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In light of yesterday’s article on living a life of no surprises, I received a related question the other day: “What can you do if you are trying to do strategic planning and implementation within an event-driven environment where uncontrollable situations can wreak havoc on the organization’s priorities and focus?”

Here are four steps we recommend for strategic planning when you are trying to anticipate unplanned events and their potential impact.

Step 1 – Anticipate Unplanned Events

An important strategic planning step in this type of environment is to anticipate as many of the potential events as you can. This applies even if you cannot control all of the possible occurrences that could derail the strategic plan’s implementation. We have shared a few Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises previously to help accomplish this exploration including:

The key is being able to efficiently generate as long a list of potential future events as is possible, practical, and addressable.

Future-Look

Photo by hjalmeida

Step 2 – Identify High-Impact Unplanned Events

How then do you prepare to prioritize and perform strategic planning while recognizing all the potential events you have identified?

You can prioritize the list by having individuals rate each event for its potential maximum magnitude and the probability of each event actually happening. Multiplying the two answers for each possible event provides a quick sense of the potential relative magnitude across all the events.

Step 3 – Plan the First Few Steps

Next, identify the first several tactics you would pursue if each event were to happen. You do not need to outline a complete strategic plan for each event. Instead, concentrate on detailing the first three tactics you would want to have ready to go should the event surface.

>>Link to Mike and Angie traveling post (2008)

Step 4 – Prioritize the Most Applicable Tactics

Finally, look across the events and the initial tactics you identified for each. What are the common actions within the first few steps for multiple events? This look offers a sense of the highest-impact, most flexible moves you can make when events start to change.

Simple and Done

This is obviously a very high-level approach to better handling strategic planning in an event-driven environment.

If this high-level approach is not sufficient for addressing your organization’s tolerance for event-based risk, you can do much more in-depth scenario planning.

But if your organization avoids this issue completely because it struggles to reach an aggressive level of strategic planning detail, a simple approach is far better than ignoring potential vulnerabilities and simply hoping implementation-altering events just don’t happen. – Mike Brown

 

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved 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

Enjoy 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 April 2015 Psychology Today has a story on Tania Luna. Ukrainian-born and Brooklyn-based, Ms. Luna is a “Suprisologist.”

What, you might ask, is a Surprisologist?

At least I asked that question.

As a Suprisologist, she has her own company, Surprise Industries, devoted to creating unique surprises for its customers. Luna has also co-authored a book, “Surprise: Enhance the Unpredictable & Engineer the Unexpected” on the importance of surprise.

Luna admits in the interview that she definitely has had a preference for control during her life. She links this, at least in part, to an unpredictable environment as a child. Controlling things and having a “no surprises” outlook was a coping mechanism to feel “safe and secure and in charge.”

Why My Personal Life Is No Surprises

Her admission caught my eye. I operate between an appreciation for surprise and a living situation causing me to go to extreme measures to make sure there are “no surprises” because of the harm they could cause.

No-surprises-fortune-cookie

My wife has Fibromyalgia and related health issues. This includes particularly harsh reactions to many foods and environmental conditions. As a result, the “unexpected” is bad.

One extreme example?

My wife offered to visit a seafood restaurant I wanted to try even though she can’t eat seafood any longer. We went during a happy hour and grabbed a seat at the bar. She scoured the menu to find SOMETHING she could eat and settled on onion straws as the only option. When the waiter brought our food, she took two bites and said, “I don’t think these are onion straws.” Her neck was already turning completely red and she was having trouble breathing. The bartender admitted he had mistakenly served her calamari.

We quickly paid and headed to a drug store. She was moving too far along in the food reaction, though. I drove like crazy to a nearby hospital emergency room where they gave her intravenous medicine to counteract the reaction. As I told the restaurant owner when we met him later at an event, “Your bartender’s mistake could have killed me wife.”

These types of possibilities are why everything is about no surprises and making sure unexpected events aren’t part of our life.

Any restaurant we visit has to be a familiar, “safe” restaurant (knowing they can become “unsafe” via an unannounced recipe change). Nights out at a concert or a movie are subject to cancellation or being cut short because of health issues, so we stay home. We can’t travel together because of her discomfort and concerns about being away from the coping structure home offers. Even trying to do something nice for her that’s not pre-approved can backfire in a big way.

It’s ironic.

While extolling the benefits of new experiences on creative thinking, the most important relationship in my life is focused on avoiding surprises, changes, and unexpected events.

