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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 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.


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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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Whenever presenting to a group, I love trying out new ideas, tools, and techniques with the audience. I also appreciate the opportunity to be candid about what works and doesn’t relative to the topic we’re addressing. This is one of the great presentation tips shared early on by someone who works with a lot of speakers. I’ve adopted it, and the more intimate and interactive the setting, the more likely I will push further into successes and challenges.

During my “Creating Fantastic, Shareable Content” workshop at the Social Strategies Summit, we discussed how a content marketing strategy fits with a lead generation strategy. Typically, creating and sharing content is motivated by growing the number of prospects in your audience identifying themselves as interested in talking further about how your organization could serve them.

Covering various aspects of this content marketing strategy that must work well to make the overall strategy successful, I shared what we do well and an area we don’t do well as an organization with our own strategy.

Okay, rather than simply pointing it out, I said we “suck” at one part of our content marketing strategy.

Later, one of the great people I met at the conference remarked how unusual it is for a speaker to say his organization “sucks” at something. She wondered why I did this.

At the core, it is one of those things I sometimes say “in the moment.” The workshop atmosphere was very comfortable, making it easier for me to push the messages harder.

Presentation Tips – 3 Reasons to Admit You Don’t Do Something Well

Mike-Brown-Speaking

Beyond that, there are three other reasons why I said, “We suck.”

1. It is truthful

There are some things we do really well on content marketing, including creating business-oriented, evergreen content delivering value for readers around the world. We haven’t been as strong on following up and taking the next steps with the audience that wants to work more closely with us.

2. It is realistic

I’m suspect of speakers who paint the picture of EVERYTHING being wonderful as the basis of the credibility for the messages they share. Call me cynical, but I’ve been around too long to ever swallow that EVERYTHING is perfect with any organization.

3. An audience member may have an idea to help us improve

Overwhelmingly, I’m blessed to talk with very diverse, experienced audiences typically as eager to offer ideas as I am in offering ideas to them. If one of these smart people has an idea for how we can improve what The Brainzooming Group does, I definitely want to learn it.

What did he say?

Yes, saying we “suck” was a little strong, but it got attention, which is why I said it.

If you have us speak or do a workshop, be prepared for truthful, realistic content to help your audience better understand what to do. They will also understand the challenges that could be looming, too.

Consider it part of the Brainzooming brand promise.

If you don’t want me to say, “Suck,” however, let me know. I’ll use another word! – Mike Brown

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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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For many years, the Brainzooming blog has gone varying degrees of “all out” to preview and report on Super Bowl advertising, including tweeting like crazy, first at #BZBowl, and then the last few years at Jim Joseph’s #SuperBowlEXP.

This year, I personally went a lot less all out for the Super Bowl Advertising onslaught.

I hope that doesn’t Deflategate any of you!

XLIX-Winner-Patriots

10 Reasons for Not Going All Out on Super Bowl Advertising Coverage this Year

Why didn’t I go all out?

Well of course, there are ten reasons.

  1. There’s simply too much hype for advertising that typically doesn’t provide beneficial lessons most businesses should actually follow.
  2. I think Boom Ideanet, on the other hand, is doing some interesting work, and they had a natural and new voice to add to our Super Bowl coverage for the big game. This is especially true with the new Boom Ideanet eBook download on crowdsouring advertising, which you should grab here while you can.
  3. With the Seahawks and the Patriots, here wasn’t that much to get excited about beforehand, other than the Kansas City Chiefs already beating BOTH the Seahawks and the Patriots this year.
  4. I was invited to a Super Bowl party by a great friend and blog reader (hint, hint) and had decided upfront to behave more like an adult and less like a social media geek with my attention focused on monitoring and making #SuperBowlEXP tweets. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend, so I did wind up tweeting more of the game than I’d expected.
  5. The post-game posts we have run in the past haven’t been huge traffic magnets, which tells me you all are getting your coverage of the advertising addressed in other venues, which is fine.
  6. Staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning writing that day’s blog post isn’t great blogging practice. I still spotted a typo on one of the previous year’s Super Bowl advertising posts this week.
  7. Most of the Super Bowl advertising videos goes private within a fairly short time, so those previous Super Bowl advertising blog posts don’t hold up as evergreen content.
  8. In the midst of what seems like a lot of behind-the-scenes prep work for upcoming presentations and a new business initiative for us, creating a bunch of new Super Bowl content didn’t crack the top five on my to-do list.
  9. Even Katy Perry being the halftime show wasn’t that exciting for me. Other than the flying star thing (which I take it from the tweets is an NBC tie-in), I think the performance confirmed my initial ho-hum sense.
  10. A natural major Super Bowl advertising presence for X LIX should have been Ex-Lax (say it aloud if you don’t get it). THAT would have been funny enough to get me in the game!

