1

Stephen Lahey, the mastermind of Small Business Talent, released a new podcast yesterday where he and I discussed innovation for entrepreneurs, although the principles apply across organizations.

I invite you to listen in on the podcast as we discuss how small businesses can set themselves apart from their competitors in value-added, innovative ways.

Imagine-Wall

One podcast topic that has not received much treatment here was the origin of the exercises forming the basis of the Brainzooming methodology while I was the VP of Strategic Market Planning at a Fortune 300 corporation. Our company tripled in size to $10 billion in about 30 months. My role became working closely with the competitive companies we had acquired, helping help them stronger strategic marketers – without being able to TELL them what they should do.

The Brainzooming methodology of creativity questions, strategic thinking exercises, and fun encouragement coalesced during this assignment. And as the intellectual property (IP) for Brainzooming came together, two important things happened:

  1. My boss okayed me retaining “ownership” of the exercises and tools. He agreed they were not revenue generating for our B2B transportation and logistics corporation, so I could develop them as my own.
  2. His assurance fueled consciously developing strategic thinking exercises and tools that worked for our company and industry while being adaptable to other industries.

Taking best advantage of this opportunity meant developing everything we did to be modular. By that, I mean all the tools and strategic thinking exercises could be broken apart and put back together in new ways to quickly support many new situations.

6 Tips for Creating Modular IP

Suppose you are in a comparable position inside an organization and creating IP with a life beyond your current job. Alternatively, perhaps you are creating IP only for your current position and want to get the most value from it. In either case, here are six keys for creating modular IP you can use, adapt, and efficiently develop:

  • At the start, design the IP considering how you could use it in other settings; that means it has to be generalized and easily customizable.
  • Name your IP with keywords or naming patterns allowing you to readily retrieve them online.
  • Break the IP into discrete, smaller pieces you can reconstruct in new ways.
  • Group related IP you expect to use together (i.e., all our branding-specific exercises live in one place; creativity-specific tools are grouped together).
  • Maintain both the original version and subsequent modifications; you may be able to more easily customize an earlier version than a later, more polished one.
  • If you have paper copies with handwritten notes, retain them also. Sometimes online changes are easier; other times, an offline version works better.

If you aren’t thinking about the future value of the IP you create, start now. As long as you can legally retain the ownership, planning ahead pays tremendous dividends.

Here’s the Resource from the Podcast: Looking for Value-Added Innovations 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
  • 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 eBook 



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

Is it better to ask for permission BEFORE or forgiveness AFTER when embarking on a new direction or innovation strategy others won’t understand until it comes to fruition?

There’s no one answer to this big innovation strategy question.

If you seek permission and get shut down, you’ll never know what was possible. If you launch your new innovation strategy and seek forgiveness for not seeking permission, you at least hope to have something to show for your effort (although you might not).

As a person who early on sought permission a lot (and still often do), I challenged myself to come up with reasons why it’s better to take a chance on having to ask forgiveness than seeking permission.

080808 FYMTMB They have a whole process to ask for forgiveness

7 Reasons to Ask for Forgiveness, Not Permission on Your Innovation Strategy

Here are seven reasons to forget about seeking permission before launching a new initiative:

  1. Securing permission creates delay.
  2. Not asking permission saves the hassle of having to make your case to someone on why they should give you permission.
  3. Your original idea may have to be compromised to secure permission.
  4. Permission is simply another opportunity for someone to say, “No.”
  5. Much of the time, no one will notice what you are doing and won’t even make you stop to ask for forgiveness later.
  6. Seeking permission might give people who shouldn’t have it the sense think they need to decide about whether to give you permission or not.
  7. You may not realize how big your idea is, and you wind up seeking permission for only a fraction of what you hope to accomplish.

Next time you launch a new innovation strategy, try starting first and making it so successful no one will even think of expecting you to seek forgiveness; I’ll try doing the same! – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Looking for stronger new product innovations to propel your innovation strategy?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAt the heart of most innovation strategies are new product introductions that strongly resonate with customers.

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 enable your brand to ideate, prioritize, and develop the innovative growth ideas to spur a business comeback. Download this free, concise 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 an actionable innovation strategy 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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1

“Back in the day, we did creative thinking about ideas.”

