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imageA prospective client asked about the brainstorming dynamics we address to generate a large volume of new ideas and concepts to replenish a new product pipeline.

My short answer was, “It’s all in the math.”

While that’s the short answer, it’s also the answer at the heart of designing a Brainzooming creative thinking session so it generates many new ideas.

The Math of Brainstorming and New Ideas

As we identify a client’s objectives and desired outcomes, it comes down to the math of how much creative thinking productivity we need from a group to generate the desired volume of new ideas. Among the variables we evaluate are:

  • The number of diverse participants
  • How much time we have for creative thinking
  • The inherent productivity of various creative thinking exercises
  • How many people will be able to share new ideas simultaneously

When you start putting numbers to those variables, you quickly get a sense of how many new ideas a brainstorming session will yield.

Turning Creative Thinking into Ideas

Once the math is done, that’s when the real work starts of actually arranging, designing, and structuring the Brainzooming creative thinking exercises to bring the math to life!

So how many new ideas do you need? We’d be happy to do the math AND turn it into actual ideas! Just call or email to get started! – 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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5

Fake-Book-BoundDuring a recent “Creating Strategic Impact” workshop, I had the attendees (who were all from one company) form smaller groups to identify potential disruptive competitive threats in their technology industry.

Talking in advance with the client organization’s president, he said his people might struggle with this strategic thinking exercise since they hadn’t previously addressed competitive threats this way.

The One Strategic Truth You Must Never Forget

One group had a participant who quickly completed the first part of the strategic thinking exercise, listing three clear customer benefits his company delivered.

But then instead of identifying companies who might offer any one of those benefits individually, he put a big, bold imaginary circle around those three customer benefits. This quickly dead-ended the strategic thinking exercise as he claimed NO competitor could come to the market with all those benefits. As a result, he reaffirmed his belief that his company had few, if any, disruptive competitive threats.

The other participants in his small group perceived the flaw and tried to help him see the error in his perspective. I too tried to redirect him, pointing out that truly disruptive competitive threats targeting his company weren’t  going to show up nice bows around all three benefits his company delivered.

In fact, very real disruptive competitive threats might appear offering only ONE of those benefits, with little concern for the other two. This new disruptive force would win business with a different approach, different strategies, and different perceptions about what is important to my client’s customers.

Because it was a workshop format, there was no opportunity to spend any more time with this individual to see if he was finally persuaded about competitive threats or not. But whether he was or wasn’t, I suspect many of us, even though we know better, fall into the same trap.

Disruptive Competitive Threats

Let’s state it again so we can all be clear: the disruptive force in your industry isn’t going to show up looking like your brand and offering the same complete set of benefits.

The disruptive force may have only a vague resemblance to your brand and what you do, and win business because it sees the rules of competition and success very differently than your brand does.

That’s why so many companies who TRY reinventing themselves and staying successful fail. They have WAY TOO MUCH invested in every part of their status quo (and likely antiquated) views of the world. Unwilling to blow themselves up because they have too big a stake in what has existed for a long time and persists to today, some other brand with an insightful view of tomorrow is more than happy to do the work for them.

Think about it this way: No matter how much you might hope it might be different, you can’t have archaic and eat it too. Mike Brown

 

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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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2

Do you ever need to explore and describe a new product idea?

Opposite-ExpectationsIf so, here’s a productive twist on a new product ideation strategic thinking exercise we used just this past week that you can use too.

Having limited time with a current client who is exploring a new product idea within a joint venture, we had to cover both the basics of the product definition and some more extreme ideas all at one time.

The answer was to combo up a strategic thinking exercise focused on new product idea basics with another one using extreme creativity questions.

New Product Idea Basics and Extremes in 30 Minutes

This is a worksheet adaptation of the strategic thinking poster we used to create a big head start on new product idea possibilities in less than 30 minutes. We first asked all the basic new product ideation questions followed by the extreme questions. Each question received about 3 to 4 minutes of attention before moving on to the next one.

Brainzooming-New-Prod

Strategic Thinking Exercise with Extreme Creativity

Within the few questions in this strategic thinking exercise, we covered a lot of territory. Additionally, incorporating the extreme creativity questions with the new product ideation basics introduced an intriguing dimension for even an already creative group.

Once we started asking the extreme creativity questions, it was as if the group went, “Oh, you want us to go THAT far. Okay, I’ll go there!” Those questions definitely brought out distinctly different and bolder ideas than the basic questions generated.

Go ahead and have a go with this strategic thinking exercise worksheet, and be sure to let us know how it expands your new product ideas. – 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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1

Some Dilbert comic strips are hilarious because they are so accurate. Other Dilbert comic strips are sad and pathetic because you suspect they are too accurate.

This Dilbert comic strip is in the latter category.

If this is how things go at your workplace in the way management tries to surface new ideas and judge whether new ideas are great ideas, you have my sympathies. And if this IS like where you work, the seething resentment created by doing all of that in such a ham handed way will seem way too familiar.

