2

The creative inspiration, in part, for Monday’s post about whether “Successful Innovation Can Only Happen in a Certain Way” was Saturday’s “Creating” article in the Wall Street Journal about Italy-based gallerist and creative visionary, Carla Sozzani. The article highlights how over the past 20-plus years she has created 10 Corso Como, a fashion and design-oriented art, retail, and publishing complex in Milan.

Carla Sozzani’s perspective, as portrayed in the Wall Street Journal article, is of a creative visionary driving a strong personal creative vision throughout 10 Corso Como with apparently little need for collaboration or outside creative input. While that’s not me, the confidence to make a strong personal creative vision work absent robust collaboration is both fascinating to me and a source to learn from and better apply in my own creative life. Here are 5 ideas I took away from the article:

1. Exclusively integrate your own creative sensibilities into everything

As mentioned in the intro, 10 Corso Como defies simple categorization. As much as anything, it sounds as if the connecting factor is Carla Sozzani herself, since she selects every item for sale. She extends her creative sensibilities into the experience as well, making clients sit during a purchase to bask in the luxury of time. It’s clear your common creative thread doesn’t have to be an idea or a theme. Your common creative thread can be YOU and your sensibilities!

2. Don’t ask for creative advice if you don’t want, need, or plan to use it

Sozzani eschews asking her audiences for feedback or input on direction. She states boldly that she has no interest in trying to please everyone since it’s impossible to do. Instead, she scans for popular products that have yet to turn trendy and features these at 10 Corso Como.

3. Secondary research has a legitimate place in creative expression

Secondary research implies looking for answers to questions others have already asked and answered. Sozzani extends this concept to “secondary creativity,” looking all over for creative inspiration on what to include in 10 Corso Como. Her creative inspiration appears to come from diverse exploration across creative media, geographies, and popularity, among other things. Sometimes it even extends to buying something simply to get the contact info for the producer to source a related item.

4. Understand how you can best be your own self-editor on creative decisions

How fast do you make decisions? And when you’re making a creative decision on your own, how do you validate them? Carla Sozzani says she makes decisions very quickly – in a matter of seconds – and if she hesitates on a creative decision, she takes it as a sign it’s not the right decision.

5. Regularly wipe your creativity clean

Every August while Italians head to the beach, Sonzatti shutters 10 Corso Como for 10 days. During this period, everything is removed for cleaning and painting. This 10 day hiatus also imposes an important creative refresh and reimagining of the space.

I’m Taking Note

My creative style and aspirations are markedly different than Carla Sonzatti’s, but I’m so excited to think about how I can incorporate what I learned from this article into my creative pursuits! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational innovation 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

8

To follow-up a recent post on business branding, we wanted to offer another brand compilation featuring articles from The Brainzooming Group related to customer experience. Examining your brand through a customer experience perspective is vital when considering brand strategy modifications you hope will solidify relationships with current and future customers.

These twenty-two articles on multiple aspects of brand strategy and customer experience can help you strengthen how you’re considering and evaluating your branding approach. This is especially important if you’re losing customers unexpectedly, being attacked by competitors disrupting the marketplace, or considering expanding into new markets. If you have efforts such as these under consideration or underway, call or email The Brainzooming Group for a free check-in consultation to make sure you’ve framed up your brand strategy efforts to maximize success.

Behaviors

Customer Buying Cycle

Customer Involvement

Consumer Goods

Service Businesses

  • Delivering on the Brand Promise – Just Try Harder – A brand promise isn’t just a few words. If you aren’t going to carry out your brand promise, you should come up with a different one your brand can perform.
  • Branding Lessons with the Newlyweds at Elitch Gardens – A great brand lesson demonstrating that a brand isn’t a name. A brand is all about the customer experience, and you have to make sure the brand name IS aligned with all parts of the customer experience.
  • Helping People Help Themselves – Too often, brands go the self-service route purely out of cost savings with little regard for the impact on the customer experience. With just a little forethought, you can devise a self-service strategy that might even add value for your customers. Here are 26 potential self-service benefits to consider.
  • How Can You Reinforce Your Smelly Brand? – Just because you’re in a service business doesn’t mean you can’t use experience cues taken from physical attributes of your brand and integrate them more directly into your brand experience. Here’s proof it’s possible!
  • Strategic Thinking from the Customer’s Seat – Front line employees can generate great ideas to improve the customer experience, especially for niche customer groups who wouldn’t typically show up in the data. Are you listening to your front line employees to see what customer experience ideas they have?
  • Customize a Customer Brand Experience Very Simply – You don’t necessarily need loads of technology to provide customized customer experiences. A little forethought and some helpful suggestions (call it experience curation, if you must) can provide customized customer experiences as well.

Crisis Moments

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

3

For many companies – even those with elaborate data mining initiatives, years of tracker research, and extensive market research budgets – the market research data generated doesn’t always yield the comprehensive business  insights needed to proactively identify opportunities, drive business decisions, or address emerging customer needs and market situations.

At the AMA Applied Market Research Conference in Las Vegas this week, I am leading a session to help Market Researchers evolve into Business Insight Strategists.  Balancing Data & Dialogue: Cultivating Insights that Matter was designed for market research professionals who find themselves in the never-ending stream of projects to manage in mind.  It’s easy for market research professionals to overlook the opportunity to add the value that will turn market research results into comprehensive decision support tools.

But taking the key steps is what creates a business insights strategist.

Four “How Do” Questions

Stepping back and seeking the answer to these four “How Do” questions can begin the culture transformation:

1. How do I maximize the data/information I already have to more effectively support new insight needs or research initiatives?

2. How do I identify the most important information and let go of what isn’t really relevant to the decisions that need to be made?

3. How do I get internal alignment on the scope as well as implications of the research?

4. How do I show the value of a holistic – rather than ad hoc – approach and develop a plan to continually cultivate insights that matter over time?

Four “How To” Steps

In Balancing Data & Dialogue, we work through a 4-step “How To” process for identifying and assessing the information needed to get actionable results to facilitate:

1. How to move beyond the research or information objective to clearly define the business opportunity or challenge the organization is facing.

2. How to define and align critical information needs to comprehensively address the challenge

3. How to identify, evaluate and integrate the benefits of various data sources to fulfill the critical information needs.

4. How to apply the Brainzooming action planning process to successfully activate the insights.

The Insight Integration Matrix

A core tool in the process for a business insights strategist is our Insight Integration Matrix that serves as a guide for aligning data sources against critical information needs. If you would like a copy, you can request it at info@brainzooming.comand start cultivating insights that matter! – Barb Murphy

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 deliver these benefits for you.

 

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

More Posts

Continue Reading

7

Whoever is going to disrupt your market isn’t like you, which makes them really hard to identify right now. Number 1?

They may not even be in business yet.

That’s a big difference, but it’s not the only one. Here are fourteen other ways whoever is going to disrupt your market isn’t like you, since they:

Photo by: spacejunkie | Source: photocase dot com

2. Don’t care about preserving anything about what’s made your brand successful.

3. Are happy to get a small share of the market at a premium price with a dramatically different offering.

4. Are happy to get a bigger share of your market (since it’s related to their market) at a really low price.

5. Don’t have any qualms about introducing a product/service and price point combination that’s really tough to compare to anything else your market has been doing.

6. Make decisions and move really quickly because the stakes are so much lower for them.

7. Can get away with using some, but not all, of the marketing mix to beat you at your own game.

8. Compete really effectively by looking at a couple of things (or maybe even only one thing) in a radically different way.

9. Don’t have to fund their new venture out of the dollars coming from your market.

10. Have figured out a different entry point into the customer model in your industry.

11. Don’t (or aren’t) going to look like you in very fundamental ways – size, structure, scope, etc.

12. Don’t have to have a complete offering since they’re appealing to a different market segment.

13. May have glaring weaknesses compared to traditional competitors (i.e., “you”) in areas traditional competitors think are really important but customers are willing to overlook.

14. Will not be focused on delivering the same benefit package you are.

15. Are fine with putting together parts and pieces tried and thrown out by others to compete in new ways.

And for everyone who points to Apple as the great disruptor, this story from Forbes points out that just as yesterday’s category owners can be disrupted, so can today’s seemingly invincible players.

Start looking for your disruptors. And start looking for who you are going to disrupt, because you’ll be just as hard to identify for them.  - Mike Brown

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

4

At keynote presentations I do, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “What exactly does The Brainzooming Group do?” In the hope of inviting further conversations about how we can be of assistance to all of youin delivering results that are quick and on-strategy, today’s Brainzooming post is the answer to this frequently asked question.

What The Brainzooming Group Does

While it can be challenging to classify what The Brainzooming Group does in a neat category, we describe it as helping smart organizations improve their success by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. What’s that mean? We work with organizations who understand the value and importance of looking at their markets and customers in new ways, but struggle with how to do it. Often that’s because they’re almost “too smart” about what they do.

With organizational experience comes a strong understanding of customers and processes. Unfortunately, organizational experience can also create a sense that “everything workable has been tried, and there’s nothing we haven’t thought of previously.”

That’s when it gets dangerous for organizations.

We DON’T take the very typical consulting view, however, that the way around organizational resistance to change is ignoring what employees think and developing strategy largely outside the organization only to sell it back in afterward.

Where and How We Deliver Results

The Brainzooming Group uses our tested methodology, incorporating strategy, creativity, and insights-oriented tools, to deeply involve the organization, its people, and their knowledge to develop very implementable strategies.

Some of the typical engagements where we work with clients using our technique include:

  • Cutting through too much data to arrive at focused insights.
  • Identifying the best branding moves or account targets to drive growth and profits in your business.
  • Shortening the thinking time needed to prioritize ideas so you can begin implementing immediately.
  • Determining the best strategic options when your market is moving away from your business model.
  • Quickly creating the plan to get a stalled initiative moving.
  • Jumpstarting your strategic or creative thinking with loads of new possibilities in a 60-minute phone call.
  • Providing additional marketing horsepower when you have too many deliverables to deliver.
  • Unlocking how social media can really deliver on your business objectives.

We’re adept at delivering results that are quick and on-strategy in these varied situations through techniques allowing individuals with varying perspectives to see the future and its possibilities in dramatically new ways. It’s an intense process, but it’s also intellectually stimulating and, in contrast to most strategy discussions, quick and fun!

Strategy Doesn’t Have to Be Drudgery - Really!

As we’ve discovered, people enjoy thinking strategically about their organization and customers when it’s productive, efficient, and stretches the organization in positive ways.

That’s the experience we’ve delivered hundreds of times for organizations across a wide variety of industries, including consumer packaged goods, business-to-business, professional service organizations, education, and not-for-profits. Sometimes our work is on a large scale (as with the nearly hundred participants for the Google Fiber in Kansas City brainstorming effort we created). In other cases, it might only involve a few executives.

We tailor the end product to the organization’s needs, but it usually involves an understandable roadmap and detailed implementation plan to guide our client as it moves forward. Increasingly, we’re also involved in supporting the plan’s implementation as well.

Let’s Discuss What Your Needs Are and See If We Can Help!

Thanks for letting me share what’s tough to squeeze into a 15-second elevator speech!

If you’d like to ask questions, talk, or explore how we might be able to aid your organization in your planning and strategy efforts, we’d be honored to learn more about the opportunities and challenges you’re facing.

Give us a call at 816-509-5320 or email at info@brainzooming.com to explore how we can get your organization’s brains (and results) zooming! – Mike Brown

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

The Kauffman Foundation is hosting a series of speakers in Kansas City to provide ideas, inspiration, and innovation lessons for how Kansas City can best take advantage of innovation opportunities with the The Google Fiber project. The latest Google Fiber project innovation talk was from Nick Donofrio, former executive vice president for innovation and technology at IBM. You can watch the presentation here.

My top 7 innovation lesson takeaways from the Nick Donofrio speech include:

1. Innovation isn’t about starting with the solution. Make sure you start with understanding the problem.

Donofrio stresses that starting with the solution often occurs because that is where our experience, specialization, and biases are. He stressed over and over that Kansas City can’t view Google Fiber as a solution, but rather as a tool or an enabler for solving significant problems.

2. Understand this century’s recipe for innovation.

The recipe for innovation in the 21st century is an environment that is collaborative, open, multi-disciplinary, and global.

3. It is just as important (and sometimes more) to innovate in process and in business model as it is to innovate in product or service.

Donofrio detailed examples from Sweden and India. In Sweden, the deputy mayor of Stockholm changed the process for dealing with a large project, from bidding it out one piece at a time, to bidding it as a whole. In India, Bharti Airtel moved away from a business model in telecommunications that called for owning everything to one that just owns the client interface. Vendors and suppliers own/run the network, the back office, etc. Oh, and the phones are really free.

4. Count on it being an instrumented, interconnected world, so innovation must work in those areas.

There are now 250 billion devices connected to the Internet. The trend is on its way to one trillion devices connected to the Internet.

5. In education beware of the “flop on top” when it comes to technology.

Too often in the U.S., we impose technology on education (our solution) without an understanding of what problem we are trying to solve.

6. There is a huge opportunity for innovation using big data sets.

The cost of calculation has decreased by a magnitude of 16 in the last 100 years (10 to the 16 power). In the next 20 years, the cost of calculation is expected to decrease another magnitude of 8. This dramatic reduction in the cost of calculation allows modeling and simulation of almost anything.

7. You never know who has the last piece of the puzzle when solving significant problems.

The innovation lesson is that it is vital innovation efforts be inclusive. For societies, this creates both an opportunity and a responsibility for those at that top of the socio-economic pyramid to make sure that those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid are included and have genuine opportunity.  – Barrett Sydnor


How can ultra high-speed Internet speeds drive economic development? 
“Building the Gigabit City: Brainzooming the Google Fiber Roadmap,” a free 120-page report, shares 60 business opportunities for and hundreds of ideas for education, healthcare, jobs, community activities, and more.  Download this exclusive report on the Google Fiber project by The Brainzooming Group addressing how ultra high-speed Internet can spur economic development, growth, and improved lifestyles globally. 

Continue Reading

4

We’ve written previously about our perspective that a broad group of an organization’s employees should be supported and trained to be strategic thinkers. One typical counter argument to this point of view is having a high percentage of strategic thinkers among an organization’s front line employees causes confusion (and misdirection) because only a company’s upper management should be focused on strategy.

While it makes sense for upper management to be establishing overall strategy for an organization, our contention is you want all employees (including front line employees) expected to carry out a company’s or business unit’s strategy to be strategic thinkers.

The reason?

Because when front line employees encounter situations which don’t fit the organization strategy, you want them to be able to strategically improvise rather than carrying out strategies exactly as stated when they don’t make sense.

Need proof? Here are a couple of examples.

At a client session on customer service and retention I hosted, customer service performance was one of the critical topics on the agenda. The topic under discussion was how to get a customer service rep (CSR) to do the proper thing when facing a situation outside the norm?

One attendee told about a CSR who demanded the immediate return of a cable converter box destroyed in a fire because the fire wasn’t the cable company’s problem. Tragically, the fire claimed the lives of two family members, making the cable company’s policies insignificant by comparison. Afterward, the supervisor was left to ask the CSR if making the demand felt right while it was happening.

Another person told how a mystery research caller to his service center was stymied in performing call evaluations. The researcher needed to know what city the CSR was in for the evaluation, but CSRs had been told to never disclose their city location. As a result, the researcher couldn’t get beyond the generic response CSRs had been instructed to provide.

In both cases, CSRs were simply following what they were told. They focused on “what mattered” as explicitly instructed by their supervisors, i.e., get the cable box back; don’t say where you’re located.

The challenge is when you provide explicit answers about what matters, you get explicit behaviors.

When you don’t allow for or support strategic thinking skills among front line employees, you can get blind performance which appears on the surface to be correct, but is truly detrimental.

What are you doing in your company relative to strategic thinking? Are you trying to get more employees to understand strategic thinking and learn frameworks on what to do when the current strategy isn’t working? - Mike Brown

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading