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If you’ve ever seen me present a strategic thinking workshop, you’ve likely heard me say, “People think strategic planning is boring, and I agree with them. I’m a strategic planner, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning. That’s why we make it fun!”

That’s not simply a throw-away line. It’s the absolute truth.

We consciously try to develop fun strategic planning activities.

The reason fun strategic planning activities are so important is they prompt people to want to engage with strategic planning at that moment plus make them eager to participate in the future.

5 Fun Strategic Planning Activities

Funny-Orange-2

“Fun strategic planning activities? You have to be kidding,” you may be thinking. No, we’re absolutely SERIOUS about the FUN part!

If you’d like to incorporate more fun into your strategic planning activities, here are a few ideas we’d offer:

1. Eliminating Boring Introductions

If you’re going for a more enjoyable strategic planning session, it’s important to start on a light note. This ice breaker dumps the typical boring self-introduction and uses introductions where everyone BUT you gets to tell something about you. Here’s one secret for even more fun – have one person make up all the answers they share. When you read this post, you’ll get what I mean by that!

2. Invite Katy Perry for Her Fashion Sense

You have to go see the picture to get this, but Katy Perry’s dress at this awards show a few years ago is all kinds of fun. If your challenge is reimagining old strategic ideas, this strategic thinking exercise will inject fun into your planning.

3. Put the Pin Prick to Your Competitors

This strategic thinking exercise involves targeting a pesky competitor and thinking about every way you can be a complete nuisance for them. You have to keep the ultimate ideas you choose legal and ethical. Before that point, however, anything is fair game and lots of fun!

4. What does Ghostbuster have to do with strategy?

By definition, you aren’t supposed to be able to anticipate black swan events. But when a client wants a black swan exercise, you figure out a way to give them a black swan exercise. This fun strategic planning activity gets its fun from the connection to Ghostbusters that inspired the exercise. Other than that, it should be a LITTLE more serious than the others here.

5. Try Some Shrimp!

This exercise is called “Shrimp,” but you’ll see a picture of a pumpkin throwing up pumpkin seeds on the original post. Yeah, it’s kind of gross, but this particular strategic thinking exercise is a blast. In workshops, I tell the story about when we used it with a group working on a NASCAR sponsorship program. They turned the exercise toward some pretty tawdry topics, yet came out with an idea that led to getting their company’s NASCAR driver on an ABC reality TV show!

Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun*

I wouldn’t necessarily advise trying to use ALL these fun strategic planning activities with one group. But if you do, let me know. THAT would be funny! – Mike Brown

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization. This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

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

 

*BTW, sorry about that RebeccaRoll.

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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Suppose you are organizing a big meeting. There will be many people working on your organization’s vision or you’re trying to learn what things your customers are looking for in your product or service. Either way, maximizing group collaboration and engagement is vital.

As you plan your event strategy, how do you decide which type of information sharing strategy will create the most beneficial group collaboration?

One often-used strategy is allowing one individual at a time to share his or her perspective with the group. If the group is large and the time is too short, the result is each person gets a very short time to speak. Or it may be that only a few people are selected to talk, and everyone else listens.

That strategy works if the speakers are more informed on the topic than all the other attendees or the time available from the presenters is very limited. You can’t really claim the “one speaking to many” strategy creates effective group collaboration, however.

A different, typically overlooked strategy can genuinely lead to much stronger group collaboration. This strategy involves creating many small groups from among a larger audience. Provide each small group a dynamic structure and strategic thinking exercises with productive questions allowing everyone to successfully contribute personal knowledge, perspectives, and ideas. While this strategy increases group collaboration and strengthens an organization’s understanding, it won’t work in every situation. Most importantly, if you don’t have a tested design and implementation approach for how to select the right types of strategic thinking exercises, capture input being generated by multiple groups, and distill the work into strategic themes, the strategy will fall flat.

When you do have all these factors in place, this collaborative strategy works tremendously efficiently and effectively. We talked about this strategic group collaboration approach on a webinar today for attendees at the Gigabit City Summit.

You can review a recording of the webinar here: http://ow.ly/GYi1k 

The topic for the webinar and our workshop with the group at the Gigabit City Summit is how to more successfully develop a community-wide vision within cities implementing ultra high-speed Internet. The approach works across business situations though, so go ahead and grab a copy of the infographic here to help you decide which type of information sharing strategy will work best for your next group meeting.

And if you want great strategic group collaboration, let us know. We’d be happy to design and create the experience and organizational benefits you are looking for with your group! – Mike Brown

150106 Collaboration Infographic - The Brainzooming Group

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

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

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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As the year starts, you will generate and see many new strategy documents, especially within large organizations. These strategy documents will include strategic plans, business plans, product strategies, financial forecasts, and current marketing initiatives.

It is easy (and happens far too often) for executives to largely ignore the strategy documents and dive right into doing stuff. That is why you hear so often about strategic plans that sit on the shelf unused.

One reason may be that strategic plans are so poorly written.

It is possible though that strategy plans go unused because executives do not know how to read and apply them to better guide and align activities.

Too many strategy documents go unused.

Read a Strategy Document Four Ways

Here are the four must-know ways to read a strategy document. Read it:

  1. Literally – What does the strategy document SAY about what the organization’s intentions are? What important initiatives are planned to make the strategy a reality? What does the strategy suggest the future direction is?
  2. Thematically – What are the major themes suggested within and across strategy documents? Do you see a focused set of themes or are there many diverse ones? Are actions (both those underway and those already completed) consistent with the themes? Are there contradictory themes? If so, what does that suggest about which strategies will predominate?
  3. Collectively – Are there various pieces of the puzzle across strategy documents that fit together? Do the pieces fit together well? Are there opportunities to bring the pieces together in a way that sheds more insight on the organization’s strategic direction and priorities?
  4. Strategically – How strongly are priorities aligned across the various parts of the organization creating these strategy documents? Are there any strategic disconnects that need to be reconciled to achieve success?

What is the benefit of reading a strategy document four ways?

If you apply this discipline, you will develop a stronger sense of the organization’s overall direction, extending to insights that might not be written down anywhere. Not only will you be able to better prioritize current activities, you will be in a much better position to anticipate what the future holds, too. – Mike Brown

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

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

 

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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Before tackling the current topic on strategic thinking exercises, I have to admit something: In my capstone MBA strategy class, we ran a business simulation throughout the semester. Upon its completion, my partner and I won an award for our performance. We garnered the “Understock Award” for stocking out of product more than any other team.

Yes, I had created a spreadsheet-based model to perform what-if analysis and forecast our business levels. But my tendency to plan for surviving the downside of a situation led us to repeatedly under-forecast our sales volume in the simulation. Thus we invariably experienced more demand than we had product to satisfy.

Flash forward to last week’s strategy session we designed and facilitated for Literacy Kansas City. The organization, under the leadership of executive director, Carrie Coogan, is a nonprofit advancing literacy for teens and adults in the Kansas City region through direct services, advocacy, and collaboration.

While we were identifying critical success factors for a new Literacy Kansas City program launch, one of the board members announced she was going to play the “Positive Devil’s Advocate” role. By “Positive Devil’s Advocate,” she meant she wanted to plan for overwhelming success with the new program. Would the organization be ready to handle a dramatically higher enrollment than expectations?

Literacy-Kc-Session

Playing the Positive Devil’s Advocate in Strategic Thinking Exercises

This role came up once before in a strategy session. Based on my award-winning tendency to plan for the worst and not for wild success, however, we haven’t developed specific Positive Devil’s Advocate roles in current exercises or designed new strategic thinking exercises focused on dealing with overwhelming success.

We’ll fix that and incorporate the “Positive Devil’s Advocate” role into strategic thinking exercises. It will a bit of a flip to the Black Swan exercise we’ve talked about previously. We’ll also incorporate this role into other exercises, making sure we identify a person to push thinking on wild success wherever it’s appropriate. – Mike Brown

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

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

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 Thursday, I’m leading two Brainzooming workshops at the Arizona State University 25th annual Compete Through Service Symposium.  The workshops are titled, “Mining Outside-in Opportunities to Expand Your Service Offering.”

