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This week’s “Inside the Executive Suite” from the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief newsletter focused on an intriguing article from Inc. online. The article identified reasons why major companies invest significant, seemingly unjustified amounts on startup businesses with scant revenues and no discernible business models.

Big-Idea-Dollars

The original article from Inc. by Dev Aujla claims major companies use these acquisitions as a new variation on research and development. A major corporation may be able to pick up a whole startup for many millions of dollars. Despite seeming like an excessive figure, the purchase price could still put the major corporation dollars ahead versus developing whatever the startup offers on its own.

Aujla highlights three reasons major companies target these acquisitions. They are typically looking for:

1) New learnings and research
2) The opportunity to more easily plug a hole in their product or market portfolio
3) Talent that moves them ahead in new areas

AEIB-GraphicThe folks at the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief used Aujla’s three items and offered strategic thinking questions for each of the three areas.

The strategic thinking questions provide a way for companies, even ones far beyond startup status, to develop strategies boosting their chances for acquisition or spin-off opportunities. Armada agreed to let us share the questions here for each of the three areas.

The remainder of this post with the strategic thinking questions comes directly from the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief newsletter and its “Inside the Executive Suite” edition.

Strategic Thinking Questions for Crafting Startup Strategy in Any Business

1. Developing New Learnings and Research

Many companies claim to be learning organizations. This is often professional development jargon for “educating the staff.” While education is important, it won’t prompt another company to pay a premium simply because your employees have current training.

Try this strategic flip, though. Instead of characterizing your company as a learning organization, characterize it as a “discovering” organization. With that change in strategic perspective, evaluate where you stand today and where you would like to be a year from now:

  • What is our organization discovering that no other party knows?
  • How many people inside our organization are hell-bent on discovering new technologies, capabilities, and possibilities to bring to market?
  • Who are the people and organizations outside our own that we are collaborating with on major discovery efforts?
  • What discoveries can we make happen at lower cost, with less risk and red tape, and at a markedly faster pace than bigger firms can?

These answers should stretch your organization to move beyond learning what everyone else knows into discovering breakthrough knowledge with real value to outside parties.

2. Filling Holes in Markets, Audiences, or Product Portfolios

Aggressively examine market, audience, and product strategy gaps at other organizations to discover missing elements you can fill through your own exploration.

  • Which organizations have bigger, more sweeping product visions than ours? What gaps exist in their product portfolios we might be able to supplement through our narrower focus on product and market development?
  • What markets adjacent to ones we serve include competitors with missing elements in their market, audience, or product mixes?
  • Are there companies in related or even far removed categories lacking strong platforms for innovation that our discovery strategy could readily address?

Don’t think about fixing everything with these discovery efforts. Focus on the minimum standard product or market development allowing another organization to readily fill a gap by eventually acquiring what you are doing.

3. Gaining New Talent

Consider how your organization pursues new talent. Is there a deliberate attempt to hire the types and caliber of people most ready to help your organization discover and grow along a valuable path?

While you may be hiring to clear standards, evaluate – if you haven’t already – who will be the “explorers” you need to discover the knowledge, markets, audiences, and products with the greatest potential value. Think about these questions:

  • What deliberate actions are we taking to bring on extraordinary discoverers?
  • What steps are we taking to identify and target emerging talent, i.e., people who aren’t as well known, but are about to become rock star talents?
  • What relationships are in place (or can we develop) with educational institutions that are doing new work and introducing new programs in areas of discovery for our organization? (BTW, you may need to be looking at grade schools, middle schools, and even home schooling programs.)

It’s clear that answering these questions won’t lead to simply placing online ads and waiting for your email inbox to fill with too many resumes! – via “Inside the Executive Suite” 

 

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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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I presented both a workshop and a breakout session at last month’s Social Media Strategy Summit in Dallas. This was my second time attending a Social Media Strategy Summit this year, and conference producer Breanna Jacobs and the team from GSMI do a fantastic job of bringing together both wonderful presenters and experienced attendees together in a very interactive learning environment.

