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It’s always great to solicit and consider expert opinions. It’s not so great, though, when qualified experts don’t agree, and you have to decide and act.

Being confronted with this situation recently (4 physicians, none of whom agreed on the appropriate course of action) caused me to reflect on decision factors to be considered when this happens. These issues seem applicable in comparable situations you may face:

  • What are the experience levels among dissenting parties? Are they generalists and/or specialists?
  • How long has each expert been involved with the situation? Does more tenure translate into greater expertise?
  • Are there differences in the risk/benefit perspectives among the experts?
  • Do any of the experts have a personal or vested interest in a particular outcome? Does a preference create disproportional bias on a particular expert’s perspective?
  • Is there a more solid logic behind one point of view vs. another?
  • How do the relationships among the experts play into the difference of opinion?
  • How willing is each expert to consider and learn from new information?
  • Are any experts in roles that create a disproportionate bias?
  • If assistants are involved, how do they react relative to the experts they are or aren’t affiliated with?

In the situation I faced, it appears we made the right decision.

We took the most experienced expert’s point of view; he also had the most tenure and personal interest in the situation. The medical specialist, who was newest to the case and most reluctant to act, demonstrated role bias, made an illogical risk assessment, and had a wonderful P.A. who gave ample cues that she wasn’t fully in support of his position. He was willing, however, to accept new information, and went ahead with the (successful) surgery he was initially reluctant to perform.

So, what questions or criteria do you use to figure out which expert to believe?  – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creativity 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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1

Ted Williams voice as a baseball expert was unparalleled. As a kid, I was a huge baseball fan, reading anything I could on baseball strategy and how the game could be played better. One of my favorite books was “The Science of Hitting” by Ted Williams. As one of baseball’s greatest hitters (and the last person to hit .400 for a season), Williams had plenty of innovative advice and strategic insights to pass along.

The lesson that’s stayed with me to this day was depicted on the book’s original cover. It was a photograph of Ted Williams in the batter’s box with the strike zone depicted as 11 baseballs high and 7 baseballs across. And each color-coded baseball had a batting average listed on it corresponding to Williams’ expected batting average for pitches throughout his strike zone.

Belt high and over the plate, and he was a .400 hitter; low and away, and even the great Ted Williams knew he’d only hit .230. Williams’ point was he knew in what situations he’d be great (his “happy zone”) and in which he’d be less than average. As a result, his strategy was to only swing at pitches where he had a high probability of success.

That’s a great strategy well beyond baseball. Do you actively evaluate your strengths, your areas with the highest probabilities of innovation success, and strategically concentrate efforts on those areas? If not, maybe now’s the time  to make sure you’re only swinging at good “innovation” pitches day in and day out. – 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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A previous post on Powerpoint talked about covering a slide image and seeing what the headline says, then covering the headline and seeing what the image suggests to look for message agreement between the two.

The same approach is valuable in analytical work as well.

If you’ve created a chart or table, cover it and see what the explanatory text or headline conveys. Then cover the text and ask yourself if the chart backs up your point. Ideally they’ll match. Often though, unless you’ve really pushed the analysis supporting the table/chart, it will show irrelevant or misleading data that compromises or confuses your main point.

Using this technique recently showed that instead of showing a long timeline to depict daily fluctuations, the key point was made much more directly with a stacked bar chart demonstrating a month over month change.

Another twist on the technique is to actually describe aloud the primary message of the analysis as a further check to see if you really agree with and support everything you have on the page!


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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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2

There can be great reassurance in surrounding yourself with expertise during a difficult situation.

On a flight from St. Louis to Kansas City, we were experiencing “moderate turbulence.” We knew this because a Southwest Airlines pilot was sitting in the aisle seat and weighed in on the degree of turbulence, based on his trained expertise. He shared the various levels of “chop” and “turbulence,” letting us know despite our impressions of the flight, it could get MUCH worse. He reassured us he had only seen EXTREME TURBULENCE once in his career.

That information helped make what seemed to be a VERY BUMPY flight much more tolerable.

Next time you’re in bumpy creative skies, look for an expert to help get your bearings, understand why you’re experiencing turbulence, and realize that even with EXTREME TURBULENCE your creative plane won’t break apart.

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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Prioritization and narrowing possibilities have been touched on at various points since starting Brainzooming.

Here are links to some helpful approaches on prioritization and decision making. The “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” happens to be one of the most viewed posts since the blog started!

I’d love to hear what approaches you use to prioritize. Please share them in the comments section!

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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Working to identify criteria describing attractive target customers, our small group had spent several weeks considering, selecting, and tracking down what we thought were the most relevant variables. There was a sense we could spend weeks more refining and tweaking things to get to our list of top prospects. Problem was we didn’t have time to do that.

At that point, the group’s leader made an intriguing suggestion. Our meeting was set to end at 4 o’clock. His direction to the group was to assume we had to report our list of 15 accounts by the end of the meeting. If that were the case he asked us, did we have confidence in our ability to come up with a defensible recommendation. Our answer was a resounding “Yes,” and we generated our list based on the work we’d done to that point.

With our proposed short list, we had an artifact for our effort. In additional analysis we did, we quickly matched up new possibilities against what became known as the “4 p.m. List” to see if they provided significant improvement. In all, the list paved the way for us to wrap up our recommendation in a timely fashion.

We learned from this, and with one of my strategic thinking partners, all we have to say is, “Let’s do a 4 p.m. list,” to know it’s time to force a recommendation assuming we know most of what we’re ever going to know at that point.

So if you’re stuck on a project, turn the clock to 3:50 p.m., and wrap it up!

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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While much of Brainzooming is focused on divergent thinking (i.e. expanding the range of possibilities considered), it’s important to also have strong convergent thinking skills for times when you have to narrow possibilities, make decisions, and implement a recommendation.

Beyond the benefits of honing your skills at both types of thinking, it’s important to know when each approach is most appropriate. There are definitely more instances now where I’m willing to shift toward convergent thinking, even though I might have previously ardently fought for exploring more possibilities.

Here are five situations where it may make sense to go against an inclination to push for more possibilities and instead settle for an existing alternative:

  • It’s an issue that “doesn’t matter” based on a lack of either significance or permanence.
  • Multiple unsuccessful cases have been made for alternatives, and you’re at risk of deteriorating strategic relationships through continued persistence.
  • Resource constraints (time, people, investment, etc.) clearly preclude exploration of better alternatives.
  • Someone is resolute in a choice and clearly beyond “being helped” by considering what you view as a more appropriate approach.
  • The best current alternative is good enough relative to expectations.

All week, we’ll cover topics related to convergent thinking, and how it can be used appropriately within a strategic thinking orientation.

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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