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We’re all faced with the need to perform seamlessly in unfamiliar situations. Who faces a similar challenge to come up with creative ideas with no opportunity to prepare ahead of time? An improv comic. An improv comic routinely deals with unfamiliar situations, accepting and working with information presented by the audience or other performers and, with no chance to prepare ahead of time, getting people to laugh.

So let’s apply an improv comic-based approach to help us do a better job in unfamiliar situations that require thinking on our feet. An improv comic:

  • Actively solicits input from the audience and others around them
  • Listens closely to other participants for information & clues
  • Quickly assesses the underlying structure of the situation
  • Becomes comfortable with not being able to figure things out ahead of time
  • Is open to spontaneity
  • Depends on instincts
  • Offers information and clues to others to help them co-participate successfully
  • Works with and builds on information supplied by others
  • Is able to employ a variety of talents to advance the situation
  • Refines the process as new information is determined

Identify three new ideas for each of the approaches an improv comic would employ to improve your own performance when you can’t prepare ahead of time for unfamiliar situations.

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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Another question at last week’s conference was on getting reluctant people to participate in strategic thinking efforts if they don’t want to spend the time or are skeptical about its value. Barring a management directive, you can’t force participation. Instead, consider two other approaches.

First is the Wednesday “Change Your Character” exercise. Professional event planners face similar challenges. They’re under the gun to produce great events and make sure that people want to show up for them. They accomplish this with their event by:

  • Having multiple events of different sizes at different times to attract different groups
  • Planning the event’s timing so it doesn’t conflict with other priorities
  • Tying the event to an already scheduled activity
  • Holding the event someplace new – in a more convenient or a unique location
  • Broadening the invitation list with new participants and guests who usually wouldn’t be invited
  • Confirming well-known guests personally and communicating their participation to others
  • Creating a compelling invitation – ensuring invitees know all event details and the benefits of attending
  • Inviting people in sufficient time for them to commit
  • Making it easy to RSVP in the affirmative
  • Calling invitees to confirm attendance and reminding them about the event a week before
  • Creating attractive networking and relationship building opportunities for attendees
  • Giving certain invitees specific roles to perform at the event

As usual, come up with 3 new ideas for each event planner technique to get people to come to a strategic thinking session.

Here’s the bonus on this challenge – Five approaches that we’ve used to secure participation from people reluctant to invest time on strategy:

  • Collect strategic input with online exercises – Allow people to participate without a meeting. Use this for SWOT exercises, gauging opinions, and soliciting perceptions on future industry dynamics.
  • Secure a little bit of time with a clear objective – If you can get 45 minutes of a group’s time, select an exercise and a prioritization approach that will fit the time. Make sure you’re clearly moving toward your objective within the session.
  • Do strategic thinking for non-participants – Find out what non-participating stakeholders want to accomplish and do the strategic thinking for them. Package the outcome in a recommendation or executive summary, pitching the results to demonstrate strategic thinking’s benefits.
  • Work with who you can get – If you have a small but diverse group interested in strategic thinking, hold a session with them. Ensure that you clearly deliver results and create a buzz about it afterward.
  • Reference sell – If someone senior has seen beneficial results from strategy efforts, ask them to contact your reluctant thinkers, recommending they find time because it’s worth it.

Use these five approaches and the event planner techniques to get your foot in the door for more strategic thinking within your business. And to gain a better perspective on the advantage of thinking about even small business presentations as events, check out tomorrow’s post.

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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It’s early March, so spring HAS to be just around the corner (I HOPE!). Spring’s a time for new growth as farmers focus on the upcoming growing season, ensuring that they’re taking all the necessary steps to increase the yield from their efforts. So thinking about business opportunities that you need to grow and exploit, who better to delegate your creative thinking to than a farmer who is experienced at proven ways to grow and harvest successfully.

Remember, use the great growth techniques below that farmers use and generalize how you may be able to apply each of them in at least 3 ways to generate new creative ideas for growth in your opportunities.

