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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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4

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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5

Designing a strategy planning session, a client expressed frustration that the leadership team never challenged itself with big enough strategic thinking for the organization’s future.  

As a result, we incorporated a set of extreme creativity questions into the strategic planning session.

Detour-SignThese strategic thinking questions are designed to drive bigger, bolder creative ideas. They provide, in effect, a detour around conventional thinking.

In this instance, faced with a different type of question to answer, the leadership team members didn’t miss a beat and started delivering the unusually challenging ideas they had never articulated previously.

The difference was simply having the leadership team answer new types of questions than it had previously. The group was very open to responding to the strategic thinking questions we posed and could respond appropriately to questions intended to drive bolder ideas.

Asking a Different Type of Question to Drive New Strategic Thinking

It’s clear that the intent behind the questions you ask makes a huge difference in the strategic thinking a group does. Depending on what type of thinking you need from your team, consider these sets of questions.

Remember – if you’re not getting the right types of answers, it could likely be it’s because you aren’t asking the types of strategic thinking questions you really need. – 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 in creating strategic impact for your organization.

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

A couple recent Brainzooming articles highlighted strategic thinking exercises comparing online and offline situations to help better understand, explain, and develop social media strategy.

One article focused on how using a network TV model helps create fantastic content on an ongoing basis. The other article used models for various social networks as a way to understand how and why you approach each of them differently.

Both these articles and the strategic thinking exercises were well received in part, I think, because they compared the relatively new (social media network strategy) to more familiar things (TV networks, campfires, networking events, etc.).

5 Benefits of Using a Strategic Model

Apples-Orange-LOWe’re big believers in the value of models as strategic thinking exercises for a variety of reasons.

A strategic model can:

  • Provide a different perspective on what you do that you can readily consult to freshen your strategic thinking.
  • Allow you to see the impact of ideas you might want to try in an analogous situation.
  • Create an ongoing source of new ideas through examining what new things are happening within an analogous situation.
  • Suggest potential networking opportunities to reach out to non-competitors facing similar challenges and opportunities.
  • Help you to forecast future events based on how older, comparable industries to yours have changed.

The key to finding viable models for strategic thinking exercises is identifying analogous situations, strategic connections, and even apples and oranges comparisons. With a few options, you can pick one or models that work for you most effectively.

What’s your take on using models for strategic thinking exercises? Any success stories you’d like to share? -  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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Mozilla-Chris-LawrenceThe Building the Gigabit City 2.0 event on February 13 in Kansas City was an incredible day in so many respects.

The Mozilla Foundation launched the event to stimulate proposal submissions for its $150,000 Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund in Kansas City.

The Brainzooming Group designed the afternoon interactive session for the day-long event. Throughout the afternoon, well over 100 participants imagined and described app and technology concepts to improve education, workforce development, digital access, and other areas within the Kansas City community and beyond.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0

With the number and range of participants at the majestic Kansas City Public Library, we recruited an extended team to facilitate six community-oriented tracks.

Our team included a mix of people – some we’ve known for a few months to others we’ve known for decades. All had facilitated, participated in, or tracked the Brainzooming strategic thinking methodology.

The fantastic strategic thinking session facilitation team included:

Mike-Alex-Brainzooming

Mike Brown (l), Alex Greenwood (r), and the Senior Living / Lifelong Learning team at work.

To ensure the facilitation team was ready to help participants work on new app concepts, we prepared a more than 30-page facilitator’s guide. The guide provided overviews on Mozilla objectives, background on each community group, and step-by-step overviews for using the Brainzooming exercises we designed.

Each facilitator brought their own expertise and experience to what we designed to bring it to life. We are so appreciative of everyone volunteering their time to make the event a success!

Strategic Thinking Learnings about the Brainzooming Methodology

Every time other people facilitate a Brainzooming strategic thinking session, it’s a fantastic learning opportunity both through facilitator comments and observing the groups. Among the strategic thinking learnings coming out of the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund session we designed:

  • The session emphasized how outcomes-based the Brainzooming methodology is. We start with what needs to come from a strategy session and design backwards, which creates a strong emphasis on production.
  • The Brainzooming methodology gains speed (the “zooming” experience) by eliminating elements that don’t add to the final output’s quality. That sometimes means participants (and facilitators) don’t get the context they’d like (even though the results suggest they don’t need it).
  • When you are monitoring group process but not facilitating, you rely on different cues. Rather than the content of the ideas, you depend on volume (of talking and of ideas), participant physical activity, posture, and eye contact as the primary signals for intra-session success.

Kudos to Kari Keefe of Mozilla and Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive who were the primary contacts Barrett Sydnor and I worked with leading up to the event.

Thanks also go to Alex Greenwood and the team at Alex G Public Relations for their work on, among other things, identifying the ideal spot above to do a video interview showcasing the visual impact of a Brainzooming session.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0 from LINC on Vimeo.

Now, we’re looking forward to seeing the variety of proposals coming forward to compete for funding! – 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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1

In a Strategic Thinking workshop recently, a participant from the largest business unit of a multinational company asked, “How, when it comes to corporate strategy, can the “tail can wag the dog”?

Put another way, he wondered how his business unit, which feels hemmed in by corporate strategy directives, can better influence or vary the corporation’s direction.

6 Ideas for the Tail Wagging the Corporate Strategy Dog

caymanAnswering his question generated these six ideas. The ideas range from the least risky to the most risky from both an organizational and a personal standpoint:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to outperform expectations even following a sub-optimum corporate strategy (in order to earn the right for greater latitude and experimentation)
  2. Identify new and better ways to deliver on the corporate objectives that stretch the organization in positive ways
  3. Build a rock solid business case demonstrating superior returns from an alternative strategy
  4. Assess what type of strategic change the organization needs and reach out to corporate leaders to make the case for moving forward with a different strategy
  5. Wait out the current direction until it changes, and you can pursue a more targeted strategy
  6. Create a stealth effort to push forward with targeted initiatives

While it seems numbers five and six are wildly different (i.e., one is suggesting “toe the line” and the other is advocating for going against the corporate strategy in a clandestine way), they are both very risky.

If the business unit truly has to sub-optimize to follow the prescribed corporate strategy, it should be a very conscious decision – not the accidental fallout of a strategic disconnect within the organization.

Similarly, making the decision to advance particular initiatives that are right for a business unit but clearly outside corporate strategy may be possible. But pursuing this strategy could be a recipe for huge problems for leadership and the overall organization.

That’s why both five and six, although wildly different strategies, are both very risky. If you decide to go there, be careful . . . very careful! 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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