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Based on the title, you might have been expecting a list from The Art of War.

If so, that’s not where we’re headed today.

St-Johns-Church-Cleveland

With yesterday’s post about discovering strategic insights I use in the secular world while at church, I challenged myself to document and share what some of the other strategic insights from church were.

The list starts with yesterday’s strategic insight about “small, possible steps” and adds the first eleven others I jotted down from my hymnal notes and Bible classes of the last few years.

12 Strategic Insights from Thousands of Years Ago

In an age when it’s fashionable to rule out religion as just some outdated thinking (or imagination or fables) from long-dead people, I’d stand behind any of this wisdom as highly relevant to my workday, and likely that of any reader here, as well:

  1. Once you’ve figured out where you’re headed, take all the small, possible steps you can to get headed there as directly as you can.
  2. Anyone, even the most unlikely person, can be THE person to save the day (or the strategy, project, event, etc.).
  3. It doesn’t so much matter if you’re off track during the process as whether you are heading in the right direction and how you ultimately wind up at the end.
  4. People get multiple chances, even if they burn you on the second or third chance.
  5. You’ll have a lot more success if everything you do reinforces everything else you’re doing in a conscious, deliberate way.
  6. Sometimes you’ll have to walk away from your original audience when they’ve decided they just aren’t interested.
  7. Wisdom trumps just about everything.
  8. You’ll typically have an easier go of things if you can deliver what leadership is looking for first, even if you have bigger or different ideas in mind.
  9. People aren’t always going to be ready to follow right away so you have to get them ready to see why your direction is the best.
  10. Use history to your advantage.
  11. When personal inspiration is lacking, familiar structure can get you started while inspiration catches up.
  12. There is tremendous learning and change value in repeating and integrating messages at pre-planned times.

I’ll add to this list over time as I keep oncovering new strategic insights. - 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.

 

 

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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 have to be on the lookout always and everywhere for the wisdom and insights that can help in creating strategic impact.

I get a lot of insights from attending daily mass.

Even there, though, the insights can come through ways you would never expect.

Yesterday’s mass was celebrated by Fr. Mirco Sosio, AVI. He was filling in for our pastor, who has been filling in for the usual priest, who is visiting his family in the eastern US. Fr. Sosio is from Italy originally, and he is serving as a temporary associate pastor at our parish for a few months. This was the first time I’d seen him.

During his homily, Fr. Sosio talked about the parable of the mustard seed. He likened it to a sentiment that the Franciscans (the orders of priests following the model of St. Francis of Assisi) have of embracing “small, possible steps.”

Small, possible steps?

Small-Possible-Steps

The phrase “small, possible steps” struck me strongly, because it speaks to exactly how I view strategy and creating strategic impact: First figure out what you’re trying to accomplish, and then you’ll understand any incremental move that gets you going (and staying going) in the right direction.

I grew up in Hays, KS around Franciscan priests, including going to a high school they operated. Yet I’ve never had a phrase from my youth to explain my strategic perspective, or even a recognition that it might have been shaped by the Franciscans.

But there it was staring me in the face at mass yesterday.

While we’re all a tapestry of what we’ve learned, experienced, and imagined, it is remarkable how many business lessons I’d have otherwise credited to my secular business career surprisingly surface in church with no recognition on my part that might be where they originated.

So as this started, be sure to be on the lookout always and everywhere for the wisdom and insights to help you in creating a strategic impact because you never know where they will emerge. – Mike Brown

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Idea-Magnets-TitleI think this is a first today. It’s an excerpt from another publication about Brainzooming creative thinking content.

Specifically, this recap of Monday’s “Idea Magnets – Creative Business Leadership” webcast I presented for the American Marketing Association is from “Inside the Executive Suite.” This newsletter is a weekly feature within the Armada Executive Intelligence Briefing System. We worked with Keith Prather, the publisher of the Armada Executive Intelligence Brief, for many years in the corporate world. Additionally, when we have a client engagement requiring a larger group of facilitators, Keith is my first call. He was at ground zero when we developed the techniques that later became the Brainzooming strategy methodology.

