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Google Fiber recently held an event at the Kansas City Public Library exploring the state of Internet access in Kansas City, a.k.a. the digital divide. When I was signing in, a Google rep at the registration desk noticed that I was from The Brainzooming Group and said, “Brainzooming. We use that Gigabit City report you produced all the time.” She was referring to the “Building the Gigabit City” report that we produced with the Social Media Club of Kansas City after an intensive brainstorming session at the very same library last fall, which involved more than 90 community leaders and interested citizens from around the Kansas City metro.

That was a reminder how ideas build upon one another and that answers often must percolate a while—and be addressed from different perspectives—before they move forward toward implementation.

The Digital Divide in the Gigabit City

One focus of the “Building the Gigabit City” report was the urban core in Kansas City. Many of the participants in the urban core brainstorming session group were concerned about the digital divide. The question of whether urban core residents, particularly those who are older and with fewer economic resources, might be left even further behind once ultra-high speed Internet came to town was a particular focus in the brainstorming session. The digital divide has also been a recurrent theme in the work of the Mayors’ Bi-State Innovation Team and is reflected in its playbook.

The Google digital divide event provided additional data points, including an excellent take from John Horrigan of TechNet on why we should be concerned about the digital divide even if we are on the other side of it. In his talk, John Horrigan highlighted multiple impacts of the digital divide:

  • Increased costs to society of the digital divide
  • Greater challenges for people to gain access to jobs
  • Negative educational outcomes resulting from the digital divide
  • Limits on our ability to deal with the increasing cost of healthcare in the US.

Horrigan also made the point that while mobile access to the Internet via smartphones does bridge part of the digital divide gap, it falls short in both quality of experience (because of the limiting nature of the small screen) and in depth of experience (because of increasingly onerous data caps and throttle).

At the Google digital divide event, Google unveiled some excellent research that not only quantified the the size and the geography of the digital divide, but also drew some conclusions about why it exists, and offered insights into how the digital divide might be bridged.

Addressing the Digital Divide

The reality of the digital divide is a reminder that truly profound innovation and creativity carries not only the burden of producing breakthrough ideas, but also of producing the path by which people can use those ideas in a broad and sustainable manner.  –Barrett Sydnor


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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, the digital divide, 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. 

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Recently, venture capitalist and senior Kauffman fellow, Paul Kedrosky, gave the last of four scheduled presentations at the Kauffman Foundation relating to Google Fiber. He concentrated on what Kansas City should do to make sure it—and the U.S.—gets the most out of the Google Fiber innovation opportunity. Here are four specific lessons on Google Fiber innovation from Paul Kedrosky that likely apply to our organizations as we strive for greater innovation.

1. Co-location

Kedrosky said some applications are not appropriate for development in Kansas City. Development must take place close to where they will eventually be used because even with extremely fast internet connects, execution or feedback will not be fast enough. The reason for this may be physical (in the case of stock trading, the speed of light is the limitation) or they may be sociological or cultural.

The lesson: Make sure that functions in your organization requiring nearly immediate feedback are in proximity—in terms of both physical location and where they fit in the hierarchy. Think sales and marketing, or production and engineering as examples where co-location is critical.

2. Upload/download symmetry

No matter how fast you can download information, it really does not matter if your upload bandwidth is too narrow. Eventually the download will become “occluded,” that is stopped or slowed because the response (upload) moves too slowly

The lesson: If senior management is not giving fast enough feedback and providing enough information, it makes no difference how much capacity an organization has. The organization will eventually stop what it is doing because it is waiting for senior management direction.

3. Understand the advantage/inevitability of flat-rate pricing

Historically the trend in communications is to flat rate pricing. The same first-class stamp takes your letter across the street or across the country. Likewise, long distance calling is rarely metered anymore. Widespread adoption and use becomes the counterbalance for falling prices.

The lesson: Customers shy away from pricing that involves cognitive complexity and risk. They ask questions such as, “What happens if I go over my limit?” or ”What else might I want to do with this product that I won’t be able to?” Look for ways you can make your pricing model flatter. Think restaurants and buffets. Also, consider making standard the options and add-ons that customers want or need. Price in a way that forgoes some upfront revenue but creates more satisfied customers—who, in turn, are likely to return and buy more.

