Performance | The Brainzooming Group - Part 155 – page 155
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I’ve always wondered why Bruce Springsteen has only played a few guitars on stage during his career while Tom Petty seems to change guitars on nearly every song. The different strategy each of them takes probably comes down to what it takes to fuel creativity. The last several weeks, I’ve gotten a little better insight into the impact of various creative tools you might use.

The morning of a recent plane trip to Las Vegas, we stopped at Wal-Greens for last minute items. I bought a relatively inexpensive sketch pad similar to ones I’d had as a kid. My desire was to simply have a tool to spur creativity by offering a different type of bare wall to go along with the change of scenery (Las Vegas) and activity (an actual non-working vacation).

Lo and behold, the bare wall theory for creativity held up. On the way, I sketched out seventeen potential posts for another blog I’m doing. Once in Vegas, the creative tool of focus shifted briefly to the camera on my phone, which yielded another 5 ideas for posts. Returning from a quick trip to Washington last week, it was back to the sketch book’s creative boost, writing out some posts (including this one) with a Sharpie marker.

Going back to a previously familiar creative tool has provided an opportunity to wring some new and varied creativity from it. Needless to say, I’m really enjoying the creative stimulus provided by the sketch book right now!

So ask yourself – are you more like Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty when it comes to your creative strategy? And do you have all the tools you need to keep your creativity flowing in various situations? Act on the answers to these two questions to fuel your creativity!  – Mike Brown


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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help make your strategic thinking and planning more productive, even when you’re not on a plane!

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 easy to wallow in a bad situation. Many of us do, because there can be an odd comfort in complaining. It’s the courageous person who will stand up amid frustration, form a viable recommendation, and take it to someone who can help solve it.

There was a work situation recently where a person took the initiative to call my attention to a stupid situation we were potentially getting ourselves into soon. Realize that in doing so, he went across multiple organizational boundaries and reporting lines with all the associated personal political risks that can entail. But he did it, not to complain, but to make a recommendation on a smarter decision for the company to pursue.

It took about 3 phone calls and emails combined to advance his recommendation (and yes, I used the format suggested in a previous post). Once that was done, everybody above in the organization supported it, and the company is better off for having implemented his suggestion.

So here’s a question for you (okay, and for me also) to answer: What is there you b!7#h about all the time (to anyone who will listen) even though you refuse to go out on a limb and actually take a positive step to resolve? Figure one out? Or maybe two, three, or four of them? Now create a recommendation, reach out to somebody who can assist you, and actually do something to solve it! – 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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I visited The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last week after many trips through Cleveland the past four and a half years. Amid some cool rock history artifacts, the music and videos at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stood out as the museum’s most engaging aspects compared to the static exhibits – not surprising since rock music has never been about peace, quiet, and tranquility.

Of all the video clips, the one that gave me unbelievable chills was a snippet from an induction ceremony concert. It was a performance of “My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Here was a non-Lennon-McCartney Beatles song written by George Harrison performed by Tom Petty with Prince doing the incredible guitar solo originally created by Eric Clapton.

Prince owns the second half of the song, taking the solo away from Clapton just as Clapton has done so many times to other performers. And at the end, he throws his guitar in the air, smugly walking off stage because he knows exactly what he just did.

There is incredible power in creative diversity.

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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Just as with a chemical periodic table, go ahead and use this handy reference to determine the “corporate behavior formulas” of both good co-workers (the An2PoFCr who is a regular blog reader) and bad (the PFl4 that’s like a bad penny). Simply click on the chart to get a full sized version. Feel free to post your intriguing combinations as comments or suggest new behaviors as your encounter them. And thanks to Sally for her help in rounding out the initial list!

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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  1. Don’t multi-task – focus on one project at a time with your full attention.
  2. Surround yourself with smart people who will challenge you.
  3. When someone tries to pass a problem or question to you, ask for their recommendation or point of view before you comment.
  4. Pray for wisdom that can be used to benefit others and pay attention when your prayer is answered.

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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Throughout January, a number of posts have highlighted potential challenges to consider embracing in 2008 to improve your strategy skills. Here’s a recap of the challenges:

So have you selected one or two to pursue? If so, that’s great.

If not, you still have plenty to time to choose something to work on for the remainder of the year to expand your strategic impact. Best wishes, and please share how it’s going and what you’re learning.

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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At the start of a recent conference call for an upcoming strategy planning project, it was clear I was expected to facilitate the discussion. That was my suspicion coming in, but with other responsibilities, there wasn’t a chance to prepare as much as I typically would. So after a brief introduction, all eyes and ears turned to me to start talking – gulp.

Here’s Your ChallengeWhat do you do when you’re not ready to speak or don’t know what to say?

Mark Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” How about a middle ground? Next time you’re in a similar situation, think for a moment, open your mouth, and ASK a great question.

Doing this provides three clear, immediate strategic benefits:

  • You shift the focus from your lack of preparation and give the floor back to the other participants.
  • The other people feel better because they’re able to provide input.
  • By actively listening, you can pick out cues from their comments that can shape your next move – to talk, to change course, or to ask another question.

The strategic key is asking the right type of question.

Be ready by developing a quick list of 8 to 10 questions that you can rely upon with ease. Here are a few to get you started (along with when to use them):

  • Can you elaborate? (If someone has provided information, but you’re not clear what it means.)
  • How have you approached this before? (If people have previous experience they could share.)
  • What are your initial thoughts for how to approach it? (When participants have pre-conceived notions about what to do.)
  • Can you tell me more? (When someone has a wealth of information that hasn’t been shared yet.)
  • What’s most important for you to accomplish? (To understand the other parties’ motivations – and what matters in this situation.)

In this example, I chose the last question, allowing participants an opportunity to share their individual and collective objectives for the upcoming planning session. Their initial comments set up a follow-up question (What percent of the plan should be devoted to each of the 3 sections you’ve mentioned?), creating the opportunity to start capturing topic areas. A productive meeting was thus snatched from the jaws of unpreparedness with two great, simple questions.

So what questions will you be better prepared to ask next time this happens to you? – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.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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