3

I misread the question in this tweet yesterday – maybe because I was reading it in the car after church. No, I wasn’t driving yet.

Fave-Question

Or should I say I wasn’t driving “yet-ish.”

Creative Thinking Questions

Anyway, I thought the question was about my favorite creative thinking questions. We’ve never covered that, so writing about my favorite creative thinking question immediately suggested a blog post.

Here’s my favorite creative thinking question: How could we make it ______________?

Fave-Question-Jot2

As my quick jottings show, among all the possible creative thinking questions, this one does a wonderful job of:

  • Linking strategy and implementation (How)
  • Getting you looking to the future (could)
  • Implying collaboration (we)
  • Being active since it presupposes doing something (make)

All that, plus it can work (perhaps with a little finessing) as a lead-in question to three of my favorite creative thinking exercises:

That’s a hard working question!

My Favorite Creative Thinking Question So Far

So although this is an answer for an unasked question, “How could we make it _____________?” is at the top of my list of creative thinking questions – so far. There could always be a new one to displace it, but that will take some doing!

Anybody else have a question I can misread and turn into a blog post?

Send them my way!  – 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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4

Woody Bendle is back with one of his favorite strategies for getting past creative blocks, using a creative thinking exercise we explored early in the days of the Brainzooming blog under the name “Change Your Character.” I really enjoy Woody’s very fun take, turning the brainstorming questions from “Change Your Character” into a creative thinking exercise that puts the FUN into a creative funk!

Overcoming the Funky Creative Funk with Scooby Doo and Friends by Woody Bendle

We’ve all heard of “creative blocks” and most of us have probably experienced one at some point in our lives.  If you have experienced a creative block, you know they can be frustrating and sometimes even worse.  So, where do they come from, and what are some strategies for getting past creative blocks?

Creative-Funk-PosterA creative block is generally regarded as a common and temporary psychological condition.  I personally call it “creative funk.”  And if your livelihood depends upon creativity and producing creative ideas or solutions, a creative funk can feel devastating. Time in a creative funk feels like an e  t  e  r  n  i  t  y and is exceptionally nerve racking, especially if there is the looming pressure of a deadline.

For some, a creative funk can even begin to feed on itself and snowball, creating anxiety and sometimes even leading to a person seriously doubting one’s ability to be creative at all.

That’s a major creative funk!

Creative Funk and a Bad Brainstorming Session

Creative funks can be caused by a number of things ranging from fatigue, to stress, to criticism (or fear of criticism), to obsessing over self-imposed performance expectations (perfection).

And, if you’ve ever participated in a poorly run brainstorming session with your organization, you’ve probably experienced all of theses things, and possibly even more.  There aren’t too many things worse than a bad brainstorming session.

Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar. You’re cooped up for hours with a bunch of corporate stiffs in a small, sterile conference room with buzzing fluorescent lights; getting hopped up on M&Ms, Twizzlers and Coca-Cola, and you’re being told to come up with a bunch of good, game-changing ideas because you’re organization’s future (and your job) depends on it.  Yep, that’s a recipe for a real funky creative funk. YIKES!

On its own, the pressure of having to be imaginative or creative under a time crunch can be stressful.  But, add the pressure of having to be brilliantly creative in front of your peers (or perhaps, even your bosses) – it can almost be paralyzing.  I mean let’s admit it, we’re human right!  And even though you’re told that the two most important rules for brainstorming are: 1) there are no bad ideas, and 2) do not criticize the idea, you naturally might be worried about making a bad impression and being judged.

So, what do we do?  Scooby Doo!

Scooby Doo and Friends to the Brainstorming Rescue

Scooby-DooOne technique I’ve found particularly valuable in breaking through a funky creative funk is something I call, “What Would Scooby Do?”

I use Scooby Doo as my illustrative cartoon idea sleuth, but I recommend inserting as many different characters (cartoon, TV, or movie) as you like. The idea here is to put yourself into your character’s mindset and approach solving your problem as they might.  This exercise can be particularly fun in a group!  When everyone is assigned a very different character, and is asked to think about as many different ideas that character might bring to the table, some pretty interesting things can happen.  But the most important thing that happens is that the creative funk gets broken and the creative ideas get flowing!