4. Encourage playful experimentation and waste

Paul Kedrosky believes Kansas City will only make the creative breakthroughs in using Gigabit speed if it actively encourages, even demands, playful experimentation and waste. Indeed the title of his presentation was “Waste Lots, Want Lots.” Waste should come in two forms: waste of bandwidth and waste of latency.

The lesson: Ask these questions: Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time in the back shop soldering seemingly random circuit boards together? Would you have encouraged (and rewarded) an employee who spent time, lots of time, trying to figure out a more systematic way to meet girls? If the answer is no, then you would have not been in on the founding of either Apple or Facebook. You may say that there are no Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg working for you. You are most likely right, and we could know at least one reason why. –Barrett Sydnor

 

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. 

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The Kauffman Foundation is hosting a series of speakers in Kansas City to provide ideas, inspiration, and innovation lessons for how Kansas City can best take advantage of innovation opportunities with the The Google Fiber project. The latest Google Fiber project innovation talk was from Nick Donofrio, former executive vice president for innovation and technology at IBM. You can watch the presentation here.

My top 7 innovation lesson takeaways from the Nick Donofrio speech include:

1. Innovation isn’t about starting with the solution. Make sure you start with understanding the problem.

Donofrio stresses that starting with the solution often occurs because that is where our experience, specialization, and biases are. He stressed over and over that Kansas City can’t view Google Fiber as a solution, but rather as a tool or an enabler for solving significant problems.

2. Understand this century’s recipe for innovation.

The recipe for innovation in the 21st century is an environment that is collaborative, open, multi-disciplinary, and global.

3. It is just as important (and sometimes more) to innovate in process and in business model as it is to innovate in product or service.

Donofrio detailed examples from Sweden and India. In Sweden, the deputy mayor of Stockholm changed the process for dealing with a large project, from bidding it out one piece at a time, to bidding it as a whole. In India, Bharti Airtel moved away from a business model in telecommunications that called for owning everything to one that just owns the client interface. Vendors and suppliers own/run the network, the back office, etc. Oh, and the phones are really free.

4. Count on it being an instrumented, interconnected world, so innovation must work in those areas.

There are now 250 billion devices connected to the Internet. The trend is on its way to one trillion devices connected to the Internet.

5. In education beware of the “flop on top” when it comes to technology.

Too often in the U.S., we impose technology on education (our solution) without an understanding of what problem we are trying to solve.

6. There is a huge opportunity for innovation using big data sets.

The cost of calculation has decreased by a magnitude of 16 in the last 100 years (10 to the 16 power). In the next 20 years, the cost of calculation is expected to decrease another magnitude of 8. This dramatic reduction in the cost of calculation allows modeling and simulation of almost anything.

7. You never know who has the last piece of the puzzle when solving significant problems.

The innovation lesson is that it is vital innovation efforts be inclusive. For societies, this creates both an opportunity and a responsibility for those at that top of the socio-economic pyramid to make sure that those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid are included and have genuine opportunity.  – Barrett Sydnor


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

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After The Brainzooming Group released our “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap” report last November, BBC reporter David Botti emailed me about talking during a trip to Kansas City to report on Google Fiber reactions.

The initial trip was postponed, but David Botti and Daniel Nasaw from the BBC arrived in Kansas City in early February to report the story. Along with Aaron Deacon of CurioLab, we met David and Daniel at Aaron’s office to discuss the implications of Google Fiber for Kansas City, along with findings from the Gigabit City report addressing hundreds of ways to take advantage of the introduction of Google Fiber in Kansas City.

David and Daniel completed their reporting, and the BBC released its Google Fiber story online this week, along with the video below highlighting perspectives on Google Fiber from a variety of Kansas City citizens.

You can find the full Google Fiber article on the BBC website.

