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Marianne-Carr-PhotoMarianne Carr has been working with us for nearly a year. We met (courtesy of mutual friend, Doug Steveneson) at a lunch neither one of us wanted to attend.

I knew there may be possibilities, however, when she was willing to skip the two-hour wait at Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ (as it was still known then) and head across the street for tacos and margaritas at Taco Republic. It’s my fault for not getting her listed on the website (gotta get that fixed), but it’s great to finally feature her first blog post. It’s another in our planned series of recaps of intriguing creative inspiration clicks to articles around the web each week.  – Mike Brown

Gal Friday – Marianne’s Memes and Creative Inspiration Clicks

Meme

 

I had to look this up!

Variety is the Spice of My In-Box: Connecting Dots and Finding Golden Threads

I get a lot of different things to read in my in-box. I mean a lot. I mean different.

To me, some how all of these thoughts, opinions, facts, what-nots are interconnected. Not sure how, not sure why. Maybe it’s for you to decide.

I offer some of my own humble opinions for consideration. 

At Work, Captain Hindsight Really IS a Super Hero

“….calls it the “premortem”, and it’s embarrassingly simple: you imagine yourself in the future, after the project you’re considering has ended in spectacular failure. “Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the premortem operates on the assumption that the ‘patient’ has died,” Klein writes. In the fantasy world of the premortem, it’s already over. You’re screwed. Everything went as badly as you could have feared. Now: why?”

IMHO: It’s always about asking better questions (more about that in a couple of weeks). I like the way this is “packaged” however, and sometimes the packaging of a technique helps sell it internally at an organization.  Doesn’t seem like frivolous and ineffective “brainstorming” or “ideation” if it’s called “Pre-mortem.”

Australians Spell Words Differently, but are Not Worlds Apart

“Yet legacy technologies, siloed operational structures, risk aversion and data analytics immaturity must be overcome if an organisation is to achieve the real-time responsiveness customers are demanding. Many marketing functions are also still coming to terms with what customer engagement across the lifecycle means, and how to best utilise content and social channels to make that happen.”

IMHO: Duh. Okay that’s rude. Some of this is obvious, but still true, and no one is doing anything to correct it in many large organizations. Or prevent it in start-ups that hit that scary 5 year, too-many-people, grew-too-fast plateau so that the silos have just magically appeared. But you know all that. My slightly more impressive thought is — I have heard that Australia is considered a good testing ground for ideas prior to launch in the USA. There are several similarities to behavior and attitude.  I’d love to know if that’s true.

The Secret Life of Being; Remember Each of One of Us has Something

“By the last week of October, Alex was communicating with more than a dozen people who openly admired the Islamic State. Her life, which had mostly seemed like a blurred series of babysitting shifts and lonely weekends roaming the mall, was now filled with encouragement and tutorials from her online friends.”

IMHO: This article highlights how we each individually face some monumental, and often very secret, challenges in our daily lives.  Never forget to be open and empathetic.  And think in terms of people, instead of consumers, when innovating.

My Subconscious Ate my Social Media Campaign

“Why do you have an urge or thought that you shouldn’t be having? Because, in a sense, the consciousness system doesn’t know that you shouldn’t be thinking about something. An urge generator doesn’t know that an urge is irrelevant to other thoughts or ongoing action.”

IMHO: Oh thank goodness, it’s not me, it’s my subconscious that’s going to eat that cupcake. And I’m not even hungry. So is reading Facebook all day, or tweeting, or pinning, or LInkedining, or Vining or Snapchatting or texting really just a subconscious urge?

New School/Old School – but is it the Right School?

Conf-Infographic

IMHO: Is this the right way to use the infographic format? Am I supposed to print it and hang it on my wall?  Wouldn’t that be better to send me AFTER I signup? But I have heard this is a good event. Maybe I should go some time.

sxsw-cover

IMHO: And these guys have a MAGAZINE?! Shocker. I’ve heard this is a good event, too. – Marianne Carr

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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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Yesterday, we talked about the creative constraint at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference where we were limited to taking only five pictures of the school environment. Today, I wanted to share my six (yes six, not five) photos!

