Performance | The Brainzooming Group - Part 153 – page 153
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Throughout January, we covered a variety of potential resolutions for the year to improve strategic thinking skills. With the fourth quarter starting tomorrow, it’s a great time to see if there’s an area to embrace as an objective before the end of the year. Here are the links:

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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List 10 experiences that have ignited your creativity in the past. Also list 10 new experiences that you believe would trigger your creativity if you had the opportunity to do them.

Now figure out ways you can realize these twenty experiences either today, next week, next month, or next year so that you have a schedule of creative days planned in advance to recharge yourself.

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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Experts are everywhere so in unfamiliar situations look for them to help you perform better. How to spot them?

  • Focus on people displaying multi-dimensional talents or responsibilities
  • Observe who others go to with questions – irrespective of formal title or position
  • Watch for people who look as if they know what they’re doing
  • Pick out those who appear to informally take charge

Setting up wedding reception music the night before my niece’s wedding ceremony in Denver, Chris was clearly the expert. Though never sure of his official title, he was a wealth of information about the hotel sound system, the reception set up, and how long the event would last and wind down. He predicted that after 4 hours there would be 15 people left; the next day, 3 hours and 50 minutes into the reception, there 16 people remaining. Chris knew what he was talking about!

Another advantage of finding experts is that it’s fun to push them to tap their knowledge to devise innovative approaches.

The wedding was on the hotel’s patio, and that morning Nate (my nephew) and I were still determining how to get enough volume through our small speakers. There were, however, four speakers outside playing house music. While Chris wasn’t available, Warren, who had cleared our table at breakfast (see the bullet about multi-dimensional responsibilities), was. I explained what we hoped to accomplish, showed him a hidden audio jack on the wall, and within 15 minutes, we were playing the ceremony music through the speakers. The hotel had never done this before, but now plans to make this available for future events.

The key was being open, willing to learn, and allowing ourselves to be seen as knowledgeable but uncertain. That’s when an expert will almost always go out of his or her way to come up with an ingenious solution. So remember, look for telltale signs of expertise to help you get smarter when you need it most.

Valerie

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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Dive into your music collection or an online music source to create mixes tailored to all the creative situations you may be facing. Some possibilities include:

  • High energy music to create energy
  • Classical to stimulate strategic thinking
  • Quiet music to relax your brain
  • Electronic to allow your mind to roam

Whatever suits you and your typical creative needs, have a CD or mp3 player all ready to go to establish the mood for the work day or the evening at home on the commute to/from work!

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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“If you invent your own instrument, you’re automatically one of the top three musicians in the world on that instrument.” – Matt Goldman, Co-Founder of the Blue Man Group (August 2008 “Inc.”)

That quote is how we started the week working through creating a personal category to set yourself apart. And if you’ve been playing along at home all week, you should have a wide variety of potential possibilities as input into your category.

So what are some steps to dramatically narrow the list of ideas? Here’s a flashback to some previous posts you can use to narrow your possibilities:

Try to narrow to 10-15% of your original ideas, and then begin looking for elements that you can put together to create a new category with which to describe your talents. Ideally the category should be distinctive and defined in a way that you become the only answer to, “Who are the best people who can do this?”

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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Yet another way to ideate on a strong “personal” category is to use your current personal strengths and deliberately transform them to identify new and distinctive possibilities. Here’s a relatively quick approach:

  1. State your objective as “Building a distinct personal category to define and differentiate my value to others.”
  2. List 8-10 of your distinctive talents (Tuesday) and areas of incredible value (Wednesday) as Attributes in the left column in the grid below.
  3. Using the objective from Step 1, take each talent and value area in Step 2 and transform them in the various ways suggested below, always asking: “To create a new personal category how can I (INSERT TRANSFORMER FROM BELOW) to / of (INSERT STRENGTH OR TALENT)?

Potential Transformers include Make It Bigger / Do More of It, Make It Smaller / Do Less of It, Replace It, Turn It Around, Remove It, Standardize It, Customize It, Make It More Complex, Simplify It, Eliminate It

Run through as many combinations as you can, trying to generate 2 or 3 new ideas form each pairing. Don’t settle for fewer than 60 possibilities that could fit into the category definition we’ve been working on all week.
Next, we’ll narrow all the possibilities to get close to defining your category.

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 360 degree survey can be scary, but it’s a great tool to get a sense of how others perceive you. It can be tremendously instructive and beneficial. I did one through a leadership class several years ago that really helped me redefine some of my behaviors. There are various ones available online.

Another fast way to get some sense of potential areas you can use to define “your category” is to ask yourself and others three value-related questions:

  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD INCREDIBLE VALUE for others?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that DON’T DELIVER INCREDIBLE VALUE for others because we can’t/don’t focus enough time, attention, and/or resources on them?
  • What are the TOP 3 things I do that ADD LITTLE OR NO VALUE for others?

Look for themes among the answers and consider using areas of incredible value as potential category definers. Areas where you could deliver value but don’t are potential opportunities for more concentrated effort. Areas where you’re delivering little value could be areas to attempt to eliminate from your routine.

Soliciting reactions about yourself from others may feel intimidating, but assessing and using the responses wisely gives you an advantage most people are unwilling to pursue.

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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