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We (and by “we” I mean “I”) would like to believe we’re strong at strategic thinking in business. And an appreciation of strategic thinking from a business perspective SHOULD extend over into ALL the decisions we make.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

With strategic thinking, it’s often so much easier to apply it to other organizations and people than to our own situation.

The-Thinker

Need a few examples to back that claim up?

Here you go.

The SMARTEST Thing I Could Do Would Be To . . .

  • Prioritize all the business development stuff I need to do, but I sit at the computer struggling to write a blog post for the next day.
  • Get on with writing a blog post for the next day if that’s what I’m going to insist on doing, but instead, I spend time chatting on Facebook Messenger.
  • Work on one thing at a time and finish it, yet my desk is strewn with 15 things that need attention by the end of the day.
  • Stop snacking, but I’m too busy walking to the kitchen to get cheese crackers as a way of getting exercise.
  • Appreciate the people that have reached out wondering why I seem so frazzled lately, but all the while I’m concerned about what I’m doing that’s making it so obvious how frazzled I’ve been lately.
  • Turn off the computer to clear the memory out and let it take a rest, but I refuse to shut it down and have to re-open all those Windows Explorer searches.
  • Go to sleep instead of staying up past midnight once again, KNOWING I have to get up by 4:30 to complete my weekly newsletter writing deadline.

See what I mean.

It’s easy, when it comes to strategic thinking, to KNOW better.

It’s not nearly as easy (it seems) to DO the better thing you know you should do.

Maybe that’s all part of being human.  – 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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In its  “Inside the Executive Suite” newsletter, Armada Corporate Intelligence featured a recap and expansion on a Wall Street Journal article called “Win Over a Remote Boss.”  The prevalence of remote collaboration (and the new strategic thinking and other challenges those situations can create) prompted sharing the “Inside the Executive Suite” story here in an edited format.

Strategic Thinking – 4 Strategies for Successful Remote Collaboration

AEIB-Graphic

I Can’t See You! What Do You Think?

Roughly forty percent of US workers work from home or in other virtual work settings. Include individuals reporting to an office but working directly with bosses and/or employees in other locations, and the prevalence of distance working relationships grows.

We liken the advice to employ different communication styles in remote work settings to how actors vary gestures and speaking approaches based on how readily an audience can see their faces. TV and movies allow for more subtle gestures because facial cues are readily visible to the audience. Stage actors (who are further away from the audience) have to use bigger gestures to convey the same messages with comparable impact. The acting style must vary relative to the level of connection.

A recent Wall Street Journal article shared advice for individuals working remotely as part of a team.

Similarly in remote work settings, you have to adapt interaction styles to fit the challenges of reduced interaction when people can’t see each other.

4 Strategies for Clarifying and Modifying How You Interact

Based on ideas from the Wall Street Journal article and our remote working experiences, consider these strategies for successful remote collaboration. Instead of ideas tied to particular apps, we’ll concentrate on behaviors adaptable to the tools available to your work team.

Orange-Cupts-String

Create clear understanding about communication and decision making styles

It’s imperative to clarify communication preferences and decision styles irrespective of whether you are the boss or an employee. Not every boss, however, can readily articulate personal communication and decision preferences. We suggest answering these strategic thinking questions to improve clarity:

  • Do you like learning the main point immediately (with details to follow) when someone delivers a recommendation? Alternatively, do you prefer a run-through making the case for a recommendation before someone shares the big idea?
  • Can you identify typical situations where team members can make decisions on their own, either with or without the boss’ input? What types of decisions can the boss alone make? Are there any situational factors impacting these guidelines?
  • Do you comfortably make quick decisions, or do you mull over the possibilities prior to deciding? Does this tendency apply to all decisions or just certain ones?
  • Relative to approval situations, are there times when specific approval (i.e., receiving a Yes or No) isn’t required? In these cases, will it work to simply have a “reply by or we will move ahead” date to reduce back-and-forth communication and accelerate the review process?

The answers lead to more independent work processes and efficient communication. Try converting the answers into general guidelines or a decision tree everyone can use.

Use the right communication channel for the situation

While it is convenient to use email as a predominant form of communication, it isn’t ideal in every situation. Consider what communication channel makes it easiest for the receiver to consume, process, and act on your inbound communication.