I’m sure I wasn’t as strategic and reasoned in selecting my photos as the teachers who were at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. Obviously, I wasn’t looking for specific projects or to bring into a classroom setting. Nevertheless, they all represent aspects of the school that served as creative inspiration for me.

It’s a Museum

As someone explained it to me matter of factly, “This is a Saturn V rocket; it’s the biggest rocket there is.” Well of course it is. Notice the black walls and ceiling along with the planets and stars. It struck me that not only was building the Saturn V a project, the entire installation conveys a sense of the Boulder Journey School as a museum for children to appreciate art, science, and multiple other disciplines.

BJS-SaturnV

Changing Scale for Creative Inspiration

We were introduced to several examples of using GoPro cameras as a means to explode the size of very small scenes so the children can interact and engage in new ways. This shows a scene the children drew, turned into a 3-D scene, and then were videoing and projecting at a huge scale on the wall. I am excited about the possibilities for how something comparable might let us show what happens at a Brainzooming strategy or creativity event in new ways.

BJS-GoPro-Dinner

This Is Where the Wild Things Are!

This was the actually the first photo I took once our photo taking time began. I had been in this classroom earlier and noticed the Where the Wild Things Are characters sitting on a couch in front of pillows that look like the ones we have on our couch at home…except these have orange in the design! Plus, I painted the character on the right as part of a huge event banner in graduate school, so that brought back memories of long ago creative inspiration.

BJS-Wild-Things

What Goes into Creativity?

If I were being completely strict about ONLY five pictures, this would have been the one that would have gone. I really wanted the list of words tied to creativity:

  • Thinking
  • Analyzing
  • Processing
  • Guessing
  • Hypothesizing
  • Predicting
  • Manipulating
  • Sloping
  • Rolling
  • Blocking
  • Falling
  • And one other word I can’t make out

Yes, I could have just written the words, but the creative inspiration for me was in how they dissected this process into a whole series of specific actions adults would typically never think about as discrete activities.

BJS-Creativity

One of the Creative Inspiration Stars

I’d heard stories about the fish at Boulder Journey School Skyping with one another and was mystified. When I heard the full story of how the children wanted to connect the fish tanks at the school so the fish could interact, it started to make sense. Then when they showed how they used GoPro cameras to project the fish (including this cutie, Diggum) on a wall so they were larger than the children, it really started to come together for how it all provided creative inspiration. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t leave without taking a picture of Diggum!

BJS-Diggum

This Was Definitely the Sixth Picture, but Hardly an Afterthought

While this was my sixth (and last) photo, I identified it as a strong possibility early in the conference. This is the intra-school mail center. Children can write notes to other kids, but importantly, parents can leave notes for children that will be delivered later in the day. When I worked in a ten-story office building, we had intra-office mail, even after email was prevalent. Why WOULDN’T you have the same capability in an early childhood school? The answer is you’d only have it when the administrators and staff are incredibly open to translating beneficial concepts into a child’s world!

BJS-Intra-Email

– Mike Brown

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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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An intriguing creative thinking twist at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference runs counter to all but one other event I’ve spoken at or attended in the past several years.

What’s the twist?

It was the spoken expectation that attendees would take no more than five pictures of the Boulder Journey School environment. These five pictures were all to be taken during an ice cream and exploration break on the conference’s second afternoon.

Creative Thinking – Focusing Your Ideas BEFORE You Get Creative

I first learned about the five picture creative thinking and implementation constraint during our preparatory calls for my conference presentation. There are several reasons for the request, including keeping attendees focused on experiencing the current moment, not clogging the narrow hallways with picture takers throughout the event, and helping to reinforce the message that teachers and administrators shouldn’t expect to recreate exactly what Bolder Journey School has done.

