challenges me personally to see if a subject stands up to use. Is the underlying concept productive enough to generate many possibilities or does it fizzle out quickly after just a few ideas?
  • Long list posts are SOMETIMES easier to write. The long list prompting John’s question was a spur of the moment idea to take advantage of potential writing time while sitting around during my mother-in-law’s recent hospital stay.

There may be other reasons (because three reasons aren’t very many), but let’s leave it at that!

5 Ways Readers Might Use Mega List Posts

How do we recommend readers use mega list posts – at least ones on the Brainzooming blog?

Here are five ideas:

  • Readers can see if they are already doing some of the ideas. That can make them feel better about how smart / motivated / proactive they are.
  • If they aren’t doing much about the list’s subject, having many options provides plenty of possibilities to find one or two things to start doing.
  • Readers might discover the inspiration for new and even better ideas than the long list blog post contains.
  • They might realize the list’s core topic is one they should embrace as something important.
  • Readers could use a long list blog post as a checklist for changing things about themselves or what they do over time.

How Do You Use Long Lists in Blog Posts?

That’s what I think you might be doing with long list blog posts. Is that anywhere close to reality?

If not, then WHAT ARE you doing with them? John and I would like to know! – Mike Brown

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When you are repetitively good, people describe you as “perennial.”

When you are repetitively “bad,” people label you (or you label yourself) as “chronic.”

A chronic complainer.

A chronic loser.

Chronically ill.

When you are a perennial, there is something either innate to you or in your environment (or both) that communicates the faith you and others have in your ability to sustain solid performance year after year.

When you are chronic, however, there is something in your environment or inside you preventing you from getting out of the rut where you find yourself.

If a bad condition is temporary, it is just a matter of finding a remedy, cure, or solution to get past it.

When it is “chronic,” however, it implies all you can do is try to manage the bad situation so it does not get much worse – since it is not likely to get appreciably better.

If you’ve been saddled with “chronic” and you think or hope there might be some way – ANY way – to change the implication that all you can do is manage to not get worse, do anything you can to try and change it.

Why?

Because chronic sucks, my friends. Chronic sucks. – Mike Brown

 

 

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Boost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. 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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I am not a big Rudy Giuliani fan. Recent personal events, however, have me thinking about two messages from a closing keynote Rudy Giuliani delivered at a customer conference I produced back in my Fortune 500 days.

Giuliani-Stage

The two messages struck me strongly, and I have tried to adopt both of them into my strategic planning since; one is professional, and one is very personal.

How do you handle the unimaginable in strategic planning?

The professional message came through his discussion of 9-11 that took place several years before our conference. Rudy Giuliani said when the attack and collapse of the World Trade Center buildings happened, New York City had no strategic plans ready for what to do if two planes fly into the World Trade Center and they collapse.

What the city did have were various plans for things that were happening in the aftermath of the collapse. The strategic thinking key was putting the other plans together and executing them rapidly to address the crisis.

For Brainzooming, that means embracing the idea of rapid strategy planning and development to create mini-plans.

Rather than developing overly elaborate strategic plans with too many assumptions about the future and too many critical moving parts, we are oriented to create more streamlined, straightforward strategic planning documents. These strategic plans are quicker to prepare, allowing us to create more of them to accommodate a greater variety of things that might happen. They can also be more readily adapted, improving the effectiveness of strategic planning

What is optional, and what is mandatory?

The other lingering lesson from the Rudy Giuliani keynote speech was that when it comes to attending events, weddings are optional, but funerals are mandatory.

Funeral

Previously, I found excuses for not attending funerals I should have attended in order to support friends and family members. It was always too easy to say work responsibilities or travel prevented attending.

Since then, although far from having a perfect attendance record, I have made a concerted effort to travel to funerals I’d have found easy excuses to miss previously, including one this past weekend.

Not once have I ever regretted making decisions to attend these funerals, but I absolutely do have regrets over ones I did not.

Thinking about all the speakers I have seen before and after, two big, memorable, and actionable lessons from one keynote seems remarkable.

I’m so thankful for hearing both of them when I did. – 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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