I was talking with a colleague the other day. He has been working closely with a particular client for fifteen years. So long, in fact, if people walk through the department where he is stationed, you would never know he ISN’T an employee unless someone said something about it.

The client has undergone tremendous changes in leadership and staff during his tenure working with the company. It has also endured a variety of boom and bust periods in these years.

He mentioned saying “back in the day” almost daily before introducing ideas in meetings. The company has implemented very smart, creative strategies through the years. It just as frequently has lost track of how creative thinking brought about these strategies whenever it hits a bust cycle or goes through a leadership change.

So in suggesting previous ideas that used to pass for creative thinking, he feels compelled to inform others that they aren’t original ideas, but ones the company has tried previously.

They were great ideas once. They fell out of favor, however, and the company abandoned them.

Bloxed-Up-Ideas

Every Old Idea Is New Again

My immediate reaction was, “Stop doing that!”

It’s the same reaction when an individual who changes jobs makes continual references to how things were done at the former employer once they are the new employer. I tell people who do this to own their experiences and simply introduce ideas they are bringing along from previous jobs as if they emerged from completely fresh creative thinking.

The same principle applies someone has been in one place much longer than most co-workers. These individuals have earned the expertise, experience, and valuable historical frame of reference co-workers have not. Continually prefacing ideas with “back in the day” not only makes one seem old, but could be creating hurdles for gaining support for smart ideas that haven’t taken hold, but should have.

It’s a New Idea to Them

When you have a strong historical perspective on what will work because you’ve been around long enough to see an idea tried and work before, simply state the idea. Unless there’s a clearly compelling reason to disclose the idea’s origins, it’s far better to share the idea without attribution, keeping your need to date the idea as an “old idea” to yourself.

Following this strategy, you’ll be recognized for the creative thinking and ideas you’re sharing irrespective of when and where the idea was first imagined and implemented.

Struggling to Bring New Creative Thinking and Innovations to the Market? We Have an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

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 enable your brand to ideate, prioritize, and develop the innovative growth ideas to spur a business comeback. Download this free, concise 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

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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2

Sure, you may not know what you don’t know.

You may even think you can’t discover what you don’t know that you don’t know.

But that’s bunk.

9 Ways to Discover What You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know

How-empty

Try these nine ways to discover the blind spots in your knowledge:

  1. Have diverse people around you with lots of interests that don’t match yours.
  2. Listen to what other people are talking about and saying about new things.
  3. Ask great questions of others.
  4. Take every opportunity you can to observe your situation from new perspectives.
  5. Know who you can count on to challenge your thinking.
  6. Surround yourself with people who will talk to you honestly, even when that’s difficult.
  7. Let others share what they know that you don’t know as anonymously or as visibly as they would like.
  8. Always keep the knowledge that you don’t know everything you need to know front and center in your mind.
  9. If you don’t find out at least one new thing you didn’t know that you didn’t know daily, you aren’t trying hard enough . . . so try harder!

Now you know. – Mike Brown

 

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

 

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 816-509-5320816-509-5320 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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0

The April 2015 Fast Company features its list of the biggest business comeback stories during the twenty years the magazine has been publishing.

Each business comeback story is presented individually (expect for Apple, which they say is number one, but never bother to list or write a full profile about the company). I was curious about what successful business strategy moves Fast Company highlighted across the twenty corporations.

To paraphrase the old saying, “curiosity killed the hour” it took to go through the list and uncover the answer to my question.

What’s Behind a Business Comeback?

Traffic-Circle

Based on this very loose analysis, the top five most frequent successful business strategy moves for these business comeback stories are:

  1. New Products: 14 (of 20 comebacks)
  2. New Leaders: 10
  3. Enhanced Brand Experience: 9
  4. New Business Lines: 6
  5. (Tie) Enhanced Advertising/Marketing and Bankruptcy: 5 each

New product growth and turnaround leaders were the most cited factors while only four profiles mentioned major cost cutting efforts, and three highlighted downsizing. Given the magazine’s focus, this list is not a big surprise.

Under different circumstances, it would be intriguing to big deeper into the list and look for more patterns. Since the list is subjective, the very brief profiles are nowhere near comprehensive, and there is a lot of my interpretation in this, however, it is not worth any more time killing.