Here are a few highlights of the tweets, insights, and audience reactions to the social media strategy ideas shared at the Dallas event.

Social Media Strategy and Customer Service

Via Vanessa Sain-Dieguez (@VSDieguez) of @HiltonHotels

  • You don’t want to “train” your customers to tweet and get better attention than when you call.
  • It’s vital to listen for people mentioning your brand in multiple ways, even when someone isn’t mentioning your brand directly. For example, if the location on a tweet or Facebook update suggests a person is at your location with an issue, you want to be able to identify that and respond.
  • Hilton layered its social media-based customer services activities into pre-existing protocols between its franchisees and customer service group. This move minimized issues that might have developed if social media customer service were treated differently. That’s not to say that delivering customer service via social is simple. “Scalability is our biggest challenge every day.”
  • Successful real time marketing is about what’s relevant, not what’s trending.

Via Jeff Gibbard (@jgibbard)

  • It’s easy for customers to be rude to a logo on Twitter or Facebook. That’s not so if they sense a person on the other end. That’s why it’s important to sign your customer service social media in some way to show there’s a person involved on the brand’s end.

Social Media Strategy Insights from Adrian Parker of @Patron

Quick disclaimer – I was one of three people who won some of the new Roca Patron Tequila for live tweeting the most during the Adrian Parker presentation.

AdrianDParker2

Nevertheless, Adrian had a plethora of great strategic insights and paraquotes from his diverse career experience.

  • “Outsource your thinking, but not your decisions.”
  • “Your social strategy should be something your competitor would never do.”
  • “A best practice isn’t a strategy. It’s something you should be doing anyway.”
  • “Good strategy is inspired by, but not limited to, current customer behavior.”
  • “A good strategy should make you nervous.”
  • “Leadership is plural. Vision is singular.” Multiple people can lead against the sole vision.

An Attendee Recap

Dan Vadeboncoeur (@danvadeboncoeur) attended the SMSSummit and shared his recap on take-aways on his Media Nerds podcast. I tweeted Dan that I appreciated the shout out, especially since he sat in on both of my sessions.

Video Highlights from the Social Media Strategy Summit

In a great example of using content providers to create even more content from an event, a video crew was onsite the second day of the conference to film brief interviews with #SMSSummit presenters. There is a YouTube page with all of the videos, plus here are several from yours truly on social media and content marketing strategy.

See the video at: http://youtu.be/sOuBJzHvRBQ

See the video at: http://youtu.be/Vkf6Xu2HKWs

See the video at: http://youtu.be/MQkdKal2rtM

Wait, There’s More

This quick recap doesn’t do justice to the breadth of content at the #SMSSummit. Look for another post with additional highlights coming soon! – Mike Brown

 

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

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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“That was a big focus group.”

This comment was from Nancy Rosenow, executive director of Nature Explore, about a large-scale Brainzooming creative thinking session we designed and facilitated for its annual Leadership Institute.

A new type of focus group was what the large-scale creative thinking session was, even though it took place in the midst of a professional development conference.

The Case for a New Type of Focus Group

If you think about a traditional focus group, it’s an odd environment.

You bring individual groups of recruited strangers together who share some common characteristics (usually including geography) to react to pre-developed ideas or concepts. While they may engage in a brief group activity about the concepts, the main communication is usually one person reacting to what the focus group moderator or another participant has said. That result is a lot of one-person talking, everyone else listening, and relatively inefficient learning experience.

At the Brainzooming sessions we designed and facilitated the Leadership Institute (and for a similar one the previous day for KC Digital Drive), we created a different experience for participants with varied strategic thinking exercises designed specifically for them.

While we had geographically diverse individuals working together in four-to-six person groups, there were nearly twenty of those groups active simultaneously. With no dedicated facilitators for the groups, we had had staff from the organization walking among the tables to answer questions and provide creative encouragement.

