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What are your expectations from a creative thinking workshop?

That is the first question I ask the audience at a Brainzooming creative thinking workshop. While I have a rich array of content planned, audience member expectations shape the points I emphasize and lead to including other unplanned content.

7 Expectations from Creative Thinking Workshop Training

Preparing for a creative thinking workshop this week, I looked back at a recent workshop to review the expectations participants shared. The expectations are a good representation of issues, from personal creativity to organizational strategy, important to getting things accomplished in a large company.

creative-thinking-workshop

How do you move an organization and its strategy from reactive to proactive?

On a personal basis, certain strategic leadership basics are a good place to start adjusting your attitude and growth as a strategic leader. Organizationally, a change management assessment we use identifies the types of change challenge an organization faces, along with ideas for approaching them successfully.

What are techniques to look at problems in new ways?

We offer a wide variety of strategic thinking exercises to change perspectives and look at day-to-day and longer-term problems in novel ways. At that workshop, we concentrated on the “What’s It Like?” strategic thinking exercise as a flexible tool suitable for many situations.

How do you build a team to move forward in a new direction?

We recommend assembling a diverse team with members filling specific important strategic perspectives. You can add to the core group with three distinct voices that include traditional leaders, emerging voices, and those challenging the status quo.

How do you motivate others – and yourself – to engage in greater creative thinking?

It may seem easy to stay stuck in the status quo. But for as easy it is to not change, you can’t stop all the change going on around you. We recommend inviting people to participate in creative thinking through using idea magnet behaviors. Idea magnets excite and propel others to tackle challenging creative tasks. Leaders also need to cultivate an atmosphere where people understand it’s okay to imagine and try ideas that won’t be successful right away, if ever.

How do you choose specific creative thinking ideas your team develops?

Ideas are a numbers game. It takes many ideas to uncover the most creative possibilities. Our experience suggests that as few as 8% to as many as 20% of ideas in a creative thinking workshop are viable candidates to move ahead right away. Involve a team in narrowing ideas by letting them select up to 20% of the initial ideas consideration. Then use a four-box grid to let team members express their initial views on the value of potential ideas, while group discussion helps decide which ideas advance.

What’s the life cycle of creative ideas?

The cycle to get from few ideas to many ideas to the best few ideas may happen multiple times during one initiative or plan. You, as a creative leader, need to be on the lookout for when it’ s time to move between divergent to convergent thinking and back again.

How do you communicate new strategies to those that are less open to change?

Personally, you can ask open, neutral, and lean questions of people reluctant to change in order to better understand their concerns. Invite them to play a challenger role in constructively helping to vet new thinking. For setting an overall strategy to handle change fears, download our innovation fears eBook offers seven possible strategies to consider.

Creative Thinking Is a Broad Topic

These questions suggest how a creative thinking workshop can cover a wide range of techniques and tips.

If your team would benefit from honing its creative thinking skills, it’s a great time to schedule a Brainzooming workshop before you dive into planning for next year! Contact us to get your workshop booked today!  – 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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One way to deal with a common innovation strategy barrier – fear of change and new ideas – is to disguise new ideas as your team develops and implements them.

Yes, you got that right.

If your organization or other important audiences that will feel the impact of your new ideas truly fear change, it may be best to make your ideas appear less new, less frightening, and less like change than they might normally seem.

Innovation-Strategy-Disguise

Innovation Strategy in Disguise

For a quick innovation strategy inspiration along these lines, this video is an example of doing something that doesn’t fit, but making it seems as if it does.

An Innovator’s Prayer for Humility

As an innovation leader, pursuing an innovation strategy in disguise requires a different perspective. Thinking further about the leadership qualities it takes to successfully engage an innovation strategy in disguise reminded me of a litany of humility I read frequently. It seeks help relinquishing our desires for the things most of us want.

Using the litany of humility as an inspiration, here is an Innovator’s Prayer for Humility to gain the perspectives to make successful change happen without seeking the notoriety and credit for it.

  1. Give us the purity of motive that the new ideas and innovations we want to pursue are truly for the benefit of customers and the organization.
  2. Give us the ability to identify the people and resources we will need to create change.
  3. Reduce our need for credit for generating new ideas and moving them forward.
  4. Reduce our need for overt direction so we can imagine and improvise the needed changes without asking for permission or guidance.
  5. Give us the energy to work early and late hours when fewer people are liable to pay attention to our efforts.
  6. Reduce our organizational visibility to allow us to make progress without calling unnecessary attention to our work.
  7. Give us the foresight to move forward with needed changes that take a long time to implement because we are innovating unconventionally.
  8. Increase our skills in innovating through trial and error, real-time learning, and integrating our tough lessons into future success.
  9. Increase the opportunity for others to see the innovation as their own in order to take credit for and support its success.
  10. Give us patience to wait without comment if people never notice new ideas as their own.
  11. Reduce our need to call attention to and seek credit for the innovation our team accomplished.
  12. Give us a sense of personal consolation if people never notice that new ideas have changed things.

