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At the invitation of Brainzooming email subscriber Terry Kincheloe, I attended the second 2010 meeting of KairosAnalytics, a Kansas City-based web analytics strategy forum last Thursday. Tony Fortner, Consumer Experience Strategist at Sprint, presented on “Social Engagement Strategy.”

In the course of laying out his perspective, Tony covered culture, values, economic theory, World of Warcraft, strategy creation, the challenges of measuring social community business impacts, plus a few anecdotes on the internal politics at Sprint. Needless to say, it was an evening full of stimulating strategy ideas!

Rather than trying to play back notes from all of Tony’s presentation, here are a few takeaways:

  • So much of creating a vibrant online community strategy goes back to culture, values, and much of what we were taught as children: decency, helping one another, the golden rule, keeping your “hands clean”, loyalty, trust, etc.
  • Tony commented about feeling ethically bound to “say something” when a decision was being considered which would harm a customer. This creates a clear distinction for me. I’d place the emphasis on being bound to protect customers by actually stopping a harmful action. “Saying something” can be a self-serving exercise (esp. when you walk away in frustration), when what’s really needed is creating a positive result from the discussion.
  • For many (most?) companies, embracing the idea of a real community goes beyond innovation and is a radical strategy. If you’re trying to introduce a new, visionary strategy such as this inside a company, be sure to match up with someone who excels at the steps it will take to make it happen. And if implementation is your strong suit, go out of your way to align with someone who can communicate the strong vision necessary for the organization to make strategic changes necessary to be successful with a community.
  • Despite all the discussion on best practices, real learnings often come from the ends of the spectrum, not the middle. To understand where things are headed, look toward the people and companies pushing the limits.
  • Not every brand is going to win with a social community strategy. Some pre-existing business models simply aren’t going to fit with the innovation imperatives a community-based strategy implies. It’s clear some businesses are going to lose because of social networking-driven strategic change.

It was a great session. In July, I’m speaking to KAIROS on what could ostensibly be seen as the same topic Tony addressed – social media and strategy. Because there are so many ways to address the topic, it was reassuring to see our angles will be complementary, but different enough to have new things to say. – Mike Brown

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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Often, the challenge isn’t getting good, new ideas. It’s hanging on to them long enough to do something about them! Today’s guest article from Franis Engel addresses that very challenge.

Franis (@learncreativity on Twitter) thinks everyone is talented. She specializes in making complexities simple, innovating about how the Alexander Technique can be taught faster to groups. A high idea-producer, she can Twitter and tele-host simultaneously, and is planning a podcast series featuring the interesting secret geniuses she’s collected as friends. You can find out more about her multi-talented adventures from the Big Island of HI and beyond at http://www.franis.org.

So here are five of Franis’ great strategies for capturing more cool ideas before they simply disappear:

Why don’t more people preserve their ideas and do something with them? Turns out expressions of futility are many.

One reason is there’s a part of the brain that actively disregards what doesn’t match expectations. Another part of the brain deletes the anomalies, since they don’t match. What if these brain parts happen to be particularly active? Well, let’s just say most people have an average of 45 seconds to get a good idea down before it goes “poof.” That’s an average. Some people are on to the next thought much faster. So for them, it’s not particularly possible to catch these fleeting possibilities.

That’s where you come in. Someone who already knows the advantages of capturing great ideas can encourage a beginner at innovation to do the same for themselves by showing them how easy it is. For example:

  • To get ideas down more quickly, learn speed writing. EasyScript has only five rules, making it easy to learn and remember. Using it, I’m able to write, with pencil in hand, about as fast as someone can type. It’s so much less intimidating when you’re scribbling something while someone is talking. This means in a living room conversation, suddenly the person who’s eloquent (but gets “microphone fever”) has the evidence you wrote down that makes it so.
  • Often, there’s writing already going on; all that’s needed is compiling it. What about those chats with such interesting links you trade back and forth? Skype collects these chats in its history. Just copy and compile them into a blog. We know that blogging isn’t hard, but many people don’t. Make it a private blog and invite them to share the editing.
  • Every answering machine has a “memo” feature. Learn to use it and transcribe later. Google Voice also has this feature; it spits out WAV file that gets sent to you by email.
  • What about collecting words that you hear people use in new ways or words that you’ve never heard before? A friend of mine started keeping a book thirty years ago of quotes from the interesting, funny, and notable things people he knew personally were saying. It’s still amusing today. How much cooler it would be to tweet what your friends say than already published quotes! There are even services that compile your Twitter stream in various ways. You can start a #hashtag and Twapperkeeper will save them for you.
  • From a time when I rented a place from a misogynist landlord who used to regularly threaten me over the phone, I hit on the idea of collecting his insults. As I did, customer service departments found that collecting a list of complaints/excuses and celebrating the originals took the sting out of them, making them irreverently funny.

