Performance | The Brainzooming Group - Part 149 – page 149
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I’m a huge advocate of saving idea snippets for later refinement. Doing this has saved me so much creative time over the years.

Sometimes, though, this strategy leads to a creative dead end.

I have a nearly 100 page Word file of blog article starters along with several sketchbooks loaded with ideas. These have been great resources, serving as a safety net when ideas or time are tight.

Yet, the ease with which I used to write the blog has evaporated over the past several months.

This is likely due to a whole variety of legitimate tugs on my time and mental energy. But instead of my idea trove helping me, the chore of sifting through it and thinking about what and how to edit the ideas has been more daunting than invigorating.

So I tried a new approach this weekend. I began with a brand new Word file, a few ideas written down this week, and pounded out 5 new articles Saturday evening, just like the early days. Freed from the creative baggage of feeling compelled to rescue ideas, words and ideas started flowing naturally again.

It comes back to a fundamental strategy: be willing to walk away from what has worked for you when it isn’t working anymore. 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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Last Thursday, thanks to a heads up tweet from Todd Chandler, Cyndi and I attended our first Pecha Kucha night at Crosstown Station in downtown Kansas City. If you’ve not heard about it, Pecha Kucha is an innovative 20-slide PowerPoint presentation format with each slide on-screen for 20 seconds. Introduced in 2003, Pecha Kucha nights have been held in more than 200 cities globally.

Pecha Kucha emphasizes rapidly-paced, visually-oriented, creative slides. You’d think, by definition, it would be difficult to do a bad Pecha Kucha presentation since so many poor presentations emerge from slow pacing and too many words on a slide. While avoiding these downfalls helps improve presentations, it doesn’t fix everything.

As a result, here are 6 presentation reminders from Pecha Kucha night that apply to other presentations too:

Reminder 1: Boring presentations aren’t only caused by too much text on a slide. Despite agonizing about overly bullet pointed PowerPoint slides, an exclusively visual presentation can be deadly as well. One way to accomplish it? Read your presentation and don’t make eye contact with the audience.

Reminder 2: You can lose the handle on a presentation in less than 6 minutes. Even if you’re only presenting for a few moments, failing to have a solid presentation strategy and a well thought out flow will put you in the ditch quickly.
Reminder 3: Sometimes 20 seconds a slide is still too long. You wouldn’t imagine it, but 20 seconds can push the limits of how long a slide should be on screen if there’s no reason for it to be there or it’s not information rich.
Reminder 4: It’s a good thing corporate presentations don’t usually include beer and poetry. No matter what they are, distractions change a presentation. The beer break in the middle of the evening introduced an attractive distraction. Subsequent presentations became funnier or less tolerable (i.e. the poetry reading) because of it.
Reminder 5: Doing a visually-oriented presentation doesn’t mean you should treat it like a slide show. Really compelling pictures are worth a thousand words. Marginal images are worth about five. And if you’re not prepared to fill in some of the other necessary words to make a point, you’ve got a problem.
Reminder 6: Humor nearly always helps a presentation. Even in a brief presentation, smartly using humor makes a presenter more intellectually & emotionally approachable, bringing the audience into the experience. One of the funniest lines of the night? “These mouse turds were hand rolled by me.” How can you not be rooting for someone who’s willing to honestly share that?
Go to Pecha Kucha if you get a chance (as a teaser, here’s Todd’s fun presentation). I’ll be working on my 20 second presentation chops for evening #7 on October 22! – Mike Brown

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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Here are five things strategic thinking approaches, any one of which you can work on this week to improve your performance:

  1. Take time to perform long-term actions even when near-term pressures are very distracting.
  2. Don’t overreact in the face of incomplete information. Ask questions & allow others the opportunity to answer.
  3. Ask questions of smart, well-informed people outside the mainstream. You’ll learn a lot.
  4. Be willing to ask, “How could this be different?” particularly if you’re a black & white type thinker.
  5. Work on developing more decisiveness, tenacity & patience. You need them even more these days.

BTW – Based on reader feedback, the summer Brainzenning videos are moving to Fridays starting this week. 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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Listening to The Beatles Abbey Road show provides a sense of the incredible talent they brought to the recording studio. The impact of George Martin, their producer, is also clear in how he shaped the group’s artistic sensibilities and vision, crafting them into a coherent whole.

