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Suppose you need to involve hundreds of engaged audience members to shape the strategic thinking for a significant issue your organization faces.

How do you create the opportunity for learning and community collaboration in this scenario?

Digital-Inclusion-Photo

The organizing group addressing digital inclusion in Kanas City presented The Brainzooming Group this situation. Having announced an all-day Digital Inclusion Summit and inviting any interested community members to participate, we designed the event’s community collaboration strategy.

There are challenges we don’t typically encounter. Because of the general invitation to the community, we didn’t have upfront insight into who would participate until that day. This meant there was no opportunity to ensure the right mix of people within all the educational sessions. Additionally, our digital inclusion community collaboration approach had to fit fifteen different pre-planned educational segments we wouldn’t have visibility to upfront.

Strategic Thinking and Community Collaboration

How did we design a community collaboration approach for the Digital Inclusion Summit within these constraints?

The simple story to our community collaboration approach is we:

  • Identified two topic tracks (best practices and strategy) to describe the education sessions in order to organize the collaboration approaches.
  • Developed strategic thinking worksheets for each topic track. Each had several related questions for the topic track that could be used both individually and in small groups.
  • Coached each education session presenter on taking fifteen minutes in the middle of his/her content. This time was for participants to react to the learning and complete the worksheet strategic thinking questions.
  • Deployed our team, along with Digital Inclusion Summit team members, to manage the community collaboration activities.

Additionally, we developed an experience-based activity. For this activity, we invited participants to turn off all their digital tools for the day to simulate being a part of the digital divide, i.e., citizens who lack access to the Internet on a day-to-day basis.

Community Collaboration Yields New Strategic Insights

From the community collaboration worksheets participants completed in small groups, we documented nine individual strategic themes. Within these Digital Inclusion Summit themes, participants suggested serious issues standing in the way of digital inclusion and new leadership groups needing seats at the table to effectively narrow the digital divide.

In a rare situation for us, we can fully share the final Digital Inclusion Summit report we created to give you a sense of the nine themes and all the individual comments. The Digital Inclusion Summit report is available for free to the public on a new website designed by the Kansas City Public Library. It is a great treat for us to be able to actually share the final work product we developed.

Community Collaboration – Engaging to Address Digital Inclusion from Mike Brown

Do you have a community of stakeholders you need to meaningfully engage?

Whether you are tackling city-wide issues needing community collaboration or have an organization that needs to better engage its diverse stakeholders, we’d love to talk with you about how we can turn your hopes for meaningful engagement into reality.  – Mike Brown

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization. This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you 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.

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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Writing a newsletter article, it struck me that for as much as we discuss the importance of diverse strategic perspectives on better strategic thinking, we don’t seem to have a compilation of our articles on the topic.

Let’s fix that!

Workplace Diversity – The Why, Who, and How of Strategic Thinking

These Brainzooming articles are arranged based on why you should seek workplace diversity to benefit strategy, who holds the important perspectives, and how you can take best advantage of them to improve your organization’s strategy.

Dilbert-ThinkerWhy Workplace Diversity Benefits Strategy

Who Holds the Strategic Perspectives You Need on Your Team

How to Manage Workplace Diversity and Varied Strategic Perspectives Working Together

 

Making Workplace Diversity Work for Your Strategy

This list of articles is a start to thinking about the value of having people with different thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds on your teams.

If you’d like to discuss how to put this all together for your organization’s benefit, let us know. We’d love to customize a strategy that delivers the best results for you! – Mike Brown

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

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your success!

 

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’ve ever seen me present a strategic thinking workshop, you’ve likely heard me say, “People think strategic planning is boring, and I agree with them. I’m a strategic planner, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning. That’s why we make it fun!”

That’s not simply a throw-away line. It’s the absolute truth.

We consciously try to develop fun strategic planning activities.

The reason fun strategic planning activities are so important is they prompt people to want to engage with strategic planning at that moment plus make them eager to participate in the future.

5 Fun Strategic Planning Activities

Funny-Orange-2

“Fun strategic planning activities? You have to be kidding,” you may be thinking. No, we’re absolutely SERIOUS about the FUN part!

If you’d like to incorporate more fun into your strategic planning activities, here are a few ideas we’d offer:

1. Eliminating Boring Introductions

If you’re going for a more enjoyable strategic planning session, it’s important to start on a light note. This ice breaker dumps the typical boring self-introduction and uses introductions where everyone BUT you gets to tell something about you. Here’s one secret for even more fun – have one person make up all the answers they share. When you read this post, you’ll get what I mean by that!

2. Invite Katy Perry for Her Fashion Sense

You have to go see the picture to get this, but Katy Perry’s dress at this awards show a few years ago is all kinds of fun. If your challenge is reimagining old strategic ideas, this strategic thinking exercise will inject fun into your planning.

