Insights | The Brainzooming Group - Part 7 – page 7
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Strategic agility (affiliate link) has come up multiple times recently.

One time was through an audience question during the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association closing keynote I presented on Creating Strategic Impact. Another instance was while curating Brainzooming content on strategic agility for an all-day Creating Strategic Impact workshop we’re delivering for a new client today.

We’ve never formally defined “strategic agility” within the Brainzooming methodology. That may be because my one-word answer to what strategic agility is would be “Brainzooming.” Within our thinking, strategic agility implies knowing and remaining grounded in what matters for an organization (the “brain” part) while moving briskly and flexibly to address it in ways that make sense (the “zooming” part).

In creating a deeper resource on “strategic agility” for our session participants today, however, it’s not all that helpful to say, “Read everything on the blog because it all relates to strategic ability.”

15 Resources on Strategic Agility

Instead, here’s a narrower list of topics we’ve covered to help our Creating Strategic Impact workshop session participants get a handle on strategic agility. And if you’d like to learn more “strategic agility,” it’s fashioned with all of our readers in mind.

Remaining Grounded in What Matters for an Organization

Anticipating What Lies Ahead

Making Quick Decisions

Including People with Strategic Agility

A Quick List for Creating Strategic Impact

Compiling this list suggests both that there’s a lot here, and there’s more to be covered on strategic agility. We’ll add that to the blog topics list, and get back to you on it! In the interim, if you’d really like to go deep on how strategic agility (or what we call Brainzooming) could benefit your team and organization, let us know, and we can talk through ways we’ve helped other organizations on these very topics. – Mike Brown

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If you start anything important without an objective and a strategy, you’ll wind up SSA.

And you know what SSA means. Or if you don’t know what SSA means, download The Brainzooming Group “Don’t Wind Up SSA” strategic thinking mini-poster.

Keep it nearby whenever you are starting the strategic thinking for something important.

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Do Not Wind Up SSA – The Brainzooming Group Strategic Thinking Mini-Poster

 

 

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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article discussed strategic analogs. These are organizations that perform comparable functions to your own brand, even if they are in far-removed industries. Strategic analogs are great sources of ideas and learnings to shape your organization’s strategic moves.

Here is a strategic thinking exercise we’ll be incorporating in an upcoming Creating Strategic Impact workshop to help a client identify strategic analogs. It is a two-step process. The first step involves describing what the organization does in a general fashion; the second connects those descriptions to other organizations.

Brainzooming Makes More and Faster Strategic ConnectionsStrategic Thinking Questions to Generalize What Your Organization Does

These questions for step one help generalize what you do to pave the way for identifying possible strategic analogs:.

  • What are the big drivers/buckets of cost in our organization? What are the big revenue sources for us?
  • List the major activities we do as an organization. How would we translate each of them into simple words a grandparent or parent unfamiliar with our company could easily understand?
  • What are the processes associated with why customers actually buy from us?
  • What are the titles of employees who interact directly with customers? What words in their titles provide a more general sense of what we do?
  • If we could see what we do from a low-flying airplane or a car driving by a building, what would be the big processes we’d be able to see and describe?

After using these strategic thinking questions to generalize an organization’s business functions, you’re ready to find other companies who perform one or more of the same activities.

Strategic Thinking Questions to Identify Strategic Analog Companies

Step two involves listing companies you can look at now and in the future for strategic ideas, cautions, and lessons. Simply by looking through functions you’ve identified in step one, companies you could be tracking for ideas may come to mind quickly. If not, these additional questions can spur new ideas:

  • If we were going to school about the important functions in our business, who (outside our own company) would we want teaching the course?
  • If we had to recreate what we do or completely outsource our operation, who would we ask to handle the most important parts?

Another approach is to use the “What’s It Like?” strategic thinking exercise, a standard in the Brainzooming repertoire. It integrates generalizing what you do with finding other comparable examples in one strategic thinking exercise.

Force Yourself to Identify Strategic Analogs

The important thing is not letting yourself off the hook with the old “we are unique, no one does what we do” excuse.

A set of strategic analogs can help you track is tremendously valuable, especially if they are in industries  developing ahead of your industry’s pace.

For example, within the portion of the transportation industry that moved goods, we looked at airlines and phone companies as examples of “formerly regulated, network dependent, yield-management oriented businesses” whose pace was faster. It was helpful to track what was happening because the same developments would come to our industry a few years later.

So get started now creating your own set of strategic analogs. – Mike Brown

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Conquer Fears of Business Innovation!

FREE Download: “7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears”

3d-Cover-Innovation-FearsWhether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for innovation involving any significant level of risk.

This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:

  • Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
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  • Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground

Download your FREE copy of 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears today!

Download Your FREE eBook! 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization's Innovation Fears

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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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Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactI’m in Dallas today delivering the closing keynote presentation on “Creating Strategic Impact” for the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. This launches a string of Brainzooming presentations and workshops during the summer months focused on translating strategic thinking into business results.

Finding Your Brand’s Strategic Analogs

Prepping for one of these upcoming all-day, company-specific strategic thinking workshops, I was talking with our client on customizing the strategic thinking exercises we’ll teach the group.

She said participants could struggle identifying strategic analogs. By strategic analogs, we mean organizations that perform comparable functions to your brand, even in industries that seem far-removed. Our client’s people struggle with seeing connections between its own business and other industries, quickly dismissing external strategic analogs as irrelevant.

That’s not uncommon.

Since we all try differentiating our businesses, it’s easy to start believing your own messaging that NO ONE does what your organization does in the way you do it. That belief shouldn’t preclude you, however, from using strategic analogs. They are helpful in tracking how other businesses deal with comparable issues your brand may not have yet faced.

For example, at the corporate b2b transportation company where I worked, we spent time thinking about how Disneyworld manages time perceptions. Just as Disneyworld makes it seem as if a line moves faster than expected, we faced a similar task in managing transportation time perceptions.

To develop a strategic thinking exercise on identifying strategic analogs, we’ve collected various questions we’ve used to help business leaders think in new ways about what their organizations do. Look for the strategic thinking questions and the exercise in tomorrow’s Brainzooming article.

Strategic Thinking Exercises in a Workshop for Entrepreneurs

If you’re in Kansas City and want to sharpen your strategy skills, I’m teaching a two-hour workshop on Creating Strategic Impact for Entrepreneurs at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County (ECJC). This Brainzooming workshop is Thursday, June 26,2014 from 11 am to 1 pm.

The workshop focus is how entrepreneurs can take advantage of strategic thinking exercises we use for large corporations to efficiently and effectively spend time working ON instead of only working IN their businesses.

We’ll feature ideas for creating strategic impact that work well even if an entrepreneur has to do the strategic thinking and implementation solo or with a very small, and perhaps less experienced, team.

You can learn more about session and register at the ECJC website. Hurry though; space is limited for the workshop. We’ve been fortunate that most previous Brainzooming workshops at ECHC (all focused on social media and content marketing) have sold out, so get your registration completed today! – Mike Brown

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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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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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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact 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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