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Even if you’re putting off thinking about strategic planning for next year, it’s time to give it at least one thought. Time’s marching ahead, and it will be next year before you know it.

Here’s the one thought: How about identifying where you can roll out a simplified strategic planning process?

What are ideas to make strategic planning less cumbersome than it’s been at your company in the past?

5 Ideas for Simplified Strategic Planning this Year

simplified-strategic-planning

If you’re stumped, here five ideas we’d suggest where you can save some time, effort, and hassle in strategic planning:

  • Start preparing your strategic foundation and situation analysis updates by asking, “What things still apply and are relevant for next year?”
  • Don’t demand more precision in the planning work than you have certainty in your future situation.
  • Prioritize the time you invest in creating specific product/service marketing plans based on each one’s expected contribution to revenue and profit growth.
  • Look at how many strategies and tactics you actually implemented this year, and use that as the threshold for how deeply detailed your plan for next year should be.
  • If you have a bunch of unimplemented strategies and tactics for this year that are still sound, simply use those for next year’s plan.

Want one other idea for ensuring simplified strategic planning?

Contact us, and let The Brainzooming Group facilitate your planning for next year using our collaborative and streamlined Brainzooming planning methodology.

We still have capacity to get your strategic plan done in plenty of time to start implementing it right away in the new year! – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Involving Employees In Your Strategy

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy that turns into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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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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Sometimes it is very clear what an organization’s threats and opportunities are when performing a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). It may also be that an organization falls into a rut of simply restating the same threats and opportunities every year.

We use strategic thinking exercises and questions as “detours” around organizational thinking that is in a rut. Asking questions in a different way than is typically done forces people to look at new possibilities and actually think before blurting out the standard answers.

An Old AND New SWOT Analysis Example

We have previously shared strategic detours for getting to new thinking about an organization’s threats and opportunities.

Here is a new SWOT analysis example that is really an old one.

Revisiting our online repository of strategic thinking exercises, I came across this one from our early days of collecting and developing new ways to help people think about their threats and opportunities.

Strategic-thinking-safe

Rather than asking single questions about threats and opportunities, this strategic thinking exercise pieces answers together from considering specific perspectives your customers, competitors, markets, and own brand has. Simply use each of the situations in each “equation” to generate ideas and see how the combinations of ideas build out a perspective on an organization’s of opportunities and threats.

Opportunities come about when . . .

  • Customers Want It + We Do It Well
  • Customers Want It + We Do It Well + Competitors Don’t Do It Well
  • Customers Want It + Nobody Does It Well
  • Customers Want It + We Do It Okay + We Can Improve How We Do It

Threats come about when . . .

  • Customers Want It + We Don’t Do It Well
  • Customers Want It + Competitors Do It Well
  • Customers Aren’t Wanting It as Much + Our Business Is Built Around Offering It
  • Customers Want It + We Do It Well + Competitors Are Moving to Do It More or Better
  • Our Business Is Built Around Offering It + Market Forces Are Working Against It

The caveat with this strategic thinking exercise is we pulled it from the “safe.” We have not put it through its paces in a number of years to check how productive it is and update it with new variations. As we do that though, we wanted to share it with all of you to test it out as well. Given the number of people that come to the blog looking for new and different strategic thinking exercises, we wanted our readers to be able to test it out as we do.

So here’s to learning what new possibilities this golden oldie SWOT analysis example will yield today! – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




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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There is so much content swimming around out there on seemingly every topic where you might ever want to learn more. With the pressure many people feel to stay current on new information, you would hope you are getting the most from the time you invest in reading all this content.

How do you maximize the value from your precious reading time?

Doc-and-light

10 Strategic Thinking Questions to Maximize Business Reading

I was fortunate to learn early from an expert in secondary research how to mine content for insights, clues, and big ideas. Here are ten strategic thinking questions that make sure you get the most from your reading:

  • What agrees with what I think/know?
  • What disagrees with what I think/know? Am I misguided or lacking information on this topic?
  • What experts are mentioned? Do these experts have other worthwhile content to review?
  • What are the big themes in the article?
  • How do the big themes relate to big themes emerging from other content?
  • What questions would we I to learn more or recreate the learnings presented here?
  • How does anything in this content shed new light on what I think/know?
  • How does anything in this content make me rethink what I thought I knew?

