Performance | The Brainzooming Group - Part 5 – page 5
0

Several people asked recently about questions to help identify innovative thinkers in sales. While we have done a bunch of strategic and creative thinking skills workshops for sales teams in the past several years, we have never put together a specific diagnostic on this topic.

When multiple people ask a question, though, it is time to do something about it!

10 Questions to Identify Innovative Thinking in Salespeople

Thinking about innovative sales people I have known, how we teach strategic and creative thinking skills to sales teams, and strategic thinking questions we use to spur new thinking, here are ten questions to identify innovative thinking in salespeople.

Targeting

These questions address focusing and prioritizing what matters for customers and the organization.

1. Why do people buy from us?

To innovate, you have to understand underlying motivations and needs. An innovative sales person will answer this question in a way that opens up many possibilities to imagine new ways to reach and delight customers.

2. Whom don’t we sell to?

Innovative thinkers are able to focus and deliver on great opportunities. That means having a sense of where the best opportunities ARE and ARE NOT going to be.

Working from an Innovative Thinking Platform

An innovative thinker needs a foundation and perspective from which to innovate.

3. How do you generalize what we do for customers in order to find innovative ways to address customer needs?

This one comes via my buddy, Joe Batista, the chief creatologist. Joe taught me the value of analyzing a potential customer relationship via generalized activities and value streams. If a salesperson employs a comparable approach to think about value, it is a great sign he or she is creating innovative solutions.

4. What customer benefits does your brand offer?

This is similar to the previous question in that it signals the ability to generalize in order to provide a launching pad for innovation. If you are selling based on benefits, it is easier to innovate and find new ways to deliver those benefits. (For more on this innovation strategy, download our Outside-In Innovation eBook!)

Employing Innovative Processes

These questions zero in on whether a salesperson uses a dependable process for innovative thinking and development.

5. What’s your process for discovering the underlying needs, wants, challenges, and aspirations a current or potential customer may have?

When it is for business, you cannot afford random innovation success. Innovative thinking in sales implies having a process to repeat what leads to results in many types of situations.

6. What are the most innovative approaches you have employed to create a customer solution?

An innovative thinker, no matter what field, should have stories readily available about past innovation successes. If not, that person is just an innovation poser. This question focuses on an innovative processes; the next one addresses innovative solutions.

7. What is the biggest customer solution you ever imagined, and did it come to fruition?

A quick and big answer to this one signals innovative thinking and a familiarity with extreme creativity. If the big idea came to fruition, it signals someone that can go from idea to implementation!

An Innovation Posse

While there are innovators that go it alone, an innovative salesperson needs to depend on others to imagine and create solutions.

8. Who inside your company thinks you are a pain for trying too many new or wild things to create ecstatic customers?

Innovative thinkers (and doers) in sales are going to rub people in the organization the wrong way because they are always pushing for new and better. Continual innovative thinking in sales will wear out people in the organization. An innovative salesperson understands that.

9.Who makes up your innovation team?

In my book, an innovative thinker in sales appreciates the importance of others helping bring innovative ideas to life. They know who those folks are, even if there is no formal reporting relationship, because they are going back to them frequently to make innovative things happen.

Motivation

You want salespeople focused on winning and success. You also want them open to what’s new.

10. Why do you enjoy selling?

If doing new things all the time doesn’t surface as part of the answer, you probably aren’t talking to a truly innovative thinker in sales.

Caution!

This list is definitely from the Brainzooming R&D lab. We haven’t tested this diagnostic at all, but it’s a solid starting place. If you wind up testing it before we do, let us know what you find! – Mike Brown

Develop a Successful Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business!
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBook

Download this free, concise Outside-In Innovation eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!
Download Your Free Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book



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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

Last week’s “Inside the Executive Suite” article from Armada Corporate Intelligence picked out highlights on leadership skills from Fast Company magazine. They found these items particularly relevant for the year ahead. There are a number of team development and leadership skills mentioned that fit themes we talk about here. We added supporting links on many of the points and wanted to share the ideas with you:

Leadership Skills – 15 Ideas for Innovative Leadership in 2017

The February issue of Fast Company arrived, featuring a special report called, “Find Your Purpose – 175 Inspiring Business Lessons to Navigate the Year Ahead.” The article shares the thinking of ninety-six global business leaders on a variety of leadership skills. We wanted to highlight specific questions, recommendations, and challenges that seem particularly pertinent for leading strategically and innovatively in the year ahead.

