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After compiling yesterday’s list of your Top 10 favorite (i.e., most-viewed) new Brainzooming posts from 2014, here are my favorites.

As is often the case, there are stories behind these posts. Sometimes the stories are contained in the posts, sometimes they are not. Nevertheless, there are some overlooked gems in this list (if I do say so myself), that you will enjoy if you didn’t catch hem the first time around in 2014!

Strategy and Creative Thinking – My Favorite Brainzooming Posts for 2014

Strategic Planning Exercises – Have you tried a Zoomference yet? 

This recounts a fun content marketing success story. The original story covering how we use our online collaboration platform to work with teams spread out across multiple locations prompted a two-year Brainzooming reader to contact us. Over a few hours, we put together a strategic plan for her organization that set the stage for 2015.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Identifying Left Field Competitors

I love when questions during workshops turn into blog posts. This competitive strategy post was the answer to a question at the Compete through Service Symposium on how you can push your organization to better imagine surprising competitors.

Left-Field-Fenway

What to Blog About – 11 Buying Process Questions for Blog Topics

Some blog posts are written to share what we’re trying to improve upon in our own business. While content marketing has been a significant part of expanding The Brainzooming Group, we have work to do on linking our content to the steps potential clients are going through in selecting strategy and innovation partners.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Taking Risks with a Live Audience

This post recounts a live experiment that showed why using different types of strategic thinking questions changes what types of answers you’ll get. While I was confident the experiment would work, the possibility that I could have failed is what made it exciting to throw in to a live presentation as an unplanned exercise!

Creating Strategic Impact – Challenge and Change

It seems like there are a few posts similar to this every year, where someone on Facebook or Twitter supplies the missing piece to turn a random idea into a fully realized thought. This was my favorite example from this year, as we teamed up to define what “lle” stands for when it comes to positive change.

Strategic Planning – 10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare

I love this Halloween-oriented GEICO ad because it skewers the improbability of horror films. At the same time, though, it’s a great analogy for the bad judgment you find in organizations that stick with the same old strategic planning approaches instead of trying something new – such as how The Brainzooming Group approaches developing strategy!

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

This strategic thinking exercise to help in designing a new website went from being used in a meeting on a project we were working on to a blog post in less than twenty-four hours. I love when that happens!

Strategic Thinking – Andy Warhol and Practicing What You Preach

I’ve been carrying this Andy Warhol quote around with me since writing a paper on him for a high school “Modern Thought” class with Fr. Gilmary Tallman. I couldn’t believe it had taken this long to share it in the blog post. There just aren’t that many ideas I still have kicking around from back then that haven’t found a way into the blog yet.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A New Type of Big Focus Group

This one is a favorite because of the event, the event’s co-sponsor (Nature Explore, an organization where I’m on the board), and the opportunity to create a self-facilitated focus group of well over one hundred people. And what’s even better is we just reached an agreement to close the 2015 Leadership Institute with another full-audience, self-facilitated strategic thinking exercise.

Nature-Explore-Session

Brand Strategy, Airplane Talk and Rolling in the Aisles

The story of the funniest plane flight I’ve had in years, courtesy of my new friend, Ahava Leibtag. By the time I’d try to explain it, this would be as long as the post. Just click and read it!

Strategic Thinking – Using Caution with Business Content

This post with a recommended disclaimer that should go on all (or at least most) business blog posts is perhaps the truest post ever on the Brainzooming blog.

Strategic Thinking – When to Fix a Business Process that’s Never Failed?

This is a favorite because of the photo. I took a photo of an automated trashcan at the Atlanta airport thinking it would come in handy one day for a blog post about throwing something away. There is the big lesson: Always be taking photos that might fit into future blog posts. ALL THE TIME.

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Okay, maybe THIS is the truest Brainzooming post ever. Even though I KNOW these steps, I cannot seem to avoid them EVERY TIME I prepare a new presentation.

Creative Thinking Exercises – Change and Grow Constantly

I like this post because it reminds me of things we did during live workshops that, if not for the post, would have been lost to me even just a few months later. A reminder to take better notes on what we do rather than just committing it to memory!

Life Lesson – Living Your Life and Dying Exactly the Same

This one is very personal. It started life as a blog post about a former co-worker’s life (and death). When I actually wove the story into a presentation about Aligning Your Life’s Work, I wasn’t sure I’d get through the story without crying. Emotions are a challenge for me. To have a story that forces me to deal with emotions during a presentation says it’s an important message.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A Sex Tip to Boost Strategic Thinking

It’s about sex. And what about that photo?