Boulder-Journey-Selfie

L to R: @teachercoder, @Brainzooming, @accruick

The five picture expectation, while obviously grounded in a strategic rationale, does seem counter to the school’s philosophy of creative exploration – at least creative exploration as most of us have come to think of it in the age of digital assets. Being limited to five photos along with the expectation that attendees would spend 1 1/2 days of creative thinking time to explore and select what the five photos should be is a huge throwback to the days before digital assets:

  • When you had to print a picture to know how it looked, so you were careful about getting things right the first time
  • When you had to type something on paper and couldn’t easily edit it after it was typed, so you focused on outlining and crafting polished prose
  • When creating a “moving picture” involved physically processing film, then splicing it, so you didn’t just show up, start shooting, and see what happens

Yes, the five-picture expectation causes different creative thinking and creative behaviors. It makes you:

  • Think and plan where you will focus your creative energy before expending it
  • Edit your creative aspirations to stay within a very real creative constraint
  • Get it as close to right the first time as you can since you can’t simply pick five great photos from two hundred photos you took and call it good
BJSSC-Orange-Socks

My Incredible Speaker’s Gift from #BJSSC15 – Orange Socks!

Wonder how I did with the five picture creative thinking and implementation constraint?

In the next post, I’ll show you what SIX things I considered creatively intriguing enough to be picture-worthy! – 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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The forming and use of creative thinking heuristics fascinates me.

That shouldn’t be surprising.

As the Brainzooming name suggests, we concentrate on opportunities for short cutting creative thinking in smart ways to keep (or start) things zooming along. If there’s a smart creative thinking shortcut to be tried, we’re up for it.

Creative Thinking at #BJSSC15

During the presentations from mentor teachers and intern teachers at the Boulder Journey School Conference, it was fascinating to hear the lengths to which they go to honor and fulfill the intricate thinking paths the children devise.

150629-BJSSC-Ideas

For instance, the children in one class were working on designing homes for animals, thinking about and accounting for all the things a home would need to include to be homey. The work inspired one of the teachers, Lauren Frazier, to pursue the idea of actually getting a pet for the classroom. Through multiple rounds of voting on what type of pet they wanted (and even absentee voting for parents and grandparents) and what the pet would be named, the class arrived at Nibbles, the guinea pig.

Then, beyond translating their ideas about an animal’s home into Nibbles’ new home, the children wanted to decorate Nibbles’ cage in her favorite color. They devised a series of tests where “doors” of various colors were placed with Nibbles. Students tallied Nibbles’ activity across several days, and using multiple criteria, and they determined red was Nibbles’ favorite color. This paved the way for creating a series of red decorations in her cage.

Before Shortcuts, There Were Many Steps

You may wonder why I’m sharing the Nibbles story.

Beyond the striking separated-at-birth resemblance between Nibbles and our very own Brainzooming Director of Enthusiasm, there’s a very important reminder.

It’s so easy in business and organizational settings to cut out steps and reduce thinking time to save costs and improve the bottom line. We hear the mantra to “ship” new products sooner and fix it later. It’s all part of what we think is making business more revolutionary these days. It’s all about taking fewer steps.

At the Boulder Journey School, however, they walk through each decision step. And the children are the ones charting the steps…not the adults who know better and thus might be the first ones to cut out steps. I know I fought the quick conclusion during the Nibbles presentation to think, “Just pick a color for goodness’ sake and get on with it!”

The learning is when your audience or stakeholder group is newer to ideas and concepts than an organization’s leadership is, there is value to letting them chart the steps and taking all the steps necessary to bring them along in shaping and supporting new ideas. Even if it takes longer, and even if it so deliberate that it can seem maddening, maybe the best answer is going to be the one that emerges from all those steps.  – Mike Brown

 

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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!





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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 was in Boulder, CO last week for the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. As more than one person asked me, “Why were you at an early childhood education conference?”

Fair question.

