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At a Brainzooming internal branding strategy workshop I was presenting, one attendee remarked about wanting more vision statement examples. From what she described, her company’s leadership had rushed to develop big strategy statements (such as a core purpose, vision statement, or mission statement), but was now rethinking its direction. She saw documenting as many vision statement examples as possible as a huge help to getting it right this next time.

Mountains-Vision

I suggested that instead of starting with a pre-defined list of big strategy statements her company needed, they should invest time in more thoroughly what mattered for the organization’s success and its intended direction. Only after that exploration, they could identify what types of statements (and the content of each) that would make sense.

6 Steps to Figuring out Your Company’s Big Strategy Statements

While I didn’t have time to spell out the steps other than writing down all the vision statement examples she would hear during the conference, here is a way to explore first and figure out the right big strategy statements you need afterward:

  1. Start with finding the right ideas that describe and represent your brand.
  2. Once you’ve found the ideas, begin identifying words and phrases that best capture the ideas in multiple ways.
  3. Now think about any other places where the words you are considering are used. What are the others words, phrases, and structures in these other locations? How might they fit in your situation?
  4. With this big set of words, add a dose of aspiration. If you super-sized what you want your brand to become and its description, what other words and phrases would you imagine as possibilities?
  5. Now add one more mega-dose of aspiration. If you used language that was so glorious and strong that your competitors would shudder, what would it be?
  6. Now that you have an even bigger set of language, start playing with combinations of words and phrases to describe your brand’s current situation and the difference you are trying to make (mission statement)future aspirations (vision statement), and reasons for existence (core purpose).

These steps will more readily lead to big strategy statements that work hard for your organization. THEN if you need to see some vision statement examples to put the finishing touches on what you’re doing, go ahead and do it. – Mike Brown

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s 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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I debuted a presentation on “Results – Creating Strategic Impact,” our mini-book on employee engagement ideas to boost an organization’s strategic thinking. The mini-book focuses on the tremendous value when an organization finds ways to strategically solicit employee insights and perspectives to shape its strategic thinking.

Results-Presentation

One attendee stuck around after the “Results” presentation to ask about a situation his son is facing. He runs a restaurant whose employees are generally high-turnover, lower wage young people. He said his son needs to improve the restaurant’s performance and wants to involve the employees. The question was whether it makes sense to try and engage employees in the ways I discussed when they aren’t likely to be around for very long.

The answer was easy: Yes!

5 Employee Engagement Ideas for High-Turnover Employees

To me, the length of someone’s employment doesn’t have a bearing on whether it makes strategic sense to engage them and their perspectives. We’ve talked before about how one company even uses entry interviews (as opposed to exit interviews) to gain input from new employees before they’ve consumed too much of the incredible corporate Kool-Aid.

Quickly Brainzooming with the restaurateur’s father, here are five employee engagement ideas to get valuable strategic thinking even when turnover is high:

  1. Involve employees as frontline listener-reporters, playing back what they hear from customers.
  2. Solicit their input on problems they are experiencing with internal processes.
  3. Ask them what workarounds they have figured out to make things go more smoothly than they would otherwise.
  4. Have them share suggestions for things they would experiment with, change, or definitely keep as is.
  5. Ask them where you can find more individuals like them to recruit for the business.

No matter how much they are getting paid or how long they’ll be around, those are five employee engagement ideas where even high-turnover employees can contribute strategic thinking to help make an organization’s leaders smarter about business issues.

And who knows . . . by involving them right from the start, you may actually reduce the turnover rate!  Mike Brown

10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Strategic Results

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 strategic planning and then turn it 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

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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We were working with a team responsible for a highly focused internal process that includes a customer-facing aspect. It’s a high volume, high expectation, and deadline-focused role critical to the company’s success. I noticed several references during our time together about how narrow and targeted the team’s job is.

VERY NARROW AND VERY TARGETED.

As in, “We’ve learned from experience that we don’t want them drug into other tasks they might be able to contribute to if that causes performance and timeliness to suffer.”

targets-out-of-focus

Makes sense.

I get that they need to be targeted in what they do.

The company positions the team in a tactical, critical path role that would suffer with needless distractions.

Based on the breadth of company and customer issues this team sees, however, you KNOW they are teeming with valuable insights. They could address process improvement ideas and ways to increase their impact. All this, even though I’d bet many people mistakenly see them as order takers.

Job Descriptions Don’t Define Innovation Potential

I asked them to engage in some strategic thinking about innovation opportunities for the company. They immediately played back the mantra about how FOCUSED and NARROW their roles are. They used that as a justification for opting out of strategic thinking.

I disabused them of the idea, however, that their narrow job descriptions were synonymous with narrow strategic thinking roles.

We had a quick conversation about generating ideas for the overall brand. I reminded them (in case no one ever had) that they had a HUGE brand role no matter how narrow everyone thinks they are as a group.

Hearing the interaction and ideas they were generating later when I circled back to them, it was clear that all they needed to dive into great strategic thinking was reassurance that it was OKAY for them to do it. After TALKING about them differently, they eagerly shared the strategic thinking insights they couldn’t help but develop.

The Strategic Thinking Lesson?

A description of a job role isn’t identical to the description of how an individual or group can contribute to solid, dynamic, and innovative strategic thinking.

That’s why leaders should be looking for strategic thinking THROUGHOUT their organizations!   Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

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 strategic planning and then turn it 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

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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I’ve mentioned my surprise upon realizing strategic planning techniques The Brainzooming Group uses seem to have emerged from Bible passages. Granted, I’ve been to many masses during the last seventeen years. It always startles me, however, when a new example appears.

This happened yesterday at mass with a Bible reading I suspect isn’t all that familiar.

On the 5th Monday of the Lenten season every year, the first Bible reading at mass is from the book of the prophet Daniel. The reading is the story of Susanna, falsely accused of adultery by two elders, and sentenced to death. Daniel, however, sees that an injustice is about to occur and intervenes on Susanna’s behalf to save her.

Susanna and the Elders

You’re probably asking how this story has anything to do with Brainzooming strategic planning techniques?

For whatever reason, I’ve found myself explaining several times in the last few days how we use a wide variety of strategic planning techniques to gather participant input into strategies.

Sometimes the best strategic thinking approach involves a large, in-person group. Often, smaller groups are better because more people will be actively generating ideas. In other cases, it’s vital to ask questions one-on-one, whether via a personal interview or a survey. We go the one-on-one route for various reasons. These include situations where we’re seeking factual information or the answer may vary based on who is in the room.

Lo and behold, the Susanna and the elders account from Daniel (Chapter 13) directly relates to one of our strategic planning techniques for when to ask questions one-on-one.

Daniel suspected the two elders were lying about seeing Susanna commit adultery. He asked that they be separated and each questioned on the same point of factual information: Under what type of tree did you see Susanna commit the act of adultery you allege?

Sure enough, when the two elders were together, their stories matched. When they were separated and asked about this point of information, they each blurted out a different type of tree. This discrepancy freed Susanna and the elders incurred the punishment (i.e., death) they tried to press upon Susanna.

While our experiences with The Brainzooming Group prove out why it makes sense to ask questions of individuals in these two situations (when facts are involved and when the answer may change in a group setting), it’s always reassuring when the Bible reconfirms our strategic thinking techniques! – 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!

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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We’re big proponents of the value of bringing together a diverse group of people with varied creative thinking skills for strategic planning workshops within organizations and communities.

We’re only proponents, however, when there are specific reasons and benefits from the time, effort, and investment to bring a group together in person. Often, however, executives jump too quickly to flying everyone into one place for a big strategic planning meeting. Without defined objectives and the proper timing, however, a big in-person meeting can be a huge waste for everyone.

When discussing a strategic planning or innovation strategy engagement with a client, we use the graphic below to design our recommended approach. We use multiple ways to gather input to ensure that by the time we bring a bigger group together for an in-person visioning workshop we’ve fully exploited more efficient, lower-risk, lower-investment formats to engage participants and solicit input for strategic planning.

Brainzooming-Meeting-Format

We’re increasingly incorporating online collaboration workshops (which we call Zoomferences) to do more of the work typically done through in-person visioning workshops. Sometimes they proceed an in-person strategy planning meeting, but not always. Sometimes we use online collaboration within an in-person strategic planning workshop. There really are all kinds of possibilities.

What’s great about mixing both in-person and online workshops is they allow us to efficiently create white space, i.e. time between coming up with ideas and working with ideas to allow for better organizing, categorizing, and analyzing them. These are all tough to do when you have a group of executives all together; these activities take time. And when you’re limited to having the group all together only for a day, it’s time you can’t usually afford to waste.

3 Ways Online Collaboration Works to Deliver Big Benefits

Here are three ways we’ve used online collaboration workshops to create white space and efficiently incorporate employee creative thinking skills:

Using Zoomferences for an Entire Strategic Planning Process

We completed a transportation company’s entire strategic planning process via four 90-minute Zoomferences over a couple of weeks. Participants were in multiple places and varied for each Zoomference; that made it inefficient to bring everyone together. As we told the CEO that hired The Brainzooming Group, he saved the entire Zoomference investment by eliminating travel and lodging for participants!

Addressing Project Planning with a Zoomference

Working with five separate groups for an industrial manufacturer changing a major manufacturing process, we identified more than six hundred tactics for the multi-year initiative during a two-day in-person workshop. After documenting the tactics, we used a Zoomference so the primary project team could efficiently and collaboratively identify timing for the six-hundred tactics in less than four hours – all online.

Having Sales Leaders Vet and Expand Ideas

We created a fast-paced half-day in-person workshop for a small group of sales and marketing leaders at an animal pharma company. They developed a sales strategy and associated messaging for the upcoming year. Afterward, we used a Zoomference to introduce strategies to its top-performing sales people. They provided input on the biggest impact ideas and how to enrich other strategies through additional creative thinking exercises.

Discover How Online Collaboration Boosts Progress

In each of these casec, Zoomferences provided greater efficiency and participation than could have ever been accomplished using offline techniques or getting everyone in the same room.

Do you see something here that could help develop or shape your strategy and project planning implementation?

Contact us at 816-509-5320 or email at info@brainzooming.com, and let’s get a Zoomference going for your organization!

 Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Improve Strategic Results

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 strategic planning and then turn it 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

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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When is the right time for brainstorming in strategic planning, or really any other type of planning for that matter?

The short answer?

Brainstorming CAN make sense throughout a strategic planning process. It’s not isolated to one specific time where it makes sense.

And the longer answer?

The Right Time for Brainstorming in Strategic Planning

Multi-Thinkers

The way we look at it, brainstorming – or whatever you want to call trying come up with new ideas – is typically, give or take, the third step in any phase of a strategic planning process. We apply that approach no matter whether we’re clarifying strategy, determining objectives, developing the strategy plan, or beginning implementation.

The first step in any of these strategic planning phases is asking: What do we know about what we are trying to solve?

Answers to that question routinely include recapping information about strategic priorities, clarifying goals, prioritizing specific opportunities, identifying implementation steps, or various other direction-setting information.

The second step is asking: What gaps exist where we need new ideas?

Answering this question will suggest specific opportunities where brainstorming can create the greatest impact. If you need new ideas about how to approach strategic opportunities and challenges, a collaborative workshop to imagine a variety of possibilities can be very productive.

when-is-brainstorming

If the gaps pertain to unknown facts and information, brainstorming won’t be productive. You can’t brainstorm facts and information. That’s when it’s time to direct your energy toward fact gathering, analysis, and generating insights. Once that’s done, you’ve cycled back to where it is the right time for brainstorming in strategic planning.

See, we told you that would be the longer answer! – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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 and then turn it 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

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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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

 

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

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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