You may think this innovation strategy is nuts. Trust me though: it can work.

Sometimes the only way to make positive change happen is to make it happen WITHOUT calling attention to what you are doing. While we have done this successfully as an innovation strategy, it takes a different mindset to do it with honest motives and a willingness to abandon your need for others celebrating you for innovating once it is successful.

Call this a prayer or call it a checklist for an innovation strategy in disguise. Either way, if you are trying to hide innovation to be able to innovate, these are twelve things to pave the way for it happening!

Are you encountering innovation barriers in your organization? Here is help!

Innovation-Strategy-eBooks

If you are facing innovation barriers in your organization relative to the fear of change, scarce resources, limited perspectives, an overly-internal focus, or other innovation challenges, we have free Brainzooming eBooks available to help navigate around barriers to boost innovation! – Mike Brown

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

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations innovate successfully by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation 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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When do you start thinking about your organization’s strategic planning process? Have you started thinking about it yet for next year?

Strategic-Planning-process

In the corporate world, I used to start planning for planning in April.

Seriously, we started in April, laying out how we’d approach everything so that by the time we engaged the rest of the organization in mid-summer we had everything ready to go.

Spending that much time planning was a luxury when the strategic planning process suddenly became important to our company. That’s one way of saying, don’t freak out if you have responsibility for directing strategic planning and haven’t started thinking about it yet.

Jump start Your Strategic Planning Process

If you are playing a role in shaping your organization’s strategic planning process for next year, it IS probably a good time to start asking these 12 questions, just to make sure you’ve played through all the variables you can manage to deliver great results for the coming year:

Process Questions

  • Do we have strategic insights in place from last year’s strategic planning process?
  • How aggressively do we need to update them for this year?
  • What worked and didn’t work about the last round of planning?
  • What do we need to change about the upcoming strategic planning process to make it more effective and efficient?
  • What’s the minimal amount of plan documentation we need to do to align everyone toward the company priorities?

People Questions

  • Who should be on our core planning team?
  • Do we have representation from all the vital parts of the organization?

Timing Questions

  • How long does it typically take us to get a plan put together?
  • What are our options for shortening the amount of time this year?
  • Are there short cuts we can take that won’t compromise the strategic impact?
  • How much time are people able to invest in strategic planning this year?
  • Will that amount of time increase or decrease as we get further into the fall and end of year?

Take a run at those questions and see where you stand for your next round of strategic planning.

If you need help to speed up the process, actively involve more employees, or make planning more productive than it has been in the past, contact us.

That’s something we’re making happen across industries! – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Involving Employees In Your Strategy

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy that turns into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog 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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Have you ever taken a moment to consider what gets in the way of your company fully embracing business innovation?

Do you suppose it is fear of change?

Cat-Eyes

We were leading a creative thinking workshop for a subsidiary of a German-owned, privately-held company. One of the executives (who was a fantastic participant and brought a double dose of creativity to any group in which he was in) said at one point, “All I can hear are the ‘rules’ and the ‘nos’ with every new idea!”

Whoa! What is that all about?

It is about an organization’s leaders being comfortable with whatever is in front of them and being fearful of the uncertainty of business innovation.

Business innovation is a numbers game. That means there are going to be misses. And failures. Maybe spectacular failures.

If you are smart in how the organization is pursuing its innovation strategy, however, there are going to be wins along the way. It just may not always be possible to know ahead of time with certainty what the big wins are going to be.

7 Strategies for Conquering Business Innovation Fears

Cover-Image

If your organization is routinely coming up against fears of change that slow (or undermine) innovation, the new Brainzooming eBook is for you. 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears looks at typical fears and offers solid ideas for how to best mitigate them to push forward with new ideas.

This eBook is the latest in a series of eBooks we’re releasing on successfully tackling business innovation barriers.

Download your copy of 7 Strategies for Conquering Business Innovation Fears today, and start devising your strategy to put fear in its place! – Mike Brown

 

Conquer Fears of Business Innovation!

FREE Download: “7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears”

3d-Cover-Innovation-FearsWhether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for innovation involving any significant level of risk.

This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:

  • Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
  • When it is smart to call attention to even bigger fears to motivate progress
  • Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground

Download your FREE copy of 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears today!

Download Your FREE eBook! 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization's Innovation Fears

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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Facing a major goal when seems you have is too few resources CAN BE an incredible inspiration for your organization’s innovation strategy.