So, while you’re writing down your own brilliant ideas, take some time to sing the praises of others. Even if they drop the baton you’re passing, at least you’ve got another interesting collection to blog. – Franis Engel

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The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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Ranking among opportunities can be tricky during strategy and innovation planning. Rigorous metrics may take too long to gather. A simple A/B/C or 1/2/3 ranking strategy, though, ignores underlying assumptions about how beneficial or costly an option may be. Absent some kind of description, your “1” ranking may be very different than someone else’s “1” ranking.

This video clip from the “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation” presentation discusses a beneficial ranking strategy which includes giving descriptions to each ranking point. Using this prioritization strategy, participants are forced to pick a descriptive ranking for each opportunity. This important step stimulates strategic discussion since each person has to weigh in with a choice others are able to interpret. It sets the stage for a clear opportunity to agree or disagree and use strategic discussion to move toward a stronger overall prioritization decision. – Mike Brown

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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South by Southwest is in full swing. If you’re on Twitter and following even a few people, you’re already seeing frequent updates from friends hitting all the cool presentations, concerts, parties, and other events in Austin.

In an attempt to deal with the left-out feeling for those not there, I started using the Twitter hashtag #NWxNW for “Nowhere by Nowhere.” The basic idea is that if you’re not at #SxSW, then in the world of social media, you’re nowhere.

Yet, there are more people not in Austin than there are there, and it’s an opportunity for people in the next few weeks to be sharing what cool, strategic work they are doing back at home, wherever home is, by tagging it with #NWxNW.

Amid promoting #NWxNW, I came across the more active hashtag #FakeSxSW, which was started in 2009 to tweet about cool FICTIONAL presentations, events, and meetups at an event that isn’t really happening. It’s a funny and creative tweetstream for those of us salving the wounds of not getting to be in the thick of South by Southwest.

To keep up to date on the coolest creativity throughout the rest of South by Southwest, check back on the Twitter widgets in today’s post to monitor both the coolness at #SxSW and the creativity at #FakeSxSw and #NWxNW.

And in either case, if there’s something that strikes your interest, how about doing a guest Brainzooming blog on it? That would be creative! – Mike Brown

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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This quick Brainzooming video guest post interview with Alex Greenwood focuses on the impact on creativity of working in public, particularly as Alex was writing his ebook, “Pilate’s Cross.” – Mike Brown

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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In a recent TalentZoo.com post called “Thirsting for Originality,” author Danny Goldgeiger addressed the perceived similarity of a Super Bowl ad for Coca-Cola and a nine-year old ad from Israel for a chocolate milk product. Danny G. wrestles with the possibility that wide access to media makes it more, rather than less, likely similar ideas may show up multiple places.

One strategy he suggests to minimize this occurrence is for agencies to push for original ideas, and clients to ask for unexpected things in ads (although in this case, the commercial is unexpected and still looks like a complete rip-off). All the while, he acknowledges it’s still likely ideas will get reprocessed in creative minds and used again.

So what can you do to challenge this tendency to reuse ideas more aggressively? One way is for people involved in creative pursuits to actively manage the media they regularly and deeply consume.

In the original article’s comments, I referenced a Conan O’Brien interview someone had tweeted where he was asked about his TV viewing habits. O’Brien recounted watching anything other than comedy for inspiration. His point was if he invested his time focusing on other late night talk shows, he’d drift over time toward what they were doing. The result? Losing his originality and failing to explore the comedic style most suited to him.

His comments provide a valuable lesson in managing media consumption.

If you want to minimize your own internal rehashing of ideas, think about consciously controlling the media you consume within your category. When seeking out creative inputs, do it more heavily from other industries or market segments. One way I address this is by using the Twitter feed to point me in new directions all the time (vs. working the same strategy, innovation, and creativity news and blog beat over and over).

If you’re in a creative role and you’re able, don’t immerse yourself in a direct competitors’ ads. That may seem radical (especially for a guy who has done a lot of competitive intelligence), but it could provide the right distance to keep your perspective fresh. – Mike Brown

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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This video is from “Social Media Will Neither Save Nor End the World as We Know It,” a presentation I did last Monday for Barrett Sydnor’s integrated marketing communications class. The class is made up primarily of young business professionals working on degrees at the University of Kansas.

My comments address a discussion on getting involved in social media when your employer isn’t supportive. One student managing a really comprehensive social media presence for a non-profit organization said he had more latitude because of his employer’s non-profit status.

That may be true. There are several other ways (personal branding, guerrilla marketing, and donating time to organizations) available though to deepen your social media understanding and be prepared when your employer is ready. – Mike Brown

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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