2

Remember, strategic thinking lessons are all around us if we’re willing to search for them.

For instance, there is an account in Acts of the Apostles from the Bible’s New Testament about the apostle Paul visiting Athens. While in Athens, Paul was taken to the Areopagus by some of the Greek philosophers. They wanted him to talk about the teachings he was speaking of as the Athenians “used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new.”

Paul began his discourse at the Areopagus by speaking of walking through Athens. Amid a city full of gods and idols of various sorts, he reported finding “an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.'” This altar was intended to cover the Athenians and stay in the good graces of any god they hadn’t yet learned about.

Paul-Areopagus

I have written and spoken previously about this Bible passage, which is read in Catholic masses on the Wednesday of the sixth week of Easter. It’s a fantastic example of understanding what your audience believes and launching your attempt to sway their strategic thinking by recognizing where you agree rather than where you disagree.

Strategic Thinking and Unknown Ideas

It struck me yesterday how, from the audience’s perspective, this is also a wonderful story to reflect how we receive new, unknown ideas and strategic thinking.

It’s easy, over time, to fill our heads with ideas and strategic thinking that define our world view and represent our attempt to explain everything we have experienced. It’s also easy to become so fascinated with our own strategic thinking that we leave no room to consider new ways of doing things or opposing points of view.

Some people take this to such an extreme that they can’t even consider opposing ideas simply to understand why people hold them even if they have no intention of believing or embracing these ideas.

Here’s a reminder for all of us: as you grow in years and experience, keep a space that never goes away where you are willing to hear others on new, unknown ideas.

Because if you’re going to grow in your strategic thinking capabilities, you can never NOT have the mental space to hear, consider, and potentially expand your thinking. – 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 816-509-5320 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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5

How about that “sex tip” headline?

I’ve been trying to write snazzier headlines, but it is an accurate headline. There IS a sex tip that WILL boost your strategic thinking through multiple strategic thinking exercises.

The Sex Tip

The June 2014 “Girl Next Door” column in Men’s Health magazine includes a letter from a guy worried he and his wife have reached the dreaded sexual plateau in their relationship where nothing is new.

Of course, he wrote to the “Girl Next Door” columnist, Madeline Haller, for advice.

She recommended he and his wife sit down individually with two blank sheets of paper. Each of them is to take a few minutes to write at least fifteen sexual adventures of interest they have never tried previously. They are to then exchange pieces of paper and cross off things they weren’t prepared to do until they had a new bedroom (or elsewhere) to-do list agreeable to each of them.

threesome

Strategic Thinking Exercises from a Sex Tip

I was immediately taken with turning the response into multiple strategic thinking exercises for pairs or groups of individuals to identify, mutually approve, and implement new ideas.

Just as easily as a married couple, organizations or individuals within organizations in strategic relationships could use this technique to identify new, mutually-beneficial initiatives. It also provides a different spin on tired, old strategic thinking exercises for prioritizing large numbers of ideas.

The response from the “Girl Next Door” also inspired an idea about creating a 64-idea field of potential initiatives and using a college basketball single elimination format to pick winning and losing ideas from among a large pool of possibilities.

So yes, it is possible for a sex tip to boost your strategic thinking.

You just have to be on the lookout for new ideas all the time, no matter whether they are far away or right next door! – Mike Brown

Photo Credit: emoji / photocase.com

 

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Taking-ShitMessaging with Whip-Smart Wordsmith Emma Alvarez Gibson on Facebook, we were discussing business situations you know aren’t going to work out as you want, yet you move forward anyway. In one situation I was describing, Emma asked why I’d move ahead knowing the outcome wouldn’t be great.

My response was sometimes you take crap from people because you’ve done the strategic thinking and there is a very good strategic reason to do so.

This realization came from living in the Fortune 500 world as long as I did. You have to develop a strong sense of what those right times are if you expect to survive.

9 Business Situations Where You Might Take Crap from People

After we finished messaging, I wrote this list of nine business situations where it can make sense to take crap from somebody in business:

  1. There is a strategic advantage to be gained and taking crap is a small hurdle standing in the way.
  2. You don’t have any better strategic options, so it’s tough to avoid it.
  3. You can delegate or deflect the brunt of the crap-taking to someone else.
  4. Taking crap from a particular person is a badge of honor you can use as a proof point of some personal strength, capability, or perseverance.
  5. The stories you’ll be able to tell about the experience outweigh the downsides.
  6. Nobody will know the difference.
  7. Giving people crap is just something another person does that is more annoying than harmful.
  8. You don’t or won’t even notice it.
  9. You know everything will still work out in the end.

This list is certainly open to question and challenge based on how you view the strategic thinking behind one of these business situations.

What’s your strategic thinking about this?

What about you? Are there situations where you’ll take crap from someone for good reason?

Or do you take the Billy Joel approach? He was notorious for closing his live shows by saying, “Don’t take any s#!t from anyone!”

So which strategic thinking group are you in? – Mike Brown

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Brand marketers can find it challenging to identify all the brand language available to communicate a brand’s distinct benefits and value for customers and prospects.