Creative Thinking and Surprises

I find myself thinking a lot about how to keep things new for me since it’s an essential part of our livelihood, while maintaining the view I’ve always had about our relationship as a team. That means not maintaining separate lives, even if it results in staying home because we CAN do that together.

One counter approach to boost my creative thinking reserves is putting myself in other peoples’ hands that are familiar with being adventurous whenever I’m doing something for business. If it’s a lunch, I suggest someone else pick an unusual restaurant. If it’s a meeting, I want to go to unusual locations. I seek out new churches at home and on trips for daily mass (although returning to the same churches years later, you see the same faces in exactly the same pews).

Now you see why a Surprisologist intrigues me so much.

The search for surprises in the narrow part of my life that doesn’t have to be “no surprises” needs the intriguing attention a Surprisologist could deliver! – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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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Before a creative thinking workshop, a “front row” participant (you know, the “walking in the room already engaged in the content” type of participant) asked what school of thinking The Brainzooming Group belonged to with respect to our creative thinking approaches. She dropped a couple of potential names she suspected as possibilities. I may have already been in pre-presentation mode and didn’t completely catch what she said, because only one name sounded familiar.

I shared with her that we borrow from anywhere when it comes to schools of thought for creative thinking, and that many are quite non-traditional. I mentioned she’d see one strategic thinking exercise just added back into the workshop based on Ghostbusters (Yes, THAT Ghostbusters)!

Creative-Inspiration-Bulbs

One advantage of looking broadly for creative thinking influences is we’re never stuck waiting for some expert to publish a new book or article to expand our set of strategic thinking exercises. To the contrary, the Brainzooming repertoire changes and grows continuously through new techniques and influences.

The discussion prompted telling her the proper answer should be a Brainzooming blog post. In a similar vein, we’ve covered the A to Z of Strategic Thinking Exercises (which referenced some influences), and discussed in another where strategic thinking exercises in  workshop originated.

This list of creative thinking influences, however, is different.

Reviewing the slides, stories, and blog posts from the creative thinking workshop deck yielded this list of fifty-nine influences. They aren’t in any specific order, and it certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of all our influences (especially since very few people I have worked with directly are on the list).

Nevertheless, this gives you a good representation of why it’s tough to describe a specific school of thought you can connect to Brainzooming.

59 Creative Thinking Influences

  1. Chuck Dymer
  2. Edward de Bono
  3. Greg Reid
  4. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
  5. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
  6. Ted Williams – The Science of Hitting
  7. A.T. Kearney
  8. Gary Singer
  9. Interbrand
  10. Monty Python
  11. Sue Mosby
  12. 75 Cage Rattling Questions
  13. Linus Pauling
  14. Woodrow Wilson
  15. Ghostbusters
  16. The Wall Street Journal
  17. Business Week
  18. Fast Company
  19. Cake Boss
  20. What Not to Wear
  21. The Bible
  22. Dilbert
  23. Milind Lele, Ph.D.
  24. Presentation Zen
  25. Tom Peters
  26. Don Martin
  27. Hank Ketchum
  28. The Scream
  29. The Squirrels in Prairie Village, KS
  30. Steve Bruffett
  31. Enterprise IG
  32. David Bowen, Ph.D.
  33. Arizona State University Center for Services Leadership
  34. FedEx
  35. Seth Godin
  36. Joe Batista
  37. Tony Vannicola
  38. Peter’s Laws
  39. Whoever invented the 4-box matrix
  40. Gordon MacKenzie
  41. Appreciate Inquiry
  42. David Cooperrider, Ph.D.
  43. Benjamin Zander
  44. Keith Prather
  45. Brett Daberko
  46. Philip Kotler, Ph.D.
  47. Robin Williams
  48. Improv Comedy
  49. Jim Collins
  50. Jay Conrad Levinson
  51. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  52. Jan Harness
  53. Muhammad Ali
  54. R.E.M.
  55. Music Fake Books
  56. Seinfeld
  57. Gilligan’s Island
  58. Whoever came up with the concept of Reverse Engineering
  59. The Family Feud

Shout outs to everyone and everything on this list. It’s clear we need to write blog posts on a variety of these creative inspirations because Brainzooming wouldn’t be what it is without you! – Mike Brown

 

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved 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

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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Suppose you need to involve hundreds of engaged audience members to shape the strategic thinking for a significant issue your organization faces.

How do you create the opportunity for learning and community collaboration in this scenario?