You may not ask all these strategic thinking questions about everything you read. When you are looking for new ideas, however, come back to this list. These strategic thinking questions will serve you well.  – Mike Brown

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Looking for Brand Innovation to Grow Your Business? Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!


Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking eBook

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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You want to innovate. You know it’s important to innovate. Your customers’ behaviors are screaming it is beyond time to develop an innovation strategy and do something about it.

A problem we hear about often, however, is you have few resources to develop an innovation strategy and get started innovating.

Insights, capital, time, expertise, strategic support, people, data, materials, and processes could all be missing resources. None are necessarily standalone resources. They are typically connected to one another, i.e., a lack of insights could be because of lack of data, no people to analyze or identify insights, or no processes to turn insights into tangible innovation.

16 Keys for Innovating with No Resources

If you have hit the “no resources to innovate” wall (once or multiple times), here are sixteen areas to explore for new ideas on innovating with no resources (or at least fewer than you think you might need).

Empty-Cupboard-Canva

These questions are built around the six infamous storytelling words (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How). Each is coupled with the important word, else, as a way to find alternatives and get around any walls that stand in the way of a successful innovation strategy with tight resources.

WHO ELSE . . .

  • Might participate in our innovation strategy?
  • Would know someone who wants to participate?
  • Is already addressing new product innovation in this area?

WHAT ELSE . . .

  • Would permit us to innovate with fewer resources?
  • Could be an input to leapfrog our innovation strategy?
  • Might spin off resources available for innovation?

WHERE ELSE . . .

  • Could we advance this idea with a different audience?
  • Might we tap additional people to help develop parts of this new product innovation idea?
  • Could we get a head start in learning what others already know about innovation in this area?

WHEN ELSE . . .

  • Might we get resources in place to support this innovation strategy?
  • Could we build support with new audiences we could reach?
  • Would we be better prepared to launch this new product innovation?

WHY ELSE . . .

  • Would others support this innovation strategy?
  • Could we persuade others in our organization to support funding this innovation?
  • Might customers want to get involved with this new product innovation sooner rather than later?

HOW ELSE . . .

  • Could we organize our innovation strategy to start innovating right away?

This is just a start. You can adapt and customize the list to your specific situation.

Rethinking Your Innovation Strategy

Whether you’re on your own or part of a small (or even larger) team dedicated to developing an innovation strategy in the apparent absence of resources, use these questions and get everybody to start adding possibilities.

Do it quietly (where each person adds answers to a list) or loud (where the group is hearing and contributing answers all together). Either way, in 15 minutes, 30 minutes at the most, you’ll have so many more options to get around whatever the resource limitations you think you have are.

Try this. It will work for expanding your range of strategic options so you can get started innovating. – Mike Brown

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Find New Resources to Innovate!

FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

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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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article shared ways to increase the strategic thinking in your organization without holding an offsite meeting.

Here’s another way to improve daily strategic thinking. It builds on one idea in yesterday’s post (“Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter”).

This approach leads to developing a list of targeted questions specific to your business situation. You can complete it in a week, but we recommend spreading it over several weeks or during a typical month of activity.

4 Steps to Customizing Your Strategic Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Step 1. Anticipate

Before the week or month you have selected, list typical business issues and conversations you have with your team and other groups you work with regularly.

Step 2. Categorize

Group the issues and conversations into general categories. Possible examples include:

  • Understanding things (analysis, evaluation)
  • Developing things (innovation, creativity)
  • Building things (operations, manufacturing, efficiency and process improvements)
  • Growing things (creating more sales, implementing more initiatives)
  • Fixing things (diagnosis, correction)
  • Forecasting things (projections, estimates)

Step 3. Track

With the list in Step 2 complete, use it during your selected timeframe to keep track of how many issues and conversations pertain to each category. If you need to add other categories, add them.

