3

Cup-SizesWe’re constantly tweaking Brainzooming creative thinking exercises. Our objective is learning what works better or differently in new situations.

Recently, we have been experimenting with how different questions stretch creative thinking to varying degrees.

We have always had expectations for how “big” the ideas will be from different types of creative thinking exercises. Now, we have been consciously mixing and matching questions from multiple idea “size categories” within individual creative thinking exercises.

One learning is we can definitely categorize creative thinking exercises based on idea sizes: Small, Medium, Large, or Extra Large. 

Creative Thinking Exercises in S, M, L, and XL Creative Idea Sizes

In light of that, here are a variety of previous Brainzooming questions and creative thinking exercises arranged by idea size. Click through all the links, and you have access to one hundred forty-four creative thinking questions to apply as you most need them!

Small Ideas

Medium Ideas

Large Ideas

Extra Large Ideas

Be sure to bookmark this list, and the next time you’re only hungry for an idea snack OR you really want to SUPER SIZE your ideas, you know where to go! – 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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2

Firefighter-StrategyHave you been waiting for your organization to really be strategic instead of continually fighting fires?

If so, this story is for you.

Near the start of any presentation, I ask the audience for their expectations during our time together.

One participant at a Creating Strategic Impact workshop for an organization responded to the question with a challenge on how I would customize the content to his organization’s unique situation.

Fair question.

I spent several minutes of the limited time with the group explaining the multiple steps we had taken to tailor the content specifically for his organization. Based on his body language, the answer satisfied him that they wouldn’t be hearing a canned presentation (which mine never are, btw).

How to Start Creating Strategic Impact

At the workshop’s conclusion, this participant was among the first to come forward. He asked a really important question:

“What does it take to get organizations, particularly those outside the for-profit sector, to fundamentally embrace a strategic perspective and begin operating differently than they have?”

My answer was to just START. Today. Or tomorrow at the latest.

I followed with several ideas to get people thinking strategically without them even realizing what was happening.

He responded by saying he was asking specifically about what it takes to force strategic changes at the senior-most levels of an organization such as his.

Given the complexity of the question’s answer and the rush to clear the room so the next presenter could begin, I didn’t get to answer his bigger question.

My answer to his BIGGER question would have been to just start. Today. Or tomorrow at the latest.

Just Start!

Many people want to wait around for strategic changes to happen at the top. The best way to capitalize on change when it does happen, however, is to have prepared YOURSELF and the people YOU can realistically influence to improve their orientations toward creating strategic impact.

While you may not be able to set the overall strategic agenda for your organization, you can find ways to shape strategy in your own little corner of the world.

That can start with small things done repeatedly and consistently to demonstrate you both understand the bigger picture and can take action to bring it about within your sphere of influence.

Creating Strategic Impact Wherever You Can

Some people get off on big picture speculation about what senior leaders are thinking, expecting, and doing.

Yet, at some point, it’s up to YOU to start crating a change.

OR if you aren’t up for that, you need to quit worrying about it. Or perhaps you need to move on to another organization. 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

Group-DecisionsSomeone asked during a recent strategic thinking workshop asked about the optimum size for a brainstorming group.

He was specifically interested in what size of group would maximize the creative thinking and number of new ideas from participants.

Similar to the post about the math behind brainstorming new product ideas, we use a loose formula to figure out how big a creative thinking group should be.

What’s the Right Size for a Brainstorming Group?

In any brainstorming group we try to account for:

Put all these together, and the right size for a brainstorming group usually winds up between two or three people on the low side and eight to ten people on the high side.

The lower number works when participants are especially diverse and individually adept at multiple strategic thinking perspectives. The high side number usually comes into play when having a group any larger creates situations where too many people are listening to one person at a time come up with ideas.

One exception to the upper end number is if you are using an exercise where multiple people can actively share ideas simultaneously (as our online collaboration platforms allows participants to do). In those cases, we can have many more people brainstorming simultaneously on a topic.

If there are more than eight to ten people, that’s when we start managing the group size through smaller groups. These groups can be working on identical or related parts of an exercise simultaneously.

Creative Thinking Is the the Solution

Ultimately, we design a Brainzooming creative thinking session to balance between maximizing each individual’s time to contribute ideas with the opportunity to hear other people sharing ideas as an additional source of creative thinking inspiration.

Having written it all out, this sounds like it may be a differential equation-type question. Since I stopped pursuing a math minor in the midst of differential equations class, this loose multi-equation approach is as complicated as we get with this brainstorming math! Mike Brown

 

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2

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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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

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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