Nature-Explore-Session

We accomplished this with a poster-based set of strategic thinking exercises. Participants could weigh in on three topics of interest to event organizers:

  1. What opportunities and challenges the attendees foresaw in creating and maintaining outdoor classrooms (the focus of the Institute)
  2. Attendee reactions nearly forty potential topics for educational modules
  3. Ways attendees would change their selected modules to make them more helpful

The net result a tremendous volume of input from the diverse participants, and all it took was approximately 45 minutes of event time for participants.

Strategic Thinking Exercises Designed for Broad Input

If you have a large group of your target audience members assembled, this about the value of a new type of focus group. You’ll get more people (who are both fundamental similarities and stark differences) working together, generating ample content through multiple periods of intense, collaborative interaction as they work on new ideas.

Sound intriguing?

Give me a call or email, and let’s discuss how we can make it happen for your organization! – 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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A linkbait article showed up on Facebook the other day about an atheist (who called himself, “Not gonna pray”) writing to Andrew W.K., the advice columnist at the Village Voice. The letter was about the foolishness of praying for his brother who had just been diagnosed with cancer.

The linkbait part of the headline focused on the columnist’s response which was, of course, labeled “EPIC.”

Andrew W.K.’s response focused, in part, on the humility prayer requires and the importance of understanding our place in creation. He pointed out that getting on your knees to pray is “about showing respect for the size and grandeur of what we call existence — it’s about being humble in the presence of the vastness of life, space, and sensation, and acknowledging our extremely limited understanding of what it all really means.”

Prayer-Atheist

He went on to suggest to “Not gonna pray” that out of respect for his grandmother’s request for prayer, he should get down on his knees and think about his brother (part of creation) as hard as he can. Think about him more than he ever had before. Think about all the wonderful aspects of him and “tell him” how much the letter writer loves him.

The article concluded by mentioning how powerful the response from Andrew W.K. was. This was required to reinforce how “EPIC” it was, and simply good form since about 90% of the linkbait article was lifted directly from the Village Voice (a great example of really poor content curation). Hundreds of comments followed and ads for articles on miracle pills, drunken celebrity moments, and important laws I need to know about in Overland, KS rounded out the article. (All that is why I’m not including a link to the linkbait article; you have enough details to search for it if you want to read it.)

The Linkbait Article on Prayer Got ONE Part Right

Since this is an example of prayer being discussed in social media, I’m jumping on it as a strategic thinking topic ideal for Brainzooming that needn’t be relegated to my long-dormant spirituality blog.

Andrew W.K. DID make an EPIC point in his response about prayer: the absolute importance of humility and the realization that no matter how much we want to think, believe, and fool ourselves, we AREN’T in control of the bigger picture. From trying in fits and starts to develop my own prayer life, that’s an unmistakable conclusion.

The unfortunate part of the response is that he suggests “Not gonna pray” should pray to “creation” (which can do nothing about prayer) instead of the “creator.” He wants “Not gonna pray” to be humbled next to a creation that, quite frankly, as a human being with incredible abilities to think, to reason, to understand his place in creation, and to participate in a spiritual life, he is SUPERIOR to in the most important ways.

It’s one thing to think you are “praying” to your brother, and essentially sending him good thoughts. And I guess that’s become the popular, watered-down version of what prayer is since people are allowed to talk about it without being too offensive or triggering a lawsuit from someone who doesn’t believe in prayer and feels his or her sensibilities are being trampled by others praying.

It’s one thing, but it’s a little tiny portion of prayer.

Prayer to the Creator IS EPIC

At the heart of prayer is demonstrating our humility to the creator (and not aspects of creation) and becoming open, willing, and eager to understand and actively participate in what we CAN understand of God’s plan.

And that does require humility, and a complete sense that we don’t control things as we might like to believe.

While you might think this topic is far afield for Brainzooming, the original linkbait article showed up in my Facebook feed with a well-known social media expert saying it was a great example of why you might like prayer. Since he’s only about 25% right, as may be the case on many topics on which he purports to be an expert, it’s fair game for somebody out here to fill in the other 75% of the answer he missed.