Beyond this Idea Magnets recap, you should sign up for a free 30-day trial of the Executive Intelligence Briefing System. It’s designed to keep executives current with both what’s going on in the world and what it’s going to mean for their businesses. Additionally, since Keith won’t listen to my pricing strategy advice, you can subscribe to the entire array of multi times per week publications for less than $100 a year. It SHOULD be a four or five-figure subscription, so like I said, subscribe now before I convince Keith to raise the prices!

Without delay, here’s the Armada take on the seven creative thinking characteristics of Idea Magnets. – Mike Brown

 

 7 Keys to How “Idea Magnets” Boost Creativity from “Inside the Executive Suite”

Know someone incredibly strong at generating new ideas and attracting team members who also excel at imagining creative ideas?

If so, you know an “idea magnet.”

Here is our recap and the take-aways from each (idea magnet) characteristic discussed.

Idea Magnets are . . .

1. Inspiring

Idea magnets generate interest and passion for the big objectives and dramatic visions they are trying to accomplish within their organizations. Unlike creative geniuses who may work in a more solitary basis, they want strong creative leaders surrounding them. The bigger team’s creativity helps identify the details behind making the vision a reality.

In sharing a big vision for an organization, whether it’s stated as a core purpose, vision, or mission statement isn’t critical. What’s important is the statement boldly challenges and stretches the organization.

Our take-away: Idea magnets ground creative ideas in strategies and objectives. They are NOT pursuing creativity for creativity’s sake.

2. Serving

Idea magnets are servant leaders. They participate in the challenging tasks they ask their teams to address. They also grow their team members into idea magnets themselves through strategic mentorship, sharing personal lessons with their teams, challenging the status quo, and cultivating team diversity.

Idea magnets surround themselves with smarter, more talented people and display patience while team members do their own explorations to imagine ways to turn the idea magnet’s vision into reality.

Our take-away: Idea magnets aren’t standoffish. They are in the middle of imagining ideas AND accomplishing results.

3. Attracting

Just as magnets attract metal, idea magnets attract great creative leaders and their big ideas. What makes idea magnets so attractive? They bring excitement to the workplace. They also display “abundance thinking. ” What others would consider as constraints, they see as opportunities to pursue more abundant resources and possibilities. They also provide what other leaders need to be abundantly creative, including physical space, time, resources, tools, and interactions with new (and new types of ) people.

Our take-away: The intangibles in business often support abundance thinking. Ideas, energy, passion, and learning aren’t limited, so identify ways to take greater advantage of them.

4. Connecting

Idea magnets connect people and situations to fuel creativity. They are great “and” thinkers. This means they embrace and easily work with both ends of what others might see as opposite perspectives. Idea magnets are strong at:

  • Generating and prioritizing ideas
  • Thinking creatively and implementing ideas
  • Exploiting tested ideas and unknown possibilities

Using creative formulas, idea magnets combine possibilities others would typically miss to create many more new ideas.

Our take-away: Idea magnets we’ve known in business are all strong at spotting relationships between apparently disconnected things. These connections help fuel ideas and anticipate future opportunities.

5. Encouraging

Idea magnets use multiple tools in multiple ways to motivate team members. For example, they might use time in contrasting ways. Sometimes idea magnets negotiate for MORE time so team members can finish necessary creative thinking and implementation. Other times, they may be maxing out the team’s capacity with more projects than they can handle. This LESSENS times for unnecessary creative thinking and encourages rapid progress.

Idea magnets routinely facilitate unique creative experiences, maximize fresh perspectives from new team members, and celebrate successes and the learnings from new ideas that fall short of intended impacts.

Our take-away: By adding one new or unusual variable, idea magnets facilitate once-in-a-lifetime creative experiences. This concept extends to personal relationships, so all you long-time married folks take note!

6. Deciding

Idea magnets imagine and attract many ideas. Processing those ideas so their teams aren’t overwhelmed is imperative. That’s why being strong at “deciding” is vital.

