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Yesterday, I was at Kansas City’s Gem Theater in the historic 18th and Vine District to live tweet TEDx18thAndVine with streamed, time-shifted sessions from 2012 TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland.

At least that was the original plan for TEDx18thAndVine. Unfortunately, technical challenges at Kansas City’s Gem Theater and with the video server had the production team valiantly scrambling onstage and off to keep the crowd engaged, leading to a generous mix of TED Talk archive videos throughout TEDx18thAndVine. Nonetheless, the day was marked by enough intriguing content under the Radical Openness theme to leave one’s head swimming by the end of the day.

Nine mini-recaps from TEDx18thAndVine TED Talks:

Philosophical Espresso

Fast-talking, performing philosopher Jason Silva starred in a 2012 TEDGlobal Radical Openness theme video and then joined Chris Anderson onstage. Talking with Anderson, he described his rapid-fire musings as “Shots of Philosophical Espresso” and “Movie Trailers for Ideas.” Just one of the big thoughts from Jason Silva: “Awe makes things new again. And that’s ultimately the best drug in the world.”

“RADICAL OPENNESS” – for TEDGlobal 2012 by @Jason_Silva from Jason Silva on Vimeo.

Those Who Remember the Past Too Well Are Doomed to Not Understand the Future

Discussing our need to determine a course of action incorporating climate changes underway and those in the future, environmental policy influencer Vicki Arroyo reminded the audience we are entering uncharted territory, and we cannot use the past to plan. Or as Arroyo put it, “Stationarity is dead.”

Learning and Changing Priorities

Andreas Schleicher (Education Surveyor) discussed what sets apart those countries who are leading in educating their youth.  Three specific ideas from his 2012 TEDGlobal presentation that struck me were:

  • “Everyone says education is important. But how do you weigh that priority against others?” (You can ask this question about anything people think is important.)
  • How well kids can extrapolate from what they know to new situations is a measure of their change preparedness. (When facts change rapidly, this is a fundamental future learning skill.)
  • “Learning is not a place but an activity.” (A small sentence packing a big challenge to the educational system as we have known it for a century or more.)

Eye Contact vs. “i” contact

One of the previous TED Talks shown at TEDx18thAndVine was from the TED 2012 “Connected, but Alone?” presentation by Sherry Turkle. Her focus was how the constant availability of communication devices changes how we think and interact with others. There weren’t necessarily many supporting facts, but there were a variety of standout comments from Sherry Turkle:

  • “If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely.”
  • “I share therefore I am.”
  • “We expect more from technology & less from each other. Technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable.”
  • Facebook and Twitter pages make it seem as if other people are listening to you.
  • People think the problem with conversations is that conversations happen in real time (you cannot control when they happen), and you cannot control and limit the interaction.  What matters most to people is to control their own attention for what they want.

Integration > Innovation

Jonathan Trent from NASA focused his TED talk on the OMEGA project that seeks to grow algae in the ocean to create new liquid biofuel. His wrap-up comments on the OMEGA project and success factors for the future came right out of our Brainzooming innovation work:

Suffice it to say the perspectives Jonathan Trent shared about making change happen were right on target.

The Earth Is Rounder than We Think

Globalization thinker Pankaj Ghemawat shared a variety of statistics form his book World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve It (affiliate link) to support his point of view that the spread of globalization is many times less than the public believes. Pankaj Ghemawat has a word to describe the big messaging behind the earth being flat (affiliate link) and the pervasiveness of globalization: Globaloney. He suggests globaloney is a result of a dearth of data, peer pressure to see the world as one, and what he calls, “technotransis,” or an inability to NOT be sucked up into the expectation that technology will be all-pervasive and solve the world’s ills.

Step Up and Step Back

At day’s end, percussive guitarists Usman Riaz (the young gun) and legendary guitarist Preston Reed (affiliate link) collaborated on a striking, first-time guitar duet. Afterward, TED host Chris Anderson asked them to do something more, acknowledging they may not have prepared anything by saying, “We just want to see another 30 or 40 seconds, and if it goes horribly wrong, it’s fine.”