This creative thinking exercise can help you, and your team break through your funky creative funk for the following reasons:

  1. You focus on the character and not yourself – which can instantaneously de-funk your creative funk
  2. A character has permission to provide “whacky”, off the wall ideas – it’s their idea, not yours
  3. People often see characters quite differently and can offer additional very interesting opinions about how any given character might approach solving the problem, last and perhaps most importantly
  4. It’s a ton of fun and you feel like a kid again! And who doesn’t want to have a little more fun every now and then?

Scooby Doo in Brainstorming Action

So, let’s say you’re team has been charged with coming up with a revolutionary new way to get remove dust from delicate, high-tech surfaces.  There are a number of products out there already that do this pretty well, but how many of those solutions were created by, Rambo, or Wile E Coyote, or MacGyver, or Harry Potter, or Tigger, or Po (Kung-Fu-Panda), or Ferris Bueller, or Kenny (from South Park), or Granny (from the Beverly Hillbillies)?  You’re getting the idea by now I bet.

Each one of these characters would likely approach the problem quite differently and have VERY VERY different ideas about how to solve it.

  • Rambo might just decide to blow the surface up – screw the dust and the stupid surface it’s on!
  • MacGyver might use duct tape – because what can’t he do with duct tape?
  • Tigger might hop up and down to vibrate the dust off.

We could go on like this for hours!  And that’s actually the point in the first place. You’re looking to break down your creative funk, and once you get the ball rolling with this technique, it’s actually hard to stop those creative juices from flowing!

I’ll admit that “What Would Scooby Do” might not be the solution for every creative funk, but what have you got to lose?

Have your own techniques for breaking down creative blocks?  I’d love to hear about them! – Woody Bendle

 

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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.

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7

The original “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation and innovation ebook were developed when Max Utsler asked me to speak to his class at The University of Kansas on innovation perspectives in marketing communications. In many ways, that innovation presentation in 2004 started me down the career path I’ve been on ever since.

I’m back tonight with Max Utsler’s class sharing the “Taking the No Out of Innovation” presentation along with a new social media project Brainzooming is helping Max and Barrett Sydnor implement for their  fall semester classes at The University of Kansas. Dubbed “Blogapalooza” by Max, the social media project will introduce students to blogging and creating social media content in front of multiple audiences . . . but more on Blogapalooza later.

To make “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation content more accessible from among the 1,000-plus posts on the Brainzooming blog, here are the 8 innovation perspectives contained in the presentation and links to supporting content reaching back to the earliest Brainzooming posts.

Introspective

Create a stronger innovation perspective by understanding your distinctive talents.

Diverse

Surround yourself with a creative team that complements your distinctive talents.

Forgetful

Strike the right balance between using and turning off your expertise to boost creative thinking.

Borrower

Borrow from any inputs you can to trigger creative ideas that you twist and shape to be your own.

Open to Possibilities

Hone your openness to what may today seem impossible or preposterous – that’s where you’ll find tomorrow’s innovation.

Inquisitive

Collect great questions that yield creative ideas and use them all the time.

A Creator

You have to do something with ideas. Selecting the best ones and moving forward with them is central to innovation.

Persistent

Innovation doesn’t necessarily come easy. When it comes to the “No” voices you’ll hear, be ready to dodge, morph, ignore, or otherwise blow them up. That takes persistence.

Summary

Mike Brown

 

Find New Resources to Innovate!

FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

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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Creative thinking exercises suited for an historically successful group was the topic last week when I spoke to the Johnson County Sertoma. Thanks to an invitation from Marty Fahncke, president of the non-profit group, it was an opportunity to speak with them about group creativity exercises as they consider a significant new service project and fund raising strategies to support it. The inspiration for the presentation came from “Words of Inspiration” on the Sertoma website. Five words in particular tie directly to important creative thinking concepts:

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm for ideas – lots of ideasis central to generating possibilities that create breakthrough results. The key isn’t about looking for a “big” idea though. Starting with looking for a “big idea” as your central objective results in people censoring potentially huge ideas. This happens when a person thinks their own idea doesn’t meet the “big idea” criteria. When looking for big results, it’s vital to display enthusiasm for lots of possible ideas to reach your objective.

Youth

Many Johnson County Sertoma projects involve children, especially a fantasy sports camp for hearing-impaired kids. I encouraged the organization members to look to children in their programs as a source for ideas. They can ask the kids for ideas about why they enjoy the activities, how they’d find people to help support a new project, and ways they would raise more money. Because they haven’t had creativity completely beaten out by the educational system and life experiences, kids are a wonderful source for ground-breaking possibilities.