Boom-Ideanet-Download

Having seen and tweeted on the ads (none of which I’d sought out ahead of time), there were a few winners and some real losers, although a number of my assessments differed from most of the rest of the folks tweeting on #SuperBowlEXP. It was intriguing, however, how many people were tweeting that this year, the game was actually better than the commercials, at least until the fighting started in the last 20 seconds.

Look for a quick recap of Brainzooming video tweets on Tuesday, because on Sunday night, I got some sleep! – 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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Speaking on social media strategy at various fantastic conferences, I’m surprised by how many individuals from prominent brands tell me they are handling ALL the social media for their brands.

Yes, being a solo social media professional isn’t something that happens just in smaller companies. Big brands also find themselves putting a tremendous amount of responsibility and social media work on one person. In fact, one study reports that 42% of professionals working on social media full-time serve as one person departments.

Solo-Social

That background prompted us to work with the Social Media Strategy Summit to offer a new Brainzooming workshop at its February 2015 conference on “Staying Sane as a One Person Social Media Department.”

The presentation content will be built on various Brainzooming posts on social media efficiency and effectiveness (some of which is highlighted at the end of this post).

I hope to also infuse the presentation with the ideas and suggestions of all of you who are solo social media professionals currently or have insights about the upsides and challenges of their jobs.

If you’re a solo social media professional, please take a few moments to answer the questions below to be a part of the Social Media Strategy Summit workshop and share this link with your peers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SoloSocialMediaPro

If aren’t a solo social media professional but know others who are, please share the link with them also so they can participate and offer their ideas: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SoloSocialMediaPro

Thanks in advance for your participation and all the great ideas!

A Sampling of Brainzooming Resources for Solo Social Media Professionals

Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

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Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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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Susan-CrawfordWhen a speaker has a command of the effective presentation skills to put him or herself into a presentation in a truly emotional, real way, I take notice.

These speakers stand out because so many speakers don’t inject any emotion into their talks. And for those speakers who do inject emotion, it often appears to the audience (or at least “me” in the audience) as phony and forced.

Among multiple great speakers at the Gigabit City Summit, one speaker I was able to see was one of those rare standout presenters who could put effective presentation skills on display throughout her talk in a very real way, so I took lots of notice.

Susan Crawford, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, delivered a talk on “From Gigabit City to Responsive City.” The former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy in the Obama administration, her talk on technology and broadband wound up following President Obama’s address on the importance of broadband for communities across the United States.

This placement set Susan Crawford up to contrast her challenges six years ago in advancing broadband initiatives compared with the address President Obama had completed just a few hours earlier.

8 Effective Presentation Skills for Putting More of You in Your Talks

What were the effective presentation skills Susan Crawford used so well in her remarks?

Here are eight of them Susan Crawford used that ANY of us can use, if you or I are willing to move into a more real place to share our perspectives.

She spoke:

  1. About her hopes
  2. Of her challenges
  3. From the heart
  4. Using her own stories, not someone else’s stories
  5. To establish empathy with the audience
  6. With humor where it was appropriate – even in a serious talk
  7. With body language that conveyed her passion and emotion in very subtle ways
  8. In a way that took her to the edge of raw emotion without going too far

I was so completely pulled in to her talk, I missed an online message from conference chair Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive on how we wanted to wrap up the day’s events!

Susan Crawford at the Gigabit City Summit from KC Digital Drive on Vimeo.

Two days later, while delivering an update on a Digital Inclusion Summit report for Kansas City The Brainzooming Group prepared for the Kansas City Public Library. I tried using as many of these presentation skills as possible. I’ll keep the list close to push myself in future presentations. If you’re up to it, next time you want to put more of you into your presentation, come back here and see how you stack up against the effective presentation skills on the list. – Mike Brown

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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.

For an organizational innovation and strategic thinking 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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The Brainzooming Group, in support of KC Digital Drive, is in the midst of wrapping up producing the Gigabit City Summit today.

Talking with attendees throughout the event, it’s exciting to hear them talk about how smooth, fun, engaging, and meaningful the Gigabit City Summit event experience has been. These sentiments were accentuated during Wednesday afternoon’s general session when we interrupted the regularly scheduled Gigabit City Summit to feature a live webcast of President Barack Obama’s address from Cedar Falls, IA on the plan for accelerating broadband availability in the United States.

Gigabit-City-Summit-Interruption

When it comes to events, here are 10 of my hip pocket tips for designing and implementing a fantastic event experience design. They apply to big meetings, and also to most little meetings. Most of them even apply if you’re only getting a few people together for a meeting.

10 Tips for a Compelling Event Experience Design

  1. When in doubt, incorporate more emotion into your event experience design. Emotion isn’t used enough in professional settings, so you’ll stand out with genuine emotion.
  2. Start with your second biggest thing; end with the biggest thing you have going.
  3. Capture all the TYPES and AMOUNT of content you can during the event, even if you’re not sure what you’ll do with it later.
  4. Restrict yourself (as much as possible) to speakers that someone on the planning group has previously seen. If you’re interested in someone you haven’t seen, figure out a way to see them speak before deciding.
  5. Make sure the technical and audio visual people who are working the show have full visibility to what you’re trying to accomplish with the event experience design. This allows them to support you in ways you might not have thought about.
  6. There are two kinds of people in the world: event people (who understand the mix of strategy and detail to implement a successful event experience design) and everyone else. Make sure you surround yourself with event people.
  7. Be ready to fix things for attendees and know who the people are on your event team that are great at fixing things for attendees. Always know where these people are at the event.
  8. Manage the time aggressively to keep the event on schedule. Know, however, when a slight deviation from the time schedule is important for creating a better event experience (such as when the President delivers an address on your topic during your conference). Also know how much of the extra time you’ll be able to make up during the rest of the event and where it’s going to take place.
  9. Create the schedule so there are multiple compelling reasons in the event experience for attendees to stick around throughout the entire event.
  10. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be looking out for the completely unexpected things that WILL happen that reinforce your event experience while the event is going on. Those unexpected events led to stopping our show for the President, how we opened the first two days of the conference with particular music and video selections, and me trying (at 2 a. m. Thursday morning) to get a last-minute guest into our breakfast and Kansas City tech tour this morning. Those unexpected things are God’s gift to those who are paying attention to them! – Mike Brown

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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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After compiling yesterday’s list of your Top 10 favorite (i.e., most-viewed) new Brainzooming posts from 2014, here are my favorites.

As is often the case, there are stories behind these posts. Sometimes the stories are contained in the posts, sometimes they are not. Nevertheless, there are some overlooked gems in this list (if I do say so myself), that you will enjoy if you didn’t catch hem the first time around in 2014!

Strategy and Creative Thinking – My Favorite Brainzooming Posts for 2014

Strategic Planning Exercises – Have you tried a Zoomference yet? 

This recounts a fun content marketing success story. The original story covering how we use our online collaboration platform to work with teams spread out across multiple locations prompted a two-year Brainzooming reader to contact us. Over a few hours, we put together a strategic plan for her organization that set the stage for 2015.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Identifying Left Field Competitors

I love when questions during workshops turn into blog posts. This competitive strategy post was the answer to a question at the Compete through Service Symposium on how you can push your organization to better imagine surprising competitors.