And for my friends who have said to me, “I don’t understand how someone so analytical and so focused on strategic thinking can believe in prayer,” I have one thing to say. My belief doesn’t come from fuzzy feelings. My belief comes from demonstrated evidence on a daily basis: the more I surrender, the more I give up control, the more I look to the creator as the source of direction in my life, the more things make sense in the big picture.

It’s not a feeling for me. It’s a daily proof.

And, in my humility and inadequacies as a person, that proof is EPIC. – 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 and strategic thinking success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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It may simply be my reading habits, or the sources where I see articles on business and strategic thinking, but it seems so much business content you read touts “do this, do that, never do that thing.”

Reader-Cleveland-Library

While knowing dos and don’ts is helpful, articles written in that manner need to come with a huge red disclaimer reading:

“Remember your situation could be entirely different than the ones we’re talking about. You might need to do the things we say not to, and don’t do the things we recommend. Without knowing you and your situation, we really have no business thinking we can do your strategic thinking for you or saying what to do or don’t do as emphatically as this article implies.”

Hardly any dos and don’ts article EVER comes packaged with any such disclaimer, though.

In fact, most business articles that seem to get big attention from readers are the most strident in asserting that things are always or never a certain way the author addresses.

But it’s ridiculous to think an author, especially one whose experience and qualifications are sketchy, has any basis to speak as definitively as they do on what will and won’t work in your business.

So, please, please be careful with what your read and do your own strategic thinking.

Consider the ideas, but apply them with caution and depend on yourself for all the strategic thinking and decisions you need to make! – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation and strategic thinking success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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The ever-growing Content Marketing World is next week in Cleveland. I’ll be co-presenting a session with global content marketing expert and author, Pam Didner, on Maximizing Content Opportunities at Events.

It’s always great to get back to Northeast Ohio. The experience will be enhanced by presenting with Pam Didner as her new book on Global Content Marketing launches (affiliate link).

Pam will be quick to tell you, however, that she won’t be talking about any book material in our presentation!

Maximizing Content and Experience Strategy at Content Marketing World

CMWorld-PresentationWhat we WILL be discussing is something we’ve characterized as a two-part case study on a transformational business event.

Pam participated in the most recent C2 conference, a very different type of event that bills itself as a “business conference somewhere between genius and insanity.” Pam will open our session with the perspective that at an event such as C2, content and experience are identical. She’ll back that up from an experiential perspective and interviews with C2 organizers.

In my portion of the case study presentation, we’ll look at C2 in the same way Brainzooming evaluates many strategies. We’ll reverse engineer the experience to identify the types of models, concepts, and strategic thinking questions that would allow another organization to replicate the same type of feel and success in their own situation. In fact, I’m in the midst of developing a download with (by current count) 250 models, concepts, ideas, and strategic thinking questions attendees can use to design their own experiences and events to maximize content creation.

Join Us at Content Marketing World

If you are attending Content Marketing World, we’d love to have you our Wednesday, September 10th session (11:30 a.m. EDT). If you are there, message me and let’s try to meet up amid the sea of orange at Content Marketing World.

Look for updates on Twitter and here on the blog during the event next week! – Mike Brown

 

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

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.”

           (Affiliate Link)

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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woody-bendleThe last few days, I’ve been enjoying some incredible BBQ ribs from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle.

And let me tell you: as smart as Woody is about branding and innovation, he’s just as great making ribs! I paired Woody’s ribs with barbeque sauce my wife makes from the recipe at the restaurant my parents used to own, and WOW!

Even though I can’t share the ribs with all of you, they inspired me to put together a retrospective of Woody’s blog posts on Brainzooming. He’s always a popular guest author, and since he hasn’t been able to write as much for the Brainzooming blog this year, I wanted to make sure our newest readers knew about all of Woody’s great content.

So without delay, dive in to Woody’s great strategic thinking, while I have one more meal of diving into Woody’s great barbeque!

Brand Strategy

Customer Focus and Customer Experience

Innovation

Strategic Thinking and Creative Thinking

Business Rants

Potpourri

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


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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