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Content marketing strategy workshop audiences are always interested in hearing about best practices. Best practices seems like easy answers; they make it seem as if all you have to do is simply do what another brand has found successful.

The easy answer, however, isn’t always the right answer. What makes sense for another brand won’t necessarily make sense for your brand, whether that is in content marketing strategy or another area.

We find it’s much more valuable to share tools and techniques workshop attendees can use to draft the best strategies and tactics for themselves.

10 Content Marketing Strategy Mistakes Your Competitors are Making

In some industries, however, it is valuable to consider the best MISTAKES your competitors are making and do the OPPOSITE of what they are doing.

Stop-Sign-Istock

Here are ten “mistake practices” we see frequently that fit the bill:

  1. Starting with a big splash and lots of new content all bunched up in the first week of a new blog, then sinking to the bottom of the pool and not updating any of the content for months at a time.
  2. Having a business objective for its blog (i.e., increasing leads for a new product), but never writing blog posts with the business objective in mind.
  3. Writing and publishing new content without providing any context and brand perspective for the content, even though a significant percent of blog visitors are likely first-time readers who are unfamiliar with the brand.
  4. Writing about their brand all the time, including republishing their press releases word-for-word as blog posts.
  5. Sharing only news that has a very short interest life so they get in a trap of not getting long-term value from the investment in creating social media content.
  6. Publishing only when they have something to say and then thinking they never have anything to say.
  7. Handing the social media controls over to a recent graduate ONLY because he or she is young and “gets” Twitter and Facebook.
  8. Never mentioning who is doing the writing in a deliberate strategy to keep the content devoid of any personality, whether brand personality or content creator personality.
  9. Sharing social media content that has nothing to do with the organization’s brand and brand personality.
  10. Figuring all this social networking stuff is free and not making smart investments to get the most impact from the content the brand creates.

As an executive in your organization, you’d do well to spend some time on your social media presences – just in case it’s been some time since you looked at them closely – and see if you are making any of your competitors’ mistakes with your own content marketing strategy.

If you are making these content marketing strategy mistakes, get them fixed – pronto!

Wondering about mistakes in your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

If you are an executive with questions about whether  your organization’s social media strategy is working as well as it can, here’s the answer. In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to your questions.

You can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of your social media strategies with these easy-to-assess diagnostics. To get started right now, download your free copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.” 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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9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

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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Your plan is completed, and you have your brand building strategies for 2015 in front of you. The big question remains – are these brand building strategies going to deliver dramatically better business results this year?

Better-Business-Results

These strategies SHOULD lead to better business results. You know you invested the time and effort to develop what seemed to be the right set of brand building strategies.

You know too, however, your actual strategic plan and tactics often sit on the shelf and do not fundamentally deliver better business results.

Why is that?

It could be your strategic plan is disconnected from what moves the business on a daily basis. Another possibility is that despite all the hope you have to focus on implementing the strategic plan in January, unexpected opportunities and challenges develop, and they gain more attention.

No matter what factors are at work to derail your strategic plan from developing better business results, keep the following list handy. These 15 articles each target specific business issues that could get in the way of using your strategic plan implementation creating better business results this year.

If your organization easily loses focus, if your brand benefits aren’t clear, if your competitors are getting the best of you, these are places to go here for immediate, implementable ideas to avoid getting derailed and actually using your planned brand building strategies for all they are worth to create a stronger year with dramatically better business results.

  1. Creating a Stronger Strategic Focus on What Matters
  2. Better Defining and Articulating Your Brand Benefits
  3. Strengthening the Brand Language You Use
  4. Heading Off Critical Issues in Your Brand Strategy
  5. Bolstering Your Brand’s Value Proposition
  6. Asking Better Questions to Identify Business Opportunities
  7. Uncovering New Opportunities with Existing Clients
  8. Improving Your Strategic Response to Competitors
  9. Developing Proactive Strategies to Disrupt Your Market Before Someone Else Does
  10. Anticipating Unexpected Potential Disruptions and Growth Opportunities Before They Happen
  11. Increasing the Diversity of Employees Involved in Strategy for Your Company
  12. Better Integrating New Product Development with Your Business Strategy
  13. Creating Strategic, Cool Products Name for Your New Offerings
  14. Developing a Better Strategy for How Social Networks Support Business Building
  15. Moving from Talking about Great Ideas to Implementing Great Ideas

If you want to go deeper on any of these issues, email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320. We would be happy to talk through the opportunities for your organization to improve its success this year and beyond.  – 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.

