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If your creativity ideas have dried up, today is the day to download our FREE ebook, The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions.

There are links in this eBook for 600 of the most powerful brainstorming and extreme creativity questions we use, including ones specifically tailored for innovation and creative boldness!

Your creative creek will be flowing with extreme creativity ideas, just like a summer downpour!

Download this eBook to Boost Extreme Creativity Ideas

Just click here or click the picture above to get started!

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 was thinking about tables recently, and the role they play in creating or thwarting team collaboration.

A table can…

Provide distance and separation between participants

That can be both healthy or disastrous. It’s easy to use distance and opposition (as in sitting on directly opposite sides of the table) to foster disagreement, aggression, and otherness. In different situations, distance around a table can offer space for individual reflection or a couple of people to collaborate without being drawn into something bigger.

Idea: Arrange people purposefully and keep moving them around.

Serve as a hiding place

If it is your intention, you can use a table’s shapes and angles and how people fill them up to keep yourself out of view and out of the team conversation. You may use the hiding place to observe, look away, or plan what you do when you emerge from hiding.

Idea: A facilitator needs to draw people out of hiding places.

Create clutter

A too big table or too many tables in a too small room, can fill all the available space people need to move around both physically and mentally. They can eliminate any flexibility a space might offer.

Idea: Pay attention to how many table you are using and not using. Get rooms with way more square footage than you think you will need.

Establish power

Sitting at the front, sitting at the back, or sitting at a corner can, depending on who is doing the sitting, change the power dynamics for the entire group.

Idea: Use tables without corners and avoid creating a clear front of the room.

Be purely functional

It provides a place to put your arms, bang your head (or your fist), take notes, hold your drink, plug in your computer. You hope it affords an arrangement that lets you see what you need to see and is a jumping off point for people to productively collaborate.

Idea: Match the right table to what you will need it for throughout the meeting.

Team Collaboration with No Table at All

This thinking inspired something we’ll be doing soon: eliminate the tables and use only a few chairs. Provide the right amount of space to make it both inviting and slightly awkward.

We look forward to seeing what using no tables at all will do for creating or thwarting team collaboration. – 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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Whenever we discuss using questions to foster disruptive innovation strategy, it prompts objections.

The objections center on the idea that questions do not create disruptive innovation.  The point these individuals (who are usually innovation experts that comment on other companies’ content without ever generating any innovation strategy content of their own) make is that a whole variety of factors contribute to disruptive innovation. They counter suggesting strategic thinking questions as a starting point over-promises and ignores all the other dynamics involved.

Our response? We never claim that questions alone will create disruptive innovation.
Download Your FREE eBook! Disrupting Thinking - 13 Exercises to Imagine Disrupting Your Brand

Yet, we have seen many successful companies that cannot even imagine deliberately undermining the basket where they have placed all their eggs. For these types of established players, you have to disrupt their status quo thinking so they realize that brands not even in their consideration sets are aiming to render them pointless in the marketplace.

Examples? See Kodak, Border’s Books, unionized trucking companies, and every department store you ever visited, among others.

ANYTHING that gets leaders in these situations to imagine where they are vulnerable and how to disrupt themselves before someone else does is a HUGE HELP.

13 Exercises for Disruptive Innovation Strategy: Disrupting Thinking eBook

That’s why we’re releasing the innovation strategy eBook, Disrupting Thinking – 13 Exercises to Imagine Disrupting Your Own Brand Before Someone Else Disrupts You! 

This FREE eBook, inspired by a popular Brainzooming post on how emerging competitors look nothing like your company, features question-based exercises to foster strategic conversations on disrupting your:

  • Brand benefits and value proposition
  • Marketing strategies
  • Organizational structure and processes
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Industry and market dynamics
  • New business initiatives

We do agree with our critics: imagining disruptive innovation scenarios is one step that must be coupled with develop the ideas and doing something about them. And as hard as imagining disruptive innovation is for established brands, acting can be even more of a challenge.

If you need to start the difficult strategic conversations on disruptive innovation strategy, Disrupting Thinking is for you!
Download Your FREE eBook! Disrupting Thinking - 13 Exercises to Imagine Disrupting Your Brand

Download your FREE copy of Disrupting Thinking TODAY, before it’s too late!

