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There are multiple types of people I love, including :

  • Underdogs
  • Those that patiently build success by deliberately following a plan
  • People that display unwavering loyalty
  • A leader willing to a make decision not in his or her own best interests because it’s the right thing to do
  • Those that prize honesty, openness, and vulnerability over gamesmanship, manipulation, and never failing to exploit any advantage

I don’t know how correlated all of those characteristics are with people that have successful strategic relationships.

An article in The Kansas City Star about Dayton Moore, the general manager of the Kansas City Royals, however, suggests all of these characteristics intersect in how Moore has rebuilt the Royals and created a positive organizational culture.

Strategic-Relationships-Day

If I were to attempt to summarize the great lessons about strategic relationships in the article here, I would wind up repeating all the quotes from Dayton Moore and those speaking about how he does business.

So if you want to learn rich, meaningful lessons in the right way to approach strategic relationships, read the article by Vahe Gregorian from Sunday’s Kansas City Star.

For any of our readers that try to cultivate strong strategic relationships and the personal characteristics listed above, it will be well worth your time to leave this article right now and go read up on how Dayton Moore does business. Even if you AREN’T a baseball or Kansas City Royals fan!

Trust me! – Mike Brown

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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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I retweeted a Brainzooming article on seven reasons to ask for forgiveness, not permission in launching a new strategy. Tara Rethore, CEO of M. Beacon Enterprises, a strategy development and execution consulting firm, replied that there needed to be a post on the seven best reasons to be forgiven, instead.  It didn’t take long to jump on the offer and suggest that Tara guest write that article for us!

Innovation-Strategy-Tweet

Tara (@TRethore on Twitter), works with organizations and leaders to develop realistic business strategies and to break them down into the key actions that allow them to succeed. She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and an AB cum laude from Mount Holyoke College. Tara also comments on business strategy, execution, and results in Strategy for real™.

Here are Tara’s seven reasons why leaders should grant forgiveness, not enforce permission when it comes to innovation strategy:

Innovation Strategy – 7 Reasons to Grant Forgiveness, Not Enforce Permission by Tara Rethore

Tara-Rethore-Innovation-StrategyIs it better to ask for forgiveness after (not permission before) launching a new direction or innovation strategy? That question is targeted at employees or staff.

In our strategy work, we’ve found that reframing the question can be a powerful tool for executing strategy.

So, what if you’re the boss?

If you grant forgiveness, what’s in it for you?

7 Reasons to Grant Forgiveness, Not Enforce Permission on Your Innovation Strategy

Here are seven reasons – in order of increasing importance and impact – to grant forgiveness and spur innovation:

7. You are allowing, or perhaps creating, space for insight.

6. It encourages creativity and initiative, critical sparks for innovation.

5. The potential reward surpasses the risk – or the risk is being sufficiently managed to avoid catastrophe.

4. The initiative is bringing people together in a new way and for a common purpose that could benefit the organization.

3. The freedom to experiment – and permission to fail – is a great way to build a “test and learn” culture.

2. The idea or approach is sparking new ideas, or another direction that make even more sense.

And the #1, best reason to grant forgiveness: It’s working!

Innovation often comes from insight, mistakes, or accident. So the next time someone starts without permission, then begs your forgiveness, consider whether she/he also sparked something awesome! – Tara Rethore

 

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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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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We’re big proponents of the value of bringing together a diverse group of people with varied creative thinking skills for strategic planning workshops within organizations and communities.

We’re only proponents, however, when there are specific reasons and benefits from the time, effort, and investment to bring a group together in person. Often, however, executives jump too quickly to flying everyone into one place for a big strategic planning meeting. Without defined objectives and the proper timing, however, a big in-person meeting can be a huge waste for everyone.

When discussing a strategic planning or innovation strategy engagement with a client, we use the graphic below to design our recommended approach. We use multiple ways to gather input to ensure that by the time we bring a bigger group together for an in-person visioning workshop we’ve fully exploited more efficient, lower-risk, lower-investment formats to engage participants and solicit input for strategic planning.

Brainzooming-Meeting-Format

We’re increasingly incorporating online collaboration workshops (which we call Zoomferences) to do more of the work typically done through in-person visioning workshops. Sometimes they proceed an in-person strategy planning meeting, but not always. Sometimes we use online collaboration within an in-person strategic planning workshop. There really are all kinds of possibilities.

What’s great about mixing both in-person and online workshops is they allow us to efficiently create white space, i.e. time between coming up with ideas and working with ideas to allow for better organizing, categorizing, and analyzing them. These are all tough to do when you have a group of executives all together; these activities take time. And when you’re limited to having the group all together only for a day, it’s time you can’t usually afford to waste.