Step 4. Compile

After you’re done monitoring your conversations and activities, see where your focus is. Work on developing a custom list of ready-to-use questions in each area. You can mine our extensive lists of strategic thinking questions for ones to use. Here are links to some of our most popular lists:

This focused approach will pay dividends with your ability to develop a solid command of strategic thinking questions for daily use to boost strategic thinking in your team, yourself, and everyone you work with in the organization.  – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

 

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 light of yesterday’s article on living a life of no surprises, I received a related question the other day: “What can you do if you are trying to do strategic planning and implementation within an event-driven environment where uncontrollable situations can wreak havoc on the organization’s priorities and focus?”

Here are four steps we recommend for strategic planning when you are trying to anticipate unplanned events and their potential impact.

Step 1 – Anticipate Unplanned Events

An important strategic planning step in this type of environment is to anticipate as many of the potential events as you can. This applies even if you cannot control all of the possible occurrences that could derail the strategic plan’s implementation. We have shared a few Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises previously to help accomplish this exploration including:

The key is being able to efficiently generate as long a list of potential future events as is possible, practical, and addressable.

Future-Look

Photo by hjalmeida

Step 2 – Identify High-Impact Unplanned Events

How then do you prepare to prioritize and perform strategic planning while recognizing all the potential events you have identified?

You can prioritize the list by having individuals rate each event for its potential maximum magnitude and the probability of each event actually happening. Multiplying the two answers for each possible event provides a quick sense of the potential relative magnitude across all the events.

Step 3 – Plan the First Few Steps

Next, identify the first several tactics you would pursue if each event were to happen. You do not need to outline a complete strategic plan for each event. Instead, concentrate on detailing the first three tactics you would want to have ready to go should the event surface.

Step 4 – Prioritize the Most Applicable Tactics

Finally, look across the events and the initial tactics you identified for each. What are the common actions within the first few steps for multiple events? This look offers a sense of the highest-impact, most flexible moves you can make when events start to change.

Simple and Done

This is obviously a very high-level approach to better handling strategic planning in an event-driven environment.

If this high-level approach is not sufficient for addressing your organization’s tolerance for event-based risk, you can do much more in-depth scenario planning.

But if your organization avoids this issue completely because it struggles to reach an aggressive level of strategic planning detail, a simple approach is far better than ignoring potential vulnerabilities and simply hoping implementation-altering events just don’t happen. – Mike Brown

 

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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 spotted a Bloomberg Businessweek story the other day that was a corporate case study, in effect, of the Radio Shack business strategy and the brand’s upward and then long downward trajectory.

One sentence in the Radio Shack case study article says volumes about corporate leadership and how corporate success and failure stories turn into history.

Here is the sentence:

“When asked to pinpoint when everything went wrong, they fell into two main groups: those who argue it had happened right after they left, and those who say the damage had already been done when they arrived.”

That is how the big lie ALWAYS works!

You see so many cases where what really happened in a corporation is reimagined, reinterpreted, and re-reported to suit the personal business storyline that best advances someone’s own career.

Little-Liars

One classic example of the corporate case study big lie in action that I witnessed multiple times involves a celebrity CMO on the speaking circuit who had a several year run at a brand headed for extinction. While he was still at the troubled brand, his keynote presentations consisted of talking about how screwed up the business strategy was before he got there, but that under his incredible CMO guidance, EVERYTHING was turning around masterfully.

That was the story only until he left the still-collapsing brand, however.

THEN his keynotes changed to focus on how screwed up the business strategy was before he got there and how it returned to being completely screwed up immediately AFTER he left!

Well OF COURSE that’s what happened!

NOT!

Would a business celebrity misrepresent the truth?

Yes, ALL DAY LONG!

The lesson?

Be careful whenever an executive shares a corporate case study about a troubled brand where he or she was previously employed. If all the big problems are timed for either before the person got there or right after the person left, go ahead and make the leap . . . that person is telling the big lie of very failed corporate case study! – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

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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