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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Emma Gibson forwarded an article from Harvard Business Review addressing four factors that distinguish top chief executive performers in creating strategic impact.

In “What Sets Successful CEOs Apart,” authors Elena Lytkina Botelho, Kim Rosenkoetter Powell, Stephen Kincaid, and Dina Wang reported their analysis of several thousand CEOs. A database of individual career profiles, behavior traits, and performance results provided the data set for their review. They identified important profile differences between top performers and laggards.

The authors report four characteristics that set top CEOs apart, According to the article, “roughly half the strong candidates had distinguished themselves in more than one of the four essential behaviors, while only 5% of the weak candidates had.”

4 Critical Factors for Successful Executives in Creating Strategic Impact

The four characteristics relate to quick decision making, engaging employees, anticipating forward-looking change, and delivering consistent performance. For each characteristic, here are related Brainzooming articles with exercises and tips to improve your own performance creating strategic impact.

Quick Decision Making

Engaging Employees

Anticipating Forward-Looking Change

Delivering Consistent Performance

Can you look at your career performance and see where you are creating strategic impact through your performance in at least two of these areas? If not, dive in with the supporting articles and strengthen your depth and results! – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative Strategy



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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We see seven keys to creating an innovative workplace culture where individuals are able to meaningfully contribute to the organization’s innovation strategy.

If you’re looking at your organization and wondering where to start to foster a more innovative workplace culture, here are forty articles to go deeper into the topic.

An innovative workplace culture:

#1 Provides Direction

It’s vital to point your innovation strategy in a direction. That doesn’t mean leadership should spell out everything. Yet sharing knowledge about what matters for the organization’s future success shouldn’t be a mystery to those working on innovation initiatives.

#2 Invites Broad Participation

Throw open innovation to encompass perspectives from throughout the organizations AND outside the organization. Instead of asking people for the next big ideas, ask them for insights and perspectives that can contribute to shaping big ideas for the organization.

#3 Meaningfully Engages and Involves Employees

Develop multiple innovation roles that match your team’s talents, strengths, perspectives, and aspiration. Provide the training, structure, and access to opportunities to best use their knowledge and expertise to drive the innovation strategy.

#4 Encourages Change

Make sure senior leadership is saying and DOING things that send a clear message: trying new things is fine, we understand not everything is going to work, and it’s vital we look beyond our current environment to identify innovation strategy possibilities.

#5 Pursues Smart Possibilities

There are clear processes in place to explore, assess, and prioritize the best innovation opportunities and meaningfully propel the organization forward.

#6 Stays Agile

What’s innovative will continue to change. Your environment needs to be ready to understand what’s important today while looking ahead to future developments and opportunities to disrupt markets and competitors.

#7 Celebrates Progress and Success

For all the fanfare about celebrating failures, an innovative workplace culture recognizes and celebrates trying and learning, progress and determination, AND success.

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!

 

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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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The folks at Armada Corporate Intelligence profiled a Bloomberg Businessweek story on Fanatics, the sports apparel manufacturer and marketer, in its Inside the Executive Suite. Fanatics introduced disruptive innovation to its marketplace with an agile strategy. It employs technology, focused creative teams, new manufacturing processes, and communications to remove time and waste when creating post-sporting event apparel featuring the winners and exciting story lines. For NCAA basketball tournament games, Fanatics can put a newly approved shirt on its website within 15 minutes. It also uses its agile strategy to market apparel for niche opportunities where it might sell as few as ten t-shirts.

Along with the recap, Inside the Executive Suite offered sixteen strategic thinking questions inspired by the Fanatics case study that you can use to explore agile strategy options within your own organization. We thought the list was intriguing, so we secured the go ahead to share the strategic thinking questions with you here.

16 Strategic Thinking Questions to Explore Agile Strategy and Disruptive Innovation

via Shutterstock

Developing an Agile Strategy

  • Where can your organization realize the greatest leverage from improved agility – cost savings, an improved customer experience, sales opportunities, greater financial efficiency?
  • Beyond making investments and process changes to increase agility, are there other opportunities to cost-effectively manage demand?
  • How can you develop a super-agile process that disrupts other industry players’ competitive advantages?