If you would like to review the analysis with my notes on the comeback proof points Fast Company offers and my “short story” on each comeback, click the image below and go to the PDF.

FC-Comebacks

What are your takeaways from this list of business comebacks? And are there other ones from the past twenty years you would add to the list? – Mike Brown

 

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

 

Looking for stronger new product innovations to drive your business comeback?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

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 enable your brand to ideate, prioritize, and develop the innovative growth ideas to spur a business comeback. Download this free, concise 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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0

Yesterday’s Brainzooming article shared ways to increase the strategic thinking in your organization without holding an offsite meeting.

Here’s another way to improve daily strategic thinking. It builds on one idea in yesterday’s post (“Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter”).

This approach leads to developing a list of targeted questions specific to your business situation. You can complete it in a week, but we recommend spreading it over several weeks or during a typical month of activity.

4 Steps to Customizing Your Strategic Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Step 1. Anticipate

Before the week or month you have selected, list typical business issues and conversations you have with your team and other groups you work with regularly.

Step 2. Categorize

Group the issues and conversations into general categories. Possible examples include:

  • Understanding things (analysis, evaluation)
  • Developing things (innovation, creativity)
  • Building things (operations, manufacturing, efficiency and process improvements)
  • Growing things (creating more sales, implementing more initiatives)
  • Fixing things (diagnosis, correction)
  • Forecasting things (projections, estimates)

Step 3. Track

With the list in Step 2 complete, use it during your selected timeframe to keep track of how many issues and conversations pertain to each category. If you need to add other categories, add them.

Step 4. Compile

After you’re done monitoring your conversations and activities, see where your focus is. Work on developing a custom list of ready-to-use questions in each area. You can mine our extensive lists of strategic thinking questions for ones to use. Here are links to some of our most popular lists:

This focused approach will pay dividends with your ability to develop a solid command of strategic thinking questions for daily use to boost strategic thinking in your team, yourself, and everyone you work with in the organization.  – 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

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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

“Do you have to have an offsite meeting for your team to do strategic thinking?”

A creating strategic impact workshop attendee asked this question.

My unequivocal answer was, “No.”

We teach examples of strategic thinking exercises in a structured way. Workshop attendees also practice using them in workshop settings resembling an offsite meeting environment.

Despite teaching our strategic thinking exercises in a workshop environment, you can use most of them in multiple ways and settings. This flexibility makes it practical to incorporate strategic thinking exercises throughout the business day on a daily basis.

Table-Legos

11 Examples of Strategic Thinking without an Offsite Meeting

These are all ways to introduce strategic discussions within the workday without ever changing your location:

  1. Use the granddaddy of all strategic thinking questions EVERY time it’s appropriate: What are we trying to achieve?
  2. Go out of your way to connect initiatives and activities to the organization’s strategic direction.
  3. Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter.
  4. Have a go-to technique that works in small meetings to increase the number and range of ideas a group is considering.
  5. Identify several analogous situations with similar characteristics to your organization, its markets, its customers, and the competitive set.
  6. Don’t fool yourself into thinking only long-term situations are strategic and miss strategic implications in near-term issues affecting important aspects of your organization.
  7. Create and continually grow the list of strategic thinkers you can involve in the initiatives in which you participate or lead.
  8. Be able to use a four-box grid or some other approach to plot ideas relative to one another and prioritize the best ones to pursue.
  9. Continually work on developing and enhancing your political capital to gain comfort challenging thinking and actions that are off strategy.
  10. Keep up to date on the edges of your industry and other areas related to your organization because the edges are where change happens.
  11. Work on your ability to anticipate what might happen in your organization and industry based on other events taking place.

Doing Strategic Thinking Daily

Do you have to be strong at all these suggestions? If you want to go to the head of the “being able to address strategy at a moment’s notice” class, yes, you do.

If you simply want to push your organization to develop smarter strategies, being able to use even a couple of these examples of strategic thinking will have a noticeable performance impact to improve results. – Mike Brown

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about what Mike Brown’s creativity, strategic impact, and innovation presentations can add to your business meeting!

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming 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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