Digital-Inclusion-Photo

The organizing group addressing digital inclusion in Kanas City presented The Brainzooming Group this situation. Having announced an all-day Digital Inclusion Summit and inviting any interested community members to participate, we designed the event’s community collaboration strategy.

There are challenges we don’t typically encounter. Because of the general invitation to the community, we didn’t have upfront insight into who would participate until that day. This meant there was no opportunity to ensure the right mix of people within all the educational sessions. Additionally, our digital inclusion community collaboration approach had to fit fifteen different pre-planned educational segments we wouldn’t have visibility to upfront.

Strategic Thinking and Community Collaboration

How did we design a community collaboration approach for the Digital Inclusion Summit within these constraints?

The simple story to our community collaboration approach is we:

  • Identified two topic tracks (best practices and strategy) to describe the education sessions in order to organize the collaboration approaches.
  • Developed strategic thinking worksheets for each topic track. Each had several related questions for the topic track that could be used both individually and in small groups.
  • Coached each education session presenter on taking fifteen minutes in the middle of his/her content. This time was for participants to react to the learning and complete the worksheet strategic thinking questions.
  • Deployed our team, along with Digital Inclusion Summit team members, to manage the community collaboration activities.

Additionally, we developed an experience-based activity. For this activity, we invited participants to turn off all their digital tools for the day to simulate being a part of the digital divide, i.e., citizens who lack access to the Internet on a day-to-day basis.

Community Collaboration Yields New Strategic Insights

From the community collaboration worksheets participants completed in small groups, we documented nine individual strategic themes. Within these Digital Inclusion Summit themes, participants suggested serious issues standing in the way of digital inclusion and new leadership groups needing seats at the table to effectively narrow the digital divide.

In a rare situation for us, we can fully share the final Digital Inclusion Summit report we created to give you a sense of the nine themes and all the individual comments. The Digital Inclusion Summit report is available for free to the public on a new website designed by the Kansas City Public Library. It is a great treat for us to be able to actually share the final work product we developed.

Community Collaboration – Engaging to Address Digital Inclusion from Mike Brown

Do you have a community of stakeholders you need to meaningfully engage?

Whether you are tackling city-wide issues needing community collaboration or have an organization that needs to better engage its diverse stakeholders, we’d love to talk with you about how we can turn your hopes for meaningful engagement into reality.  – Mike Brown

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization. This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.


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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Writing a newsletter article, it struck me that for as much as we discuss the importance of diverse strategic perspectives on better strategic thinking, we don’t seem to have a compilation of our articles on the topic.

Let’s fix that!

Workplace Diversity – The Why, Who, and How of Strategic Thinking

These Brainzooming articles are arranged based on why you should seek workplace diversity to benefit strategy, who holds the important perspectives, and how you can take best advantage of them to improve your organization’s strategy.

Dilbert-ThinkerWhy Workplace Diversity Benefits Strategy

Who Holds the Strategic Perspectives You Need on Your Team

How to Manage Workplace Diversity and Varied Strategic Perspectives Working Together

 

Making Workplace Diversity Work for Your Strategy

This list of articles is a start to thinking about the value of having people with different thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds on your teams.

If you’d like to discuss how to put this all together for your organization’s benefit, let us know. We’d love to customize a strategy that delivers the best results for you! – Mike Brown

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

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your success!

 

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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If you’ve ever seen me present a strategic thinking workshop, you’ve likely heard me say, “People think strategic planning is boring, and I agree with them. I’m a strategic planner, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning. That’s why we make it fun!”

That’s not simply a throw-away line. It’s the absolute truth.

We consciously try to develop fun strategic planning activities.

The reason fun strategic planning activities are so important is they prompt people to want to engage with strategic planning at that moment plus make them eager to participate in the future.

5 Fun Strategic Planning Activities

Funny-Orange-2

“Fun strategic planning activities? You have to be kidding,” you may be thinking. No, we’re absolutely SERIOUS about the FUN part!

If you’d like to incorporate more fun into your strategic planning activities, here are a few ideas we’d offer:

1. Eliminating Boring Introductions

If you’re going for a more enjoyable strategic planning session, it’s important to start on a light note. This ice breaker dumps the typical boring self-introduction and uses introductions where everyone BUT you gets to tell something about you. Here’s one secret for even more fun – have one person make up all the answers they share. When you read this post, you’ll get what I mean by that!

2. Invite Katy Perry for Her Fashion Sense

You have to go see the picture to get this, but Katy Perry’s dress at this awards show a few years ago is all kinds of fun. If your challenge is reimagining old strategic ideas, this strategic thinking exercise will inject fun into your planning.

