Strategy | The Brainzooming Group - Part 4 – page 4
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When you are faced with a new strategic thinking quandary, what do you do?

Here is the Brainzooming formula to improvise strategic thinking questions and use them to solve a business challenge:

The first question is: What has worked in this situation or with this client before? Return to that technique, framework, or outcome. This creates CONTINUITY.

The second option: Look for what has worked elsewhere in comparable situations. This takes advantage of LESSONS LEARNED.

Option three: Look for different, but similar situations that could apply and frame the discussion or decision in light of those. Here, it’s all about the power of ANALOGIES.

The fourth option: Ask, “What can I pull out of my rear to experiment with and see if it will work?” THIS is total improv.

If all else fails: Call a break in the activities to CLEAR YOUR MIND, THINK, and PRAY for more strategic thinking questions to imagine and try. – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



 

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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Someone wondered about the range of topics included in the disruptive innovation strategy workshop we delivered recently. Even though the workshop spanned nearly ten hours over two days, we had to narrow the content significantly to achieve the client’s innovation objectives.

The reason?

We had a tremendous amount of work to get done!

The objective involved taking twenty-three tables of participants through innovation strategy exercises to identify disruptive concepts, craft strategies, document audience profiles, imagine ideas, develop market positions, and propose all the ideas in 9-second pitches.

See why we couldn’t cover EVERYTHING we hoped to address?

We led the group through a customized Brainzooming Innovation Fake Book of exercises. We did a few mini-keynotes. We kept the energy going. We had audience participation. And we made sure that every table reporting out received tokens as prizes.

27 Links to Energize Your Innovation Strategy

If you’re interested in reviewing some of the innovation strategy content we shared during the workshop, here are links within three major focus areas:

  • Imagine
  • Innovate
  • Implement

The three areas are important because you need all of them to turn ideas into business results.

Imagine

Innovate

Implement

Suffice it to say, we oversaw LOTS of learning and many activities. Nothing, however, was more important than the hard (and rewarding) work of creating and pitching all those innovative concepts!

Looking to similarly boost your team’s innovation skills, ideas, and, energy? Contact us to talk about delivering a Brainzooming innovation strategy workshop for your team, right away! – Mike Brown

Want to improve your organization’s innovation success?

If you want greater success and impact from innovation, but are not sure what to do next, Brainzooming has the answer.

Complete your brief Innovation Assessment and discover your best opportunities to improve future innovation results! It’s FREE, and will set the stage for enlivening your innovation strategy. Discover your true innovation potential today!

Want to improve your innovation success? The answer is easier than you think!

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 facilitated a two-day innovation strategy workshop for nearly two hundred members of a prominent, long-established brand’s marketing organization. The innovation strategy workshop covered a variety of topics related to disruptive innovation.

Prior to our Brainzooming workshop, a tech speaker addressed external innovation opportunities and challenges facing the brand. After his talk, the audience posed multiple questions to get to more actionable details. One person asked him what would keep him up at night if he were a leader at their company. While our workshop hadn’t started yet, I immediately wrote one word on a sheet of paper to answer the audience question. I handed the paper to my Brainzooming co-facilitator, Emma Alvarez Gibson:

If I were at the company, except would keep me up at night. EVERY night.

The reason?

Our client’s leaders, unconstrained by anything else, know the types of disruptive innovation moves they should make. The brand has tech-centric, disruptive competitors surfacing. Related product and lifestyle categories are innovating in ways that will allow them to bundle their own version of our client’s products into theirs. Major data aggregators, including any company gathering GPS and other user behavior data, could make a move into our client’s space with compelling new offerings.

Yes, they likely know what and how they could employ disruptive innovation.

That’s where except appears to mess things up in strategic ways.

An article I found about the brand’s current innovation strategy initiatives included company executives highlighting a variety of new and exciting changes, EXCEPT they wouldn’t innovate away their sales model.

Before the workshop, conversations with attendees focused on the importance the brand is placing on disruptive innovation, EXCEPT they can’t mess up their current business model and revenue stream.

During the innovation workshop, participants used our Brainzooming tools and models to imagine and develop nearly two-dozen innovation strategy concepts. EXCEPT, the judges didn’t pick the one focused on giving away what they do for free to their clients in exchange for those same clients handing over all their data. That was one concept that seemed, at least to us, like a sure thing that SOME disruptive player will do.

In all of these cases, the company is taking options off the table, EXCEPT that NONE of its potentially-disruptive competitors are removing comparable options from their attack strategies.

See, what I mean?