Identifying Process Changes for Agile Strategy

  • Where can you aggressively remove steps (especially low-value ones) from today’s process to boost agility?
  • How can you completely redesign today’s process from scratch to create a super-agile approach?
  • What roles do you need on your agile execution team to move from idea to market with previously unheard of speed?
  • What characteristics and behaviors are important for agile execution team members to display?
  • What resources (even if they are redundant or eventually discarded) are critical to enable rapid execution?

The Interplay Between Flexibility and Agility

  • How can you improve your organization’s ability to pre-plan and anticipate the uncertain?
  • In what ways can more / better / faster data access increase forecasting accuracy, and your ability to delay decisions without compromising agility?
  • What are the various types of reviews, approvals, and decisions you will need during crunch time? How can agile decision making happen in an easier and more timely way when speed is most important?
  • What does the time window around peak need look like?
  • Is there additional flexibility you can create / exploit in lead times, the length of the selling opportunity, and / or the long tail of demand?

Strong Relationships Enable Agility

  • Who are the outside people and entities vital to ensuring your agile processes perform as expected?
  • What foreknowledge, training, and support will outside parties require to perform their duties at peak levels?
  • What do agile relationship-building skills necessary for supporting your process look like?

Across these questions, you’ll get a start thinking through how an agile strategy can push disruptive innovation in your industry.  – via “Inside the Executive Suite” 

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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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Short Story: There could be better ways to formalize your organization’s innovation strategy, so ask The Brainzooming Group for ideas (via a FREE conversation) to make sure you consider alternatives!

How do you introduce an innovation strategy for your organization?

Do you start from scratch and unveil innovation as a new initiative with a focused team? Or do you look around the organization to identify where new things are happening, even in informal ways, and roll them into a more overt innovation strategy?

We discussed this question with the head of a business services firm. He wants to focus greater attention on innovation within the organization. His goals are to ensure innovation is a driver in maintaining the firm’s strong growth. He also is looking ahead to potential disruptions in the organization’s industry, trying to position the organization for success.

Take Credit for Everything New within Your Innovation Strategy

In a pre-meeting discussion and during our conversation, several innovations from the past several years emerged. These included new revenue lines and process improvements. They have done some great work. While it may not be completely coordinated or have produced dramatic revenue gains, they have steps in place for management team members to surface ideas, develop business cases, and secure approval to move forward with them.

Despite these apparent innovation strategy successes, he wanted to create an innovation team distinct from what they have previously done. The team’s charge would be to generate more substantial innovative ideas to drive disruption and top-line growth. The innovation team activity would be focused on a day-long event to do its work.

Our counter strategy, based on the organization working from a combination of previous success and future aspiration, is for them to take credit for EVERYTHING that looks like innovation in the past few years. This includes:

  • Innovation champions that identified fresh opportunities
  • New service lines and revenue streams they introduced
  • A rebranding initiative
  • Award-winning process improvements
  • Anything else that remotely fits an updated, more formal innovation strategy

My other suggestion was to integrate the innovation strategy into the firm’s overall strategy, raising it to the level of a strategic initiative.

What are the advantages of a backward-looking innovation strategy?

It recognizes an innovation strategy as:

  • Something familiar with the potential for greater impact
  • Part of the fabric of an organization looking for inspiration to innovate more dramatically
  • A part of the firm’s culture that has both internal impact and the potential to deliver significant value for clients

It is still early. I’m not sure they will get behind this approach or even work with us if they do adapt it. Either way, though, their smartest move is to forego an innovation day for an innovation strategy.

There Are such Things as Free Ideas!

By the way, the ideas we suggested for them were all part of a FREE initial conversation to understand what they are trying to accomplish. As much as we ask questions, listen, and take notes, we can’t help challenging current thinking and offering ideas right away.

If you’re an executive exploring a fresh look at strategy (whether organizational, branding, innovation, marketing process improvement, or just about any other type of strategy) and would benefit from a thirty-minute FREE conversation to provide you fresh ideas, contact us at The Brainzooming Group, and let’s talk! – 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.

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