Innovation | The Brainzooming Group - Part 4 – page 4
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We facilitated a follow-up innovation workshop for an industrial client. In previous workshops, a large group convened and re-imagined a manufacturing process to improve quality, while maintaining costs and production efficiency. A follow-up workshop moved four of the process improvement concepts into detailed project planning. The aim was creating a series of relatively quick experiments to test the feasibility of each concept.

Straight forward enough, it would seem.

The organization’s leader, however, struggled with one of the concepts. It was not big and bold enough. As the team began implementation, they seem to settle for incremental improvements. The leader wanted to see them broaden and expand the concept’s horizons.

They requested a follow-up innovation workshop to inspire bigger, further out thinking.

A Remedy from our eBook, 321 GO!

We brought two specific inspirations to the innovation workshop: extreme and analogy-based creative thinking exercises. Using these creative thinking exercises, we pushed them to forget (temporarily) what they have been doing and re-imagine the situation from different perspectives. That combo, along with a lot of conversation and drawing, identified six other concepts during the innovation workshop. They picked two to drill down on right now, with four other others in the hopper for later.

Most importantly, the client was happy with the progress and sees the right level of reach from the innovation project team.

There were plenty of take-away lessons for any of us to consider. Here are a few:

  • A leader’s “no” to innovation isn’t necessarily throttling new thinking. It may be that the new thinking isn’t big enough.
  • Where, and how far, you stand away from today has a significant impact on the size of ideas in an innovation workshop. Standing in extreme and analogous positions leads to bigger thinking.
  • An internal team, left to its own devices, can lack the capabilities to push their thinking. In those cases, stopping for an innovation workshop provides the impetus to advance thinking so the team can keep moving.

A client looking for more extreme ideas, finding the right inspiration triggers, and designing an innovation workshop to deliver bigger thinking. All in a day’s work for The Brainzooming Group!

If that sounds like something you need, contact us, and let’s discuss the possibilities.  – Mike Brown

5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!



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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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Suppose your organization is not going in the right direction. You and others on your senior management team are beginning to see that strategic reality. Still, you avoid the difficult conversation where you have to start reimagining the organization as something dramatically different.

How, if you are facing this situation, can you initiate a conversation with strategic thinking questions safe enough to raise the issue?

5 Strategic Thinking Questions to Start Reimagining the Organization

Rather than starting by pushing your management team all the way out to a wildly reimagined future, start with where you are now. Using today as a starting point, reimagine specific strategic aspects, one at a time, to initiate the conversation. Here are five “today” areas to reimagine in a future state:

Since each of these questions begins with a grounding in today, it can be an easier transition to start reimagining the future. At the same time, do not completely neglect stretch the senior management team into more blatantly disruptive thinking. You need to do both as part of reimagining who you are as an organization.

If you are a senior executive and are looking for ideas to facilitate this conversation among your peers, contact us. We can suggest more ways to dial in these strategic thinking questions for your organization’s specific opportunities and challenges. – Mike Brown

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic planning exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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 routinely ask those of you downloading Brainzooming strategy and innovation eBooks to share – if you are willing – the opportunities and challenges you are facing at the time.

I went back through recent responses from among readers who are on the blog most frequently. Here are their comments on opportunities and challenges, along with links to Brainzooming posts addressing the strategy and innovation situations they face:

People and Organizational Issues

“Buy in from staff on the new vision and the required change”

“Internal politics”

“Stickler to the old ways of doing things (and) not willing to get out of the comfort zone”

“Resistors and toxic manipulators”

“The matrixed nature of our vast organization”

Strategic Planning Process

“Helping train my team to be strategic thinkers and not just executors”

“Simplifying (strategy) process and engaging people to implement”

“Strategic planning in the past did not work, looking for other approaches”

“Infusing fun, creativity, and innovation into the planning process”

Innovation

“Out-of-the-box thinking to create disruption in the industry”

“Being innovative at a low cost”

Implementation

“Managing ideas and seeing them through to implementation”

Do you have questions on strategy and innovation that are vexing you?

Contact us, and let us know what they are!  – Mike Brown

5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!



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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The Brainzooming blog wasn’t originally focused on project management techniques. Successfully going from strategy to implementation, however, is critical to business success.

Creating a strong, innovative plan is only part of the strategy equation. Implementing innovation in organizations reluctant to embrace the changes needed to survive and grow requires what we’ve come to call “strategic project management.” These skills go well beyond a project manager checking off items on a to-do list.

Here are twenty-one articles organizing project management techniques we’ve been sharing with clients to help create needed changes in their organizations.

Project Management Techniques for Starting Strongly

Project Management Techniques – 6 Project Manager Mistakes to Not Repeat

Getting a project started right is lot easier when you’re not making early mistakes. These are six mistakes I’ve made on project management techniques so you don’t have to make them.