If you have not downloaded our free 120-page “Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming a Google Fiber Roadmap” report yet, it is a great time to do so now. People worldwide have downloaded the report to learn more about the gigabit future for Kansas City. They are also gaining valuable insights into how ultra high-speed Internet speeds will drive innovation, community change, and economic development in communities globally. The Gigabit City report contains hundreds of ideas, concepts, and critical success factors for governments, educational institutions, and other businesses and organizations to consider and exploit as ultra high-speed Internet becomes more prevalent in the future.

We also just released a recap of the Brainzooming methodology we used to bring together hundreds of online perspectives and a 90-participant in-person Brainzooming session to create the Gigabit City event and report. If you have been curious about what we do (which I am finding a variety of long-time readers are), this new recap shares how we created an efficient and productive day for all our Gigabit City participants. You can get a copy of the overview by emailing us at info@brainzooming.com.

Watch for more details soon on another effort The Brainzooming Group is in the midst of planning which will involve local and global experts in Gigabit City-related discussions to further develop Gigabit City ideas.  – Mike Brown

 

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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Reviewing Brainzooming Google Analytics for the past month, the most frequent search term people are using to find the Brainzooming blog is “brainstorming.” These Google Analytics results prompted me to share a variety of Brainzooming posts related to brainstorming techniques on Twitter last Saturday.

Because of this, here are the brainstorming techniques shared on Twitter plus a few other posts on various related aspects, many of them tied to the Google Fiber brainstorming sessions we conducted in October 2011:

Brainstorming Session Expectations

1. A Career-Changing Business Quote – 10 Years Later – A fantastic setup for the value of brainstorming techniques and their importance in anticipating what you can’t specifically anticipate.

2. The Value of Brainstorming Techniques for Business Ideas – Brainstorming is seen by some as an unproductive, low yielding activity. The people who think brainstorming techniques don’t provide value are simply wrong.

3. 7 Things a Brainstorming  Session ISN’T – Some people think a brainstorming session can cure all the issues plaguing a business. The people who think brainstorming techniques can do all this are simply wrong. 

Brainstorming Session Design

4. “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” – Our free eBook on Taking the NO Out of InNOvation is a tremendous resource to get yourself and your team ready in planning a productive brainstorming session.

5. Not Even One of These Things Is Not Like Another – When you choose who will be in your brainstorming session, make sure to build in plenty of diversity.

6. Looking for the Elusive Big Idea – You don’t want to start looking for a BIG idea. Look for big volumes of ideas and then find the clear winners within that list.

7. Put Yourself in a Sticky Situation for Strategic Thinking Exercises – We’re making an interesting investment in a really powerful tool to do more of our brainstorming sessions online, but we’re still big fans of sticky notes for many reasons.

8. Extreme Creativity – 10 Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives – Extreme creativity can come from anywhere. We try to pull from a variety of reality TV shows and other sources to maximize how extreme creativity can help drive brainstorming results.

9. Creative Thinking Exercises for When You’re Successful – Sometimes a team has been together for so long and had so much success, it’s tough for the team to imagine doing anything differently. You can build on past success as a platform for new ideas though.

10. A Creative Thinking Exercise to Boost Team Energy & Ideas – One way to brainstorm really bold ideas (and have a lot of fun along the way) is to deliberately try to tweak your authority figures.

Participant Roles

11. Brainstorming Success & Saying “Think Outside the Box” Don’t Mix – Brainstorming success isn’t just about telling people to “think outside the box.” It’s important to actually create an environment that triggers creativity and new ideas.

12. Strategic Connections – 3 Tips for Identifying More Opportunities – The more strategic connections you can create among ideas, the more ideas you’ll be able to generate in a brainstorming session.

13. Thinking Aloud: Can You Hear What I’m Thinking? – There’s real value during a brainstorming session to having participants voice their ideas so others can hear them and build on them.

14. Brainstorming Session Success – 8 Ways to Contribute Beyond New Ideas – Although generating ideas is the objective with any brainstorming session, there are other important roles participants can and need to play as well.

15. Subtle Forms of Censorship – It’s valuable to have an organization’s leaders actively participating in brainstorming sessions. You have to make sure their behaviors, however, don’t lead to ideas being censored.