The workshop will cover Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises that explore brand benefits for innovation ideas, provide new ways to derive insights from the marketplace, and allow organizations to look at what they do in new ways to find other examples from which to innovate.

Innovation-Fake-Book

Brainzooming Strategic Thinking Exercises for Outside-in Innovation

As a preview, here is some of the Brainzooming content on which the session is based.

Building on Your Brand Benefits

Observing and Exploring New Possibilities

Deconstructing What Your Brand Does

Organizing the Strategic Thinking Exercises

To organize the strategic thinking exercises and other content, we’ve tapped a couple of outside sources that allow you to identify an organization’s innovation profile and tie specific activities to five stages of designing and offering a customer experience.

If you aren’t going to be at the Compete Through Service Symposium, we’ll soon be offering the eBook that attendees can download for these Brainzooming sessions. Look for it soon! – Mike Brown

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 For More Information |  Phone: 816-509-5320  |  Email: info@brainzooming.com

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 big strategic statement (such as a core purpose, mission, or vision statement) shouldn’t simply be words on a plaque or page that don’t really shape day-to-day activities.

When you get a strategic statement right, you’ll use it on a daily basis to shape decisions, priorities, and approaches to what you do and how you do things.

For instance, your organization’s vision should make it clear what the bold promise is for its future. It should provide an attractive picture that helps employees better carry out their responsibilities to make the vision a reality.

Blue-Sky

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Testing Your Vision Statement Impact

How do you know if your vision statement is working as hard for you as it can?

Here’s one of our strategic thinking exercises to help you explore how well your big vision statement is suited to driving strategy and behaviors in your organization.

Ask these five questions:

  1. Is our vision statement primarily comprised of real, clear words people understand and use or is it primarily filled with business jargon?
  2. Is our vision statement one that could only describe your organization or could it apply to just about any organization?
  3. Does our vision statement sound like we talk inside our company or does it sound as if a consultant wrote it?
  4. Do employees know and understand our vision statement or is it generally a mystery to them?
  5. Does our vision statement shape big and small decisions or does it effectively sit on a shelf?

If your answers to the questions tend toward the first description in each question, you are on the right track. If your answers tend toward the latter description in each question, you should use additional strategic thinking exercises to explore how to better shape your vision statement. – Mike Brown

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your success!

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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“How to Brand a Company – 7 Types of Brand Language You Should Use” is one of the most popular Brainzooming articles of the past couple years. This branding strategy article looks at seven different types of language (Simple, Emotional, Aspirational, Unusual, Connectable, Open, and Twistable) a brand should be using to fully communicate its brand promise, benefits, and overall messaging.

I received a tweet the other day asking for successful examples to back up the seven types of brand language identified in the post. Since I was working on a presentation I needed to complete ASAP, I was more than happy to abandon the presentation deadline and throw together an immediate answer to the tweet.

Yes, I clearly have a “focus” issue, but that’s a topic for another day.

Brand Language Examples

I created a quick grid (of course), and started filling in examples of each type of language, from both my own recollection and a few listings of popular advertising slogans.

7 Brand Langauage Examples

While not going for an exhaustive list of brand language examples, I noticed after tweeting off the jpeg of the table that “Just do it” from Nike showed up in two areas – both Simple and Aspirational.

Nike-Just-Do-It

Going back through the list of seven types of brand language, however, it seems that “Just do it” could also fit in several others:

  • Emotional (There is definitely an emotional component depending on its use)
  • Open (The phrase can mean multiple things from both a brand and a consumer perspective)
  • Twistable (It could be used as an admonition to someone else, a personal pep talk, plus serving as a brand promise)

The leaves only Unusual and Connectable as gaps for “Just do it.” While it’s never going to be unusual, it COULD be used in a Connectable fashion. One example would be to insert sports actions (i.e., slug, slam, dunk, pass, hurdle, putt, etc.) in place of “do.”

The Best Brand Language

This exploration raised two questions:

  1. Are there any other examples of brand language that uses five of the brand language types, and are there any that use more?
  2. If no other slogan checks off five different types of brand language on its own, does that mean “Just do it” is the best brand language ever?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether any other brand’s language works harder than “Just do it” does for Nike?

Because if there is one, I can’t name it. – 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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