Intriguing Interview Questions

Asking great questions is an important aspect of discovering and selecting the right talent for your team. We are fans of asking open-ended, unusual (but still real-world) questions that potential hires are not automatically prepared to answer. These questions all fit that profile.

What are you trying to prove?

Emily Weiss (Founder and CEO, Glossier) is looking for people that have the drive and the hustle to show someone – whether now or from somewhere in their past – that they can accomplish something no one expected them to be able to accomplish.

What would you do if there were no money involved?

Abby Falik (Founder and DEO, Global Citizen Year) is hiring people who are passionate about a cause. Having people share what they would tackle out of desire for change when no money is involved helps provide a better sense of what drives them.

What does your worst day look like?

Tom Ogletree (Director of Social Impact, General Assembly) uses this type of question to get people to open up about what bugs them. He finds that peoples’ negative perceptions can disqualify them for the job they are seeking.

What do you want from this experience?

Kimberly Bryant (Founder, Black Girls Code) is trying to find people that connect with her organization’s bigger mission. Through this question, she is looking for self-motivated individuals who want to develop and create progressively greater impacts.

Can you give me another example?

Will Dean (CEO, Tough Mudder) does not like to settle for stock, well-rehearsed answers. He will ask a candidate a question. He will then ask for two or three more examples so candidates are forced to think on their feet during interviews.

Leadership Practices

Some leaders dismiss the idea of collaborating with their teams because it takes too much time, keeps team members away from daily tasks, and can lead to ideas that the organization is not ready to embrace. One counter to this outlook is that a diverse team is in a position to see opportunities from many more vantage points than that of a single leader. These tips for leadership skills help clarify ways to make collaboration work effectively as a leadership practice.

Push yourself out of your routine – continually.

Blythe Harris (Chief Creative Officer, Stella & Dot) challenges herself and other leaders to push beyond the everyday activities of normal life. She seeks out new ideas and experiences to “actively disrupt” her routines and sharpen her creativity.

Never forget the customer and how they fit into what you are doing.

Regina Asborno (Deputy Director, New York Transit Museum) stresses the importance of connecting to the ultimate customer to orient and motivate teams to excel, even at the mundane aspects of what they do.

A leader should create strategy with a team.

Ashley McCollum (General Manager, Tasty at BuzzFeed) advocates for leaders collaborating with their teams to create business strategy. The reason? Leaders are often looking for teams to push beyond what seems possible or even well advised. Involving a team in planning increases the likelihood that it will step up to that challenge.

Keep meetings to the essential people.

Susan Reilly Salgado (Founder, Hospitality Quotient) makes a concerted effort to keep meetings as small as possible by reaching out only to essential people. She identifies participants based on those who “need to be there,” making sure those core people are the only ones invited.

Keep meetings short.

Trevor O’Brien (Chief Technology Officer and Partner, Deutsch) recommends trying to shorten meetings (say, to 20 minutes) to get the best out of bringing people together while not bogging them down with extended, unproductive meetings that slow progress.

Shaping Teams

A leader’s role involves pushing the team, but not necessarily for more productivity. Innovative leaders push a team to imagine bigger, better possibilities, paving the way for individuals to step out and realize new scenarios.

Push team members out of their comfort zones.

David Lee (Chief Creative Officer, Squarespace) sees a leader’s job as pushing team members beyond typical comfort zones, stretching them through goals that require them to do things they might have not originally thought possible. He takes time for celebration, but ensures the next goal falls into place right away.

Surround yourself with experts and have them explain.

Jonny Bauer (Global Chief Strategy Officer, Droga5) looks for experts in unfamiliar areas that his team needs to understand. He then has experts go over what they see, know, and understand, repeatedly, until everyone else gets the picture.

Extend the voices of your team members.

Jason Cornwell (Communications UX Lead, Google) challenges leaders to use the power they have based on position to put their teams forward. His view is that a smart leader amplifies the team by giving it his power.

Emphasize results over being busy.

Darren Walker (President, Ford Foundation) keeps a goal front and center, assessing performance based on generating impact. This contrasts sharply with placing the emphasis on generating a lot of activity that keeps an organization busy, but falls short of accomplishing an overall objective.

Exploit easily measured goals to help maximize progress.

Noah Weiss (Head of the Search, Learning, and Intelligence group, Slack) recommends dealing with fast growth by giving smart, emerging leaders freedom to act and clear goals that are easy to measure.