3 Ways Online Collaboration Works to Deliver Big Benefits

Here are three ways we’ve used online collaboration workshops to create white space and efficiently incorporate employee creative thinking skills:

Using Zoomferences for an Entire Strategic Planning Process

We completed a transportation company’s entire strategic planning process via four 90-minute Zoomferences over a couple of weeks. Participants were in multiple places and varied for each Zoomference; that made it inefficient to bring everyone together. As we told the CEO that hired The Brainzooming Group, he saved the entire Zoomference investment by eliminating travel and lodging for participants!

Addressing Project Planning with a Zoomference

Working with five separate groups for an industrial manufacturer changing a major manufacturing process, we identified more than six hundred tactics for the multi-year initiative during a two-day in-person workshop. After documenting the tactics, we used a Zoomference so the primary project team could efficiently and collaboratively identify timing for the six-hundred tactics in less than four hours – all online.

Having Sales Leaders Vet and Expand Ideas

We created a fast-paced half-day in-person workshop for a small group of sales and marketing leaders at an animal pharma company. They developed a sales strategy and associated messaging for the upcoming year. Afterward, we used a Zoomference to introduce strategies to its top-performing sales people. They provided input on the biggest impact ideas and how to enrich other strategies through additional creative thinking exercises.

Discover How Online Collaboration Boosts Progress

In each of these casec, Zoomferences provided greater efficiency and participation than could have ever been accomplished using offline techniques or getting everyone in the same room.

Do you see something here that could help develop or shape your strategy and project planning implementation?

Contact us at 816-509-5320 or email at info@brainzooming.com, and let’s get a Zoomference going for your organization!

 Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Improve Strategic Results

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 strategic planning and then turn it 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

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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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Many people visit the Brainzooming website looking for ideas on making strategic planning fun. As I always say, those searches are no surprise. I’m a strategic planning guy, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning the way it is typically handled for groups.

Part of making strategic planning fun involves fun exercises, which we continue to create and share here.

A big part of making strategic planning fun, however, involves focusing on boring details that create a fun* experience.

And the asterisk on fun acknowledges we’re stretching the definition of fun to cover things nerdy strategic planners think are fun such as “mental stimulation,” “highly collaborative groups,” and “people that want to be involved in strategic planning the next time it happens.”

11 Boring Details for Making Strategic Planning Fun*

Strategic-Planning-Fun

In any event, here are 11 boring details that lead to strategic planning-grade fun!

  1. Getting as much homework and other stuff involving individual work done before the strategic planning workshop so everyone isn’t waiting around for one person to share information
  2. Making sure the meeting room isn’t cramped and uncomfortable
  3. Having enough food and drinks throughout the day to help stay energized
  4. Providing structure that takes participants off the hook for starting strategic planning from scratch
  5. Letting everyone know upfront that WE will handle turning the input into a strategic plan (so they don’t have to)
  6. Providing participants with a starting point to begin planning
  7. Offering a shared direction at the start so they have a place to head
  8. Designing strategic thinking questions leading to engaging conversation among familiar and new participants
  9. Not sharing all the upfront homework in long presentations (which are almost always NOT FUN), but instead designing the entire strategic planning workshop to reflect the homework’s findings
  10. Asking people about things they’ve already thought about in new ways so they can actively participate (as opposed to asking them about things they haven’t thought about before using the same old strategic planning questions)
  11. Having toys to distract them and to throw at peers saying stupid things that warrant getting beaned with a harmless squeeze toy

Yes, none of these 11 boring details are glitzy or sexy.

It’s doing boring things in the background, however, that often create lots of the fun in any event. – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Improve Strategic Results

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 and then turn it 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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Don’t automatically presume the sole enabler behind an innovation strategy is generating new thinking and innovative ideas. That’s a significant part of the innovation strategy process, but it’s just one part. There’s critical work to do before AND after generating new ideas to turn intriguing ideas into true innovation.

As an example, we’ve been scoping a number of innovation initiatives for a client. Each situation came to us as an innovation strategy challenge. Once we dug into each one, however, the real issues were quite varied, and rarely started with a lack of new ideas.

Innovation-Strategy

One initiative was already well conceptualized with little room to tweak the vision. The innovation strategy challenge was detailing the potential implementation steps for the vision in a comprehensive, integrated way.

Another initiative involved addressing how a functional area could participate in transforming the business. While that was part of the core opportunity, the first steps involved identifying significant core business issues demanding new strategies. Additionally, there was a need to identify ways other businesses in comparable and far-flung industries are using this area to transform themselves.

A third initiative tied to new product development depended initially on establishing a more robust understanding of customer needs. And while new products could be one innovation, there are opportunities for important innovation strategy advances in value propositions, support services, and new technology.