Based on a recent client brand strategy experience, I highlighted an often overlooked source of compelling brand language in my first LinkedIn article: Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?

If you’d like to read the brand strategy lesson from our experience, you can do so over on LinkedIn.

As an alternative, we also put together a screencast that recaps the article plus adds visuals the LinkedIn article does not contain. This is the first time we’re introducing screencasts into the blog. We’re excited by the possibilities because it gives you the opportunity to have a richer experience with Brainzooming blog content. Additionally, because audio and visuals are incorporated in a screencast, I expect it to open up new topics that just don’t come across as strongly when using words alone.

So go ahead and ask yourself: Is our brand exploiting all its brand language? – Mike Brown

Brand Strategy Screencast – Is Your Brand Exploiting All Its Brand Language?


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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 with a strategy session and branding development to create strategic impact for your organization.

 

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

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Fake-Book-BoundDuring a recent “Creating Strategic Impact” workshop, I had the attendees (who were all from one company) form smaller groups to identify potential disruptive competitive threats in their technology industry.

Talking in advance with the client organization’s president, he said his people might struggle with this strategic thinking exercise since they hadn’t previously addressed competitive threats this way.

The One Strategic Truth You Must Never Forget

One group had a participant who quickly completed the first part of the strategic thinking exercise, listing three clear customer benefits his company delivered.

But then instead of identifying companies who might offer any one of those benefits individually, he put a big, bold imaginary circle around those three customer benefits. This quickly dead-ended the strategic thinking exercise as he claimed NO competitor could come to the market with all those benefits. As a result, he reaffirmed his belief that his company had few, if any, disruptive competitive threats.

The other participants in his small group perceived the flaw and tried to help him see the error in his perspective. I too tried to redirect him, pointing out that truly disruptive competitive threats targeting his company weren’t  going to show up nice bows around all three benefits his company delivered.

In fact, very real disruptive competitive threats might appear offering only ONE of those benefits, with little concern for the other two. This new disruptive force would win business with a different approach, different strategies, and different perceptions about what is important to my client’s customers.

Because it was a workshop format, there was no opportunity to spend any more time with this individual to see if he was finally persuaded about competitive threats or not. But whether he was or wasn’t, I suspect many of us, even though we know better, fall into the same trap.

Disruptive Competitive Threats

Let’s state it again so we can all be clear: the disruptive force in your industry isn’t going to show up looking like your brand and offering the same complete set of benefits.

The disruptive force may have only a vague resemblance to your brand and what you do, and win business because it sees the rules of competition and success very differently than your brand does.

That’s why so many companies who TRY reinventing themselves and staying successful fail. They have WAY TOO MUCH invested in every part of their status quo (and likely antiquated) views of the world. Unwilling to blow themselves up because they have too big a stake in what has existed for a long time and persists to today, some other brand with an insightful view of tomorrow is more than happy to do the work for them.

Think about it this way: No matter how much you might hope it might be different, you can’t have archaic and eat it too. – Mike Brown

 

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

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Picking up on the competitor strategy theme from the start of the week, I combed the Brainzooming archives to share a variety of competitor strategy ideas we have covered.

82 Competitor Strategy Ideas to Improve Your Competitive Success

Competitive-GorillaHere is a handy summary of 82 competitor strategy tools, questions, and ideas you can use to hone your competitive success now and in the future:

Going on the Attack for Competitive Success

Playing Defense with Your Competitor Strategy

There should be at least a few ideas you can start applying right away to go after that 400 pound competitor gorilla in the room and improve your brand’s competitive success! – 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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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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In a Strategic Thinking workshop recently, a participant from the largest business unit of a multinational company asked, “How, when it comes to corporate strategy, can the “tail can wag the dog”?

Put another way, he wondered how his business unit, which feels hemmed in by corporate strategy directives, can better influence or vary the corporation’s direction.

6 Ideas for the Tail Wagging the Corporate Strategy Dog

caymanAnswering his question generated these six ideas. The ideas range from the least risky to the most risky from both an organizational and a personal standpoint:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to outperform expectations even following a sub-optimum corporate strategy (in order to earn the right for greater latitude and experimentation)
  2. Identify new and better ways to deliver on the corporate objectives that stretch the organization in positive ways
  3. Build a rock solid business case demonstrating superior returns from an alternative strategy
  4. Assess what type of strategic change the organization needs and reach out to corporate leaders to make the case for moving forward with a different strategy
  5. Wait out the current direction until it changes, and you can pursue a more targeted strategy
  6. Create a stealth effort to push forward with targeted initiatives

While it seems numbers five and six are wildly different (i.e., one is suggesting “toe the line” and the other is advocating for going against the corporate strategy in a clandestine way), they are both very risky.

If the business unit truly has to sub-optimize to follow the prescribed corporate strategy, it should be a very conscious decision – not the accidental fallout of a strategic disconnect within the organization.

Similarly, making the decision to advance particular initiatives that are right for a business unit but clearly outside corporate strategy may be possible. But pursuing this strategy could be a recipe for huge problems for leadership and the overall organization.

That’s why both five and six, although wildly different strategies, are both very risky. If you decide to go there, be careful . . . very careful! – Mike Brown

 

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

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