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Board-RoomThe VP of Operations at a potential client for The Brainzooming Group asked what we do to ensure healthy strategic conversations among a senior management team that has worked together a long time. He wondered about the challenges of breaking through this type of tight-knit group in the boardroom to ensure we’re moving toward creating strategic impact.

I told him the way we break through a tight-knit senior management group’s pre-existing cliques and decision making process is by coming to the table with new insights. We often glean these insights though soliciting strategic input from a much broader employee group than an organization has previously.

All these additional voices go a long way toward disrupting a group’s traditional dynamics.

Spicing Up Strategic Planning in the Boardroom

Beyond including more strategic voices, there’s an unlikely source for techniques we use as inspiration: ideas for spicing up a long-term romantic relationship!

Look at any self-help magazine for advice on spicing up a long-term relationship, and you’ll see ideas such as:

  • Introducing an element of surprise
  • Openness to new techniques and ideas
  • Role-playing and games
  • Toys
  • Scheduling a dedicated day together monthly
  • A change of scenery
  • Planning a staycation together
  • Putting aside technology-based distractions
  • Spending time away from each other
  • Moving out of a long-established comfort zone
  • Recalling earlier, more intense periods in the relationship
  • Finding a babysitter and getting away

As I look at our Brainzooming process and how we introduce creative thinking into strategic planning, we’ve used some variation of all these ideas for spicing up strategic planning in the boardroom.

Granted, how these ideas play in the boardroom is quite different than in the bedroom. But either way, getting people in a long-term relationship to reach new performance levels depends on spicing things up in new ways! – 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.

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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Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactIt’s early October, and many (likely most) large organizations that will create some type of annual plan are on the brink of intense strategic planning efforts.

Suppose your prior strategic planning efforts haven’t delivered the insights, implementation success, organizational development, or market results you’d expected.

If that describes your organization, and previous strategic planning efforts have fallen short in creating strategic impact, what are your options for improving next year’s results at this point? Is it too late to improve the strategic planning process already underway so the plan doesn’t sit on the shelf?

Answering those questions is the focus of the “Creating Strategic Impact” workshop I’m doing this evening for the Financial Executives International group in Kansas City. As a group of senior professionals, the Financial Executives International members should be in fantastic positions to still bring about strategic planning improvements for next year.

4 Ideas for Creating Strategic Impact and Improving Next Year’s Results

Even if an organization is well into strategic planning for next year, what steps will help ensure it’s having greater success in creating strategic impact?

Here are four ideas:

  1. Broaden the range of employees invited to offer insights and ideas into the strategic plan. At a minimum, expand participation by at least one level in the organization.
  2. Exploit how smart structure can create flexibility. While it sounds contradictory, selecting the right strategic planning structure can help employees more successfully contribute to creating strategic impact. And that’s true for both veteran and new planning participants.
  3. Don’t ask the same old strategic planning questions. When knowledgeable people are invited to address strategic opportunities from questions that provide “strategic detours,” an organization will uncover exciting new paths to growth. Additionally, through expanding participation within the organization, answering these questions becomes part of the daily strategic conversations taking place in the organization.
  4. Simplify your strategic language. If nothing else, use simple, understandable, and actionable language to describe your strategies and plans. Don’t use corporate jargon and confusing words so that what you’re trying to accomplish becomes clear to everyone in the organization.

Help Is Still Available for Creating Strategic Impact

Attendees at tonight’s presentation will receive more specifics on these four ideas. If you aren’t in Kansas City, and would like to understand how your organization can profit from these four ideas, give me a call (816-509-5320) or email, and let’s talk about what your best options are for creating strategic impact coming out of your strategic planning efforts. – 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.

 

 

“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

 

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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You can grab a strategic insight from anywhere, IF you’re looking for it – even in a popular song.

Strategic Thinking about “What Matters”

Style-Walking-Crooked-LineOne of the most obscure strategic insights I’ve used throughout my career dates to grad school and hearing the song, “If She Knew What She Wants” by Jules Shear (and popularized by The Bangles). There is a line in the song that says: “Some have a style that they work hard to refine, so they walk a crooked line.”

This lyric first resonated in a graduate school finance class where we were discussing and graphing corporate dividends and yields. If a company wants to maintain the same dollar payout for each dividend (the “style” it is refining), its yield could fluctuate dramatically (the “crooked line”) to maintain the stability of the dividend. If, on the other hand, a company wants to maintain a stable yield, the dollar dividend payout will fluctuate; in that case, the “style” and the “crooked line” roles flip.

As life has progressed, it is clear this strategic insight applies in a variety of situations.

What to Keep and What to Creatively Change

When you do the strategic thinking to decide what matters most and try to keep it constant, you have to solve for other things. These other things may have to creatively change over time – even if you hold them near and dear but not quite as important as the thing that matters most to you.

The vital strategic thinking breakthrough is locking in on something that REALLY matters so much that it deserves to have you hold it constant. There are many things people personally select as the style they want to refine that seem important, but are really very poor choices. Ego, spending levels, possessions, career ambitions, societal standing – these are all frequent choices people make for “what matters” that seem important, but could lead to unhealthy fluctuations in a variety of other aspects of life.

A Strategic Insight

Spend a lot of time deciding what is really important that you will work long and hard to refine. And once you have done that, use all the creativity you have to vary everything else as you must (and as you are allowed) to protect what is most important to you. – 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 TheBrainzooming 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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As we meet senior executives, it’s clear there are still many unanswered questions on social media strategy, especially for those companies early in social media strategy implementation or those that yet to even develop a social media strategy.