16. How Creative Thinking Gets Killed by Team Members – 8 Fatal Blows – Leaders aren’t the only ones who can censor ideas from other brainstorming participants. Participants can censor and beat up on each other, too. Those behaviors have to be managed.

17. Dilbert and Brainstorming for Innovative Business Ideas – Of course Dilbert has a funny and dark perspective on brainstorming. And unfortunately, the funny and dark perspective on brainstorming in this Dilbert comic strip happens all the time.

After a Brainstorming Session

18. 11 Next Steps for Brainstorming Output – Shared in relation to the Google Fiber brainstorming session, these 11 next steps for brainstorming output apply broadly to a whole variety of brainstorming sessions.

19. Dirty Ideas? Let Others Help Clean Up Your Creative Thinking – It’s not always to your advantage for the brainstorming facilitator to clean up and categorize the ideas. Someone who has a fresh perspective may be able to shed even more light on the results.

20. Brainstorming for Later Use – Not every idea you’ll generate in a brainstorming session has to be used right away. Always be on the lookout for ideas whose time may come later.

21. Extending Brainstorming Ground Rules to Everyday Business Life – Why not try and make these brainstorming ground rules a part of your daily work life. It’s possible, and can help you attract new ideas on a very regular basis.  – Mike Brown

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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It’s not THAT often when successful presentation tips can make a 6-figure financial difference in your career, but that was the case recently in Kansas City. I attended the Gigabit Challenge Finale in Kansas City recently where 17 finalists (individuals or teams) made the last presentation pitch for winning $450,000 in cash and services. Organized by Think Big Partners, the Gigabit Challenge was a global competition centered on the prospects for taking advantage of the Google Fiber initiative under development in Kansas City.

While I admired the creative ideas and hard work that the Gigabit Challenge finalists demonstrated, the PowerPoint presentations were, for the most part, underwhelming.

Presenters faced a panel of 17 contest judges (mostly from the legal and financial worlds), another 250 members of the live audience, and an online audience that averaged about that same number. Each presenter had ten minutes to present their idea and five minutes for questions from the contest judges.

Here are seven successful presentation tips on how many groups could have scored better with all of those audiences:

1. Make sure we know who you are.

Make your name and contact information the first slide in your PowerPoint presentation and make it the last. The judges may know who you are, but why not make sure? Also, the rest of the audience could contain people who have the financial resources, the intellectual piece of the puzzle, or the contacts that you’ve been missing. Make it easy for them to remember you and find you later by repeating your name and contact information.

2. It’s Showtime, Folks.

If you are asking people to invest in your creative idea, they need to be excited about your creative idea. Somewhere in your presentation, you need some drama, whether it is from your performance, from the images on your PowerPoint slides, or from the audacious brilliance of your idea. All three would be good.

3. Use the power of PowerPoint.

Nearly every finalist had some process story to tell – either in how they were going to develop their idea or it was going to be used. But almost no one used the power of basic PowerPoint capabilities. It does nice builds, visual effects, sound effects, reveals, takeaways, etc. It has limitations, but basic PowerPoint capabilities will do a whiz-bang job of focusing the audience’s attention on just what you want them to see when you want them to see it.

4. If we can’t read it, you don’t need it.

Many, okay most, of the presentations had PowerPoint slides that contained way more words than anyone could possibly read during the time they were displayed. That level of verbal detail is what your business plan is for, not your presentation. Words on slides should be cues for the points you want to make in your presentation.

5. Play it safe(ty) margin.

Sometime during the day, the projector went a little off kilter and began cutting off the edges of the slides. That’s not uncommon. Account  for it by making sure that your slide content stays inside a safety area that covers no more than 75 percent of the PowerPoint slide’s area.

6. Have a plan.

This applies to two areas. Many of the presenters presented ideas rather than business plans. If I was looking to invest, I want to know who would be interested in buying your  product/service, how you were going to develop and market that product/service, and what the cost and revenue projections were—pretty much in that order. If that level of detail isn’t available or possible at this point, I would suggest an organization scheme that borrows from the SPIN selling method.

7. It’s your time in the sunshine, enjoy yourself.

Just being on that stage means you done good. Act like you want to be there.

