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Customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle got home from work the other day and received a great reminder on why you need to understand your customers, even the ones you don’t realize are trying to become your customers. Without waiting any longer, here’s Woody!

Customer Experience Strategy – Millennials Don’t Wait by Woody Bendle

Ranting-Woody-Bendle2One of my favorite expressions is, “It’s amazing what you can see if you take the time to look.”  The other evening, my millennial step-daughter reminded of just that.

I’d just gotten home from work, and she was at the kitchen counter with her laptop going through a packet of paperwork and looking frustrated.  I recognized the packet as “the stuff” she needed to get done prior to moving into her first apartment. You know, hooking up the electricity, gas, internet, etc.

I asked her if she’d been able to connect with our insurance agent to get her renter’s insurance set up. She gave me that millennial look that says, “You won’t believe this,” and replied, “I called this afternoon and got their voice mail. It said to leave a message, and someone would get back to me within 24 hours. I left them a message, but I haven’t heard anything from them yet.”

I told her, “They’ll get back with you tomorrow – just be patient.”

That’s when the, “It’s amazing what you can see if you take the time to look,” moment happened.

She shrugged her shoulders, rolled her eyes, and dispassionately said, “I don’t need to wait,” as she continued scrolling through an online insurance comparison site.

Wait-Wait

IWWIWWAHIWI

For those of you who don’t speak Millennial, IWWIWWAHIWI stands for “I want what I want, when and how I want it.” And therein lies my lesson from the other evening.

I “know” this is how Millennials think and feel from all of the stuff I’ve read over the years about them, but I guess I didn’t “really know” this until the other evening. That reality hit me when I saw how my step-daughter was dealing with not connecting with our insurance agent when SHE tried to connect with him.

With just a few taps on a keyboard, I watched our insurance agent lose business – just like that!

Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of brands and businesses still operating out there assuming that they are fine by just focusing on satisfying the needs and expectations of their current customers (Boomers and Gen-Xrs). And, they don’t have a clue about what’s going to happen to them in a few more years.

My insight from observing a Millennial in the household is this: If you have a business partially dependent upon millennial consumers – either today or tomorrow – and you’re not operating in “now time”, you need to re-tool… now! If you don’t change your customer experience strategy, it’ll be game over before you even know what hit you.

Just remember, not only do Millennials instinctually feel they don’t need to wait; they won’t.

And by the way, the insurance agent still has never called back. - Woody Bendle

 

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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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The April 2015 Fast Company features its list of the biggest business comeback stories during the twenty years the magazine has been publishing.

Each business comeback story is presented individually (expect for Apple, which they say is number one, but never bother to list or write a full profile about the company). I was curious about what successful business strategy moves Fast Company highlighted across the twenty corporations.

To paraphrase the old saying, “curiosity killed the hour” it took to go through the list and uncover the answer to my question.

What’s Behind a Business Comeback?

Traffic-Circle

Based on this very loose analysis, the top five most frequent successful business strategy moves for these business comeback stories are:

  1. New Products: 14 (of 20 comebacks)
  2. New Leaders: 10
  3. Enhanced Brand Experience: 9
  4. New Business Lines: 6
  5. (Tie) Enhanced Advertising/Marketing and Bankruptcy: 5 each

New product growth and turnaround leaders were the most cited factors while only four profiles mentioned major cost cutting efforts, and three highlighted downsizing. Given the magazine’s focus, this list is not a big surprise.

Under different circumstances, it would be intriguing to big deeper into the list and look for more patterns. Since the list is subjective, the very brief profiles are nowhere near comprehensive, and there is a lot of my interpretation in this, however, it is not worth any more time killing.

If you would like to review the analysis with my notes on the comeback proof points Fast Company offers and my “short story” on each comeback, click the image below and go to the PDF.

FC-Comebacks

What are your takeaways from this list of business comebacks? And are there other ones from the past twenty years you would add to the list? – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for stronger new product innovations to drive your business comeback?

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness comebacks often tie to introducing new products that more strongly resonate with customers.

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  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
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Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!

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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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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article shared ways to increase the strategic thinking in your organization without holding an offsite meeting.

Here’s another way to improve daily strategic thinking. It builds on one idea in yesterday’s post (“Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter”).

This approach leads to developing a list of targeted questions specific to your business situation. You can complete it in a week, but we recommend spreading it over several weeks or during a typical month of activity.

4 Steps to Customizing Your Strategic Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Step 1. Anticipate

Before the week or month you have selected, list typical business issues and conversations you have with your team and other groups you work with regularly.

Step 2. Categorize

Group the issues and conversations into general categories. Possible examples include:

  • Understanding things (analysis, evaluation)
  • Developing things (innovation, creativity)
  • Building things (operations, manufacturing, efficiency and process improvements)
  • Growing things (creating more sales, implementing more initiatives)
  • Fixing things (diagnosis, correction)
  • Forecasting things (projections, estimates)

Step 3. Track

With the list in Step 2 complete, use it during your selected timeframe to keep track of how many issues and conversations pertain to each category. If you need to add other categories, add them.

Step 4. Compile

After you’re done monitoring your conversations and activities, see where your focus is. Work on developing a custom list of ready-to-use questions in each area. You can mine our extensive lists of strategic thinking questions for ones to use. Here are links to some of our most popular lists:

This focused approach will pay dividends with your ability to develop a solid command of strategic thinking questions for daily use to boost strategic thinking in your team, yourself, and everyone you work with in the organization.  – 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 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 816-509-5320816-509-5320 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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Before a creative thinking workshop, a “front row” participant (you know, the “walking in the room already engaged in the content” type of participant) asked what school of thinking The Brainzooming Group belonged to with respect to our creative thinking approaches. She dropped a couple of potential names she suspected as possibilities. I may have already been in pre-presentation mode and didn’t completely catch what she said, because only one name sounded familiar.

I shared with her that we borrow from anywhere when it came to schools of thought for creative thinking, and that many are quite non-traditional. I mentioned she’d see one strategic thinking exercise just added back into the workshop based on Ghostbusters (Yes, THAT Ghostbusters)!

Creative-Inspiration-Bulbs

One advantage of looking broadly for creative thinking influences is we’re never stuck waiting for some expert to publish a new book or article to expand our set of strategic thinking exercises. To the contrary, the Brainzooming repertoire changes and grows continuously through new techniques and influences.

The discussion prompted telling her the proper answer should be a Brainzooming blog post. In a similar vein, we’ve covered the A to Z of Strategic Thinking Exercises (which referenced some influences), and discussed in another where strategic thinking exercises in another workshop originated.

This list of creative thinking influences, however, is different.

Reviewing the slides, stories, and blog posts from the creative thinking workshop deck yielded this list of fifty-nine influences. They aren’t in any specific order, and it certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of all our influences (especially since very few people I have worked with directly are on the list).

Nevertheless, this gives you a good representation of why it’s tough to describe a specific school of thought you can connect to Brainzooming.

59 Creative Thinking Influences

  1. Chuck Dymer
  2. Edward de Bono
  3. Greg Reid
  4. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
  5. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
  6. Ted Williams – The Science of Hitting
  7. A.T. Kearney
  8. Gary Singer
  9. Interbrand
  10. Monty Python
  11. Sue Mosby
  12. 75 Cage Rattling Questions
  13. Linus Pauling
  14. Woodrow Wilson
  15. Ghostbusters
  16. The Wall Street Journal
  17. Business Week
  18. Fast Company
  19. Cake Boss
  20. What Not to Wear
  21. The Bible
  22. Dilbert
  23. Milind Lele, Ph.D.
  24. Presentation Zen
  25. Tom Peters
  26. Don Martin
  27. Hank Ketchum
  28. The Scream
  29. The Squirrels in Prairie Village, KS
  30. Steve Bruffett
  31. Enterprise IG
  32. David Bowen, Ph.D.
  33. Arizona State University Center for Services Leadership
  34. FedEx
  35. Seth Godin
  36. Joe Batista
  37. Tony Vannicola
  38. Peter’s Laws
  39. Whoever invented the 4-box matrix
  40. Gordon MacKenzie
  41. Appreciate Inquiry
  42. David Cooperrider, Ph.D.
  43. Benjamin Zander
  44. Keith Prather
  45. Brett Daberko
  46. Philip Kotler, Ph.D.
  47. Robin Williams
  48. Improv Comedy
  49. Jim Collins
  50. Jay Conrad Levinson
  51. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  52. Jan Harness
  53. Muhammad Ali
  54. R.E.M.
  55. Music Fake Books
  56. Seinfeld
  57. Gilligan’s Island
  58. Whoever came up with the concept of Reverse Engineering
  59. The Family Feud

Shout outs to everyone and everything on this list. It’s clear we need to write blog posts on a variety of these creative inspirations because Brainzooming wouldn’t be what it is without you! – Mike Brown

 

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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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I spotted a Bloomberg Businessweek story the other day that was a corporate case study, in effect, of the Radio Shack business strategy and the brand’s upward and then long downward trajectory.

One sentence in the Radio Shack case study article says volumes about corporate leadership and how corporate success and failure stories turn into history.

Here is the sentence:

“When asked to pinpoint when everything went wrong, they fell into two main groups: those who argue it had happened right after they left, and those who say the damage had already been done when they arrived.”

That is how the big lie ALWAYS works!

You see so many cases where what really happened in a corporation is reimagined, reinterpreted, and re-reported to suit the personal business storyline that best advances someone’s own career.

Little-Liars

One classic example of the corporate case study big lie in action that I witnessed multiple times involves a celebrity CMO on the speaking circuit who had a several year run at a brand headed for extinction. While he was still at the troubled brand, his keynote presentations consisted of talking about how screwed up the business strategy was before he got there, but that under his incredible CMO guidance, EVERYTHING was turning around masterfully.

That was the story only until he left the still-collapsing brand, however.

THEN his keynotes changed to focus on how screwed up the business strategy was before he got there and how it returned to being completely screwed up immediately AFTER he left!

Well OF COURSE that’s what happened!

NOT!

Would a business celebrity misrepresent the truth?

Yes, ALL DAY LONG!

The lesson?

Be careful whenever an executive shares a corporate case study about a troubled brand where he or she was previously employed. If all the big problems are timed for either before the person got there or right after the person left, go ahead and make the leap . . . that person is telling the big lie of very failed corporate case study! – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


 

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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Customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle is back today taking another swipe at big data with help in thinking through how to monetize it (vs. just parking it in the cloud and praying for rain). Here’s Woody!

Strategic Insight – Monetization Is the Real Big Data Dilemma – Woody Bendle

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for several years, you’re aware Big Data is a big topic! Just look at this Google Trends graph depicting search volume for “Big Data” the past five years.

Woody1

That’s one incredible upward trajectory wouldn’t you say!

But have you ever wondered why this topic is so hot right now?

In my opinion, we’re hearing so much about Big Data because of several related factors:

However, I feel the primary reason we continue to hear more about Big Data is due to very few companies actually realizing the purported Big Data promise – or what I call the Big Data monetization dilemma.

If you were to listen all of the sensational Big Data spiel out there, you’d have to believe that by simply having Big Data, your organization would automatically (almost magically) be smarter, faster (agile), more competitive, and ultimately, more profitable. And that’s just not the case.

What many organizations are quickly realizing is not all data are created equal.  Having a lot of this digital Big Data stuff being captured and stored doesn’t mean you can readily access it, analyze it, or provide useful answers to meaningful questions.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for most Big Data out there in the cloud today – much of it simply is not configured in a manner that allows for analysis. And, there really are no magical short cuts; there is a tried and true (but not necessarily easy) approach that will help you to realize its promise, however.

Three Strategic Questions for Monetizing Big Data

Just because storing your Big Data is relatively inexpensive doesn’t mean your Big Data strategy should be “Fire, Ready, Aim!” Have you heard anyone say something like this? “Let’s keep pumping all of our Big Data into the cloud and we’ll figure it out as we go.” If this is your approach, you will find monetizing your Big Data to be very costly!

If you expect to monetize your Big Data asset, there are three fundamental questions to continually ask, answer and address:

  1. What questions do I want/need my Big Data to answer?
  2. What types of analysis will be needed to answer our questions?
  3. How do our data need to be structured in order to perform the required analysis?

These questions might feel like a blinding flash of the obvious, but you’d be surprised by how few organizations actually start here.

By first defining the questions you want your Big Data to answer, it will be easier to determine the most appropriate type(s) of analysis your organization will need to perform – and there is a wide range of analytical complexity that can be employed (see below).

Woody2

Once you know the types of analyses you need (or want) to perform, it will be easier to define how best to structure your Big Data.

When performing statistical analysis in particular, your data need to be (or need to become) numbers that represent meaning or measure (structure).  This frankly is one of the biggest challenges with Big Data – most of it is typically unstructured (e.g., text comments, videos, website browsing streams, etc.).  While nearly all unstructured data can be transformed into structured data (numbers), it is really important to understand that not all numbers are created equal either (see below).

Woody3

Numbers can have very different meaning depending upon the level of measure they represent. Different types of measures are also better suited for different types of analyses. Given this, you can see why it is important that your Big Data are transformed (structured) in a very thoughtful and purposeful manner.

Will you monetize your big data?

My intention with this discussion was not to provide a detailed playbook for monetizing your Big Data. Rather it is to acknowledge the real and increasing challenges many are currently dealing with and offer insight for addressing some of the more fundamental problems.

As you start/revamp/update/overhaul your Big Data strategy, remember to ask, answer and address these foundational questions:

  1. What questions do I want/need my Big Data to answer?
  2. What types of analysis will be needed to answer our questions?
  3. How do our data need to be structured in order to perform the required analysis?

If you do, you can be sure that you moving your Big Data strategy in the right direction.  If you don’t, just keep in mind what happens when you try to stand on quicksand! –  Woody Bendle

 

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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.

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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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