The 4-Step Career Advice Nearly Everyone Ignores

This is the best, most widely applicable advice I have to offer. And yes, it is also the most-ignored advice I offer when people ask for career advice. That alone puts it on this list of my favorite posts: it’s full of unrealized value just waiting for you to do something about it!

Creative Idea: Jimmy Fallon Turns Brian Williams into a Rapper’s Delight

This one required very little creativity from me, but it’s likely my most-viewed Brainzooming post from the year because Brian Williams doing Rapper’s Delight is a scream!

Social Media Disclaimer: Coming Clean on Humble Brag Social Sharing

This one isn’t a favorite for the written story as much as the untold story behind the two pictures of Kate Jackson and me snuggled up. I always liked the smartest Angel best, I have to admit.

Here’s hoping you enjoy some of these favorites from 2014!

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 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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Offering ways to boost your creative thinking skills is one of the important topic areas on the Brainzooming blog. This is a recap of 38 articles from the past year on creative process, creative leadership, and various techniques and creative inspirations. There is some overlap the recent look back at innovation articles, but we tried to keep the two lists as distinct as possible.

Enjoy perusing the list and diving in wherever and whenever you are looking for a creative thinking boost!

Creative Process

creativity-boost

Creative Thinking Skills and Leadership

Idea-Cartoon-Balloon

Real-Life Creativity Stories

Creative Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Questions

Creative Inspiration

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

 

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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Our friends at Armada Corporate Intelligence featured an article in their weekly “Inside the Executive Suite” feature recently about creating a path toward organizational humility.

AEIB-GraphicThis Inside the Executive Suite edition used a comment in a Wall Street Journal story about how Cirque du Soleil, the well-known entertainment company, had a big dose of humility thrust upon it. This was as a result of both business setbacks and, more specifically, a performer’s death on-stage during a 2013 performance.

A Path toward Organizational Humility

Armada Corporate Intelligence used a four-step strategy for cultivating personal humility as the basis of its strategic thinking.

They extended the personal strategy to business situations, recommending businesses pursue these steps on a path toward organizational humility:

  1. Don’t Allow Extraordinary or Phony Measures to Mask Challenges
  2. Create a Culture that Prizes Honest Exploration and Evaluation
  3. Learn from Small Mistakes Before They Become Tragedies
  4. Become Adept and Agile at Change

What struck me about the topic was a famous quote on humility attributed to both C.S. Lewis and Pastor Rick Warren (although as I shared on Facebook, I’m guessing C.S. Lewis said it first!): “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Strategic Thinking on Humility and Strategy

Service-Sign

If you consider organizational humility relative to the C.S. Lewis quote, it implies placing something other than organizational self-interest and success as the sole focus of its values and corporate strategy.

Two natural alternative areas on which to focus that came to mind right away are employees and customers.

If an organization were to focus first on making sure its employees are satisfied and loyal, one might assume they will be more inclined to deliver greater quality and value to customers. That, in turn, should lead to more satisfied and loyal customers. And a greater degree of customer continuity should result in superior business results.

As you may recognize, this sequence of events is a generalized description of the ideas of the Service-Profit chain, popularly-articulated at Harvard.

So maybe a business which is on the path toward organizational humility really CAN wind up ensuring it is focused on its own success, but it does so by focusing on others first. – Mike Brown

 

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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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Next time someone tells you how crazy busy they are or you tell someone how crazy busy you are, remember that crazy busy isn’t necessarily:

  • Productive
  • Profitable
  • Cash flow positive
  • Strategically smart
  • Smart in any way at all
  • Truthful
  • Organized
  • Intentional
  • Leading to growth
  • Anything more than excuse
  • A good idea
  • Creative
  • The real objective

Yes, crazy busy may be a ploy to avoid layoffs in a corporate environment . . .

080816 A Personal Strategy for Avoiding Layoffs

But being crazy busy for the sake of being able to say you’re crazy busy is bad strategy. – Mike Brown

 

 

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic thinking and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

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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 received a question asking for more details on the recent post about how a Zoomference enables an organization to streamline strategic planning exercises and deliver a plan more quickly through using our online collaboration platform.

In response, here’s a case study from a Zoomference we facilitated last week. If you need to remove time from your organization’s strategic planning process (either for an imminent planning deadline before year end or for planning you do throughout the year), here’s how a Zoomference from Brainzooming makes it happen.

The Zoomference Case Study – Ideas to a Plan in 6 Hours

Our client is an industry association management team deployed in multiple locations. With forty potential initiatives identified as possibilities for the next year, our objective was to help narrow the initiatives to a manageable number and develop strategic plans for the top priorities.

