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“Back in the day, we did creative thinking about ideas.”

I was talking with a colleague the other day. He has been working closely with a particular client for fifteen years. So long, in fact, if people walk through the department where he is stationed, you would never know he ISN’T an employee unless someone said something about it.

The client has undergone tremendous changes in leadership and staff during his tenure working with the company. It has also endured a variety of boom and bust periods in these years.

He mentioned saying “back in the day” almost daily before introducing ideas in meetings. The company has implemented very smart, creative strategies through the years. It just as frequently has lost track of how creative thinking brought about these strategies whenever it hits a bust cycle or goes through a leadership change.

So in suggesting previous ideas that used to pass for creative thinking, he feels compelled to inform others that they aren’t original ideas, but ones the company has tried previously.

They were great ideas once. They fell out of favor, however, and the company abandoned them.

Bloxed-Up-Ideas

Every Old Idea Is New Again

My immediate reaction was, “Stop doing that!”

It’s the same reaction when an individual who changes jobs makes continual references to how things were done at the former employer once they are the new employer. I tell people who do this to own their experiences and simply introduce ideas they are bringing along from previous jobs as if they emerged from completely fresh creative thinking.

The same principle applies someone has been in one place much longer than most co-workers. These individuals have earned the expertise, experience, and valuable historical frame of reference co-workers have not. Continually prefacing ideas with “back in the day” not only makes one seem old, but could be creating hurdles for gaining support for smart ideas that haven’t taken hold, but should have.

It’s a New Idea to Them

When you have a strong historical perspective on what will work because you’ve been around long enough to see an idea tried and work before, simply state the idea. Unless there’s a clearly compelling reason to disclose the idea’s origins, it’s far better to share the idea without attribution, keeping your need to date the idea as an “old idea” to yourself.

Following this strategy, you’ll be recognized for the creative thinking and ideas you’re sharing irrespective of when and where the idea was first imagined and implemented.

Struggling to Bring New Creative Thinking and Innovations to the Market? We Have an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enable your brand to ideate, prioritize, and develop the innovative growth ideas to spur a business comeback. Download this free, concise 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!

141104 Download EBook

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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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Sure, you may not know what you don’t know.

You may even think you can’t discover what you don’t know that you don’t know.

But that’s bunk.

9 Ways to Discover What You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know

How-empty

Try these nine ways to discover the blind spots in your knowledge:

  1. Have diverse people around you with lots of interests that don’t match yours.
  2. Listen to what other people are talking about and saying about new things.
  3. Ask great questions of others.
  4. Take every opportunity you can to observe your situation from new perspectives.
  5. Know who you can count on to challenge your thinking.
  6. Surround yourself with people who will talk to you honestly, even when that’s difficult.
  7. Let others share what they know that you don’t know as anonymously or as visibly as they would like.
  8. Always keep the knowledge that you don’t know everything you need to know front and center in your mind.
  9. If you don’t find out at least one new thing you didn’t know that you didn’t know daily, you aren’t trying hard enough . . . so try harder!

Now you know. – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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 816-509-5320816-509-5320 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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The April 2015 Fast Company features its list of the biggest business comeback stories during the twenty years the magazine has been publishing.

Each business comeback story is presented individually (expect for Apple, which they say is number one, but never bother to list or write a full profile about the company). I was curious about what successful business strategy moves Fast Company highlighted across the twenty corporations.

To paraphrase the old saying, “curiosity killed the hour” it took to go through the list and uncover the answer to my question.

What’s Behind a Business Comeback?

Traffic-Circle

Based on this very loose analysis, the top five most frequent successful business strategy moves for these business comeback stories are:

  1. New Products: 14 (of 20 comebacks)
  2. New Leaders: 10
  3. Enhanced Brand Experience: 9
  4. New Business Lines: 6
  5. (Tie) Enhanced Advertising/Marketing and Bankruptcy: 5 each

New product growth and turnaround leaders were the most cited factors while only four profiles mentioned major cost cutting efforts, and three highlighted downsizing. Given the magazine’s focus, this list is not a big surprise.