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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Each year we share the top 10 new Brainzooming blog posts from the previous year based on your views. Reviewing the list is an intriguing exercise for me, especially when comparing it to tomorrow’s list – my favorite blog posts from the year.

The most striking thing about your most popular new Brainzooming blog posts is only five are numbered lists. This is in stark contrast to previous years where nearly all of them were numbered lists. One change could be that we published fewer list posts this year. In previous years, list posts were among the easiest content to write. This year, however, my worldview just has not produced list posts as readily as in previous years.

Two other take-aways from perusing Google Analytics for the year are:

  1. Evergreen content (i.e., blog posts from previous years) was more prevalent than previous years among the most-viewed posts.
  2. Woody Bendle’s great guest posts on innovation and branding ranked significantly among the most-viewed posts. (Woody’s most-viewed posts are featured at the end of the top 10 list.

Your Top 10 Most Viewed New Brainzooming Blog Posts this Year

Love-Ideas

Here is your top ten most-viewed new Brainzooming content for 2014:

1. 10 Meeting Spaces for Work at Home Professionals, Other than Starbucks

While billed as being for work at home professionals, these ideas are also valuable for anyone who works in an office but needs a change in meeting venue.

2. Creative Thinking Skills: 29 Phrases Blocking Innovative Ideas

These twenty-nine phrases blocking innovative ideas were easy to write. I simply tried to remember all the challenges to new ideas I have encountered during my career.

3. Strategic Thinking Skills: Dilbert on Taking Credit vs. Making Innovation Happen

This Dilbert hits on one of the keys to getting things done that many people overlook: if you really believe in an idea that’s struggling, and you’re willing to surrender credit, it may be enough to get the idea implemented. It’s not a strategy for every ego, but it can definitely be very effective.

4. New Product Development – Brainstorming Ideas Grounded in Business Strategy

Start with a strategic target, and you’ll find yourself brainstorming ideas that make sense for your organization’s business strategy. Don’t and you won’t.

5. Social Media Strategy: 7 Lessons for Fantastic, Creative Content Marketing

This post is a one-stop for great tools to turn a brand’s aspirations for fantastic, creative content marketing into a reality.

6. Creative Thinking Skills: 9 Ways to Present a Business Strategy with Panache

These are all tried and tested, although some are much easier to make happen than others are. And in case you’re wondering, it’s the first use of the word “panache” in the Brainzooming blog.

7. Social Media Strategy: Explaining Social Networks to Executives Who Don’t Get It

This is one of the most popular parts of my social media and content marketing presentations. Its popularity prompted sharing these valuable analogies for social networks that had only been shared in live presentations.

8. Creative Thinking Exercises – Would you like S, M, L, or XL Creative Ideas?

This is a compilation post that really SHOULD be a numbered post. See what I mean about not seeing the world as an endless source of list posts this year?

9. Strategic Thinking: Asking a Different Type of Question

I hate to say it, but this post now seems to me to be a pre-cursor to number 8 on the list. Sorry about that! ; )

10. 5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

This is the latest post on the list, appearing on April 1. It’s a nice example of being able to go to school on a client’s very beneficial help and feature them, even if I can’t mention who the client is.

And What about the Woody Bendle Posts?

And as promised earlier, there are the most popular Brainzooming guest posts from Woody Bendle this year:

1. Creative Thinking Exercise for Extreme Innovation by Woody Bendle

2. Visual Thinking: Better Ways to Think about Calorie Data by Woody Bendle

3. New Product Innovation Strategy – Go Opposite by Woody Bendle

The fact that Woody’s guest post on “Go Opposite” is from November is testament to both how strongly Woody works his network to get eyeballs on the his posts and the value of getting a post picked up by a major content aggregator (which happens with many of Woody’s posts).

Tomorrow’s List

You will see a very different list tomorrow with my favorite posts. I guess I love the underdogs, the posts that have a story behind them, but maybe do not get the same attention!

 

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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.

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 latest social media “strategy” to land off the mark, be co-opted by the crowd, and subsequently crashed into the ground comes via Bill Cosby.

As Internet reports recount, a meme creator was installed on the Bill Cosby website. Using the meme creator, visitors could combine classic reaction photos of the comedian coupled with the visitor’s own funny / pithy / scathing / inflammatory copy to create a shareable meme.

Within a short time, the tone of the user-generated memes turned scathing and inflammatory as the crowd started creating memes directly centered on long-standing rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

To deal with the meme debacle, the meme creator was removed, and the Cosby camp tried to eliminate evidence that the whole thing ever happened.