The WSJ article recommends email for delivering project status updates and other information plus bouncing ideas off of someone else. Instant messages or texts typically generate greater attention for time-sensitive issues.

While over-communicating is important in remote work settings, you don’t want to overdo it inadvertently. Test yourself by considering whether you would seem to be a nuisance if you showed up as often at someone’s office door as you are showing up in his or her email inbox/text message list/voice mail box?

Schedule brief, informal updates with high regularity

It’s easy to be lazy and use cc and bcc as your primary avenues to communicate updates to others. What is easier for a sender than listing multiple names on an email and expecting that including someone on the email serves as an update?

Unless you have an app signaling when a recipient opens an email, however, you have no idea when or how a recipient processes the information. Additionally, copying people on emails in place of targeted updates places all the work on the recipient to sift through nested email strings to understand where things are at currently.

It’s far better for a team member to create a legitimate update listing high priority initiatives, along with current activities, potential issues, and likely next steps. Consolidating multiple “cc and update” emails into one communication (with hyperlinks to more detailed information) saves time and doesn’t waste the attention of a boss already inundated with “cc and update” emails daily.

Prioritize and escalate issues in smart ways

Despite creating guidelines for expected situations, there will be unplanned times requiring alternative methods of prioritization and escalation approaches. Here are suggestions in these cases:

  • Prioritize tasks that others need to get started addressing. Better to get someone else working sooner than later so you can both be active on high priority items.
  • When it comes to deciding on responding to communications, jump on quick email and phone response to bosses and co-workers that don’t have visibility to what you are doing. Suggest that the team put a phrase such as “Immediate Attention” into priority emails to help with this.
  • Anticipate an escalation path if a co-worker has not responded in a timely fashion, leaving you hanging. Do you have an okay to reach out at unusual times to keep things moving? Ask about this upfront to minimize potential anxiety if there’s a situation where you need to demand attention right away.

When in doubt?

Whenever a remote working situation leaves you questioning how best to communicate, interact, or keep a project moving ahead, a fantastic strategic thinking question suggested by the WSJ article is to ask: What path will best grow and maintain trust in this working relationship? The answer will generally be a smart way to go.  – Armada Corporate Intelligence

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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 brand’s innovation strategy and implementation 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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I’ll be presenting a Brainzooming workshop on internal branding strategy at the Brand Strategy Conference in New York, April 6-8. The workshop, while drawing on material from my Fortune 500 work, springs from multiple conversations at the 2015 Brand Strategy Conference. The discussions focused on when employees should be brought into branding strategy decisions.

The executives asking about and offering opinions on the topic tended to believe it was okay to advise employees about branding strategy decisions immediately after introducing changes to customers.

I was horrified by this viewpoint coming from senior executives because it is so strategically misguided.

3 Keys to Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

Internal-Brand-Strategy-eBo

One alternative to letting your employees know about a new direction in branding strategy after your customers is to view employees as an internal brand team. With that change in perspective, you introduce possibilities for engaging employee in shaping branding strategy. Even without revealing specifics to employees in advance, purposefully involving them in developing branding ideas opens up opportunities to familiarize employees with the direction and insights leading to a new branding strategy.

To complement the in-person workshop content, The Brainzooming Group collaborated with Breanna Jacobs at GSMI, the Brand Strategy Conference producer, to publish a new free branding strategy eBook called, “Engaging Employees as an Internal Brand Team: 3 Actionable Strategies.”

The eBook includes three strategic thinking exercises you can use with your internal brand team to invite collaboration, solicit input, and create early learning opportunities.

Download Your Free Internal Branding Strategy eBook!

If you can make it to the Brand Strategy Conference, I’d love to meet you and have you attend the workshop. If you can’t attend, get your free copy of the new branding eBook exclusively from GSMI and start collaborating more effectively with your employees to strengthen your brand and its experience for customers.  – Mike Brown

Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Actionable Strategies for Engaging Your Internal Brand Team

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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

Innovation-Strategy-Tweet

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

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

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

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

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

So, what if you’re the boss?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Sitting at the Las Vegas airport after speaking at the Social Media Strategies Summit, you realize how important a great friend is, whether you’re arriving in or departing from Las Vegas.

Las-Vegas-Airport-!