3. Put the Pin Prick to Your Competitors

This strategic thinking exercise involves targeting a pesky competitor and thinking about every way you can be a complete nuisance for them. You have to keep the ultimate ideas you choose legal and ethical. Before that point, however, anything is fair game and lots of fun!

4. What does Ghostbuster have to do with strategy?

By definition, you aren’t supposed to be able to anticipate black swan events. But when a client wants a black swan exercise, you figure out a way to give them a black swan exercise. This fun strategic planning activity gets its fun from the connection to Ghostbusters that inspired the exercise. Other than that, it should be a LITTLE more serious than the others here.

5. Try Some Shrimp!

This exercise is called “Shrimp,” but you’ll see a picture of a pumpkin throwing up pumpkin seeds on the original post. Yeah, it’s kind of gross, but this particular strategic thinking exercise is a blast. In workshops, I tell the story about when we used it with a group working on a NASCAR sponsorship program. They turned the exercise toward some pretty tawdry topics, yet came out with an idea that led to getting their company’s NASCAR driver on an ABC reality TV show!

Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun*

I wouldn’t necessarily advise trying to use ALL these fun strategic planning activities with one group. But if you do, let me know. THAT would be funny! – Mike Brown

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization. This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you 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.

 

*BTW, sorry about that RebeccaRoll.

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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Does your innovation strategy include adopting a more outside-in approach that better involves customer and market input?

If so, today is the perfect day to download our latest innovation strategy eBook, “The Outside-In Innovation Edition” of the Brainzooming “Fake Book of Strategic Thinking Tools.”

This new outside-in innovation strategy eBook has received a wonderful early response. Today, we want to make sure each reader takes advantage of incorporating these valuable strategic thinking exercises into your innovation strategy.

Innovation-Strategy

20 Reasons to Download the Strategic Thinking Exercises in Our Innovation Strategy eBook

With that in mind, here are twenty reasons you should download “The Outside-In Innovation Edition” of the Brainzooming “Fake Book of Strategic Thinking Tools” today!

  1. It’s free!
  2. There are strategic thinking exercises in the Fake Book that aren’t anywhere on the Brainzooming blog.
  3. You’ll find out what a Fake Book is in music and how the concept of a Fake Book relates to outside-in innovation. (page 3)
  4. There’s a guide to match your innovation style to the strategic thinking exercises that make the most sense for your organization. (page 5)
  5. These sixteen strategic thinking exercises can integrate into your current innovation plans to bring them to life. (page 5)
  6. There’s a brief, understandable profile of the three types of organizational innovation profiles (including a link to a report on the “Global Innovation 1000″). (page 4)
  7. We identify where each strategic thinking exercise fits within Henry Chesbrough’s “Services Value Web” model (and yes, there’s a link to the model, too). (page 5)
  8. We introduce the Brainzooming perspective on WHEN to use each of the exercises in your service delivery process. (page 5)
  9. Once you complete the first exercise on mining your brand benefits, you can use it as an innovation platform to jump start several other innovation opportunities. (page 7)
  10. There’s an easy way to translate your brand benefits to identify new innovation opportunities based on other companies or markets delivering comparable benefits. (page 9)
  11. You can take your team through an exercise to help anticipate non-traditional competitors who may enter your market with disruptive innovation. (page 10)
  12. You will be able to link product innovation ideas to both core strategy and extreme creativity exercises. (page 11)
  13. We turn service blueprinting on its head to use is as a service experience innovation tool. (page 12)
  14. You’ll learn a way to go to school on competitors’ innovation strategies to smarten up your own innovation strategy. (page 13)
  15. It will become clear why you need to understand who the canaries in the coal mine are in your business and industry. (page 15)
  16. There’s a handy-dandy diagram to see if your last innovation isn’t so innovative anymore, and it’s time to invest in innovation. (pages 16 and 17)
  17. All you have to do is start filling in the names to complete your future-looking research game plan. (page 18)
  18. We feature fifteen questions to get your team exploring potentially disruptive innovation. (page 20)
  19. You’ll be able to choose from two different formats for our popular, “What’s It Like?” strategic thinking exercise. (page 22)
  20. You’ll be the best-prepared person on the upcoming webinar we’ll be featuring on Outside-In Innovation.

 141104 Download EBook

Is that enough reasons for you to download the outside-in innovation strategy eBook?

If not, let us know, and we’ll share all the other reasons we DIDN’T list here! – Mike Brown

 

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you 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.

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’ve discussed the value of having three different strategic thinking perspectives in any strategy work. These three strategic thinking perspectives include people with front-line experience, others with functional expertise, and innovative thinkers that look at opportunities and challenges in new and different ways.

Brainstorming-Session-Google-Fiber

Across these three groups, there are also three types of voices to include, especially when looking at an organization’s vision and related future strategy conversations. These three voices are:

  • Familiar Voices
  • Challenger Voices
  • Emerging voices

These three voices all differ in their backgrounds and what they bring to strategic thinking and strategy conversations.