To learn more about the possibilities of Google Fiber you can download the free report sponsored by the Social Media Club of Kansas City and prepared by The Brainzooming Group. – Barrett Sydnor


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 by The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed Internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

 

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Too often, an organization signs on for a sponsorship without a clear sponsorship strategy. Sponsorship marketing can produce attention and strong ROI impacts for companies of all sizes, but it takes clear strategy. While it’s easy to pay money to get your company name attached to a sponsorship, that doesn’t mean you have a solid sponsorship strategy to enhance attention and produce a positive ROI for your organization. With the “Building the Gigabit City” project to brainstorm ideas for Google Fiber in Kansas City, The Brainzooming Group employed a non-traditional sponsorship strategy, creating a sponsorship where one didn’t already exist by:

Since our sponsorship strategy was one any company could pursue under the right circumstances, here are five key sponsorship principles to consider in pursuing a similar path:

1. Stand near somebody else’s spotlight

Standing near another party’s spotlight is part of why NASCAR sponsorships work. Since a whole army of media cover the NASCAR racing world, a sponsor doesn’t have to try to get media to show up for the event. There has been considerable coverage for the Google Fiber move into Kansas City. Creating Gigabit City allowed us to stand near the Google Fiber spotlight for a credible reason, even though the event wasn’t an official Google Fiber program. The Google name drew strong media attention for Gigabit City, nevertheless.

2. Create your own sponsorship property

The traditional sponsorship strategy is to pay money to a sponsorable property’s owner (i.e., a sports team, an entertainment venue, a nonprofit event, etc.). With Building the Gigabit City, there was no property to sponsor. Working with Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC), we created the sponsorship property. It takes more work, but it offers the opportunity to shape and mold what you’re investing in to best suit your business objectives.

3. Pursue a sponsorship built around what you do

The storyline for a sponsorship can be difficult to twist back to what your company does when you’re only investing dollars. Instead, look for a way to put what you do in your business at the heart of your sponsorship contribution. By donating our strategic brainstorming services to the Google Fiber in Kansas City event, The Brainzooming Group and our strategy and innovation services were at the heart of the story, providing the opportunity to integrate it more seamlessly into news stories.

4. Don’t ask for permission and don’t even worry about having to ask for forgiveness

Most of the Google Fiber attention in Kansas City appears to be forming with little attention boosting effort from Google. While a traditional move might have been to try doing something directly with Google, we instead created an event related to Google where the natural partner was almost incidental. Providing our brainstorming services pro bono allowed us to start, move quickly, and issue a comprehensive report free to anyone who wants it. Since Building the Gigabit City wasn’t authorized by Google though, we were careful to structure an event that would be neutral at worst to Google and ideally somewhat intriguing.

5. You have to activate a sponsorship to make it worthwhile

Even though our initial “investment” in Building the Gigabit City was in-kind (i.e., providing our services on a pro bono basis to design and implement the brainstorming session), to realize the full benefit we had to get behind the public relations effort. Another partner of The Brainzooming Group, Alex Greenwood, was fundamental in representing our awareness-building and messaging interests among the potential media opportunities to ensure we received attention. That translated into considerable television and radio time, shareable third-party stories, and greater recognition for The Brainzooming Group in Kansas City and within the category.

Learn More Today

We’re extending our Gigabit City sponsorship strategy through other media appearances. I’m on Kelly Scanlon’s radio show on 1510 KCTE AM at 9 am CST, Friday, January 13 to discuss Google Fiber and what it can mean for small businesses in Kansas City and elsewhere. You can listen live on 1510.com.

I also wrote a feature story in the January 2012 edition of The Social Media Monthly magazine on “The Social Side of Speed” about how Google Fiber might impact societal and cultural elements of Kansas City. You can get a printed copy at any Barnes & Noble store, plus check out one of the “Hottest Magazine Launches of 2011″ with an online subscription at The Social Media Monthly magazine’s website.

What could you do with your sponsorship strategy?

Does our approach instigate any creative ideas for how you could develop more effective sponsorships? If not, give us a call. We can put our years of sponsorship strategy and implementation experience to work for you to realize your business objectives.  – Mike Brown

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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