Implementation Problems? 7 Signs You’re Understarting, Not Overthinking

Strong project management technique requires both thinking and starting. One won’t work without the other.

Twenty-One Project Management Implications of Wanting Things FAST

When the pressure is on for completing a project fast, there are related implications an organization and a project manager have to contend with successfully.

Project Team Interactions

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are right and wrong ways for project team member communication to take place. There are also right and wrong times for how you communicate within your project team.

March Madness and What Outstanding Point Guards Bring to Business Teams

A strong project manager is the equivalent of a great basketball point guard on a project. An outstanding project manager is selfless, a leader, and has multi-dimensional talents to contribute to the project team.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (To Get the Stuff Done that I’m Waiting For)

There are many ways to prioritize what you do next. When you’re in the midst of a project, consider prioritizing based on what other project team members are depending on you to finish.

Change Management

Built for Discomfort – An Alternative Prioritization Strategy for Innovation

If your organization tends to select strategies and prioritize projects that are comfortable, here’s a way to more overtly push for change.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

The best approach to create change will differ based on expectations about the status quo and the demand for dramatically different results.

8 Change Management Lessons from Major Changes in the Mass Translation

Wide-scale change in a change-resistant organization provides a unique set of project management challenges and potential remedies to achieve the maximum beneficial impact.

Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps

Big changes are rarely “one and done” efforts. Prepare ahead of time for the ongoing reinforcement and change management techniques a project manager and project team will need to implement.

Project Management Technique Challenges

No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem

If your organization has a habit of failing to successfully implement new projects, here are thirteen problems to watch for and fix.

Checklists – Helping Visualize the Uncertain When Plans Fall Through

If a project isn’t going as planned, step back and make sure you have a checklist to guide your way back to normalcy and stronger performance in a hurry.

Dealing with Difficult People – 16 Articles on Help and Support for Prickly People

If you handle project management on enough projects, you’re going to wind up working with challenging people. If you can’t avoid them, at least be ready to successfully lead them (and the rest of the project team) to success.

Project Management – 7 Steps to Winning a Fuel Mileage Race Project

NASCAR teams are used to stretching one of their main resources (fuel) with creative, winning strategies. Smart project teams can learn and apply some of the principles NASCAR teams use for success with less.

Improving Decision Making

Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

It’s easy for certain personality types and organizations to take too long on decision making. In these seven situations, there’s no need to extend decision making time unnecessarily.

Making Decision Making Easier – She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

One factor that can slow decision making speed is too many available choices. Here is a low-tech, very direct way to narrow your decision options and move directly toward decision making.

Level 5 Decisions – Decision Making without Your Influence

One way to speed project-related decision making is when the senior person on the project delegates appropriate levels of decision making to team members and makes the delegation clear. Here’s a solid approach to make this happen.

Project Management Techniques for Finishing Successfully

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

When time is running down on a project, project management rules don’t necessarily change, but how you apply them can. These techniques can close out a project more successfully when timing is running down.

Convergent Thinking Week – A BDTP Perspective

When time is running down on a project you have approached with higher than expected standards, consider relaxing those standards. Getting done can definitely be more important than being perfect.

Project Management Tips – 8 Signs a Creative Project Is Done

While we often consider a project done when all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached, that’s not always the case with a creative project. A creative project could be done before all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached.

Strategies for Finishing a Project

Closing out a project the right way can set the stage for future success. A strong project closeout won’t simply happen by accident though. The closeout phase needs to be project managed, too.  – Mike Brown

5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!



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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Several people asked recently about questions to help identify innovative thinkers in sales. While we have done a bunch of strategic and creative thinking skills workshops for sales teams in the past several years, we have never put together a specific diagnostic on this topic.

When multiple people ask a question, though, it is time to do something about it!

10 Questions to Identify Innovative Thinking in Salespeople

Thinking about innovative sales people I have known, how we teach strategic and creative thinking skills to sales teams, and strategic thinking questions we use to spur new thinking, here are ten questions to identify innovative thinking in salespeople.

Targeting

These questions address focusing and prioritizing what matters for customers and the organization.

1. Why do people buy from us?

To innovate, you have to understand underlying motivations and needs. An innovative sales person will answer this question in a way that opens up many possibilities to imagine new ways to reach and delight customers.

2. Whom don’t we sell to?

Innovative thinkers are able to focus and deliver on great opportunities. That means having a sense of where the best opportunities ARE and ARE NOT going to be.

Working from an Innovative Thinking Platform

An innovative thinker needs a foundation and perspective from which to innovate.

3. How do you generalize what we do for customers in order to find innovative ways to address customer needs?

This one comes via my buddy, Joe Batista, the chief creatologist. Joe taught me the value of analyzing a potential customer relationship via generalized activities and value streams. If a salesperson employs a comparable approach to think about value, it is a great sign he or she is creating innovative solutions.