In fact, by my informal, unscientific observations, there are NINETEEN reasons you want a great friend at the Las Vegas airport if you’re moving through McCarran or hanging out waiting for a flight.

Skeptical?

Well, a great friend at the Las Vegas airport will:

  1. Tell you that you are actually carrying three carry-on items, no matter that you think one item doesn’t count because it is two pairs of sneakers in a plastic shopping bag
  2. Remind you that your scarf is still 5 bags back going through x-ray because you didn’t take it off until you were ready to go through the security scanner
  3. Tell you when you are too fat to wear what you’re wearing out in public these days – or at least tell you to pull down your shirt.
  4. Buy you a coffee when you are too messed up to do it for yourself
  5. Hold something for you while you try to get everything back on after going through security
  6. Have a multi-plug-in adaptor to get you some juice for your phone before the plane boards
  7. Agree that you are getting screwed over by the boss, but not try to fix the problem for you
  8. Let you know that the bra you are wearing has so much padding you may be in violation of truth in advertising regulations
  9. Spilt that bagel with you
  10. Watch your luggage while you go to the bathroom
  11. Suggest you not drink as much this time in Vegas
  12. Figure out how to tell you the tight white pants you are wearing might as well be sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, if you get what I mean
  13. Remind you lots of people are worse off than you are
  14. Glare at you for interrupting an in-person conversation to take a call you needn’t have taken right this very minute
  15. Point out that despite them being in, wearing your hair long is cooler than the man-bun you decided to rock this morning
  16. Tell you it is time to let it go when it comes to the conference you just attended
  17. Challenge you that (at least right now) wearing a Kansas City Royals shirt is really cool and wearing a Chiefs shirt is really all about, “Remember 1969!”
  18. Check to find out the plane is half full, so you can puhleeez chill out and quit griping about running late
  19. Tell you that while those shorts still are okay for you, it’s time to add about another inch and half to the length, just because, you know, you haven’t been a teenager for twenty-five years

Yup, the Las Vegas Airport is a great place to have a great friend.

Las-Vegas-Airport-3

And, in keeping with Las Vegas, just so you know, all the links (except two) in this article are affiliate links.

So shop, shop, away! – Mike Brown

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s 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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We’ve written and presented about what to blog about along with other content creation opportunities and conference organizers can pursue.

At the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas, however, an attendee asked the question about how, as an attendee, one can create valuable content for blogs and other social channels?

27 Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

His question prompted this list of 27 ideas for both what to blog about from a conference and for other content creation and sharing opportunities your audience might find valuable.

In generating the list, I thought back to the two most recent events I’ve attended in Las Vegas: the Specialty Equipment Market Association event with tens of thousands of attendees and the Social Media Strategies Summit, which is a tremendously intimate conference by comparison.

What to Blog About at a Conference

  1. Create a blog post featuring the top quotes from the conference.
  2. Profile specific presentations as blog posts.
  3. Record video interviews with presenters and attendees that your audience should know more about.
  4. Go the conference with a specific list of questions your audience would like answered and record short video interviews with the right presenters or attendees answering the questions.
  5. Get permission from presenters or conference organizers to link or share specific presentations with your audience.
  6. Put together a series of photos of key slides or infographics from the conference that your audience will find beneficial.
  7. Feature the top trends or future developments in the industry that your audience needs to know about and understand.
  8. Give a behind-the-scenes look at the city or venue where the conference was held.
  9. Provide your tips for attending the conference if your readers were to attend in the future.
  10. Review a book one of the presenters wrote.
  11. Spend your evening in your room and write a daily recap of the conference that is ready before any other online source.
  12. Live blog presentations and share “raw” notes throughout the day.
  13. Share links to pertinent articles and blog posts from presenters.
  14. Complete a conference “scavenger hunt” with fifteen or twenty meaningful items from the conference that would be of benefit to your audience. Examples might include: Biggest insight, Most valuable presentation, A Speaker You Need to Learn More About, Most Intriguing Quote about the Future, etc.
  15. Ask a presenter if he or she would guest blog for your audience.
  16. Transcribe your written notes and publish those in one or more blog posts..
    Audience-Conference