When a project or initiative launches, idea magnets identify upfront how decisions will be made as completion draws near. Sometimes the idea magnet makes the decision; other times, team members will be deciding how the team proceeds. Knowing upfront the freedom team members have in exploring ideas and the approach to setting priorities signals how much autonomy others have to shape strategies to move forward.

Our take-away: While they say in brainstorming sessions there are no bad ideas, there are. It’s vital to pick the right time to decide on good and bad ideas to sustain creative thinking.

7. Replenishing

Applying creative thinking to business issues is mentally stimulating. There’s still the need, however, for idea magnets to replenish creative energy along for the team. Idea magnets understand what encourages their creative passions and what will prepare team members to hit their creative peaks. Idea magnets have to know the people, places, situations, times, and techniques that most readily maximize creativity.

Our take-away: Managing a business team’s creativity is like a basketball coach managing the varied talents and personalities on the team. The idea magnet may have to try a variety of “player” combinations before the team scores creatively.

Is creative thinking and creative business leadership for everyone?

A question at the webcast’s conclusion asked whether creative business leadership is important if you don’t work in a creative field or company. The answer was it’s even more important then to bring fresh ideas to how an organization delivers customer value. – “Inside the Executive Suite”

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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Strategic agility (affiliate link) has come up multiple times recently.

One time was through an audience question during the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association closing keynote I presented on Creating Strategic Impact. Another instance was while curating Brainzooming content on strategic agility for an all-day Creating Strategic Impact workshop we’re delivering for a new client today.

We’ve never formally defined “strategic agility” within the Brainzooming methodology. That may be because my one-word answer to what strategic agility is would be “Brainzooming.” Within our thinking, strategic agility implies knowing and remaining grounded in what matters for an organization (the “brain” part) while moving briskly and flexibly to address it in ways that make sense (the “zooming” part).

In creating a deeper resource on “strategic agility” for our session participants today, however, it’s not all that helpful to say, “Read everything on the blog because it all relates to strategic ability.”

15 Resources on Strategic Agility

Instead, here’s a narrower list of topics we’ve covered to help our Creating Strategic Impact workshop session participants get a handle on strategic agility. And if you’d like to learn more “strategic agility,” it’s fashioned with all of our readers in mind.

Idea-Magnet-Ad

Remaining Grounded in What Matters for an Organization

Anticipating What Lies Ahead

Making Quick Decisions

Including People with Strategic Agility

A Quick List for Creating Strategic Impact

Compiling this list suggests both that there’s a lot here, and there’s more to be covered on strategic agility. We’ll add that to the blog topics list, and get back to you on it! In the interim, if you’d really like to go deep on how strategic agility (or what we call Brainzooming) could benefit your team and organization, let us know, and we can talk through ways we’ve helped other organizations on these very topics. – Mike Brown

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If you start anything important without an objective and a strategy, you’ll wind up SSA.

And you know what SSA means. Or if you don’t know what SSA means, download The Brainzooming Group “Don’t Wind Up SSA” strategic thinking mini-poster.

Keep it nearby whenever you are starting the strategic thinking for something important.

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Do Not Wind Up SSA – The Brainzooming Group Strategic Thinking Mini-Poster

 

 

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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article discussed strategic analogs. These are organizations that perform comparable functions to your own brand, even if they are in far-removed industries. Strategic analogs are great sources of ideas and learnings to shape your organization’s strategic moves.

Here is a strategic thinking exercise we’ll be incorporating in an upcoming Creating Strategic Impact workshop to help a client identify strategic analogs. It is a two-step process. The first step involves describing what the organization does in a general fashion; the second connects those descriptions to other organizations.

Brainzooming Makes More and Faster Strategic ConnectionsStrategic Thinking Questions to Generalize What Your Organization Does

These questions for step one help generalize what you do to pave the way for identifying possible strategic analogs:.