Trying to Come Up with New Ideas in a Bad Place

Dilbert.com

4 Ways Better than Dilbert to Come Up with New Ideas

stickman-drawingIf nothing else, this Dilbert comic provides an opportunity to highlight potential remedies in case any of these behaviors DO seem too much like your work place.

And since I don’t want to leave you in a creatively bad place, here’s a fun feature to lighten everything up – go draw a stickmanMike 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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3

Random inputs can fuel creative thinking and produce a variety of new ideas.

Brainzooming Makes More and Faster Strategic ConnectionsI’m a bigger fan, however, of using strategic connections to trigger new ideas.  

Suppose you are looking for innovative ideas, approaches, and strategies to address your current situation. Beyond random creative thinking, there is tremendous creative thinking power from generalizing your situation in such a way that you can identify comparable situations connected to yours in fundamental, strategic ways. 

Armed with these strategic connections, rich possibilities for creative thinking can begin through identifying new ideas from the strategic connection that can apply (perhaps with modifications) to your situation.

Ideas for Finding Strategic Connections

How can you efficiently and effectively go about finding as many strategic connections as possible you can use?

Try working through these twelve creative thinking triggers. They will help generalize your current situation, prompt creative thinking, and suggest fruitful strategic connections.

Simply use the question format below. Insert each creative thinking prompt into the first blank. Then brainstorm as many possible ideas to complete the second blank as possible.

My situation _______________ like _______________ ?

  • Acts
  • Sounds
  • Thinks
  • Looks
  • Turns into something
  • Behaves
  • Creates an impact
  • Serves customers
  • Feels
  • Moves
  • Communicates things
  • Is trying to accomplish something

On your first pass, don’t worry about HOW closely each potential strategic connection fits your situation. After you’ve generated a healthy list of potential strategic connections, you can refine and narrow the list to those that have the best possibilities for stimulating further strategic thinking.

What creative thinking triggers do you use?

This list was my first shot at identifying the creative thinking triggers I seem to use most often.

What other creative thinking triggers can you come up with to expand this list and lead to more robust strategic connections? – 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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3

New-Product-SessionThere was a time back in the corporate world when our company brought in a big-time business book author to explore strategic initiatives and new product development brainstorming with employee teams selected from throughout the organization. 

The book author’s partner in crime designed the methodology for teams to document and advance initiatives. The partner was a rocket scientist, with all the baggage that career background implied.

Everything about the process was as complicated as rocket science, and as with so many consultant-envisioned strategic planning and product development processes hoping to speed things up, everything other than the consultant’s billable hours were compromised in the interests of speed.

The consultant’s ill-defined process, however, had to be completed at every step.

How The Brainzooming Group Approaches New Product Development Differently

The Brainzooming Group approaches things fundamentally differently. I was explaining this to a prospective client while discussing early stage work for brainstorming ideas for new product development. The potential client is a leader in a business-to-business product market. It also uses its products to provide related services for other companies.

When The Brainzooming Group designs new product development brainstorming sessions we:

  • Start by identifying the desired new product development outcomes and designing the session around delivering those outcomes
  • Eliminate process steps that don’t add any real value or new product ideas
  • Create interactive strategic thinking exercises that directly use the client’s business objectives to generate new product ideas

Instead of using standard tools and exercises to identify off-the-mark new product development ideas, we design a new product development innovation session’s foundation around fundamental business strategy and objectives.

Brainstorming Ideas Grounded in Business Strategy

The difference in using The Brainzooming Group approach is we deliver more targeted new product development ideas to address a client’s business strategy and objectives. Clients enjoy the advantages of getting to “Fire” quickly, but without having to postpone the all-important “Aim” step until later.

Sound good?

Give me a call, and let’s work together brainstorming ideas where you will see the successful difference for your organization and your new product development effort. – 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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2

Extreme-CreativitySuppose you have an opposite strategic situation relative to the one described in yesterday’s article: you have too many extreme ideas you need to determine how to implement.

In cases where you have more extreme creativity than you can begin to implement, you want to be able to turn a really big creative idea into something that can actually move forward.

If you’re trying to create strategic impact, you don’t want to have to abandon a big creative idea because of failing to figure out how to turn it into something you can make happen.

5 Creative Thinking Questions to Harness Extreme Creativity

If you’re facing this issue, try these five questions to re-shape and re-shift extreme ideas back to reality:

  1. If it’s too big or risky to do, how can you break off a small piece and pursue that?
  2. If it’s too dangerous to do, how can you take away the least amount of danger while keeping as much extreme as possible?
  3. If it’s too ridiculous to do, how can you make it just realistic enough to get started implementing it?
  4. If it’s too radical, how can you make it seem not as overtly threatening?
  5. If it goes off in the wrong direction, how can you take a seed of the idea and nurture it so it develops in a valuable way?

Having worked for several creative geniuses during my career, these types of questions were de rigueur for turning their extreme creativity into reality. – 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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