While I understand the reluctance, EXCEPT means that our client is going to market with numerous restrictions that completely-different looking brands that are targeting them would never consider as limitations.

That’s why except would keep me from getting ANY sleep.  – Mike Brown

Want to improve your innovation success? Complete this strategy assessment today!

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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(Adapted from Inside the Executive Suite by Armada Corporate Intelligence)

Two junior team members in chief of staff / program manager roles asked how to best align with senior leaders to successfully share a strategy across an organization. Each was concerned about having enough regular access to senior leaders to feel comfortable in delivering consistent communications relative to what they would be saying in other forums. The challenge is doing more than just sending out a plan and expecting people to naturally understand the organization’s direction.

The Way to Successfully Share a Strategy

What can a senior leader do to share personal perspectives and expectations to facilitate stronger strategy implementation in an organization?

We recommend that an executive team develop its own strategy brief to support better, more aligned communication, and ultimately, strategy implementation. Borrowed from the idea of a communications brief, a strategy brief will:

  • Prompt greater strategic clarity and expectation setting
  • Help team members who are working on communicating and implementing the plan to perform effectively and creatively
  • Facilitate objectivity when judging the effectiveness and success of early strategy implementation

The strategy implementation brief contains three types of information:

  • Objectives – Detailing where the strategy should lead the organization, who it will impact, and what beliefs and action will be most important to success.
  • Preferences – Shares what messages, messaging styles, timing, and reinforcements pave the way for greater alignment.
  • Guidelines – Laying out what the strategy communication and implementation team needs to incorporate and avoid.

Within that framework, here are the questions to answer so your team can most effectively represent senior leadership to the entire organization.

Objectives

  • What is on the short list of initiatives that will move the organization forward?

Answering this question is step one in getting your strategic plan down to a bite-sized aspiration. Of all the initiatives you have planned, which handful are you, as a senior executive, going to monitor most closely? Your answer will determine whether you are going to move the needle or not.

  • What are your beliefs about the organization’s current situation? What do you think the broader organization’s beliefs are about the current situation? How do they need to change?

These questions begin addressing the arc of change you expect the organization to embrace. Is change critical to taking advantage of opportunities? Is a dramatically different direction needed to ward off challenges, but only after you overcome organizational complacency? Importantly, does the broad employee base see the organization’s situation comparably to the senior team? If not, orient the change communication toward what will make sense to THEM.

  • How do you expect the organization to think, behave, and perform differently with successful implementation?

Don’t spell out dozens of things you need employees to address so you can affect the desired strategic changes. Push your executive team to spell out five or fewer thinking and performance changes you are looking for from the organization. Pick only ones that will make a noticeable difference in results.

Preferences

  • What are the most important messages to convey and reinforce?

Identify the short list of messages most important for each target audience. Then do whatever homework you can do to see how those messages will resonate with your audiences. Far better to talk to audiences in ways that resonate with them versus ways that make sense to the senior executives.

  • What are the rallying points you will personally use to build momentum? How consistent do you expect to be in your own communication and messaging?

Share the talking points you expect will work best for you when you are interacting personally with audience members. Spell out how comfortable and confident you are in staying consistent with your messages. If you expect to shift them or are prone to get swept up in the moment and venture into new territory, let your team know to check back frequently for updates.

  • What emotions are relevant and okay to leverage to increase communication receptiveness?

Even if you’re data-driven and uncomfortable with emotional appeals, they do play an important role in business communication. Lay the groundwork for integrating appropriate emotions to move hearts in addition to minds.

Guidelines

  • Where are you looking for the team and others closer to the broader employee base to exercise their own creativity?

Once you’ve provided the foundation for your implementation team, let them know where they have room to bring their own ideas and variations to your thinking. Don’t expect them to be order takers, simply carrying out everything you dictate. Give yourself the advantage of tapping into the team’s expertise.

  • What touch points and feedback do you want from the implementation team?

This goes along with the previous direction. Share how involved and active you expect to be with the team. Make sure everyone understands how much latitude they have to act vs. circling back to the executive team for frequent check-ins.

  • What adjustments are you prepared to make if things seem off track?

Knowing your commitment level to the current direction helps the team plan for appropriate levels of change. Have you chosen an unwavering path, or are you experimenting your way into a new strategy, expecting to learn and adapt for the foreseeable future?

To Successfully Share a Strategy, Don’t Keep Your Implementation Team in the Dark

While it’s hardly statistically projectable, the two individuals asking how to align with senior leader messaging are likely voicing the sentiment of junior team members on the hook to implement your senior-level strategies. That’s why a strategic implementation brief is valuable for paving the way for an organization’s successful strategy implementation. – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planning11 Ideas to Make a Strategic Planning Process More Fun!

