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Luncheon-Graphic

I’m in Carbondale, Illinois today delivering a talk at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on “Envisioning the Gigabit City – Collaboration and the Creative Power of Diversity.” It is an honor to return to Southern Illinois University, since I received an MBA from SIU.

At today’s luncheon, there will be an opportunity to meet and talk about community visioning with leaders working to turn Carbondale into a Gigabit City. Two Carbondale leaders, Gary Williams, the Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Carbondale and Steve Mitchell with Connect SI, participated in the Gigabit City Summit that The Brainzooming Group co-developed in January 2015. They had the opportunity to hear, via a Brainzooming workshop at the event, how we help foster community visioning for cities, organizations, and institutions.

In the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute talk, we’ll cover some of the same themes on community visioning with a specific emphasis on what it means in trying to build a creative economy.

You can follow the conversation on Twitter today at #CarbondaleGigabit, plus dive deeper into the content incorporated into the talk via links below:

“Envisioning the Gigabit City – Collaboration and the Creative Power of Diversity”

SIU-Know-No-Bounrds

Appreciating Perspectives

Cultivating Diverse Ideas

Creating Collaboration

Exploiting Structure

Crowd-Friendly Communication

“Measuring” the Return on Creative Ideas

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 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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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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Mozilla-Chris-LawrenceThe Building the Gigabit City 2.0 event on February 13 in Kansas City was an incredible day in so many respects.

The Mozilla Foundation launched the event to stimulate proposal submissions for its $150,000 Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund in Kansas City.

The Brainzooming Group designed the afternoon interactive session for the day-long event. Throughout the afternoon, well over 100 participants imagined and described app and technology concepts to improve education, workforce development, digital access, and other areas within the Kansas City community and beyond.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0

With the number and range of participants at the majestic Kansas City Public Library, we recruited an extended team to facilitate six community-oriented tracks.

Our team included a mix of people – some we’ve known for a few months to others we’ve known for decades. All had facilitated, participated in, or tracked the Brainzooming strategic thinking methodology.

The fantastic strategic thinking session facilitation team included:

Mike-Alex-Brainzooming

Mike Brown (l), Alex Greenwood (r), and the Senior Living / Lifelong Learning team at work.

To ensure the facilitation team was ready to help participants work on new app concepts, we prepared a more than 30-page facilitator’s guide. The guide provided overviews on Mozilla objectives, background on each community group, and step-by-step overviews for using the Brainzooming exercises we designed.

Each facilitator brought their own expertise and experience to what we designed to bring it to life. We are so appreciative of everyone volunteering their time to make the event a success!

Strategic Thinking Learnings about the Brainzooming Methodology

Every time other people facilitate a Brainzooming strategic thinking session, it’s a fantastic learning opportunity both through facilitator comments and observing the groups. Among the strategic thinking learnings coming out of the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund session we designed:

  • The session emphasized how outcomes-based the Brainzooming methodology is. We start with what needs to come from a strategy session and design backwards, which creates a strong emphasis on production.
  • The Brainzooming methodology gains speed (the “zooming” experience) by eliminating elements that don’t add to the final output’s quality. That sometimes means participants (and facilitators) don’t get the context they’d like (even though the results suggest they don’t need it).
  • When you are monitoring group process but not facilitating, you rely on different cues. Rather than the content of the ideas, you depend on volume (of talking and of ideas), participant physical activity, posture, and eye contact as the primary signals for intra-session success.

Kudos to Kari Keefe of Mozilla and Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive who were the primary contacts Barrett Sydnor and I worked with leading up to the event.

Thanks also go to Alex Greenwood and the team at Alex G Public Relations for their work on, among other things, identifying the ideal spot above to do a video interview showcasing the visual impact of a Brainzooming session.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0 from LINC on Vimeo.

Now, we’re looking forward to seeing the variety of proposals coming forward to compete for funding! – Mike Brown

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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 strategy and implementation efforts.

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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CAIT-StartingWe traveled to Washington University in St. Louis last week to participate in a presentation and panel discussion on “The Future of American Communities – The Loop Media Hub and Kansas City Google Fiber” with Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive, Dave Sandel with the Loop Media Hub, and a number of other panelists.

Strategic Relationship Success

I discussed the strategic relationship success between Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group in creating the Building the Gigabit City brainstorming session and report that’s still available as a free download with hundreds of ideas and concepts about how ultra high-speed broadband Internet will change our communities.

One audience question was on how to secure Google Fiber-like Internet service in an under-served community that can’t create a business case on its own. My initial response was to look to related communities in similar or better situations to identify ways to join forces. My answer was shaped by hearing Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James at a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast discuss making “regionalism” work in metropolitan Kansas City – an area comprised of two states, nine counties, and one hundred twenty city governments.

Speaking specifically about Kansas City Missouri and Kansas successfully working together on Google Fiber, Mayor Sly James highlighted three factors for strategic relationship success that made this effort at regionalism work.

Mayor-Sly-JamesThe Google Fiber opportunity was:

  1. Tangible – Because of trying to win Google Fiber, there was a real effort that presented a compelling upside with a clear deadline to combine forces and to perform.
  2. Valuable – Creating a successful go at  from a strategic relationship held the possibility of significant, unique benefits for the participating parties.
  3. Unusually Big – While it might have been possible for each party to go it alone, the best opportunity for success came from pairing up and building trust among the cities.

Mayor Sly James pointed out the challenges of establishing regionalism on a more abstract level. It’s easy to talk about cities working together in a strategic relationship, but it simply doesn’t work unless the three success factors present for the Google Fiber competition are present.

The three factors for strategic relationship success Mayor Sly James shared are beneficial to apply to all potential strategic relationship opportunities. If your organization can’t or doesn’t want to go it alone, look for (or create) a situation to align with another organization that’s tangible, valuable, and is so unusually big it clearly requires both of your organizations to succeed. – Mike Brown

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Building-Gigabit-City

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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Gigabit-GraphicWhat do Lafayette, Louisiana, the south side of Chicago, Google, Cleveland, the Texas hill country north of San Antonio, and a chunk of rural Missouri and Iowa bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island have in common?

Each leads in delivering a faster, more reliable, and more innovative internet experience. And you would know that if you had attended—and paid attention—during the first day of the Fiber To The Home Council’s conference on From Gigabit Envy to Gigabit Deployed: A Community Toolkit for Building Ultra High-Speed Networks being held this week in Kansas City.

  • The parish of Lafayette built its own fiber network after fighting off the legal challenges of incumbent cable and internet providers. Now Hollywood special effects firms are opening offices and engineering firms from Boston are relocating their headquarters there.
  • Gigabit Squared is soon to start construction on a new fiber network in and around the University of Chicago neighborhood and already there is more than $100 million dollars in new investment and developers are working to make their projects gig ready.
  • Google is offering Kansas City residents gigabit speed internet, and 1 terabyte of cloud storage, and 100+ channels of cable television, and a DVR with 500 hour of storage (in HD), and a Nexus tablet remote control, and a fast home Wi-Fi—all for $120 a month.
  • Northeast Ohio’s One Community fiber network is allowing neurosurgeons to virtually rehearse the operation before they crack open your skull.
  • The foresight of the GVTC telephone cooperative ten years ago in deploying a fiber to the home network has allowed it to weather the storm of reduced landline usage and move into internet, cable, security, long-distance and advanced data.
  • Grand River Mutual has used USDA grants and loans to build a fiber network that brings fast, reliable, reasonably priced telephone and internet services—and economic development opportunities.

When it comes to blazing a trail—even in something as technically involved as telecommunications—the experience of these organizations shows that vision, creativity, and perseverance can be more important than size, financial resources, or the zip code of your headquarters.  – Barrett Sydnor


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Building-Gigabit-City

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 strategy and implementation efforts.

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TEDxWyandotte-Small“Diversity and Ideas in the Porous Community” will be my talk at the first-ever TEDxWyandotte on April 2, 2013 at Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC).

TEDxWyandotte – Core Impact: Exploring Ideas that Enrich a Community

The theme chosen by TEDxWyandotte curator Shari Wilson, Jay Matlack, Organizing Committee Chair, and the rest of the organizing committee is “Core Impact: Exploring Ideas that Enrich a Community.”

Among the other presenters announced so far are Adam Arredondo, CEO and co-founder of Local Ruckus, and Afro Cuban band, Making Movies. There are a number of other fantastic speakers representing compelling community efforts, but I’m sworn to secrecy until they are officially announced!

This will be my first TEDx talk after attending a variety of TEDxKC events the past several years – both in person and on video. While the TED talks and the now familiar format seems straight forward in its expectations and constraints, it’s a speaking style quite different than I use for my presentations. The TED talks style is so one-way (all eyes on the speaker on the stage in a darkened venue); it flies in the face of creating the diverse interaction we so fundamentally espouse with the Brainzooming methodology. As a result, from a format standpoint, I’m trying to craft a TED talk that looks like a TED talk but is still interactive; it’s a challenge, without a doubt.

My TEDx Talk: Diversity and Ideas in the Porous Community

TEDxWyandotte-LargeThe topic for my TEDxWyandotte talk is about how the most impactful, strategic change springs from large-scale, diverse, even contradictory, perspectives brought together to forge new ideas. Creating a porous community that readily cultivates diverse thinking is vital to a truly enriched community, i.e. a community were the benefits of great ideas are available to all participants.

And that idea holds intriguing implications for communities and change.

Look up typical definitions of community and you see words and phrases such as:

  • Unified
  • Common interests and location
  • Living in a specific area
  • Common history or interests

Not a lot of diversity there – and that’s a problem. Yet we find such excitement in forces pushing diversity and disruption through:

Wrapping all my thinking together on this topic in a succinct fashion while also drawing some lines through the other presentations will be an exciting opportunity.

And to carry out the theme and raise the stakes just a bit, audience members will be able to select the stories they want to hear during the presentation. That means there are nine different variations of the presentation that are possible. We won’t know which one it will be until the audience makes their decisions throughout the presentation. It’s what I’ve started to call, “Live Blogging.” Just as with hyperlinks in a blog post, the audience community is able to direct the content deeper or move on based on its preferences.

If You’re Near Kansas City, Join Us for TEDxWyandotte

Once again, TEDxWyandotte will be Tuesday, April 2, at 5:30 pm at Kansas City Kansas Community College. If you’re in or around Kansas City, it would be great to have you join us and sell out this first time TEDx event. You can reserve tickets right now! You can also keep up to date on speaker announcements and other news about TEDxWyandotte on Facebook.

And if you have any ideas on the topic, I’m interested in hearing what you think! – 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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Thursday, July 26, 2012 was the long-awaited Google Fiber announcement day in Kansas City. The much anticipated and high secrecy corporate communications event played out in the Westport district of Kansas City at the new Google Fiber Space, conveniently located on State Line road, just inside Missouri on the dividing line between it and Kansas.

I scored an invite to the first of several Google Fiber introduction events over the course of two days as Google executives and mayors Joe Reardon and Sly James (of Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, respectively) unveiled the Google Fiber offering.

Since there are already many stories evaluating the offers and packages Google Fiber introduced, there’s not much value in regurgitating what you can read and see elsewhere. Suffice it to say while I’m not personally a huge consumer of many TV channels, the packages appear to deliver the expected speed, flexibility, and coolness factor – all at a price point that has to have other cable players (esp. Time Warner Cable here in Kansas City) quaking.

6 Corporate Communications Lessons from the Google Fiber Announcement

Instead of dissecting the Google Fiber offering, I put on my strategic marketing communications and event strategy hat to share these corporate communication lessons from the largely well-produced, seamless corporate communications event Google Fiber hosted in Kansas City.

1. Use mystery and mystique for all it’s worth in corporate communications.

Google Fiber announcement event invitees received a single email the week before announcing the event with a link to an RSVP form. The email promised future details, with no indication of what or when details would be coming. It wasn’t until the day before an email arrived with a map and timing directions, but not much more. The intrigue behind the event, the agenda, and its location (although reader Paula Holmquist called me a full week before with a correct tip on the venue), along with a pre-rock concert kind of feel in the parking lot all played into getting attendees even more ready for a big announcement.

2. Doing what you’ve communicated all along is still the best corporate communications strategy.

In a discussion with Aaron Deacon after the event, he talked about how the day’s announcements weren’t that far off from what Google had been saying all along – although Google HADN’T been saying (features, affordable price points, starting installations where demand is strongest, etc.) all that much. But because people thought what Google had been saying sounded too good to be true, there was, in some circles, a built in readiness to find disappointment in the announcement (i.e., an inferior offering, too high prices, or some other fatal flaw).

While you can nitpick the offering (it’s missing some cable channel staples), Google basically delivered against what it had been messaging throughout. The simple formula works: If “What You Do” = “What You Say” then you “Win.”

3. Create new language you can (try to) own.

Who had heard of “fiberhood” before today as a way to describe a neighborhood that had banded together to vie for faster Internet speeds? Despite its new application in this setting, you already see “fiberhood” showing up in news stories, blogs, and tweets. (Interestingly, when you Google “fiberhood,” however, you get pages of results about car hoods.)

One potential opportunity for new language Google didn’t embrace, as pointed out by Dave Sandel (who we’re working with on the Gigabit City Summit), was “television.” If they’d been up for it, Dave suggested what Google is offering goes beyond “television” or even “home entertainment.” Google missed the proactive opportunity, at least today, to craft a new term defining the integrated digital environment it’s pitching with Google Fiber.

4. No matter how cool your brand, forced skits with corporate employees trying to act are cheesy.

When we did the Building the Gigabit City large-scale brainstorming event, we were challenged trying to come up with ways to make 100 times faster Internet speeds tangible. We wound up using several about how cooking a meal would take seconds and a work day might last less than 15 minutes. Google added to the mix today with an example about how a car could drive to NYC while a broadband speed car wouldn’t have even made it out of the Kansas City metro area.

Nice example, but when it came time for a demo, the Google corporate employees had to play act a few family situations that were totally forced and pretty awkward. Very few executives are actors, so don’t make them do funny skits if doing so accentuates their lack of acting talent.

5. When you’re attacking a competitor, you CAN be subtle about it.

Time Warner Cable was in the news right before the Google Fiber announcement when it pulled a popular ABC affiliate (KMBC) because of a larger breakdown in negotiations over fees for local station programming. The disappearance caused a furor locally and led to online threats about customer defections when Google Fiber gets here. Within the Google Fiber event there was one brief mention about someone wanting to be able to watch KMBC. There was no need for more, because everyone familiar with the situation knew it was a subtle shot at a player who stands to lose a lot from Google Fiber.

6. Even if your brand is all about digital, use physical space and create experiences to support your brand.

Google created a Fiber Space to serve as its first “storefront” in Kansas City to demonstrate the service and show-off the hardware. Creating cool tech-oriented retail spaces is nothing new, but force fitting one into a former strip center and gym location which happens to be nearly ideally situated geographically (i.e., on the Kansas-Missouri state line and just 4 blocks from the Wyandotte-Johnson county line in Kansas) is.

The Fiber Space not only features video displays demonstrating the equipment and applications for Google Fiber in healthcare, gaming, sports, etc., but also physical representations of Kansas City (including a great Royals and Chiefs sports card display). And in a great use of behind-the-scenes experience sharing, the Fiber Space features the “set” used for the Fiber section of the Google Fiber announcement’s opening video. Just when you think everything is CGI, you get to see there were really physical toy cars used for the video, and they do fall off the track!

And the whole experience was strong enough to make you forget you were walking through a former Little Caesar’s Pizza location!

And there were more corporate communications lessons!

In the interests of time and length, I stopped this list at six corporate communications lessons, but there were more, including:

Were you at the event? Did you watch the simulcast? What corporate communications lessons did you take away from the event? – Mike Brown

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How can ultra high-speed internet speeds drive innovation? “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for driving innovation and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive Google Fiber report sponsored by Social Media Club of Kansas City and The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

 

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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