  • What are the big drivers/buckets of cost in our organization? What are the big revenue sources for us?
  • List the major activities we do as an organization. How would we translate each of them into simple words a grandparent or parent unfamiliar with our company could easily understand?
  • What are the processes associated with why customers actually buy from us?
  • What are the titles of employees who interact directly with customers? What words in their titles provide a more general sense of what we do?
  • If we could see what we do from a low-flying airplane or a car driving by a building, what would be the big processes we’d be able to see and describe?

After using these strategic thinking questions to generalize an organization’s business functions, you’re ready to find other companies who perform one or more of the same activities.

Strategic Thinking Questions to Identify Strategic Analog Companies

Step two involves listing companies you can look at now and in the future for strategic ideas, cautions, and lessons. Simply by looking through functions you’ve identified in step one, companies you could be tracking for ideas may come to mind quickly. If not, these additional questions can spur new ideas:

  • If we were going to school about the important functions in our business, who (outside our own company) would we want teaching the course?
  • If we had to recreate what we do or completely outsource our operation, who would we ask to handle the most important parts?

Another approach is to use the “What’s It Like?” strategic thinking exercise, a standard in the Brainzooming repertoire. It integrates generalizing what you do with finding other comparable examples in one strategic thinking exercise.

Force Yourself to Identify Strategic Analogs

The important thing is not letting yourself off the hook with the old “we are unique, no one does what we do” excuse.

A set of strategic analogs can help you track is tremendously valuable, especially if they are in industries  developing ahead of your industry’s pace.

For example, within the portion of the transportation industry that moved goods, we looked at airlines and phone companies as examples of “formerly regulated, network dependent, yield-management oriented businesses” whose pace was faster. It was helpful to track what was happening because the same developments would come to our industry a few years later.

So get started now creating your own set of strategic analogs. – Mike Brown

 

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Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactI’m in Dallas today delivering the closing keynote presentation on “Creating Strategic Impact” for the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. This launches a string of Brainzooming presentations and workshops during the summer months focused on translating strategic thinking into business results.

Finding Your Brand’s Strategic Analogs

Prepping for one of these upcoming all-day, company-specific strategic thinking workshops, I was talking with our client on customizing the strategic thinking exercises we’ll teach the group.

She said participants could struggle identifying strategic analogs. By strategic analogs, we mean organizations that perform comparable functions to your brand, even in industries that seem far-removed. Our client’s people struggle with seeing connections between its own business and other industries, quickly dismissing external strategic analogs as irrelevant.

That’s not uncommon.

Since we all try differentiating our businesses, it’s easy to start believing your own messaging that NO ONE does what your organization does in the way you do it. That belief shouldn’t preclude you, however, from using strategic analogs. They are helpful in tracking how other businesses deal with comparable issues your brand may not have yet faced.

For example, at the corporate b2b transportation company where I worked, we spent time thinking about how Disneyworld manages time perceptions. Just as Disneyworld makes it seem as if a line moves faster than expected, we faced a similar task in managing transportation time perceptions.

To develop a strategic thinking exercise on identifying strategic analogs, we’ve collected various questions we’ve used to help business leaders think in new ways about what their organizations do. Look for the strategic thinking questions and the exercise in tomorrow’s Brainzooming article.

Strategic Thinking Exercises in a Workshop for Entrepreneurs

If you’re in Kansas City and want to sharpen your strategy skills, I’m teaching a two-hour workshop on Creating Strategic Impact for Entrepreneurs at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County (ECJC). This Brainzooming workshop is Thursday, June 26,2014 from 11 am to 1 pm.

The workshop focus is how entrepreneurs can take advantage of strategic thinking exercises we use for large corporations to efficiently and effectively spend time working ON instead of only working IN their businesses.

We’ll feature ideas for creating strategic impact that work well even if an entrepreneur has to do the strategic thinking and implementation solo or with a very small, and perhaps less experienced, team.

You can learn more about session and register at the ECJC website. Hurry though; space is limited for the workshop. We’ve been fortunate that most previous Brainzooming workshops at ECHC (all focused on social media and content marketing) have sold out, so get your registration completed today! – Mike Brown

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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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