Brain

The fact “brain” was one of the inspiration words was exciting for me! Yet for a successful organization, the knowledge members have about what’s worked and hasn’t can block considering new ideas more suitable for today’s challenges. I encouraged the group to critically examine past successes for ways to improve them and to set order of magnitude larger goals to stretch thinking on potential strategies to implement.

Helping Others

As a service-based organization, Johnson County Sertoma is all about helping others. An interesting twist is to think about how others can help them though. One way to do this is through a creative thinking exercise we call “Change Your Character.” In the exercise, you look for people who have experienced similar situations, consider how they’ve approached those situations, and then apply the techniques to your own opportunity. At the presentation, we picked Donald Trump to “help” given his knack for raising funds to implement new projects.

Fear

The words of inspiration mentioned fear as an inhibitor to progress. That’s certainly true when fears make people retreat from challenging ideas that would push them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable areas personally or organizationally. One way to get a group that gravitates toward comfortable ideas to consider something new is to specifically single out ideas viewed as having potential impact but which create discomfort. Isolating these ideas and talking about them individually can help figure out if concerns making these ideas seem uncomfortable are legitimate or whether they spring from reluctance to doing things in a very new ways.

It was a great group, and I look forward to spending some more time to help them in Brainzooming some more new ideas!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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Of anyone in society, celebrities readily attract the public’s attention, drawing fans to themselves. While it can be trying for celebrities, we’d probably all like to attract customers in business with the same type of fervor and interest.

So let’s take a look at why fans are attracted to celebrities and revisit the Change Your Character exercise. Apply each of these reasons fans are attracted to celebrities to a situation where you’re trying to draw customers to your brand.

Fans see celebrities as:

  • Having attractive characteristics that they want to be around
  • Being familiar because celebrities are seen all the time in the media
  • Approachable
  • Likeable
  • Friendly
  • Having the ability to change someone’s life if they knew each other
  • Getting lots of attention that others can bask in
  • Wielding lots of influence & power

The goal is to generate 3 new ideas for each of the items above. Click here for a refresher on using the Change Your Character exercise.

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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Powerful comparisons are important to many creative thinking exercises. While the types of comparisons may vary, for the more than twenty-five “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises on the Brainzooming blog, delegating an opportunity or challenge to someone you wouldn’t typically think about selecting to do your work yields a wide variety of creative ideas.

Creative Ideas from an Unlikely Character?

The Change Your Character creative thinking exercises use someone in a completely different line of work to help you look at your own situation with a fresh perspective.

Here are the steps for Change Your Character:

  1. State the business challenge that you’re addressing – it could be an opportunity, a problem, a new process or approach, etc.
  2. Pick who you want to work on your situation. This could be a real person, a fictional or cartoon character, or even another business that faces an analogous situation.
  3. Once you’ve identified who you’ll put on the job, list 8 to 10 approaches that the person, character, or business uses to address opportunities or challenges.
  4. Using the 8 to 10 approaches, apply them to your situation to generate at least 3 new ideas each for solving it.

Each of the Change Your Character creative thinking exercises does steps 2 and 3 for you. This allows you to focus primarily on step 4 – creative idea generation.

25 “Change Your Character” Creative Thinking Exercises

Here’s a compilation of 25 of these creative thinking exercises you can bookmark for use in successfully addressing future opportunities. Within each category, the situations and characters covered are listed, along with a link to the original article.

Strategy

Relationship & Brand Building

Team Building

Management & Problem Solving

Professional Skills

Just a note – I used Bart Simpson recently, and it worked very well. Give it a try and have great success Changing Your Character! – 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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There is always the potential for a business, a project, or even a personal situation to run into difficulties. In the business world, a frequent answer when something goes wrong is to call in a turnaround CEO to fix it. Using well-tested techniques, their goal is to quickly diagnose underlying problems, correct them, and return the business to solid performance.

This week, consider delegating a broken situation you have to a turnaround CEO and let them take a run at fixing it. Try to generate three new turnaround ideas for each item below as a turnaround CEO would:

  • Identify the most critical problems
  • Bring in unbiased consultants to help fix things
  • Make fact-based decisions
  • Look for smart & simple steps to take right away
  • Bring in their own people to run the company
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Cut costs in a dramatic fashion
  • Uncover hidden problems in the business
  • Secure needed resources
  • Write off bad operations

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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