Mike-BJSSC15

The short answer was the school’s founder, Dr. Ellen Hall, and I serve together on the board of another non-profit, Nature Explore. Ellen Hall paved the way for the invitation to speak and attend both days of the conference.

The longer answer is, beyond speaking on creative thinking, it was a welcome change to be surrounded by people and an environment fostering in children the same types of creative thinking we try to instigate among adults in the business world.

And as expected, it was an incredible learning experience.

I’ll share various creative thinking insights and images from the Boulder Journey School Summer conference this week; they are all related to the adult world of strategy, creativity, and innovation we cover.

Today, here are creative thinking quotes and comments that resonated and pushed my own thinking:

Creative Thinking Quotes Mentioned During Presentations

“You can’t do a good job unless you’re keen on it yourself.” – quoting David Hawkins

 

“To be in dialogue means to accept transformation.” – quoting Carlina Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children

 

“If you have no bloody owies, you’re being too careful. If you have more than three bloody owies, you’re probably not being careful enough.” – quoting Teacher Tom

  • This does a lot better job of conveying the whole “you have to fail to succeed” perspective than anything else I’ve seen on the topic.

 

“To listen is not to fit what we hear into what we already know, but rather to be poised for the possibilities of what we are about to come to know.” – quoting Davies

 

Live Creative Thinking Quotes from Speakers

“I have a lot of learning to do, that’s why I’m up here presenting today.” – Jen Selbitschka, Studio Teacher

 

“You can’t bring seventy-five people together and make a decision.” – Andrea Sisbarro, School Director at Boulder Journey School

 

“You could look at turning over 41 interns every year as a disaster, or you can see it as a great opportunity to bring new learning into the school.” – Alison Maher, Education Director at Boulder Journey School

 

“The best thing about dandelions is nobody cares if you pull them up.” Another Teacher at the Boulder Journey School

 

“What are we working on together?” – Mary Jane Moran

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 you 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.

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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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Going back through extreme creativity content for a Brainzooming workshop prompted a new look at Peter’s’ Laws. We used these sometimes way over-the-top laws in developing our first set of extreme creativity questions.

Then, after a conversation about how a leader can develop and implement a strategic initiative without letting everyone KNOW a strategic initiative is underway, it prompted spelling out The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done.

Weasel

The name is a bit of a misnomer. It springs from a college nickname relating to someone’s ability to maneuver into and out of difficult situations in the pursuit of getting things done with no apparent political or social harm to the maneuvering. In other words, it’s about carrying out project management techniques that are vital to getting things done when thing REALLY need to get done.

This list will likely grow over time, but here’s a first version of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, just to get you thinking and talking!

Project Management Techniques – The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done

Weasel-Principles

What would you add to this list of project management techniques? You know, the ones where you have to twist and turn a bit to hold a project together and bring it completion.

If you’d like a pdf download of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, you can grab it right here.

Mike Brown

 

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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
  • 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!





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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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Recently, the “Inside the Executive Suite” executive newsletter from Armada Executive Intelligence turned its attention to strategic thinking exercises and possibilities for breakthrough thinking. Their story was based on a review of two new books on the topic of insights. The books and the article were intriguing, and the folks at Armada Executive Intelligence gave us permission to re-run the piece here.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – 5 Breakthrough Thinking Possibilities

(via Armada Executive Intelligence)

How do you personally generate successful breakthrough thinking?

Do your methods compare favorably to approaches of the great thinkers of history? Additionally, are there proven lessons you can apply in specific types of situations?

Thinker

The last two questions are addressed in new books featured in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal Review section. William B. Irvine’s, “Aha! The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World,” and “The Eureka Factor” by cognitive neuroscientists, John Kounios and Mark Beeman, both address insights – the result of people achieving deep, accurate understanding of an issue facing them.

Irvine’s book presents case studies on the thinking approaches of history’s greatest thinkers. The Kounios and Beeman book examines, as much as is possible, the scientific basis for developing insights.

Irvine’s book highlights varied, successful insight patterns. In science and mathematics, doing something unrelated to the current task is common before generating breakthrough thinking. He credits religious insights as emerging from actual experience; with moral issues, insights vary in appearing after extended reflection or through sudden revelation. When new thinking depends on creative thinking, they tend to emerge after establishing a solid foundation of work leading to insights that emerge later.

What Works to Generate Breakthrough Thinking?

Figuring out how your situation ties to which type of insight pattern may seem confusing. That’s why we advocate for what Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling said: “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

You can extend this concept to developing insights. It’s helpful to employ a full repertoire of thinking techniques to produce many potential insights to fuel breakthrough thinking.

We’ve seen, tried, and returned to various approaches to trigger breakthrough insights. Here are several possibilities when you have to consistently introduce new insights in an organizational setting.

1. Sorting Out What You Know

From all the available potential facts and conclusions, sort them based on ones you KNOW to be true versus others you THINK to be true or HOPE to be true. This exercise helps identify how strong your foundation is for generating new insights.

Are most of your points of information and conclusions already proven to be true? Do you need to develop proof points (if you only THINK much of the information is true) or conduct additional, novel research or analysis (if you simply HOPE the ideas are true)?

Based on what you find, there are natural questions to firm up your fact base:

  • For information and conclusions known to be true: What new insights are suggested by what we already know?
  • For what you only think to be true, ask: What will it take to prove each of these as true or false?
  • For those you hope to be true ask: What stands in the way of vetting this information? If it were true, what new insights might it help uncover?

You can use your answers to take the appropriate steps to solidify your fact base so it is more robust.

2. Assembling the Insight Puzzle

Generating insights in a business setting is akin to assembling puzzle pieces. Extending that comparison creates an actual puzzle-solving exercise.

We worked with a consultant who would print every major known fact supporting a potential strategy and on a separate piece of paper. Each business strategist received a set of facts to combine, rearrange, and “play” with as a child would play with building blocks. Some arrangements of the facts might be simple and others more complex. The overall goal was for each individual to separately identify interesting combinations to look for new potential insights.

While there are advantages to printing out and physically arranging the facts, there are many options to work with the facts in a collaborative online environment.

Regardless of how you do it, after the initial work, strategists compare their insights, looking for similarities, differences, and new ways the individual work can generate additional insights.

3. Different Perspectives on the Insights Puzzle

We also find value in consciously looking at facts from different perspectives to trigger new insights. You can accomplish this with creative thinking exercises.

Breakthrough-Pinnacle

For generating insights, one approach to looking at your information from alternative perspectives is by consciously using various “modifiers” to probe your fact base in multiple ways. This list of modifiers below is one we typically use. Simply insert the modifier into this question: What if we looked at this information (or situation) in a more ______ way?

  • Focused
  • Simplified
  • Integrated
  • Broad
  • Diversified
  • Sophisticated
  • Extreme
  • Contrary
  • Long-term
  • Immediate

Using these types of modifiers will point you in multiple productive directions as you attempt to develop new insights.

4. Invite More People to Look at the Puzzle

Each step to this point involved you or your immediate team. You can expand potential insights by inviting a broader, more diverse group to consider the available information. Including new minds creates an opportunity to identify additional insights, especially ones a group more familiar with a status quo understanding of the situation might struggle to imagine.

5. Get Away Briefly…or Longer

If your insight-generating efforts are unproductive, step away for a short period of time. You may even find it beneficial to stay away longer.

Taking a break agrees with the idea that your previous efforts to generate insights may simply have been foundation-setting that needs time for less structured and casual thinking. A pause can be beneficial in fully exploiting your foundation as a platform for new insights.

Is there a road to breakthrough thinking that works best for you?

The key to generating breakthrough thinking in our experience is that they sometimes come through using tested methods and sometimes through completely new approaches. That requires flexibility on your part. – Armada Executive Intelligence

 

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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
  • 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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