The pressing deadline was the need to deliver the strategic plan to its board members a mere eight days after we started our work.

Based on a preliminary conversation with the client, we designed a planning schedule and four online collaboration sessions for the week. The first three Zoomference online collaboration sessions included an orientation and two working sessions to gather input on priorities and implementation; these sessions were MondayTuesday, and Wednesday. The final session, last Friday morning, was to review the plan based on the week’s work.

2015-strategic-plan

Zooming through Strategic Planning Exercises

Within the first three online collaborative strategic planning sessions (less than six hours of the client’s time), we:

  • Gathered input to develop a prioritization model for the organization going forward
  • Identified the list of forty potential priorities
  • Used a rough version of the prioritization tool to narrow the forty initiatives to six
  • Ranked the six initiatives and identified the top five
  • Gathered input from the group about their objectives and potential approaches with each of the five initiatives

After completing the third session on Wednesday, The Brainzooming Group team developed the input into five initiative plans, complete with strategy statements, metrics, critical success factors, and implementation steps to make the plan a reality in 2015. We reviewed the twenty-plus page strategic plan with the team on Friday morning, making final edits to prepare this week’s board presentation.

Yes, you read that right.

The start-to-finish client time investment for a prioritized, five-initiative strategic plan ready to share with the board was about seven hours.

In fact, at one point, I let the team know they’d done 4 weeks of work in 45 minutes.

And the client’s reaction? It’s “amazing.”

That’s the power of combining Brainzooming strategic planning exercises with our online collaboration platform to create a Zoomference.

Want to take advantage of the power of a Zoomference?

If you’d like to spend less time planning and more time doing, a Zoomference is what you need.

Email (info@brainzooming.com) or call us at 816-509-5320 to schedule time to learn how The Brainzooming Group can create a Zoomference to help you address your strategic planning questions and complete your plan for next year while there’s still time! – Mike Brown

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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It’s great to post the rules of brainstorming on the wall when you have a group assembled to use their collective creative thinking skills to come up with new ideas. Doing this is helpful as a reference point just in case anyone is unsure about encouraging wild ideas, the importance of not judging ideas right away, or the creative hazards of thinking too narrowly about possibilities group members might suggest.

And if you’re going to put up the rules of brainstorming, you might as well go big!

Rules-of-brainstorming2

This installation, “Rules of Brainstorming,” is featured in an Innovation Lab at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management on the campus of the University of Missouri Kansas City. It is a gift from Steelcase, Scott Rice, BNIM, and Moore, Ruble, Yudell Architects and Designers.

Caption-Brainstorming

While I’d have loved to see “defer judgment” all on one line so you don’t simply see “judgment” by itself and “take small bets” seems to move into convergent thinking (as opposed to the divergent thinking phase of brainstorming, the installation is an incredible addition to an already great space.

Applying Creative Thinking Skills from Across the Nation

I’m particularly excited to know we’re going to use this Innovation Lab for a Brainzooming creative thinking session!

As part of the January 2015 Gigabit City Summit, we’ll be leading communities from throughout the United States in exploring the social and economic impacts of gigabit internet availability, much as we did in Kansas City in 2011. At the Gigabit City Summit, we’ll be sharing a variety of strategic and creative thinking tools the communities can use to envision the future in a more dynamic and collaborative way! – Mike Brown

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

 

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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A quote from actress, Julianne Moore in Entertainment Weekly (Oct. 31, 2014), is important from a strategic thinking perspective.

“Every actor you talk to, unless they’re fooling themselves, will tell you that you’re at the mercy of who will hire you next. The only control we have is saying yes or no.”

While Julianne Moore applies the quote to actors, the strategic thinking perspective relates to anyone in a role where what’s next after whatever you’re doing now isn’t routinely known.

Julianne-Moore

Framed that way, the quote extends to entrepreneurs, major brands making strategic decisions, and even employees inside companies who have some flexibility on navigating their projects and responsibilities.

Beyond extending the strategic thinking perspective to other fields, turning it into a strategic thinking question adds even more power. Ask yourself, “What am I saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to?”

Are you saying “yes” and “no” deliberately and strategically?

Or are you doing so out of instinct, feelings, boredom, or something else?

It’s not that being less deliberate about saying “yes” or “no” to what’s next is wrong. It might simply mean it’s going to be more challenging for you to learn from and build on past successes and failures to move forward in a specific direction.

No right or wrong answers today. Simply the strategic thinking question you can use as a daily reflection if you so choose: “What am I saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to?”  – Mike Brown

 

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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