Other Content Creation Opportunities for Conference Attendees

  1. Tweet conference presentations using a hashtag that you have let your audience know ahead of time.
  2. Turn video interviews you completed into a podcast about the conference.
  3. Video your impressions throughout conference (a daily end-of-the-day video) and put together a recap video from that.
  4. Do a Periscope video of a keynote presentation.
  5. Put your top photos of presentation slides into your own presentation with notes and make it available to your audience.
  6. Capture big ideas from the conference and share those.
    Conference-Matrix
  7. Visually capture your conference notes (if you have the capability to do that), and share those with your audience.
  8. Create a Pinterest board of products (or speakers, or exhibitors, etc.) you thought stood out at the event.
  9. Interview exhibitors at the event and string together one-minute product and service overviews your audience would find helpful.
  10. Curate content that other attendees are creating about the conference.
  11. If you have multiple attendees at the event, create a mini-content marketing strategy to make sure your people are deployed across the event (instead of all in the same sessions), grabbing the content you’ll want to share with your audience later.

Remember, before pursuing many of these ideas, you want to make sure you get the proper authorizations and copyright permissions, whether those need to come from the conference organizer or the presenters. – Mike Brown

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Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help your knack for generating creative ideas yourself and with your team members! 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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Who could find a connection between the “Hokey Pokey” and internal branding ideas? None other than B2B marketing expert Randall Rozin! Randall, who leads the Global Brand Management function within Dow Corning Corporation, serves as the company’s key strategist on brand creation, internal branding, and strategy alignment. Besides all his corporate accomplishments, Randall is always a popular guest author on the Brainzooming blog.  

How the “Hokey Pokey” Suggests Strong Internal Branding Ideas by Randall Rozin

Randall-Rozin2As kids it was fun, if not somewhat embarrassing, to do the Hokey Pokey at school, at the skating rink or at parties.  The Hokey Pokey (song and dance) goes by many names around the world, but has a common format in that you first create a circle of friends. When the song starts, you begin by putting your right hand in, putting your right hand out, putting your right hand back in and shaking it all about, after which you ‘do the hokey pokey by turning yourself about’.  From there you then proceed with the left hand, each foot in turn, your head, backside and finally your ‘whole self’.

Now take the common Hokey Pokey as a simple metaphor to suggest internal branding ideas.  A stretch perhaps, but let’s have some fun with it as at the end of the day the goal of both the Hokey Pokey and Internal Branding are the same.  We want an employee to put his or her “whole self in” to the brand. This concept applies for both business to business firms as well as business to consumer companies.

7 Internal Branding Ideas from the “Hokey Pokey”

Put your right hand in/out

As the internal branding dance begins, we start slowly with a simple hand to test the waters.  We put our right hand in do an audit of what we know about our brand and what we have been doing to communicate it to our employees.

Put your left hand in/out

With current situational knowledge in place, we put our other hand in to develop a strategy of where we want our brand to be in the future and outline a plan to get there.  Now the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and has a path forward.

Hokey-pokey-right-foot-inPut your right foot in/out

Next we have to get senior management alignment to our strategy and goals with active support for bringing the brand to life with and for employees.  Sometimes this involves a little footwork.

Put your left foot in/out

With visible support from management, we now begin to create awareness of what our brand means, what it stands for.  This involves putting feet on the street to inform all employees.

Put your head in/out

The head in this part of the dance, as with internal branding strategy, is properly timed.  In this phase we move beyond awareness to really helping employees understand what the brand means, why it is important and what role they, as individuals, play in delivering on the brand promises.

Put your backside in/out

With internal branding strategy you want hearts and minds.  We covered minds in the previous step; a way to the heart is by having some fun with your brand to help convey its message in a variety of ways.  In the Hokey Pokey, putting your backside in breaks down barriers by being a bit silly during the dance.  For your internal branding initiatives putting your backside in could include sharing stories, in fun ways, of on-brand behaviors as well as off-brand behaviors and how to correct them.

Put your whole self in

The ultimate aim of internal branding strategy is to have employees’ hearts, minds, bodies and souls committed to supporting your brand in service of your customers.  In essence, getting everyone to put their ‘whole self in’ and do so willingly as they can see the connection between what they do every day at work and why it matters and adds value to internal and external customers.

Enjoy both the hokey pokey and your internal branding ideas and remember to “turn yourself about” to have some fun with it cause “that’s what it’s all about.” – Randall Rozin

 

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