Familiar voices are individuals recognized for their long-term engagement, their deep and broad networks, and a strong understanding of relevant and significant opportunities and issues.

Challenger voices are those individuals noted for questioning the status quo in constructive ways. They are oriented toward finding answers to lingering issues and are sensitized toward not simply ratifying the popular view and calling it good.

Emerging voices come from organizations and individuals with new visibility in an organization or among its audiences. They have been outside the mainstream conversations and represent a valuable perspective the majority might routinely overlook.

Next time you’re convening a group to meaningfully address the future of your organization, take a good look. Do you have individuals representing all three of these voices?

If not, stop, and expand the strategic voices on your team right away. – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


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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What’s an idea?

And how do you decide amid all the creative thinking exercises you might be using, what determines when you have an idea as opposed to something else that doesn’t really qualify as an idea?

These strategic thinking questions were a sub-theme of a Twitter conversation about “ideas” and the most effective ways creative thinking can generate the greatest number of ideas in a certain period of time.

In an in-person conversation shortly afterward, the same types of strategic thinking questions were applied to product name possibilities.

I was showing someone the output from a recent Zoomference focused on generating product name ideas. The group generated seven hundred of what I characterized as “names.” The other party said what we produced weren’t really product names. He acknowledged there were some product names on the list, but he said many of them were merely suggestions of what names could be.

See how muddied and confusing the terminology used in and around creative thinking can be?

ideas-in-all-shades

Back to the Strategic Thinking Questions about Ideas

So what is an idea? Or what is a product name?

The two separate conversations prompted me to speculate that in a group setting employing strategic thinking and creative thinking exercises, an idea is best classified as a TPU.

What’s a TPU?

It’s an acronym for a “Tangible Participation Unit.”

When you’re leading creative thinking exercises with a group to generate what most people would readily call “ideas,” a TPU suggests a participating group member has made a noticeable contribution to the creative thinking the group is doing.

If you’re in a group coming up with ideas, you may have all kinds of beneficial thoughts racing around in your head. If there’s no TPU in the form of something said, written, typed, drawn, acted out, etc., however, no one really has a sense that you have any ideas.

The one exception might be if you make that contorted idea face some quiet thinkers make when it’s clear they are thinking something but just aren’t saying it. That face SUGGESTS someone has an idea on the brain, but it simply hasn’t reached the mouth or hand in order to become tangible.

But even that “idea face” doesn’t substitute for a TPU.

To be a TPU, the remnants of the creative thinking have to be tangible, providing clear evidence to others you are participating.

What do you think?

I haven’t taken my thinking on this topic much beyond what you see here. What do you think? Do you have a solid definition of an idea that you use or have borrowed from literature on the topic? If so, how do you define an idea? – 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 816-509-5320 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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Suppose you are organizing a big meeting. There will be many people working on your organization’s vision or you’re trying to learn what things your customers are looking for in your product or service. Either way, maximizing group collaboration and engagement is vital.

As you plan your event strategy, how do you decide which type of information sharing strategy will create the most beneficial group collaboration?

One often-used strategy is allowing one individual at a time to share his or her perspective with the group. If the group is large and the time is too short, the result is each person gets a very short time to speak. Or it may be that only a few people are selected to talk, and everyone else listens.

That strategy works if the speakers are more informed on the topic than all the other attendees or the time available from the presenters is very limited. You can’t really claim the “one speaking to many” strategy creates effective group collaboration, however.

A different, typically overlooked strategy can genuinely lead to much stronger group collaboration. This strategy involves creating many small groups from among a larger audience. Provide each small group a dynamic structure and strategic thinking exercises with productive questions allowing everyone to successfully contribute personal knowledge, perspectives, and ideas. While this strategy increases group collaboration and strengthens an organization’s understanding, it won’t work in every situation. Most importantly, if you don’t have a tested design and implementation approach for how to select the right types of strategic thinking exercises, capture input being generated by multiple groups, and distill the work into strategic themes, the strategy will fall flat.

When you do have all these factors in place, this collaborative strategy works tremendously efficiently and effectively. We talked about this strategic group collaboration approach on a webinar today for attendees at the Gigabit City Summit.

You can review a recording of the webinar here: http://ow.ly/GYi1k 

The topic for the webinar and our workshop with the group at the Gigabit City Summit is how to more successfully develop a community-wide vision within cities implementing ultra high-speed Internet. The approach works across business situations though, so go ahead and grab a copy of the infographic here to help you decide which type of information sharing strategy will work best for your next group meeting.

And if you want great strategic group collaboration, let us know. We’d be happy to design and create the experience and organizational benefits you are looking for with your group! – Mike Brown

150106 Collaboration Infographic - The Brainzooming Group

 

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

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you 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.

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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