How Strong Is My Organization’s Social Media Strategy?

Among the most common questions senior executives are asking include:

  • How can a social media strategy meaningfully contribute to business objectives?
  • What metrics are relevant for measuring the impact of a social media strategy?
  • How do you determine the right staffing for a social media team?
  • Are the brand’s messages being appropriately represented through social media content?

To assist senior executives in evaluating both performance and opportunities in these and other social media areas, The  Brainzooming Group has created a new ebook: “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

Free Ebook: 9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

This latest free ebook from The Brainzooming Group takes a sampling of the strategy exercises we use with clients and offers them in a format suitable for performing a quick self-diagnosis of a brand’s success with social networking. In a relatively brief amount of time, you’ll have a sense of where you need to concentrate your efforts to ensure you maximize the benefits of your organization’s social media efforts.

Securing your free ebook copy is easy: simply click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the sign-up page to download it. You’ll soon be identifying where your organization is missing vital business opportunities in social networking. – Mike Brown

 Download Your Copy

 

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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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One challenge with standard strategic planning approaches is people quickly become too familiar with the standard strategic planning questions, i.e., What are our strengths and weaknesses? Who are our main competitors? What are the threats and opportunities in the next few years? Familiarity breeds less attention to probing every aspect of the questions.

This phenomenon is compounded by people who having been at one company or in one industry for any length of time. If people are entering strategic planning with that type of history, they likely know ALL the standard and expected answers to the standard strategic planning questions.

The result is you get a standard strategic plan that falls far short of creating strategic impact.

Strategic Thinking Exercises and Creating Strategic Impact

Creating Strategic Impact through Strategic Thinking ExercisesThe approach The Brainzooming Group takes with clients in developing strategy is to twist the standard question areas into strategic thinking exercises with a greater likelihood of yielding new, unexpected and insightful ideas.

When you have new ideas versus the standard answers, you have a foundation for greater business success.

As you work on plans for next year, here are a few of the strategic thinking exercises we use as variations on the same old strategic planning to ensure we are creating strategic impact for our clients.

What are our opportunities?

What are our threats?

What are our strengths and weaknesses?

What benefits do we deliver?

Who are our competitors?

What trends will shape the future?

What should we do?

What should be our priorities?

Give these a try and see what new strategic insights you generate! – Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

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

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The most important strategic thinking question a brand can ask itself is, “What matters?”

The most important strategic thinking question an individual can ask himself or herself is also, “What matters?”

While it may be an easy or a difficult question to answer for you, it isn’t the only question you have to address.

BStrategic Thinking Question - What Mattersecause after you articulate what matters, you’ll need to translate your answer into actions – whether organizational or personal. When you KNOW and can SAY what matters, the answer should dramatically shape what actions you DO or DON’T DO from that point forward. Your answer should translate into clearly doing more of some things and less of other things because of what matters to you.

Maybe you can’t figure out what matters all at once. Over time, though, if something really does matter to you, what you do (and what you don’t do) should be in increasingly distinct and more in alignment all the time with what matters.

It’s all about a question prompting answers, and then turning into behaviors. That’s where you really prove out what matters and doesn’t. – Mike Brown

 

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s social media strategy development workshops can boost your organization’s success!

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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Organizational-Body-Language-Creating-Strategic-Impact

Original Image by: steffne | Source: photocase.com

Working on new material for a presentation on Creating Strategic Impact to the MAGNET Global Advertising Agency group, I began thinking about “organizational body language.” This was triggered also by a conversation with a potential client last week. Its staff is reading certain ideas into the collective behaviors of its management team that aren’t intended or productive.

Body language is typically thought of as the non-verbal cues an individual makes both deliberately and unconsciously that signal underlying perceptions. Organizations, however, which are filled with individuals, can do the same thing.

What Is Your Organizational Body Language Saying?

Your organizational body language can come from the individual or collective behaviors of your senior leadership team. It may be a more encompassing behavior ingrained into your entire organization. While organizational body language is evident inside an organization, it can also speak volumes to outside audiences, including competition.

Based on typical meanings behind individual body language, here are ways organization’s exhibit similar sentiments – whether positive or negative – through organizational body language.

Positive Organizational Body Language

  • Anticipation: Management becoming more visible to front line employees
  • Confidence: Celebrates accomplishments
  • Evaluation, Thinking: Lots of people and office lights staying on after hours
  • Genuine: Embracing new thinking and ideas
  • In decision making mode: Lots of drop-by discussions from senior managers
  • Interest: It’s easy to secure meetings and resources for a particular initiative
  • Openness: Management accepts and answers tough questions
  • Readiness: The organization actively trains its people
  • Relaxed: Incorporates humor into formal and informal communication
  • Self-assured: Communicating performance numbers and setting clearly understood incentive structures

Negative Organizational Body Language

Is organizational body language slowing creating strategic impact?

If you’re part of the senior leadership team, are you sensitive to the organizational body language you and your peers are communicating?

Might it be the reason why your employees are forming perceptions contrary to all the messaging your organization is doing formally?

Could your organizational body language be standing the in the way of creating strategic impact you need right now?

If these questions hit home for you, let’s talk about how you can better gauge what you’re really communicating organizationally and better align your overall direction, messaging, and behaviors so you can be more effective in creating strategic impact. – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and collaborative skills in order to create strategic impact. 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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