This joins a string of examples and brand lessons where a brand, as part of its social media strategy, decided some type of user-generated content would be great to promote the brand because all user-generated content for big brands goes viral on social media (yes, I’m being sarcastic, but it’s what many brands seem to believe).

Exploring the Downside of Social Media Strategy with User-Generated Content

In case your brand (or an agency that does not know any better) is thinking about a comparable social media strategy resting on giving your brand’s fans the venue, the means, and/or the opportunity to express their opinions about your brand in an “organized” manner, please run through these questions first. PLEASE. For your own good:

  • Have we thoroughly “listened,” both online and offline, to the very worst things our brand’s haters are saying, even if they are being said by one crackpot that NO ONE would ever listen to?
  • When we put together and read the list of all the things we hear our brand haters saying, how much of the list would we regret all of our current audience starting to hear and believe?
  • How much of the aforementioned brand hater list would we regret our potential audience learning as they form their first impressions of our brand?
  • How much more attention will our brand haters receive (than they do currently) if we were to share with them the most visible venue our brand has ever used to get our message out to our audience?

Exploring an Alternative Social Media Strategy

Now compare the cumulative impact of all that potential downsides against what we hope to accomplish with this social media strategy . . . More people visiting our website? Extending our brand’s reach? Getting more people to talk about our brand? Free PR? Or something that’s not even that well defined? Are any of these impacts big enough that we’re willing to risk the potential downside?

If we’re not willing to risk the downside (including the exposure of all our brand’s dirty little secrets), how can we adapt this social media strategy, exploring ways to:

  • Give the public a narrow set of choices with which to generate content instead of encouraging open-ended creativity on their part?
  • Filter the user-generated content first and then giving greater exposure to only the best examples?
  • Celebrate the great content our brand fans are already sharing without being heavy-handed about it?

So how about that social media strategy tied to user-generated content?

A Smarter Social Media Strategy Approach

Running through this exercise should, ideally, put things in a lot better perspective when it comes to thinking user-generated content is the answer to a great social media strategy for your brand.

Maybe there is value to it, and your brand haters aren’t THAT bad. Or maybe you can adapt the strategy to reduce the potential downside significantly.

Either way, you owe it to your brand to do this type of strategic thinking before you give the power of your brand’s attention and its big corporate microphone to the people who most hate what your brand does and what your brand represents. – 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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So, CAN analogies change the world?

That’s the bold claim conveyed in the headline of a Wall Street Journal article pulled from the book, “Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas.” The book is by Jon Pollack, a former Bill Clinton speechwriter (affiliate link).

Given we’ve tried to spend more time on how to generate analogies as part of strategic thinking exercises, this may be one of those books I will kick myself for not writing!

In any event, the Wall Street Journal article highlights four ‘rules” for gaining the greatest values from analogies. All of them include sound advice and intriguing examples. They are all worthwhile to include within your repertoire of strategic thinking exercises.

Apples-Orange-LO

Four Rules for Discovering Analogies

Here are Pollacks four rules for discovering analogies, in my own words:

1. Challenge all the typical analogies

The analogies you always hear may have some value because they have stood the test of time. Even so, it’s smart to

Pollack’s Example: The Wright Brothers saw an analogy between flying machines and bicycles because of their instability and the dynamics of balance.

2. Don’t settle for identifying just one analogy

When it comes to analogies, the same principle holds as with ideas: the more the better since you have the ability to try many of them and determine which are most effective.

Pollack’s Example: Darwin employed two fundamentals to hypothesize about evolution: water eroding grains of sand and agricultural breeding were applied to his views of gradual change.

3. Include a wide range of sources for your analogies

You won’t open a book and find all the ready-made analogies you’ll need to solve your problem or explore new ideas. Be prepared to take pieces from multiple, unusual sources and apply them in new ways.

Pollack’s Example: Bill Klann, a Ford mechanic, is credited with the original inspiration for the assembly line. The key analogy came from disassembling carcasses on a line at a meatpacking plant. Re reversed it to apply to assembly of cars, instead.

4. Make things as simple as possible

The strategic thinking trick is to combine multiple analogies without so over-burdening them that complexity takes over and they lose value. In this case, more shouldn’t just be less. It should also be elegantly simple.

Pollack’s Example: Steve Jobs (of course there has to be a Steve Jobs example) applied the idea Xerox idea of a digital desktop to a simple interface that could open access to computing for large audiences.

Strategic Thinking Exercises to Explore Analogies

Here is a sampling of previous Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises on finding and using analogies:

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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