Under different circumstances, it would be intriguing to big deeper into the list and look for more patterns. Since the list is subjective, the very brief profiles are nowhere near comprehensive, and there is a lot of my interpretation in this, however, it is not worth any more time killing.

If you would like to review the analysis with my notes on the comeback proof points Fast Company offers and my “short story” on each comeback, click the image below and go to the PDF.

FC-Comebacks

What are your takeaways from this list of business comebacks? And are there other ones from the past twenty years you would add to the list? – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for stronger new product innovations to drive your business comeback?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enable your brand to ideate, prioritize, and develop the innovative growth ideas to spur a business comeback. Download this free, concise 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!

 141104 Download EBook

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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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article shared ways to increase the strategic thinking in your organization without holding an offsite meeting.

Here’s another way to improve daily strategic thinking. It builds on one idea in yesterday’s post (“Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter”).

This approach leads to developing a list of targeted questions specific to your business situation. You can complete it in a week, but we recommend spreading it over several weeks or during a typical month of activity.

4 Steps to Customizing Your Strategic Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Step 1. Anticipate

Before the week or month you have selected, list typical business issues and conversations you have with your team and other groups you work with regularly.

Step 2. Categorize

Group the issues and conversations into general categories. Possible examples include:

  • Understanding things (analysis, evaluation)
  • Developing things (innovation, creativity)
  • Building things (operations, manufacturing, efficiency and process improvements)
  • Growing things (creating more sales, implementing more initiatives)
  • Fixing things (diagnosis, correction)
  • Forecasting things (projections, estimates)

Step 3. Track

With the list in Step 2 complete, use it during your selected timeframe to keep track of how many issues and conversations pertain to each category. If you need to add other categories, add them.

Step 4. Compile

After you’re done monitoring your conversations and activities, see where your focus is. Work on developing a custom list of ready-to-use questions in each area. You can mine our extensive lists of strategic thinking questions for ones to use. Here are links to some of our most popular lists:

This focused approach will pay dividends with your ability to develop a solid command of strategic thinking questions for daily use to boost strategic thinking in your team, yourself, and everyone you work with in the organization.  – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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 816-509-5320816-509-5320 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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“Do you have to have an offsite meeting for your team to do strategic thinking?”

A creating strategic impact workshop attendee asked this question.

My unequivocal answer was, “No.”

We teach examples of strategic thinking exercises in a structured way. Workshop attendees also practice using them in workshop settings resembling an offsite meeting environment.

Despite teaching our strategic thinking exercises in a workshop environment, you can use most of them in multiple ways and settings. This flexibility makes it practical to incorporate strategic thinking exercises throughout the business day on a daily basis.

Table-Legos

11 Examples of Strategic Thinking without an Offsite Meeting

These are all ways to introduce strategic discussions within the workday without ever changing your location:

  1. Use the granddaddy of all strategic thinking questions EVERY time it’s appropriate: What are we trying to achieve?
  2. Go out of your way to connect initiatives and activities to the organization’s strategic direction.
  3. Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter.
  4. Have a go-to technique that works in small meetings to increase the number and range of ideas a group is considering.
  5. Identify several analogous situations with similar characteristics to your organization, its markets, its customers, and the competitive set.
  6. Don’t fool yourself into thinking only long-term situations are strategic and miss strategic implications in near-term issues affecting important aspects of your organization.
  7. Create and continually grow the list of strategic thinkers you can involve in the initiatives in which you participate or lead.
  8. Be able to use a four-box grid or some other approach to plot ideas relative to one another and prioritize the best ones to pursue.
  9. Continually work on developing and enhancing your political capital to gain comfort challenging thinking and actions that are off strategy.
  10. Keep up to date on the edges of your industry and other areas related to your organization because the edges are where change happens.
  11. Work on your ability to anticipate what might happen in your organization and industry based on other events taking place.