  • Researches the best crop to plant for the land & environmental conditions
  • Prepares the soil
  • Plants the crops at the proper time
  • Waters the crops to stimulate initial growth
  • Fertilizes to ensure maximum growth
  • Protects the growing crops against insects and other adverse conditions
  • Buys crop insurance in case problems environmental problems develop
  • Harvests the crop when it’s ready
  • Follows market information on crop prices to know when and/or how to sell what’s harvested
  • Sells the harvested crops
  • Rotates crops periodically to keep the soil healthy

Happy growing with your new creative ideas; remember it’s less than a month until spring!

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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Part 3 of delegating relationship issues to advice columnists in the Change Your Character exercise, has them providing thoughts on improving challenging and strained relationships. For each piece of personal relationship fixing advice, brainstorm three ways you can apply the advice to mending problematic business relationships.

  • Own up to your responsibility. Don’t judge the other person.
  • Don’t procrastinate – start the reconciliation process right away & work on it daily.
  • Don’t be an idiot and do something you’ll regret later.
  • Call on a higher power for help.
  • Make your intentions clear to each other.
  • Communicate – ask questions, listen, and seek to understand what’s wrong in the relationship.
  • (Re)establish trust.
  • Suggest several solutions that address both parties’ needs.
  • Be prepared to renegotiate the relationship structure.
  • Be prepared for uncomfortable moments.
  • Give the other person the space they may need.
  • Keep busy – don’t veg out.
  • Set up a schedule to communicate.

Along with the previous posts on building and maintaining relationships, you should have a full complement of ideas that you can consider for strengthening business relationships!

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

 

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

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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In part 2 of using relationship advice columnists for the Change Your Character exercise, here are the recommendations they’d offer for strengthening & maintaining relationships. Once again, identify 3 ideas for each of these pieces of advice that can be applied to improving your customer relationships.
  • Be friends.
  • Make sure that there’s good chemistry.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Make sure rules and boundaries are understood.
  • Be willing and open to communication.
  • Listen carefully to each other.
  • Stay connected to each other.
  • Take a class or do other things together.
  • Do the simple things.
  • Celebrate each other.

Next Wednesday, the advice columnists will wrap up by helping fix some problem relationships.

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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Dear Abby & Ann Landers are no longer with us, but there are scads of other advice columns in print & electronic media to help people through relationship challenges. Since much of their advice for personal situations can be applied to business relationships, over the next several Wednesdays, we’ll let them do our work for us in the Change Your Character exercise.
This week, it’s brainstorming starters for building stronger relationships – generate at least 3 relationship building ideas for your business situation from each piece of advice:
  • Make the best possible first impression–be friendly & well dressed with a positive attitude.
  • Be yourself & pay attention to your instincts.
  • Spend time together to get to know each other.
  • Ask questions. Don’t just talk about yourself. Keep the conversation light.
  • Be attentive to the other person and don’t talk on your cell phone.
  • Be honest.
  • Go the extra mile to make the other person comfortable.
  • Thank the other person for spending time together.

So if you have some new business relationships to build, this should help you get some fresh ideas. And if you’ve got a first date lined up for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, you can also benefit. Just make sure that you don’t apply the ideas from the former situation to the latter – that would be a problem!

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

 

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

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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At the conference I presented at this weekend, we worked on the “Change Your Character” exercise for a customer service example. One suggestion was that an internal customer service rep is similar to a babysitter in that they both have to manage bosses (parents) and front line employees (kids).

Sounds close, so if your challenge is helping customer service providers improve their effectiveness, work through how a babysitter handles a new situation:

  • Shows she really likes kids & can get along with them
  • Demonstrates a professional attitude
  • Makes sure she has clear instructions from the parents
  • Establishes her role right away with the kids
  • Focuses on the kids
  • Has strong listening skills
  • Knows positive ways to help kids follow rules
  • Displays maturity in handling difficult situations
  • Acts with firmness, but understanding
  • Ensures that kids are fed and comfortable
  • Can be flexible when necessary

As always, try to generate 3 new ideas for your situation from each of the babysitter’s behaviors. And remember, my mother lets me stay up to watch Craig Ferguson all the time. She really does!

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

 

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

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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