Yes, strategic planning can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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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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I lector at several different Catholic parishes around town (since, as one priest put it, I’m a Roamin’ Catholic). One parish provides an annual guide to the primary Bible readings included at mass. It contains background information, pronunciation guides, and verbal cues for reading the Bible passage to the congregation.

My reading assignment for Holy Thursday mass was a passage from Exodus. In it, God gives Moses and Aaron instructions for how the Passover meal is to be prepared and consumed. The background information discussed how central the Passover is to the identity of the Israelites and their relationship with God. It highlighted the three ways Passover is ingrained in the community’s identity through:

  • Creed – God’s identity is frequently described in relation to freeing the Israelites from Egypt
  • Story – Communications that point to and reinforce God’s role with the Israelites
  • Ritual – Prescribed celebrations (i.e., the Passover) that the entire community participates in together

These categories resonated with me as we work with clients on brand identity and culture change engagements. The structure conveniently organizes ideas. More importantly, it is valuable for generating new ideas to solidify and reinforce an organizational identity.

Let’s slightly adapt the categories for use in business and professional settings as a means to solidify organizational identity. Consider using:

  • Beliefs – Fundamental principles organization members believe and that shape their identity and relationship to the organization.
  • Stories – Messages that convey the organization’s past, present, and future among its employees and other audiences.
  • Ritual – The actions and behaviors organization members display to signal their belief and commitment to the organization’s purpose.

Put simply, how are you cultivating and reinforcing what your organization believes, says, and does to strengthen your organizational identity? – 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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We were working with a client’s C-level team to develop its strategic plan. To help them articulate the organization’s strategic direction, we used several branding exercises. These branding exercises focused on identifying:

The combination of branding exercises effectively identified new language to describe its strategic direction and supporting strategies.

During the exercises and conversations to develop its big strategy statement, we discussed the role that expertise plays in the organization’s brand. Because expertise is central to the organization’s products, it has only considered a very strict definition for the attribute. That can be okay, but in a fast-changing market, ensuring everything is 100% proven slows solutions customers need. It also allows new, more nimble competitors to set the ground rules for important product features.

When we questioned the narrow use of expertise, they played back the attributes on the left as the defining characteristics for what expertise means.

We then added all the attributes on the right.

Our point was that the organization’s unquestioned expertise allows it to extend this attribute to work harder. Expertise COULD involve exploration and prototyping, where customers actively test and help develop new solutions. It’s unlikely that any long-term customer invited to test a product in development would see a potential glitch as evidence that the brand lacks expertise.

One meeting participant said this type of strategic thinking was a breakthrough for them. It opens up a whole new array of potential options.

Is your organization laboring under similarly narrow perspectives about your brand attributes?

If that seems to be the case, rethink your narrow definitions of brand attributes. Look at your brand attributes as platforms to innovate, expand, and introduce broader meanings that deliver greater value for your customers.

Or better yet, contact us, and let The Brainzooming Group take you through the business and brand strategy exercises to open your organization to a wide variety of growth opportunities!  – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative 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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I see many business people conditioned to take what another individual asks or tells them at face value, accepting it as an order to fulfill.

That’s natural, I suppose.

Someone tells you they want something done, and maybe most of us are pre-conditioned to attempt to make it happen. That used to be me ALL the time. It’s still me SOME of the time.

5 Strategic Thinking Questions to Stop Undermining Your Success

Alternatively, when someone tells you what they want – whether it’s a boss, an associate, or a customer doing the telling – don’t immediately accept the comment as an order.

Instead, consider what the individual asked for as a suggestion.

Via Shutterstock

With that perspective, reconnect with the granddaddy of all strategic thinking questions: What are we trying to achieve?

Grounded in recalling what YOU want to achieve, ask yourself various strategic thinking questions to consider potential responses to the suggestion:

  • What other possibilities are broader or narrower that benefit the requester and enhance what we are trying to achieve?
  • What are other approaches that could add value for everyone involved?
  • How can we mock up something as an example to demonstrate the value of alternative approaches?
  • If delivering as requested isn’t the best situation for us, what can we suggest to complement the situation and increase the benefit for us?
  • If your first round of possibilities doesn’t resonate with the requester, what second round of ideas can you generate as possibilities?

When you run through these strategic thinking questions, you’ll be much better positioned to respond with ideas for mutually-advantageous alternatives instead of simply doing everything as ordered. – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



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