Doing Strategic Thinking Daily

Do you have to be strong at all these suggestions? If you want to go to the head of the “being able to address strategy at a moment’s notice” class, yes, you do.

If you simply want to push your organization to develop smarter strategies, being able to use even a couple of these examples of strategic thinking will have a noticeable performance impact to improve results. – Mike Brown

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic impact, and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

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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 Trendhunter.com sent me a free copy of the newly published innovation strategy book, “Better and Faster – The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas” by the organization’s CEO, Jeremy Gutsche (affiliate link).

BetterAndFasterThe book opens with the story of how scientist Robert Lang’s obsession with origami (including his ability to recognize connections and interpret patterns) led to revolutionary advances in creative paper folding AND space exploration, auto safety, and biotechnology. Gutsche follows it up with stories illustrating three innovation roadblocks and six “patterns of opportunity” behind successful organizations using innovation strategy to its greatest advantage.

The story selection approach Jeremy Gutsche spells out upfront highlights his preference for sharing lesser-told stories.

You certainly find plenty of mentions of the usual suspects, including Apple, Starbucks, Google, and IKEA. It was intriguing, however, to gain insight into the early strategy re-direct that set Victoria’s Secret up for success, the meth-to-millions brand story behind Dave’s Killer Bread, and Gutsche’s own insider perspective on how Capital One uses a credit cards as “information” view to drive an ongoing stream of high- and low-probability innovations.

“Better and Faster” employs a Hunter-Farmer metaphor to organize innovation strategy lessons based on thousands of interviews from the past decade.

The three “Farmer Traps” Gutsche highlights tie to a leader or organization cultivating an expectation of perpetually winning. The specific traps are:

  • Complacency from previous successes
  • Repeating the same formula again and again
  • Ignoring challenges to the organization’s beliefs and perspectives

The main section of “Better and Faster” details six innovation strategy patterns emerging from Trendhunter.com research and analysis:

  • Convergence – Putting various pieces together to create success
  • Divergence – Products and services fighting against the comfortable and familiar
  • Cyclicality – Events and dynamics that repeat in a predicable way
  • Redirection – Changing the current course to leverage and ride a trend
  • Reduction – Stripping away the unnecessary elements of a concept
  • Acceleration – Pushing for faster and more when a feature portends disproportionate opportunity

The book’s final section offers frameworks and applications to better understand applying patterns of opportunity and how they play out in particular industries.

Intrigued by the innovation strategy model “Better and Faster” suggests?

Trendhunter.com has a free download of the book’s first chapter to launch your experience with “Better and Faster.” All you have to do is visit the book’s launch website and tweet about the book.

If you are ready to start taking a hunting approach to innovation strategy, order “Better and Faster” right away at Amazon.com (affiliate link) or directly from the book website and take advantage of variety of special offers. – Mike Brown

 

       Affiliate Link

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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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Want a quick innovation strategy formula you can easily commit to memory?

A 5-Step Innovation Strategy Formula

Here’s a five-step innovation strategy formula that fits the bill:.

Step 1. Try lots of stuff.

Step 2. See what works.

Step 3. Heavy up on stuff that works quickly.

Step 4. Quickly kill stuff that doesn’t work.

Step 5. Revel and repeat.

5-Step-Innovation-Formula

Say it three times, and you’ll have in memory. Follow this five-step innovation strategy formula, especially if you’re in an environment that’s resistant to change, and you’ll soon start reaping the benefits of greater innovation success.

Need more help leading your team’s innovation strategy for new product ideas?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookDo you need to take better advantage of your brand’s customer inputs and market insights to generate innovative product ideas?

With the right combination of perspectives from outside your organization and productive strategic thinking exercises, you can ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

141104 Download EBook

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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