A fourth initiative arrived already labeled as needing a quick in-person innovation session. It turned out, however, to be sorely in need of a deep analytical and benchmarking effort before beginning to imagine an innovation strategy to tackles a challenging corporate BHAG.

See what we mean?

All “innovation” initiatives. Each with markedly different innovation strategy barriers or critical enablers to realize its full potential.

There are many potential challenges to a successful innovation strategy beyond needing more new ideas. That’s why one of our core innovation workshops, “Taking the No Out of Business Innovation,” tackles ways around ten potential organizational innovation strategy barriers.

So the next time somebody says, “We need more innovation,” ask, “What EXACTLY do you think that means?”

And then contact us to get to the bottom of solving the innovation strategy challenge successfully!  – Mike Brown

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
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Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





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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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What’s the story on the innovation strategy for beer?

The Kansas City American Marketing Association monthly lunch addressed that question. Former Vice President of Innovation at Anheuser-Busch, Pat McGauley, shared stories of his past twelve years creating the company’s innovation team.

Rather than playback the various innovation strategy stories Pat McGauley shared, here is a sampling of quotes and points he made that stood out as great thought starters:

Not all innovation strategy inside a company is created equal.

Pat’s innovation team was responsible for product and packaging innovation. He reported that packaging innovation was more difficult to develop than liquid innovation. Based on comments he made regarding working with retailers on in-store shelving, product innovation may have been easier because it might lead to a fight for shelf space. Packaging innovation, on the other hand, could require making the case for a different shelf entirely.

Not all innovation teams are created equal.

Pat formed two innovation teams. One focused on near-term innovation strategy and the other on filling the three-to-five-year innovation pipeline. While the two team approach was designed to keep the longer-term team from getting pulled into today’s fires, it presented challenges. The long-term innovation strategy team became too disconnected from current activities shaping the future environment its innovations would face. Both teams, however, were detached from the brand teams to minimize the pull toward shorter-term brand priorities.

Innovation-Strategy-Checkli

“If you have a whole room that thinks the same, you don’t need all those people.”

He was speaking to the choir about the need for diverse participation and varied inputs to trigger ideas. Their global innovation team went to Korea in 2015 to look for inspiration.

How you frame the question shapes the innovation strategy opportunity.

On a market segmentation chart, Pat was making the point that there are multiple ways to grow from innovation. Sometimes it’s grabbing share from competitors in your category. In other situations, it’s grabbing share from substitutes for your category. The chart drew the distinction between these “share of beer” and  “share of throat” opportunities. That’s an intriguing categorization you could apply to many businesses to point innovation opportunities in different directions.

“Sometimes a company needs something that the consumers don’t need.”

In covering a few  innovation failures, Pat talked about Anheuser World Select. As he put it, “Anheuser-Busch needed an import beer, so we created a fake import.” The company had become enamored with trying to solve the problem of not having an import, but consumers had access to import beers. They didn’t need an inauthentic version from Anheuser-Busch.

“Renovation is putting new coats of paint on big brands.”

Pat credited InBev (which merged with Anheuser-Busch in 2008) with introducing the idea of renovation to the organization. The innovation team spent 15% of its time on core brand renovation to enhance competitiveness.

3-Innovation-Strategy-Tiers

A leading company shunning innovation is “like someone hugging a block of ice.”

You can hang on to a block of ice (representing a core capability) and refuse to move away from it, but eventually the block of ice is going to melt and disappear. Pat pointed to Jeff Bezos as a CEO with a contrasting perspective. He is always on the lookout to disrupt Amazon before the next Amazon does it.

Lackluster innovators can catch up quickly.

One chart depicted (I think) growth factors in the beer market from 2012 to 2014. In 2012, competitor innovation accounted for just 5% of growth in the beer market; Anheuser-Busch was the overwhelming leader in innovation-driven growth. By 2014, competitor innovation represented 35% of beer industry growth. – Mike Brown

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

 

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help  generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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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You know, this week doesn’t have to be as unproductive as last week, what with business meetings going nowhere along with wasting time, positive energy, and any hope of creativity.

The thing is, there’s a different way to structure business meetings to help a group come together and collaborate in an innovative, productive way.

We create these types of radically different (and beneficial) business meetings for clients, in large part, by bringing together the right people in the right settings with the right structure to allow them to be productive and successful participants.

If you’re up for abruptly halting the cluster f%@k of the modern business meetings you attend, contact The Brainzooming Group? We’ll figure out how to turn insights, ideas, and initiatives into realities that actually move your business ahead!

Brainzooming-Not-Cluster

 

 

 

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10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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