Left-Field-Fenway

What to Blog About – 11 Buying Process Questions for Blog Topics

Some blog posts are written to share what we’re trying to improve upon in our own business. While content marketing has been a significant part of expanding The Brainzooming Group, we have work to do on linking our content to the steps potential clients are going through in selecting strategy and innovation partners.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Taking Risks with a Live Audience

This post recounts a live experiment that showed why using different types of strategic thinking questions changes what types of answers you’ll get. While I was confident the experiment would work, the possibility that I could have failed is what made it exciting to throw in to a live presentation as an unplanned exercise!

Creating Strategic Impact – Challenge and Change

It seems like there are a few posts similar to this every year, where someone on Facebook or Twitter supplies the missing piece to turn a random idea into a fully realized thought. This was my favorite example from this year, as we teamed up to define what “lle” stands for when it comes to positive change.

Strategic Planning – 10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare

I love this Halloween-oriented GEICO ad because it skewers the improbability of horror films. At the same time, though, it’s a great analogy for the bad judgment you find in organizations that stick with the same old strategic planning approaches instead of trying something new – such as how The Brainzooming Group approaches developing strategy!

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

This strategic thinking exercise to help in designing a new website went from being used in a meeting on a project we were working on to a blog post in less than twenty-four hours. I love when that happens!

Strategic Thinking – Andy Warhol and Practicing What You Preach

I’ve been carrying this Andy Warhol quote around with me since writing a paper on him for a high school “Modern Thought” class with Fr. Gilmary Tallman. I couldn’t believe it had taken this long to share it in the blog post. There just aren’t that many ideas I still have kicking around from back then that haven’t found a way into the blog yet.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A New Type of Big Focus Group

This one is a favorite because of the event, the event’s co-sponsor (Nature Explore, an organization where I’m on the board), and the opportunity to create a self-facilitated focus group of well over one hundred people. And what’s even better is we just reached an agreement to close the 2015 Leadership Institute with another full-audience, self-facilitated strategic thinking exercise.

Nature-Explore-Session

Brand Strategy, Airplane Talk and Rolling in the Aisles

The story of the funniest plane flight I’ve had in years, courtesy of my new friend, Ahava Leibtag. By the time I’d try to explain it, this would be as long as the post. Just click and read it!

Strategic Thinking – Using Caution with Business Content

This post with a recommended disclaimer that should go on all (or at least most) business blog posts is perhaps the truest post ever on the Brainzooming blog.

Strategic Thinking – When to Fix a Business Process that’s Never Failed?

This is a favorite because of the photo. I took a photo of an automated trashcan at the Atlanta airport thinking it would come in handy one day for a blog post about throwing something away. There is the big lesson: Always be taking photos that might fit into future blog posts. ALL THE TIME.

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Okay, maybe THIS is the truest Brainzooming post ever. Even though I KNOW these steps, I cannot seem to avoid them EVERY TIME I prepare a new presentation.

Creative Thinking Exercises – Change and Grow Constantly

I like this post because it reminds me of things we did during live workshops that, if not for the post, would have been lost to me even just a few months later. A reminder to take better notes on what we do rather than just committing it to memory!

Life Lesson – Living Your Life and Dying Exactly the Same

This one is very personal. It started life as a blog post about a former co-worker’s life (and death). When I actually wove the story into a presentation about Aligning Your Life’s Work, I wasn’t sure I’d get through the story without crying. Emotions are a challenge for me. To have a story that forces me to deal with emotions during a presentation says it’s an important message.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A Sex Tip to Boost Strategic Thinking

It’s about sex. And what about that photo?

The 4-Step Career Advice Nearly Everyone Ignores

This is the best, most widely applicable advice I have to offer. And yes, it is also the most-ignored advice I offer when people ask for career advice. That alone puts it on this list of my favorite posts: it’s full of unrealized value just waiting for you to do something about it!

Creative Idea: Jimmy Fallon Turns Brian Williams into a Rapper’s Delight

This one required very little creativity from me, but it’s likely my most-viewed Brainzooming post from the year because Brian Williams doing Rapper’s Delight is a scream!

Social Media Disclaimer: Coming Clean on Humble Brag Social Sharing

This one isn’t a favorite for the written story as much as the untold story behind the two pictures of Kate Jackson and me snuggled up. I always liked the smartest Angel best, I have to admit.

Here’s hoping you enjoy some of these favorites from 2014!

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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