What new leadership skills are you using this year?

We found these leadership skills suggestions from Fast Company particularly intriguing. What are you changing in your leadership style to be more strategic and innovative in 2017?

Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!




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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

It is time to launch the implementation plan for your organization’s most important strategic initiatives. Does your implementation team move seamlessly from planning to action? Do they quickly identify what they need for success and get started? Do their initial steps pave the way for impact and successful results?

If they do all these things, congratulations!

However, if your organization is like many others, teams struggle to turn an implementation plan into action, even with smart, sound strategies. Despite the excitement and anticipation of taking on a new opportunity, implementing successfully does not happen by accident. You need to ensure that at this critical time, your vital strategic initiatives launch and gain momentum quickly.

5 Ways to Turn Your Implementation Plan into Results!

If you find your teams continually struggling to turn strategic plans into implementation success, the Brainzooming strategy eBook, 321 GO! 5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better is your answer!

In this new strategy eBook, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success when your team struggles with:

  • Looking for a clearer starting point
  • Constantly seeking leadership approval, even when it’s not necessary
  • Waiting for inspiration before launching
  • Taking up more time gathering information that will not change results
  • Tackling what is easy and avoiding the difficult strategies that matter the most

Download Your FREE eBook! 321GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!

This new Brainzooming strategy eBook shares actionable ways to start implementing faster and better so you can create impact and results for your organization. 321 GO, features overviews of these typical implementation plan challenges along with remedies to push forward and start implementing faster and better right now!

Download your free copy of 321 GO today and start turning your great plans into results! – Mike Brown

Download Your FREE eBook! 321GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!




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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

I had the opportunity to see Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, discuss his perspective on organizational harmony as he opened the Jump Start 2017 conference in Atlanta. SMC3 sponsors the annual conference.

Moore said he carries the seven organizational harmony principles with him on a card as a reminder.

Here are the organizational harmony principles as I captured them (the intent is on target, but I may have missed some exact phrasing):

  1. Settle disputes quickly.
  2. Care more than anyone else does.
  3. Give people more than they expect.
  4. Make sure you stand up for your own people.
  5. Share the glory.
  6. Remain calm in the eye of the storm.
  7. Emphasize one-on-one communication.

We would all do well to keep those in mind!  Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and 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

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

I met Adrian Martinez at an internal management meeting for our client, LeSaint Logistics. Adrian has incredible creative thinking skills.

How was I so sure about his creative thinking skills?

Well, get a load of this example!

He is a manager with LeSaint, and he faced a challenge. His team needed to move a racking system from one part of the warehouse to another. A wall separates the two areas. The racking system is 23 feet tall. The door between the two sections is 8 feet tall.

You can see the problem.

The natural solution would be to disassemble the racking system into its component parts and move those through the door. That is a good solution if it were not for a second challenge.

The second challenge is that it takes 2 hours to disassemble and 2 hours to reassemble each section of the racking system. Altogether, it would take 3 weeks of labor to move the racking system using that strategy.

What would you do?

Adrian looked at the racking system and the wall. He applied his creative thinking skills and came up with a solution that was pure extreme creativity.

After exactly measuring the racking systems, he cut a hole in the wall to allow the racking systems to roll right through what was previously a barrier!

He didn’t do that without a challenge. People told him repeatedly he was crazy and would get in trouble.

He did it anyway.

Based on the number of positive shout outs management and co-workers gave him during the company’s management meeting, it was clearly a solid decision! They are celebrating Adrian as a rock star for this move, his creative problem solving, and his dedication to building a legitimate sense of family among his team.

A half-hearted leader would never get to this decision even though it fully exploits the first core value at LeSaint: creativity. A leader unable to look beyond what others would typically see as a boundary and roadblock would never reach this decision.

Cutting a hole in the wall is a move rooted in extreme creativity.

Congratulations, Adrian, for making a bold creative move and getting everything patched up already! – Mike Brown

Facing Innovation Barriers? We Can Help!

Innovation-Strategy-eBooks

Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have free Brainzooming eBooks for you to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

Have you participated in an escape room yet?

You can visit Wikipedia for a more comprehensive description of an escape room. It’s essentially a “locked” room filled with clues that a group needs to discover and decode in order to unlock the door and leave. It’s a timed activity; the team is competing against the clock and previous players to see if they can escape within an hour.

Spoiler alert: My team didn’t escape anywhere near the record of 32 minutes. My team didn’t even escape within the hour; neither did the other team, although they turned their sign around in the photo below to make it look like they did!