I worked with a CMO who would revel in difficult situations where it seemed we had too few resources, negligible support, and slight chances of success. As he’d always remind us, when you have almost no support, you have almost nothing to lose. Because of this, he saw difficult and resource-scarce times as the BEST opportunity for creativity and moving ahead with a bold innovation strategy.

Too Few Resources Can Create Opportunities to Innovate?

That idea sounds ridiculous on the surface, especially if you have plenty of money and support to bring your new innovation strategy to life.

Yet in situations where we had far fewer resources than necessary, we would step up our innovation game with extreme creativity and more ingenious ways to bring big ideas to life.

Based on these experiences, coming up with many possibilities to get things done in novel ways became second nature!

16 Ways to Find New Innovation Resources

Ultimately, exploring many paths for non-traditional resources became a standard procedure. It was so routine, in fact, I developed a battery of questions we could use when launching any project to identify a potential pool of resources to tap. These strategic thinking questions pushed our thinking on potential internal and external partners, strategy changes, places to borrow short cut ideas, and new outreaches for support.

The point behind all the questions was finding ways to accelerate our ability to innovate, turning more ideas into reality to move our business ahead.

We’ve compiled the questions into an eBook called, “Accelerate – 16 Keys to Finding Resources for Your Innovation Strategy,” and you can get your own copy here.

Whether you use the questions individually or with your team, you’ll discover ample new options to work around resource limitations standing in the way of your innovation strategy’s progress! – Mike Brown

 

Find New Resources to Innovate!

NEW 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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Is your organization struggling to deliver on the innovation expectations you have for it?

From our experience at The Brainzooming Group and ongoing research, there are ten common innovation barriers blocking new idea and implementation across organizations. Only a couple of these barriers existing in a culture can block even modest expectations for implementing new ideas.

There is good news, however: none of the innovation barriers is insurmountable.

Understanding which challenges you’re facing is vital. That insight drives the smart change management steps needed to navigate each innovation challenge.

10 Innovation Barriers Lurking in Your Organization

We group innovation barriers based on their ties to strategy, process, and people issues.

Innovation-Strategy

Strategy Barriers

  • Lacking an overarching direction
  • Loving the status quo too much
  • Managing with an exclusively short-term focus
  • Using ineffective metrics

Process Barriers

  • Ignoring the need for a structured process
  • Struggling with core capabilities
  • Lacking sufficient resources
  • Operating with a history of unsuccessful innovation implementation

People Barriers

  • Failing to recognize innovative talent
  • Not motivating the team to take risks and innovate

Tackling Innovation Barriers

We use a diagnostic with senior leadership teams that ties to the ten innovation barriers.

Innovation-Room

The first step in the brief strategic thinking exercise has individual leaders assess the presence of the organization’s roadblocks. After leadership team members complete individual assessments,  we collect and analyze the responses as input for a strategic conversation among senior leaders. In that conversation, we:

  • Acknowledge areas of agreement on the presence or absence of specific barriers
  • Discuss reasons where there are different perceptions on innovation barriers
  • Identify, based on the overall scores, whether significant barriers are tied to strategy, process, or people issues

Is Your Organization Struggling with Innovation?

Are you trying to push for new ideas and innovation in your organization, but not finding success?

You need to download our free eBook, “The Ten Big Nos to InNOvating.” It highlights each of the ten innovation barriers and includes the diagnostic we use.

If you want to go deeper in jump starting an innovation strategy, contact us. Let’s talk about the best options to engage your employees for input and innovation!

Are you ready to boost innovation in a high-impact way?

New-10Barriers-Cover-BurstDo you need a quick evaluation to understand your organization’s innovation challenges so you can create a strategy to boost new ideas and successful implementation?

Download “The Ten Big Nos to InNOvating – Identifying the Barriers to Successful Business Innovation.”

This free Brainzooming eBook highlights ten common organizational innovation barriers. A one-page evaluation sets the stage to quickly self-diagnose where to focus your organization’s efforts in customizing a successful innovation initiative.

Download Your FREE eBook! 10 Big NOs to Innovating in Organizations

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 were on a call with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting.

7 Important Creative Thinking Skills

7-creative-thinking-skills

Infographic by and courtesy of Diane Bleck – DoodleInstitute.com

These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:

1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another person’s concept.

It’s helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another person’s idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well.

2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else.

When it comes to your own ideas, it’s easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: don’t become somebody known for doing this!

3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea.

Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.

4. Letting someone else take “ownership” of your idea in order to build support for it.

This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea you’re willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it.

5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree.

It’s tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective – and can do it more appropriately than you can.

6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense.

There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea you’re advocating is on the mark strategically.

7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you.

Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, it’s in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didn’t see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.

How are you doing on these 7 creative thinking skills? How about your team?  – Mike Brown

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

 

Find New Resources to Innovate!

NEW 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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