Sure, go for it in front of a global audience. The two guitarists talked briefly and launched into another number, playing out a great lesson if you’re ever asked to improv with someone else: let the junior person shine (Riaz played lead) and the more experienced individual support, providing background and structure (Reed was more “percussive” than “guitarist”). The natural tendency might be to have a more junior person take a step back, but their collaboration showcased Usman Riaz, while making it apparent that Preston Reed was the underpinning to their guitar collaboration.

Words to Live By

“If you want to make something you love (i.e., TED stage time) better, give it away.” – Chris Anderson

2012 TEDGlobal Wrap Up

As I tell anyone who asks, watching a streamed TED event is different than watching popular TED Talks from the TED website. When looking at individual videos, you’d think every TED Talk is fantastic. When you watch a whole array of them as they’re delivered, your takeaway is that there are boring and ho-hum TED Talks, too.

You also take away, as I did during yesterday’s 2012 TEDGlobal Session 6: Misbehaving Beautifully that it is good to experience people on the fringes, but you need to not confuse yourself by thinking they represent the mainstream. Radical Openness is fantastic, but sometimes Radical Wariness is called for in equal doses! – Mike Brown

 

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

 

 

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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2

The Wall Street Journal featured a review this past Saturday of “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay” by Frank Partnoy (affiliate link) by Christopher B. Chabris. The review highlights Frank Partnoy’s challenge to those espousing the need to act right away, lest opportunities be forever lost and his support for the waiting game strategy in both business and personal lives. The question of using the waiting game strategy is something we have talked about here on Brainzooming before as “strategic patience.”

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In “Wait,” Frank Partnoy offers examples of the waiting game strategy paying off in a variety of situations. These include a baseball batter who can wait on getting the right pitch to 3M waiting twelve years between the discovery of a low-stick adhesive and the introduction of the Post-it Notes the adhesive made reality.

As with many books, Christopher B. Chabris points out in his review that Frank Partnoy offers examples, but no answers to know when and how long to wait because “there is no formula for getting the right answer.”

I don’t necessarily have a formula either.

But as one who likes to use the waiting game strategy, thinking back through lessons from both my business and personal lives suggested six characteristics of situations where a waiting game strategy can work and two critical success factors for one being more successful.

Six Characteristics where a Waiting Game Strategy Can Work

Thinking about situations where you are considering waiting over acting, you’re likely to find a waiting game being successful if these six characteristics are in place:

1. Waiting is consistent with a longer-term strategy you have in place

This implies a pre-determined reason for waiting that was baked into your initial strategy.

2. Your longer-term strategy is flexible and can accommodate several situations or time frames

When your strategy could apply to a variety of different market and organizational scenarios, waiting for the best of these is a viable approach.

3. Your opportunity and risk exposure is so small that you are willing and able to sustain the window of opportunity going away completely

This is the classic negotiation technique. If you are in a waiting game, you have to be able to walk away from the deal (or have it walk away from you) and still be okay.

4. You are still learning or receiving benefits while waiting that improve your ability to respond

This reflects the advantage played out by fast followers. Rather than jumping in first and learning by trial and error, fast followers watch the leader and go to school on their mistakes before launching a similar effort.

5. You are able to move forward with actions supporting a definitive path to be pursued later

If you’re able to make progress while keeping your strategic options open, that’s a real benefit.

6. Future options are not being shut down (and in fact be expanding) with the passage of time

As long as you’re in the position of being able to decide your course of action (as opposed to having inaction making decisions for you), waiting can still make sense.

Two Critical Success Factors for Making the Waiting Game Strategy Work

To better ensure you do not miss too many opportunities while you are content to wait, make sure you:

1. Don’t let the opportunity you are waiting on be pushed out of sight, out of mind

You need listening posts to monitor market and competitive actions relative to the opportunity you are waiting on to make sure you actually pull the trigger at the latest and best possible time.

2. Have individuals in your close circle that will instigate for action and keep forcing the issue

You want to make sure that even during a period of strategic patience you have people in your organization who are advocates for taking action. As much as you may be fine waiting for things to play out over an extended period of time, you want someone pushing action to keep you honest.

Don’t wait to share what you think!

What are your thoughts on this idea of strategic patience, a waiting game strategy, and the areas Frank Partnoy is addressing? If you’re someone who pursues it, how do you make it work for you? If, instead, you are a person of immediate action, what works best about that approach for you?