Considering the benefits a producer can provide, do you have one (or more) producers in your creative life? Your “producer” could be a mentor or a creative instigator who’s there to:

  • Expand and shape your creative perspective
  • Bring in other talents to help realize your vision
  • Challenge and edit your work from a less invested perspective than you have

Maybe you self-produce your own creative efforts. That’s a viable approach, and some people do it well. But if you don’t have a producer for your major projects, think seriously about working with someone in that role who can be the catalyst for new creative success. – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative 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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In the past few weeks, the guest Brainzooming bloggers have ranged half way around the world, from Australia, Chicago, and the UK. This week’s guest post comes from right here in Kansas City.

John Storey of bottlegreen* is an experienced designer I’ve known for several years. I tweeted him recently and asked if he’d like to contribute a designer’s perspective to Brainzooming. Happily, he agreed and shares his personal approach today on finding inspiration:

Where do you find your inspiration?

Much ado has been made on this subject. Supposedly tried and true methods (work, work more, and if still not enough…work harder) may get you there sometimes, but not likely, and definitely not every time. I’ve found that usually when I stop thinking about a solution, it happens. Weird? Nah, I’ve gotten used to it, and it really works! Ha, ha…I know…doesn’t everybody’s method “really work?”

After carefully reading/digesting all the available materials (e.g. creative brief, company manifesto, notes from the marketing director’s child), I usually go mow the lawn, take a walk, or go to my favorite coffee shop to people watch and find a way to relax. My brain then has a chance to catch up with all the information I’ve taken in and can really wrap around the content. I can then think holistically about the project versus only on how I’m going to make this 4-panel brochure different than all other 4-panel brochures I’ve worked on in the past.

If you’re thinking conceptually and allow yourself to “drift,” you can figure out the logistics later. Often you’ll also come up with an alternative production technique that will actually separate this piece from all of the others too. When you allow yourself to be in the consumer’s point-of-view (instead of your heady point-of-view), it can produce very results-oriented work.

It’s also handy to have access to pen and paper to quickly sketch or write an idea when it hits (although your partner might not fully appreciate your little notebooks all over the house, car, bedside, etc.). Sketch quickly, just jotting down the raw ideas…then revisit and explore/refine. When inspiration strikes, you’ll feel it in your bones. It’s quite a rush…and you’ll fill pages quickly so keep going as long as you can in one sitting.

So, go on…relax and do something for yourself or your family – cook dinner, smell the flowers, play with your children – and you’ll see…just when you least expect it…when you actually stop thinking of a solution…BAM! Flood gates will open, barriers will cease to exist, and the creativity will flow.

At least that’s how it works for me. Tried and true. – John Storey


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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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3 Days of UNLearning at the Business Marketing Association Conference

“UNLearn” was the theme for last week’s national Business Marketing Association conference (quick disclosure, I’m a board member for BMA). The theme emphasized the importance in today’s environment of challenging existing knowledge, assumptions, and beliefs to lead & grow businesses more successfully.

The conference delivered on the theme in multiple ways, and each day, I challenged myself to articulate what I had “unlearned.” Here are the top unlearnings from each of the conference’s three days:

  • Day 1 – UNLearn Control: A major conference topic focused on how new communication channels have handed control to the audience for what have traditionally been company-driven messages. Operating successfully in this environment requires authenticity and openness to being part of the conversations taking place, irrespective of whether they are flattering or hurtful. For marketing & branding control freaks, it means learning new tools and means to engage in dialogue.
  • Day2 – UNLearn “Resources Before Results” Thinking: Everybody has fewer resources. One marketing VP said his budget was 25% of what it was in 2008. If defining your ability to make a positive, business-growing impact is based solely on budget & people resources, you’ll beat your head against a wall. The alternative is to realize key success factors for today’s market dialogue aren’t resource-driven. You can’t buy authenticity, experience, or passion, yet they all correlate strongly to creating results.
  • Day 3 – UNLearn “Piecemeal” Marketing: It was fascinating to hear other marketers wrestling with the expectation of delivering programs that are close – maybe 60-70% of what might traditionally be considered as ready for “prime time.” The push now is to introduce them early to try to drive sales while additional learning and tweaking go on once in market. A balance to this approach is to make as sure as possible on the front end an effort integrates with other things being done across the business. At least then the 30-40% uncertainty can be partially mitigated through strategic ties to other efforts and investments already in place.

Easy? No. Comfortable? Absolutely not!

To me though, the big learning is nearly all business marketers are facing comparable issues, and finding dramatically new ways to deal with them is what success is all about today.

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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 Thought: Adaptability is a great thing to have when planning & implementing strategy, but at some point, you have to be able to depend on some degree of consistency for successful performance.

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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