7 Forgotten Project Management Skills from an Escape Room Fail

This was my first escape room experience. Our fail suggested seven solid project management skills we neglected to use.

If you’re visiting an escape room or are suddenly hit with a new, time-constrained challenge, here are the project management skills you shouldn’t forget!

1. We didn’t formally account for diversity.

They asked us how we’d like to split the group to participate in two rooms simultaneously. No one came up with an idea, so they simply drew a line through the group to separate us. Fortunately for my team, we had two women; we wound up with both gender and race diversity.

2. We spent no group time assessing the situation.

We followed the promptings of our handler and immediately started going through things looking for clues without any group evaluation or planning.

3. We didn’t select a project leader.

I don’t think we even asked if anyone had participated in an escape room before and had lessons to share. Without a designed project leader, the person that just found a clue or more boldly advanced an idea assumed leadership.

4. We didn’t assign any other specific roles, either.

When we did start finding clues we squandered our time because we hadn’t selected one person to organize, analyze, and keep track of them.

5. We wasted time going over the same ground multiple times.

Because we weren’t tracking what others did, we wasted time going back looking at things in the room others had already explored and decided didn’t contain clues.

6. We didn’t manage our scarcest resource: time.

We casually paid attention to the countdown clock, but didn’t take stock as time clearly slipped away from us. We should have re-set and devised a game plan to deploy and manage our final minutes.

7. We settled for whatever we were able to get done (and spun it as success).

Time ran out as we (according to our handler) reached about 80% of the clues. We patted ourselves on the back for getting a low B, and then immediately started telling the other team we did much better than we did!

Our Project Management Skills Fail Cratered Us

Yeah, from a project management standpoint, the escape room felt much like many hurry up and get it done projects that pop up in business. We dove in and scrambled to start without investing just a little time in planning and coordination. It could have made a difference.

Repeat our failings at your own project peril! – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Extreme Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  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. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

 

 

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

Moving from planning to implementation strategy, it’s easy to focus on the end goal and never look back – or forward beyond launch. That type of focus and momentum helps drive your implementation strategy.

As you move ahead with determination, however, here’s an important tip: look ahead to all the people, processes, and resources you will need for support when what you are preparing to implement is ready to implement. If you ignore the important step of giving heads up notifications to key people, you risk delivering a great “whatever it is you’re developing” without the support necessary for success.

15 Questions to Identify Heads Up People in Your Implementation Strategy

If the plan behind your implementation strategy identifies all the “heads ups” you need, that’s fantastic.

Planners often aren’t thinking about all the implementation tasks, though. They may have neglected to identify everyone that needs to know what you’re implementing.

To figure out who needs heads up notifications, here are 15 questions we use to stimulate strategic thinking about the people that need to go what’s going on before it happens:

  1. Who will need to provide resources to complete it?
  2. Who will forget that they once supported doing this?
  3. Who will evaluate whether it was a good decision to do or not?
  4. Who can put a roadblock in the way of doing this?
  5. Who will finance development and implementation?
  6. Who needs to support it to ensure it happens?
  7. Who will make it?
  8. Who will regulate it?
  9. Who owns the products and promotions this will need to integrate with more closely?
  10. Who will communicate about it?
  11. Who will help create demand for this?
  12. Who will need to explain what it is and the benefits?
  13. Who will sell it?
  14. Who will provide training about it, no matter the audience?
  15. Who will service / fix it?

That’s a lot of questions. It may be too many for you (if you know the names of most of the people from the start) or not nearly enough (if your initiative is particularly complex).

Either way, use the most helpful questions from this list to ensure you generate a thorough list of names. Include all of them in your project management steps and people will be better ready to support you when you need it!  – Mike Brown

What’s Your Implementation Strategy for Uncertain Times?

Things aren’t getting saner and more calm. Are you ready to pursue an implementation strategy that works in uncharted waters?

The Brainzooming eBook 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times will help you examine your strategy foundation, insights, profitability drivers, and decision making processes when few things ahead are clear. We share suggestions on:

  • Using your organization’s core purpose to shape decisions when things are changing
  • Reaching out to employees with valuable insights into what to watch out for and what to expect
  • Sharpening your command of cost and profit levers in your organization
  • Implementing processes to focus and sharpen decision making

4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times is a FREE, quick read that will pay dividends for you today and in the uncertain times ahead.
Download Your FREE eBook! 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times



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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading