Insights | The Brainzooming Group - Part 3 – page 3
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I’ve mentioned my surprise upon realizing strategic planning techniques The Brainzooming Group uses seem to have emerged from Bible passages. Granted, I’ve been to many masses during the last seventeen years. It always startles me, however, when a new example appears.

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

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

Susanna and the Elders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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

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

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

Brainzooming-Meeting-Format

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

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

3 Ways Online Collaboration Works to Deliver Big Benefits

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

Using Zoomferences for an Entire Strategic Planning Process

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

Addressing Project Planning with a Zoomference

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

Having Sales Leaders Vet and Expand Ideas

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

Discover How Online Collaboration Boosts Progress

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

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

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

 Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Improve Strategic Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

The short answer?

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

And the longer answer?

The Right Time for Brainstorming in Strategic Planning

Multi-Thinkers

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

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

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

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

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

when-is-brainstorming

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

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

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Sometimes it is very clear what an organization’s threats and opportunities are when performing a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). It may also be that an organization falls into a rut of simply restating the same threats and opportunities every year.

We use strategic thinking exercises and questions as “detours” around organizational thinking that is in a rut. Asking questions in a different way than is typically done forces people to look at new possibilities and actually think before blurting out the standard answers.

An Old AND New SWOT Analysis Example

We have previously shared strategic detours for getting to new thinking about an organization’s threats and opportunities.

Here is a new SWOT analysis example that is really an old one.

Revisiting our online repository of strategic thinking exercises, I came across this one from our early days of collecting and developing new ways to help people think about their threats and opportunities.

Strategic-thinking-safe

Rather than asking single questions about threats and opportunities, this strategic thinking exercise pieces answers together from considering specific perspectives your customers, competitors, markets, and own brand has. Simply use each of the situations in each “equation” to generate ideas and see how the combinations of ideas build out a perspective on an organization’s of opportunities and threats.

Opportunities come about when . . .

  • Customers Want It + We Do It Well
  • Customers Want It + We Do It Well + Competitors Don’t Do It Well
  • Customers Want It + Nobody Does It Well
  • Customers Want It + We Do It Okay + We Can Improve How We Do It

Threats come about when . . .

  • Customers Want It + We Don’t Do It Well
  • Customers Want It + Competitors Do It Well
  • Customers Aren’t Wanting It as Much + Our Business Is Built Around Offering It
  • Customers Want It + We Do It Well + Competitors Are Moving to Do It More or Better
  • Our Business Is Built Around Offering It + Market Forces Are Working Against It

The caveat with this strategic thinking exercise is we pulled it from the “safe.” We have not put it through its paces in a number of years to check how productive it is and update it with new variations. As we do that though, we wanted to share it with all of you to test it out as well. Given the number of people that come to the blog looking for new and different strategic thinking exercises, we wanted our readers to be able to test it out as we do.

So here’s to learning what new possibilities this golden oldie SWOT analysis example will yield today! – Mike Brown

 

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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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It’s Blogapalooza time again! In partnership with students in Max Utsler’s Innovation in Management of Communications class at The University of Kansas, Blogapalooza provides an opportunity for Max’s students to publish blog posts they write for class here and at Alexander G Public Relations

Laura-BerryThe first post for this semester is from Laura Berry, a master’s student in Integrated Marketing Communication. Laura works in marketing for a global engineering and construction company that is working to bridge tradition with innovation.

5 Characteristics that Set Game Changing Ideas Apart by Laura Berry

Innovation starts with good ideas. But how can you separate good ideas from transformative, game changing ideas? If it’s a revolutionary idea, chances are it has several of these qualities.

1. It’s not your first idea.

Let’s face it: seven billion people live on this planet. Your first idea isn’t original. Inspiration might pop into your mind, but innovation looks more like a notebook filled with sketches and scratched-out notes. If you’ve pushed, reworked and redeveloped your idea, then you’re on your way to game changing ideas.

2. The idea is simple.

Some of the best ideas look obvious in hindsight. It might be complex to build, but it needs to be easy to understand. When you hear it aloud, it makes sense. Heads nod. A social networking website that makes it easy for you to connect and share with your family and friends online? Head nod.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “Get Buy-In for Your Crazy Idea,” Author David Burkus writes, “If you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny. In the same way, if you have to spend significant time explaining how your idea will work, it’s never going to win people over.”

3. It’s creative.

To create what doesn’t yet exist, you need imagination. Imagination asks the question, “What if?” Did you just create the most powerful bag less vacuum? (Dyson) Great. But what if I don’t want to push it around? (Roomba) Awesome. So now my vacuum cleaner runs by itself. What if my lawnmower did? (Roomba robotic lawnmower). “What if” questions stretch good ideas to new places.

Framing-Ideas

4. It serves a purpose.

Thomas Edison said, “I find out what the world needs, and then I invent it.” Breakthrough ideas have an intrinsic human connection. Innovation often solves problems or meets needs. Are you old enough to remember running home to wait for a phone call or accessing the Internet through the piercing screech of dial-up? Thank goodness for innovators. When you understand the problems people face, you’re better able to help.

5. It took some sweat.

If innovation were easy, everyone would be doing it. To take an idea from good to game-changer, you have to nurture it. And that’s just a fancy way of saying it takes work. Your good idea could be a few “What if” questions from game changing ideas. Will you take it there, or will someone else? – Laura Berry

 

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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We’ve written a tremendous amount about change and change management strategy since the Brainzooming blog’s inception.

Just HOW MUCH have we written on change management strategy?

Well, to identify the articles listed here, a search for “change” on the blog yielded eighty-six PAGES of articles. I reviewed all eighty-six pages to develop our change management strategy primer.

35 Articles on Change Management Strategy in a Change Agent Role

If you’re trying to determine, implement, or refine a change management strategy, especially in an organization resistant to change, these articles will take you through diagnostics, strategy planning, and implementation approaches to carry out your change agent role.

New-Sheriff

Determining the Issues and Options for a Change Management Strategy

Confronting Individuals’ Change Challenges

Planning a Strategy in the Change Agent Role

Dealing with Change Management Strategy Barriers

Creating Change with Less Leadership and Information than You’d Like

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Recently, the “Inside the Executive Suite” executive newsletter from Armada Executive Intelligence turned its attention to strategic thinking exercises and possibilities for breakthrough thinking. Their story was based on a review of two new books on the topic of insights. The books and the article were intriguing, and the folks at Armada Executive Intelligence gave us permission to re-run the piece here.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – 5 Breakthrough Thinking Possibilities

(via Armada Executive Intelligence)

How do you personally generate successful breakthrough thinking?

Do your methods compare favorably to approaches of the great thinkers of history? Additionally, are there proven lessons you can apply in specific types of situations?

Thinker

The last two questions are addressed in new books featured in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal Review section. William B. Irvine’s, “Aha! The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World,” and “The Eureka Factor” by cognitive neuroscientists, John Kounios and Mark Beeman, both address insights – the result of people achieving deep, accurate understanding of an issue facing them.

Irvine’s book presents case studies on the thinking approaches of history’s greatest thinkers. The Kounios and Beeman book examines, as much as is possible, the scientific basis for developing insights.

Irvine’s book highlights varied, successful insight patterns. In science and mathematics, doing something unrelated to the current task is common before generating breakthrough thinking. He credits religious insights as emerging from actual experience; with moral issues, insights vary in appearing after extended reflection or through sudden revelation. When new thinking depends on creative thinking, they tend to emerge after establishing a solid foundation of work leading to insights that emerge later.

What Works to Generate Breakthrough Thinking?

Figuring out how your situation ties to which type of insight pattern may seem confusing. That’s why we advocate for what Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling said: “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

You can extend this concept to developing insights. It’s helpful to employ a full repertoire of thinking techniques to produce many potential insights to fuel breakthrough thinking.

We’ve seen, tried, and returned to various approaches to trigger breakthrough insights. Here are several possibilities when you have to consistently introduce new insights in an organizational setting.

1. Sorting Out What You Know

From all the available potential facts and conclusions, sort them based on ones you KNOW to be true versus others you THINK to be true or HOPE to be true. This exercise helps identify how strong your foundation is for generating new insights.

Are most of your points of information and conclusions already proven to be true? Do you need to develop proof points (if you only THINK much of the information is true) or conduct additional, novel research or analysis (if you simply HOPE the ideas are true)?

Based on what you find, there are natural questions to firm up your fact base:

  • For information and conclusions known to be true: What new insights are suggested by what we already know?
  • For what you only think to be true, ask: What will it take to prove each of these as true or false?
  • For those you hope to be true ask: What stands in the way of vetting this information? If it were true, what new insights might it help uncover?

You can use your answers to take the appropriate steps to solidify your fact base so it is more robust.

2. Assembling the Insight Puzzle

Generating insights in a business setting is akin to assembling puzzle pieces. Extending that comparison creates an actual puzzle-solving exercise.

We worked with a consultant who would print every major known fact supporting a potential strategy and on a separate piece of paper. Each business strategist received a set of facts to combine, rearrange, and “play” with as a child would play with building blocks. Some arrangements of the facts might be simple and others more complex. The overall goal was for each individual to separately identify interesting combinations to look for new potential insights.

While there are advantages to printing out and physically arranging the facts, there are many options to work with the facts in a collaborative online environment.

Regardless of how you do it, after the initial work, strategists compare their insights, looking for similarities, differences, and new ways the individual work can generate additional insights.

3. Different Perspectives on the Insights Puzzle

We also find value in consciously looking at facts from different perspectives to trigger new insights. You can accomplish this with creative thinking exercises.

Breakthrough-Pinnacle

For generating insights, one approach to looking at your information from alternative perspectives is by consciously using various “modifiers” to probe your fact base in multiple ways. This list of modifiers below is one we typically use. Simply insert the modifier into this question: What if we looked at this information (or situation) in a more ______ way?

  • Focused
  • Simplified
  • Integrated
  • Broad
  • Diversified
  • Sophisticated
  • Extreme
  • Contrary
  • Long-term
  • Immediate

Using these types of modifiers will point you in multiple productive directions as you attempt to develop new insights.

4. Invite More People to Look at the Puzzle

Each step to this point involved you or your immediate team. You can expand potential insights by inviting a broader, more diverse group to consider the available information. Including new minds creates an opportunity to identify additional insights, especially ones a group more familiar with a status quo understanding of the situation might struggle to imagine.

5. Get Away Briefly…or Longer

If your insight-generating efforts are unproductive, step away for a short period of time. You may even find it beneficial to stay away longer.

Taking a break agrees with the idea that your previous efforts to generate insights may simply have been foundation-setting that needs time for less structured and casual thinking. A pause can be beneficial in fully exploiting your foundation as a platform for new insights.

Is there a road to breakthrough thinking that works best for you?

The key to generating breakthrough thinking in our experience is that they sometimes come through using tested methods and sometimes through completely new approaches. That requires flexibility on your part. – Armada Executive Intelligence

 

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

 

Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
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