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Short Story: Instead of voting on strategic priorities, use exercises incorporating individual perspectives and strategic conversations to make fact-based decisions on where to focus your company’s attention.

How do you approach prioritizing strategic opportunities?

There is no one way that’s right for deciding among competing initiatives. In fact, we don’t even use just one way to prioritize them.

Prioritizing Strategic Opportunities

One frequent prioritization approach works well when we have tons of ideas in a strategy workshop and need to quickly (and spontaneously) narrow them to a manageable number.

We get there by estimating how many ideas we have, taking 1/5 of that number of ideas (assuming that 20% of the ideas at most have near-term applicability). We divide the number of participants into that number. The result is how many ideas each person can select for prioritization. They don’t need to get agreement from anyone to select an idea. Only one individual must believe in an idea for the group to consider it. Everyone then places their ideas on a large x-y grid based on an individual assessment. After every idea is placed, the group engages in a strategic conversation about each idea’s placement. The group discussion determines the ultimate location for each idea on the grid.

With more time, we frequently develop a decision support tool for a client to use in prioritizing strategic opportunities.

This involves working with the organization’s leadership team to identify important factors shaping strategic decisions. After selecting the factors, we work with them to describe very attractive, attractive, and unattractive options for each factor. We then create a decision support tool allowing each team member to assess an opportunity individually. After everyone is done with the ratings, we aggregate the results. The subsequent conversation focuses not on where everyone agrees, but on areas of disagreement. We look for differences in information, assumptions, and/or perspectives and work at resolving them. These conversations are typically efficient so we can quickly reach decisions across multiple initiatives.

2 Things in Common

Notice what is similar with the two methods? Each one involves individual assessment followed by group conversation.

Starting with people offering individual perspectives without influence from others taps greater diversity in thinking. The group’s strategic conversation creates the opportunity to challenge individual perspectives that may be off the mark.

Even though we don’t have only one method for prioritizing strategic opportunities, pairing individual perspectives and strategic conversation among a group works well to focus on the smartest alternatives.  – Mike Brown

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  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

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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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If you are an organization with a limited budget but an intense need to better understand the audiences you serve, what are the best research methods to pursue?

That was the question from two nonprofit executives tasked with planning market research to support a new marketing plan.

Before diving into planning market research, I asked about old research they had. Although the most recent customer research was five years old, a cursory review of the customer segmentation it generated suggested its research methods were sound.

With that preliminary check on the previous research methods, we spent our time discussing what they could discover from what they had in hand before planning market research. We also discussed market research others have done or might be doing, in addition to informal listening posts they could deploy right away.

14 Questions Before Planning Market Research

Whenever you are planning market research, these fourteen questions comprise a money, time, and effort-saving list to explore!

Examining Your Own Previous Market Research

  • Was the output valuable (made sense, spurred insights, suggested smart directions, etc.), even if we didn’t use it?
  • Are the results valuable, accurate, and recent enough that we can use them to start thinking about future research?
  • Do we have the original data set to slice and dice the results for new insights?
  • Are there questions in the previous work that we can incorporate into new research methods?
  • Have we linked the customer survey results to internal metrics to find predictive relationships?
  • If we haven’t linked customer survey results to your internal metrics, is there the possibility of doing it now?

Exploring Research Others Have Done

  • What other organizations have asked and answered comparable question to ones we have?
  • What experts have insights into the questions we want to answer?
  • Are there industry associations with ideas on answers or research methods to make us smarter?

Anticipating Surveys Others May Be Doing

  • Are there other organization’s surveying our audience that might allow us to include some questions?
  • Could we propose a joint research project with another organization to satisfy our mutual needs?
  • Are there university programs where students can conduct research for us?

Considering Preliminary Research to Perform

  • What research methods can we use to reach out to customers on a manageable scale to gain their perspectives?
  • How could asking questions informally help identify potential new questions, important attributes, or other insights to shape planning market research we will conduct?

That’s a Start!

There are more questions you can ask, but even these will make sure you get as much value as you can from other sources before you begin planning market research initiatives that require substantial investment. – Mike Brown

 

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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:

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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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Yesterday, we identified the six types of strategic planning process activities we use to design a client’s strategic thinking workshop. To facilitate you going deeper into thinking about how these activities function within a strategic planning process workshop, here are articles in each of the six areas.

6 Types of Strategic Planning Process Activities

Interacting (Networking, meeting, team building)

Informing (Sharing background data and context)

Investigating (Assembling the facts for strategic planning)

Insighting (Revealing breakthrough opportunities and threats)

Iterating (Structured thinking to expand ideas)

Integrating (Assembling pieces into strategy)

Lots of places to go with all these articles on strategic planning activities that can fit into a workshop within your strategic planning process.

Putting it Together in a Strategic Planning Process

If you have responsibility for leading the strategic planning process in your organization, we recommend bookmarking this strategic planning activities reference and coming back to it when you need to explore the right mix of exercises to engage your planning participants.

Of course, picking the right menu and bringing it to life is our specialty. Get with us at info@brainzooming.com, 816-509-5320, or the contact us page on the website so we can discuss the approach that makes the most sense for your organization. – Mike Brown

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic planning exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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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Is your strategy team tired of the same old strategic thinking exercises?

Is your leadership team expressing its frustration with the inability to generate new insights about your brand’s strongest market opportunities?

Are you searching for ways to quickly and effectively engage brand leaders to anticipate and address emerging threats you face?

If you face these situations, The Brainzooming Group has a new eBook you need. It offers fresh ideas for using one of the most common strategic thinking exercises . . . and it’s FREE!

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. With simple, actionable adaptations, you can take your leadership team through a variety of fresh SWOT analysis approaches that:

  • Put your customers front and center with every look you take at your marketplace
  • Challenge your thinking about what parts of your strategy are obsolete, opinion-based, and open to serious objections
  • Push you to go deeper and bolder in your SWOT analysis

strategic-thinking-exercises-swot-analysis

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, we designed “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” as a go-to resource throughout strategic planning. Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis alternatives include:

  • Creating a SWOT from multiple pieces
  • Using a SWOOT analysis to create a twist
  • Employing a bolder SWOT analysis than ANYONE expects
  • Going deeper with a Four x 4 approach
  • Triggering richer insights by varying participants, focus areas, and perspectives

All that in one handy, FREE Brainzooming eBook!

Download your copy of “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” today!Mike Brown

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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 post on using a new type of SWOT analysis to stimulate bolder strategic conversations in strategy meetings garnered quite a bit of attention. It received enough attention that we decided to share an additional strategic thinking exercise that puts a twist on the typical SWOT analysis.

In this case, the letters in the SWOT analysis name still stand for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. To add depth and breadth to the strategic thinking exercise, however, we add four probes to each area of the SWOT analysis. This helps a group inside of a strategy meeting work harder and more effectively to generate ideas.

Adding Deeper Dimensions to a SWOT Analysis

swot-eek

Here are the four questions associated with each SWOT analysis area:

What are our STRENGTHS relative to:

What are WEAKNESSES relative to:

What are OPPORTUNITIES relative to:

What are THREATS relative to:

You can use this strategic thinking exercise with a group to help them push their thinking into areas they might otherwise ignore – purposely or by accident.

Need to get your strategy developed quickly? We can help!

And if you would like to talk about how to quickly deploy a collaborative planning process to get you ready for success next year, contact us at info@brainzooming.com. We will arrange time to talk about how we can help you do more in less time with your strategy planning and implementation. – Mike Brown

Looking for Fresh Insights to Drive Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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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Want to try something to get a particularly new and insightful look at a situation?

Here’s how it works.

After you identify the “characters” in a particular situation, completely shift their roles. After you do that, see how the situation looks differently, simply because the characters are playing different roles.

smile-frown

We frequently facilitate a strategic thinking exercise that uses a character outside a situation as the perspective. This is different, however. Here are situations where you can use it:

  • If it’s a discussion for or against an idea, shift the protagonist and antagonist roles to see how the argument might change or develop.
  • If it’s an interaction between people in different groups, flip the roles, characteristics, or natures of the parties.
  • If it’s an evaluation of before and after performance, make the after scenario before and the before scenario after to see how the switch looks from this different perspective.

The other day, I was revisiting a personal exchange between two business people. Switching their characteristics unveiled multiple insights about the strategies, decisions, and outcomes related to their interactions. It also led to identifying other comparable situations to mine for insights and expected behaviors.

There’s no guarantee this strategic thinking exercise works in every situation. There’s not even a clear and certain sense of what it might yield in each situation.

Since it worked so well the other day, however, we wanted to pass it along right away as a strategic thinking exercise to consider when you have the right types of characters to make it work. – Mike Brown

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Download Your FREE eBook! 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization's Innovation Fears 

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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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

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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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