4. What customer benefits does your brand offer?

This is similar to the previous question in that it signals the ability to generalize in order to provide a launching pad for innovation. If you are selling based on benefits, it is easier to innovate and find new ways to deliver those benefits. (For more on this innovation strategy, download our Outside-In Innovation eBook!)

Employing Innovative Processes

These questions zero in on whether a salesperson uses a dependable process for innovative thinking and development.

5. What’s your process for discovering the underlying needs, wants, challenges, and aspirations a current or potential customer may have?

When it is for business, you cannot afford random innovation success. Innovative thinking in sales implies having a process to repeat what leads to results in many types of situations.

6. What are the most innovative approaches you have employed to create a customer solution?

An innovative thinker, no matter what field, should have stories readily available about past innovation successes. If not, that person is just an innovation poser. This question focuses on an innovative processes; the next one addresses innovative solutions.

7. What is the biggest customer solution you ever imagined, and did it come to fruition?

A quick and big answer to this one signals innovative thinking and a familiarity with extreme creativity. If the big idea came to fruition, it signals someone that can go from idea to implementation!

An Innovation Posse

While there are innovators that go it alone, an innovative salesperson needs to depend on others to imagine and create solutions.

8. Who inside your company thinks you are a pain for trying too many new or wild things to create ecstatic customers?

Innovative thinkers (and doers) in sales are going to rub people in the organization the wrong way because they are always pushing for new and better. Continual innovative thinking in sales will wear out people in the organization. An innovative salesperson understands that.

9.Who makes up your innovation team?

In my book, an innovative thinker in sales appreciates the importance of others helping bring innovative ideas to life. They know who those folks are, even if there is no formal reporting relationship, because they are going back to them frequently to make innovative things happen.

Motivation

You want salespeople focused on winning and success. You also want them open to what’s new.

10. Why do you enjoy selling?

If doing new things all the time doesn’t surface as part of the answer, you probably aren’t talking to a truly innovative thinker in sales.

Caution!

This list is definitely from the Brainzooming R&D lab. We haven’t tested this diagnostic at all, but it’s a solid starting place. If you wind up testing it before we do, let us know what you find! – Mike Brown

Develop a Successful Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business!
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBook

Download this free, concise Outside-In Innovation eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!
Download Your Free Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book



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 accelerating your innovation strategy high on your organization’s priority list for this year?

If growth is an important component of what you are trying to accomplish, innovation is likely getting a hard look as an important part of realizing that objective.

The Brainzooming Group has you covered, with eBooks to:

  • Evaluate innovation opportunities and challenges
  • Conquer change fears and resource limitations
  • Identify and develop innovation strategies with a customer perspective
  • Keep your personal innovation perspective sharp

If any of that sounds like what you have in front of you for this year, we invite you to peruse our list of free innovation strategy eBooks and download all of them that will help you be more efficient and effective in the year ahead.

5 Innovation Strategy eBooks from Brainzooming

The Ten Big NOs to InNOvating

The Brainzooming eBook The Ten Big NOs to InNOvating reveals ten common innovation strategy barriers your organization may be facing along with actionable ideas for overcoming them.

7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears

Assess whether your organization is displaying any of the seven typical innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies.

16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Use the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to help identify new possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jumpstart your innovation strategy.

Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools

This eBook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises for innovation The Brainzooming Group uses with clients to ideate, prioritize, and develop their best growth ideas.

Taking the NO Out of InNovation

This Brainzooming eBook helps take the “NO” out of InNOvation, addressing eight personal innovation perspectives along with sharing ideas for how to make sure you are as creative and innovative as possible.

Need More for Your Innovation Strategy?

If you want to go even deeper on innovation, contact us, and let’s talk about your specific needs and how we can help you address them to achieve your growth objectives for the year ahead. – 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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“Not all ideas are new. When you generate innovative ideas, make room for old ideas that have been around, but have never gotten a decent chance to advance.”

Occasionally, someone participating in a strategy workshop filled with innovative ideas will complain that a lot, or maybe all (REALLY? ALL?) the ideas already existed in the organization.

That used to bug the hell out of me whenever it would happen because we were there to generate new ideas. Lots of new ideas. GREAT NEW IDEAS.

Over time, I realized that we were really working with a client to develop winning business strategies.

Sometimes that includes coming up with new, innovative ideas. Other times it means giving old ideas a new day and putting solid tactics and strategic project management planning behind them to move them from ideas to implementation.

Now, when designing a strategy workshop, we often start with time for participants to share ideas they are already bringing with them at the start. This lets them get the ideas out there for others to consider so they can focus on other creative thinking. It also provides a check when someone says there were no innovative ideas. If that happens, we can compare the final ideas and strategies to see if they REALLY DID show up in the starting list of ideas. Typically, they aren’t present among the starting ideas!

Whether an innovative idea is old or new is less relevant than moving innovative ideas into winning business strategies.

If that’s what’s ahead for you this year, let’s talk about working together to make it happen! 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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