3. Put the Pin Prick to Your Competitors

This strategic thinking exercise involves targeting a pesky competitor and thinking about every way you can be a complete nuisance for them. You have to keep the ultimate ideas you choose legal and ethical. Before that point, however, anything is fair game and lots of fun!

4. What does Ghostbuster have to do with strategy?

By definition, you aren’t supposed to be able to anticipate black swan events. But when a client wants a black swan exercise, you figure out a way to give them a black swan exercise. This fun strategic planning activity gets its fun from the connection to Ghostbusters that inspired the exercise. Other than that, it should be a LITTLE more serious than the others here.

5. Try Some Shrimp!

This exercise is called “Shrimp,” but you’ll see a picture of a pumpkin throwing up pumpkin seeds on the original post. Yeah, it’s kind of gross, but this particular strategic thinking exercise is a blast. In workshops, I tell the story about when we used it with a group working on a NASCAR sponsorship program. They turned the exercise toward some pretty tawdry topics, yet came out with an idea that led to getting their company’s NASCAR driver on an ABC reality TV show!

Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun*

I wouldn’t necessarily advise trying to use ALL these fun strategic planning activities with one group. But if you do, let me know. THAT would be funny! – Mike Brown

 

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved 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

Enjoy 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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Does your innovation strategy include adopting a more outside-in approach that better involves customer and market input?

If so, today is the perfect day to download our latest innovation strategy eBook, “The Outside-In Innovation Edition” of the Brainzooming “Fake Book of Strategic Thinking Tools.”

This new outside-in innovation strategy eBook has received a wonderful early response. Today, we want to make sure each reader takes advantage of incorporating these valuable strategic thinking exercises into your innovation strategy.

Innovation-Strategy

20 Reasons to Download the Strategic Thinking Exercises in Our Innovation Strategy eBook

With that in mind, here are twenty reasons you should download “The Outside-In Innovation Edition” of the Brainzooming “Fake Book of Strategic Thinking Tools” today!

  1. It’s free!
  2. There are strategic thinking exercises in the Fake Book that aren’t anywhere on the Brainzooming blog.
  3. You’ll find out what a Fake Book is in music and how the concept of a Fake Book relates to outside-in innovation. (page 3)
  4. There’s a guide to match your innovation style to the strategic thinking exercises that make the most sense for your organization. (page 5)
  5. These sixteen strategic thinking exercises can integrate into your current innovation plans to bring them to life. (page 5)
  6. There’s a brief, understandable profile of the three types of organizational innovation profiles (including a link to a report on the “Global Innovation 1000″). (page 4)
  7. We identify where each strategic thinking exercise fits within Henry Chesbrough’s “Services Value Web” model (and yes, there’s a link to the model, too). (page 5)
  8. We introduce the Brainzooming perspective on WHEN to use each of the exercises in your service delivery process. (page 5)
  9. Once you complete the first exercise on mining your brand benefits, you can use it as an innovation platform to jump start several other innovation opportunities. (page 7)
  10. There’s an easy way to translate your brand benefits to identify new innovation opportunities based on other companies or markets delivering comparable benefits. (page 9)
  11. You can take your team through an exercise to help anticipate non-traditional competitors who may enter your market with disruptive innovation. (page 10)
  12. You will be able to link product innovation ideas to both core strategy and extreme creativity exercises. (page 11)
  13. We turn service blueprinting on its head to use is as a service experience innovation tool. (page 12)
  14. You’ll learn a way to go to school on competitors’ innovation strategies to smarten up your own innovation strategy. (page 13)
  15. It will become clear why you need to understand who the canaries in the coal mine are in your business and industry. (page 15)
  16. There’s a handy-dandy diagram to see if your last innovation isn’t so innovative anymore, and it’s time to invest in innovation. (pages 16 and 17)
  17. All you have to do is start filling in the names to complete your future-looking research game plan. (page 18)
  18. We feature fifteen questions to get your team exploring potentially disruptive innovation. (page 20)
  19. You’ll be able to choose from two different formats for our popular, “What’s It Like?” strategic thinking exercise. (page 22)
  20. You’ll be the best-prepared person on the upcoming webinar we’ll be featuring on Outside-In Innovation.

Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Is that enough reasons for you to download the outside-in innovation strategy eBook?

If not, let us know, and we’ll share all the other reasons we DIDN’T list here! – Mike Brown

 

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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Follow Me:
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