We’re waiting to hear what you have to say! – 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.

 

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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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11

From our experience with The Brainzooming Group and ongoing business innovation research, there are fairly common situations blocking business innovations across companies, irrespective of corporate culture. Not all ten of these challenges to business innovation in organizations exist everywhere, but the presence of just a couple of innovation barriers within a corporate culture will scuttle even modest dreams of implementing business innovations expected to create value for customers.

Download Taking the NO Out of InNOvation for Free!

The good news is none of these ten business innovation barriers are insurmountable. As a result it’s important to understand what business innovation challenge issues you face in your organization. With that understanding, you can take appropriate change management steps to navigate each innovation challenge, enhance your corporate culture, and get business innovation going. That’s what “Taking the No Out of InNOvation” is all about doing:

1. NO Knack for Disruptive Innovation

There simply isn’t an orientation toward business innovation in your corporate culture. It may be a mature industry, a company that’s had success with an intense focus, one that’s grown through M&A, or has been burned on previous formal innovation efforts. Whatever the reason, innovative ideas don’t appear to be in the company’s DNA.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

2. NO Direction

Without a top-level mandate for innovative change management, it’s tough for a business innovation-oriented corporate culture to flourish. It could be that innovation is outside the company’s vision, there’s no upper management champion for disruptive innovation, or a lack of alignment stands in the way of these efforts.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

3. NO Rocking the Boat

There’s an unmistakable signal within the corporate culture (whether it’s uttered directly by upper management or not): “If it isn’t broken, don’t mess with it. We’re not interested in risk taking; let’s just maintain the status quo.” These messages make it clear that good things don’t await those interested in innovative ideas or disruptive innovation.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

4. NO Talent Pool

The company may have convinced itself the right people aren’t in place to make innovative ideas happen. It could be a perceived lack of “creatives” or “outside the box” thinkers. More likely though, this innovation challenge stems from a failure to get people with diverse perspectives together and let them thrive in innovation teams. It’s more about diverse talent not working together than not having the right talent for effective innovation teams.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

5. There’s NO Tomorrow

This innovation challenge springs from the conviction things will be won or lost in the short term, so there’s little need for long term business innovation development. Or it may be there’s no patience for protracted realization of opportunities. If a business innovation is going to be pursued, it needs to be developed and start paying out by the next quarter. In a challenging business economic environment, this sentiment becomes more prevalent.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

6. NO Resources

As with the “no tomorrow” innovation challenge, lowered interest in applying resources to business innovation may be more acutely felt during periods of uncertainty and intense change. The absence of specific resources can be broad, including management attention, available time, and investment dollars. Without these vital inputs, innovative ideas often stall or never take off in the first place.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

7. NO Motivation to Innovate

Something’s lacking that dampens an internal drive to innovate. It could be an environment that doesn’t promote cooperation, no opportunity to receive credit for your effort, or a lack of other meaningful incentives to bring ideas forward and develop them. The net result is that innovation isn’t happening as naturally as it might.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

8. NO Process

There are instances where innovation appears to emanate naturally from the corporate culture. Chances are though that it’s been cultivated and developed through an innovation process, even if it’s a relatively small scale and informal one. Without some type of planning and organized innovation process, bureaucracy and innovation challenges in organizations can easily block innovative ideas from coming to fruition.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

9. NO Implementation Success

Innovative ideas and concepts are cool, but only have value ultimately if they lead to successful implementation and deliver benefits for the intended audience. There are various roadblocks to successful implementation, including flaws in how ideas are recommended, prioritized, developed, and marketed to target audiences. With all those potential change management and innovation challenge issues that exist, it’s a wonder anything new actually takes place!

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

10. No Measures

It’s difficult to sustain a formal business innovation strategy without metrics in place to report return on investment (ROI), showcase positive improvements, and troubleshoot issues with innovations. Even earlier in the innovation process, the absence of metrics makes identifying and prioritizing opportunities a shot in the dark. Simply put: no metrics = no hope of long term success from innovations.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

All the best to you in addressing the specific NO’s you face standing in the way of innovations your organization is seeking to identify and implement.

If you’d like more information on exploring the personal perspectives you need to approach your whole life more innovatively, you can download an eBook version of “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.” It’s a great companion on your mission to bring business innovations to life! – Mike Brown

 

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

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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Here’s another great post from frequent Brainzooming guest blogger Woody Bendle. When we were together for #Ideachat last weekend, Woody mentioned that he was working up this piece on exceptional customer experience. Given Woody’s extensive experience in the retail industry, it’s great to get his perspective on what it takes to be able to successfully deliver an exceptional customer experience through these important six steps.

When was the last time you had an exceptionally terrific experience as a customer?

I’m not talking about the type of experience that was pretty good – as it should have been.  You know what I’m talking about here… these are the types of experiences where you were greeted and thanked for your business in a pleasant manner; or maybe someone actually helped you find something you were looking for in a store.

Or maybe, there wasn’t even a person involved, but perhaps there was a self-help process that was so well-designed, that you were surprised by how smoothly it actually went.  These types of experiences and interactions should be the norm.  But increasingly is it more and more difficult to even come up with these types of examples.

However, what I’d like for us to think about is:

I’m guessing you had to spend more than just a few minutes thinking about the last time you had an experience like this.  Still haven’t come up with one?  Guess what, you’re not alone, so I’ll give you a few more seconds…

Now think about how this exceptional experience made you feel as a customer.  Did you feel special?  Did you feel appreciated?  Did you feel valued?  Did you feel important?  Did you feel just a little bit more loyal to that business?  I’m betting you felt all of these things and possibly even more.

The thing is, very few companies consistently deliver truly exceptional customer experiences.  Why is this this the case?  Is it really so hard for an organization to consistently deliver extraordinary customer experiences?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes – and no.

An exceptional customer experiences don’t just happen on its own.  The very best customer experiences are very well thought-out, designed, and orchestrated interactions.  Customer experience-focused organizations have cultures and strategies that are completely aligned in order to consistently deliver exceptional experiences.  In turn, these organizations gain an incredible (nearly impenetrable) competitive advantage known as fiercely loyal customers and brand evangelists.

If you have any doubts about this just think about how loyal the guy is who passes you later this afternoon on his Harley.  You know, that 40-something ER doctor with the HUGE Harley Davidson tattoo on his right shoulder?  Suppose you’re going to see him riding a Honda anytime soon?

OK, you’re convinced. But now what?

Six Steps to an Exceptional Customer Experience

In order to become a stand-out organization recognized for consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences, you need to follow and employ these six steps:

1. Know what you stand for (or at least what you want to stand for) and what you expect.

That is, what is your organization’s Vision, Mission and Customer Promise?  What is it that you are guaranteeing your customers each and every time they choose to interact with you?  How do your customers want to feel each time they engage with you?  How do you want your customers to feel?

2. Understand the expectations and desired outcomes from each customer interaction point – from both your, and your customer’s perspective.

What is it that your customer is trying to accomplish at each interaction point?  What benefits does your company expect from each interaction point?  How do you expect each interaction point to benefit your organization and brand?  Ask, “How does this interaction live up to my customer promise and help build my brand?”

3. Identify all of the customer interaction points that occur with your organization.

Are there ways that your consumer interacts with (or attempts to) that you are unaware of? You’ll be surprised by this one.

4. Establish goals and objectives for each and every interaction point.

What is it that you want this interaction point to do for your customer, your business and your brand?

5. Develop and employ ways to capture metrics about each of your customer interaction points and establish targets.

What gets measured gets improved.

6. Commit to being one of the rare organizations that continually delivers exceptional customer experiences and hold everyone in your organization accountable.

Walk the talk.

And as for Customer Experiences that Aren’t Exceptional?

So as you are contemplating the pros and cons of designing, planning for, orchestrating, and monitoring each and every one of your organization’s customer interactions through these six steps, I’ll leave you with the following four questions:

1. When was the last time you had an absolutely horrible customer experience?

2. Did you tell anyone about it?

3. Have you been back?

4. How much of your money are they never going to see again?  Woody Bendle

 

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6

You hear people ask, “Why does time fly so much faster than it used to?”  It feels like time is running past so quickly. Holidays and major life events seem as if they arrive right on top of each other. Yet as fast as it seems time flies, some recent events (i.e. meeting IRL with Woody Bendle for #Ideachat last month and again this past weekend) seem as if they happened a year ago.

Why does time fly so much faster in your estimation?

Considering this question, I came up with three possible ideas:

1. Information Overload

There is so much more information that comes at us now, we’re processing what used to be a year’s worth of information in a relatively short time One study from a few years ago said information was coming at us 5 times faster than 20 years before. Right now, with the further proliferation of social media participation, the five times faster figure seems low. Regardless, what used to be a year’s worth of information hits you so much faster – in just a couple of months now. This phenomenon has to be a big factor in disorienting our perception of time passing.

2. Seasonal Marketing Is Out of Whack

To get in front of the message glut and to try and cut through the message clutter, marketers (especially retailers) begin seasonal messaging so much earlier than the calendar suggests. Retailers time shift the entire year. The Christmas retail season goes from July to December 26 (contrast that with a liturgical view of the Christmas season which runs from the evening of December 24 to early January). The Halloween retail season starts in early September and is on closeout before October 31. Back-to-school seems to overlap with “just barely leaving” school. The result is it feels like time is running out and nearly completely disassociated from what the calendar says.

3. The Challenge in Scheduling Meetings

Since in so many organizations there are fewer people to do more work than there used to be, there is a challenge in scheduling meetings and other events. As a result, you wind up scheduling meetings far in advance. On a routine, longer-term project for us, it is common to be scheduling meetings three months in advance. When it comes to a bigger event, the scheduling window is even longer. When you are operating like that, the challenge in scheduling meetings forces you to be thinking many months ahead and acting as if the future is now.

What to do?

If you buy those three reasons for why time seems to fly by so quickly, you can try to manage your information intake as much as you can and do your best to maintain a perspective and a schedule more firmly rooted in the actual calendar than in seasonal marketing messages.

Will this help? What do you think? – Mike Brown

 

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Challenged at finding the time to think about strategy? If you CAN find the time, do you need to get your strategy work done so quickly it’s not very effective? If that sounds like you,  The Brainzooming Group is your perfect answer. Our name says it all: we’ll get your brain thinking strategically so quickly, it will feel like more than time is zooming. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 for a free consultation on how to get started.

 

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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At the end of yesterday’s post, I mentioned today’s topic would be recapping a project case study we’ve been involved with the past few months. Because of client confidentiality on strategic plans, it’s not often we can openly discuss learnings from what we do to help clients. In this case, we can.

Bring More Insights back from Boston

The Brainzooming Group has been working since earlier this year with the Centurions Leadership Program for future Kansas City leaders. The two-year program with more than 70 active members conducts an annual trip to another city for a learning and listening tour to meet with its leaders and bring back lessons for strategic plans and actions in Kansas City.

Before this year’s Centurions trip to Boston, Jake Jacobson of Garmin, one of the trip’s organizers, reached out to us based on his experience with The Brainzooming Group process at the Google Fiber brainstorming session. Jake wanted to see if we could help the Centurions do a thorough job of capturing and building upon learnings during the Boston trip to bring them back to Kansas City.

A Mobile-Based Brainzooming Approach Is the Answer

After talking further with Jake and Shawn Hickey of Perceptive Software, we designed a targeted mobile-based approach to capture reactions among the Centurions as each half-day of the April trip was completed. We also designed a more comprehensive wrap-up survey to gauge reactions to the trip overall. Through this effort, the Centurions identified a robust base of real-time reactions on a variety of pertinent topics including education, innovation, entrepreneurship, arts and entertainment, infrastructure, and biotechnology.

This approach allowed Jake and Shawn to have an interim recap of major learnings to close out the Boston sessions. It also set up our activity today, where we will be working with the Centurions during their Wild Card community service day to turn the concepts they highlighted into the start of strategic plans and actions.

Sticky Notes? We Don’t Need No Sticky Notes!

One of the important aspects of The Brainzooming Group process is flexibility, and we’ll be demonstrating that for today’s session.

We’d typically facilitate plan-building with a multiple strategic thinking exercise approach and lots of sticky notes. The venue for the Centurions session (a small restaurant with little available wall space, about 35 minutes of working time, and mostly tiny tables) won’t support our typical approach. Since we don’t have the time to adapt the venue, we’re adapting our process to fit the client need.

During lunch, we’ve designed a single strategic thinking exercise for the Centurions to tackle high-level strategic plans and actions on thirteen concepts from the Boston trip. The initial strategic plans and actions the Centurions will be working on will involve describing desired outcomes, important resources, and initial steps for each concept. It will be a lively discussion with much progress over this short luncheon planning session. Right after we’re done, the Centurions will be off to more community service activities around Kansas City.

A Real Impact for the Future of Kansas City

We look forward to how the Centurions will ultimately prioritize and move forward with these concepts from the Boston learning and listening tour. There is a real opportunity for this fantastic organization to make a real impact and improve the Kansas City community with their efforts! – Mike Brown

 

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

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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There was an American Restoration marathon on the History Channel recently, so I bought in for multiple hours of the Pawn Stars spin-off. American Restoration features Las Vegas’ Rick Dale and the crew at his business, Rick’s Restorationsn. They specialize in restoring classic objects that time has not treated very well, turning them into show pieces by hammering out dents, repainting, and tracking down all the missing parts and pieces that used to be there.

Photo by: ohNe22 | Source: Photocase.com

When you think about it, the restoration strategy principles on the American Restoration television show (affiliate link) are similar to what we face in business when a product, program, or process that was once shiny and new isn’t anymore, but it’s too valuable, for whatever reason, to eliminate. These types of business restoration situations aren’t pure turnarounds since you can’t apply the same type of scorched earth strategy a turnaround often requires.

Working from that rationale, here are five product, program, or process business restoration strategy principles to implement:

1. Understand expectations for authenticity and the restoration’s ultimate vision.

Before launching into a restoration, Rick Dale asks a customer about the ultimate vision for what the restoration looks like. There’s a different restoration strategy if they want it like brand new versus improving it but leaving the look and feel of an object that’s clearly been used. With a business restoration strategy, you similarly need to understand customer and management expectations upfront. Are you going for a complete refurbishment to take it back to day one, or are you trying to refresh and make it more valuable, even if it only suggests what it used to be?

2. Document where you are starting from so you have a reference point.

On American Restoration, they take multiple photos of an item coming into Rick’s Restorations before the restorers start working. These photos provide an important reference point for how the item looked originally, the placement and nature of specific features, and a measure to benchmark results. When beginning a business restoration, documenting your starting point (through various means) plays a similar role as a comparison point throughout the restoration and to measure your progress.

3. Be willing to do short term harm in the interests of a stronger end result.

When restoring a valuable item that is damaged, the experts on American Restoration may take steps which seem extreme, i.e. using a pickle bath of acid to loosen rust. This potentially harmful move, however, is necessary to remove the negative effects and potentially ongoing damage being done to the item. Taking on a business restoration, you will have to come to grips with the possibility of destroying particular elements of the current product, program, or process to revive performance. Rigorous analysis, an innovative perspective, tough decision making, and rapid implementation make up one formula for the “acid” needed to start a business restoration.

4. Be willing to completely redo something to make it seem more like the original.

Someone brought a really old baseball arcade game in horrible shape into Rick’s Restorations. The images on the game’s backdrop – which depicted the upper decks of a baseball stadium filled with fans – were barely visible. Rather than trying to rehabilitate the old backdrop to maintain authenticity, Rick Dale and his crew created a new backdrop. This freed them to use the old backdrop as a model to paint a new one that looked exactly like the original when it was new. The same principle can apply in business restorations: ditching an old component process or system can lead to a better result, even if it isn’t completely authentic.

5. Infuse the final restoration with emotion.

Rick Dale adds a special flair unveiling the shop’s work to customers. At a minimum, restored items are usually draped or behind some type of moveable surface to create a synchronized reveal. After restoring a toy wagon, they wrapped it as the original Christmas present it was originally. While there may be natural emotional components to the projects on American Restoration, these examples are good reminders to incorporate the right emotional experience when you’re ready to reveal the results of your business restoration effort.

What works for you?

What are your go-to strategies when you have a business restoration project ahead of you? At The Brainzooming Group, we help direct a lot of business restoration efforts for clients, so if you’d like to learn more about specific steps we find valuable, let’s talk!

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

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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