4

Creating-a-Strategic-ImpactWith any new initiative in an organization, it’s not enough to simply do the strategic planning on how to shape and implement it if you really care about creating strategic impact.

Even before launching strategic planning with a new initiative, you should start figuring out how the new initiative will be successfully sold and implemented.

Doing this involves many of the same steps as the actual strategic planning, and it’s incredibly beneficial to do it upfront. The approach you develop should influence how the initiative is developed (and who participates in the subsequent strategic planning) to maximize opportunities for success.

12 Strategic Planning Questions Before You Start

Before you launch strategic planning, here are twelve questions to ask and answer in three key areas:

  1. Issues to help or challenge the initiative
  2. Decision making
  3. The implementation process

1. Issues to Help or Challenge the Initiative

Identify broader issues in the company that might impact a new initiative’s success:

  • What are the issues that could help or hinder implementation?
  • How likely is each issue to be a factor?
  • How do we address these issues to enhance the enabling ones and mitigate the challenging issues?

2. Decision Making

Identify who will decide on recommendations about the new initiative as it is implemented:

  • Who are the decision makers and who influences them?
  • What is important to them?
  • What motivates them?
  • Do they support the effort conceptually?
  • How do they process information and make decisions?

3. The Implementation Process

Identify who will likely have to participate in implementation

  • What motivates those who will be involved in implementation?
  • What reluctance will those involved in implementation have relative to implementation?
  • What challenges will they have (skill sets, capabilities, resources, etc.) with implementation?
  • Do these individuals like to shape things, do things, or both?

Creating Strategic Impact Before Strategic Planning Starts

If you can get a handle on the answers to these twelve questions, not only will you be better prepared for strategic planning, but your path to new initiative implementation has a much better chance of 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 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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4

I was facilitating a strategic planning session and letting the conversation among participants extend much longer than typical.

To my surprise, several participants in the strategy session repeatedly apologized throughout the day for “talking too much.” 

As I told them multiple times, I was allowing the conversation to take up more time than expected because the group needed to address certain issues and better understand each other’s perspectives. This was vital since we needed to reconcile their differing perspectives before creating the organization’s strategic plan.

I reassured them that the minute they drifted off into unproductive conversation (i.e., discussions that didn’t move us toward creating a stronger strategic plan), I would most certainly shut it down and take the group to the next strategic thinking exercise.

5 Reasons to Cut Off Conversations in Strategic Planning Sessions

StoplightAnd what would constitute unproductive conversation not moving the group forward toward a stronger strategic plan?

The answer is akin to the Justice Potter Stewart reply to the question about what is or isn’t obscene: I know it when I see it.

In the interests of being more definitive, however, here are five behaviors that stand in the way of productive conversations within strategic planning sessions:

  1. Needlessly restating obvious information or view points
  2. Over-sharing knowledge in a way that stops out others from contributing
  3. Heading into off-topic issues that don’t contribute to delivering expected planning outcomes
  4. Filibustering (on even a relevant topic) without adding anything new to anyone’s understanding
  5. A group or key individual who refuses much needed help to improve

So if we’re facilitating a strategic planning session for your organization and call “time” on a meandering conversation, you can come back to this list to figure out what just happened! – 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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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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3

New-Product-SessionThere was a time back in the corporate world when our company brought in a big-time business book author to explore strategic initiatives and new product development brainstorming with employee teams selected from throughout the organization. 

The book author’s partner in crime designed the methodology for teams to document and advance initiatives. The partner was a rocket scientist, with all the baggage that career background implied.

Everything about the process was as complicated as rocket science, and as with so many consultant-envisioned strategic planning and product development processes hoping to speed things up, everything other than the consultant’s billable hours were compromised in the interests of speed.

The consultant’s ill-defined process, however, had to be completed at every step.

How The Brainzooming Group Approaches New Product Development Differently

The Brainzooming Group approaches things fundamentally differently. I was explaining this to a prospective client while discussing early stage work for brainstorming ideas for new product development. The potential client is a leader in a business-to-business product market. It also uses its products to provide related services for other companies.

When The Brainzooming Group designs new product development brainstorming sessions we:

  • Start by identifying the desired new product development outcomes and designing the session around delivering those outcomes
  • Eliminate process steps that don’t add any real value or new product ideas
  • Create interactive strategic thinking exercises that directly use the client’s business objectives to generate new product ideas

Instead of using standard tools and exercises to identify off-the-mark new product development ideas, we design a new product development innovation session’s foundation around fundamental business strategy and objectives.

Brainstorming Ideas Grounded in Business Strategy

The difference in using The Brainzooming Group approach is we deliver more targeted new product development ideas to address a client’s business strategy and objectives. Clients enjoy the advantages of getting to “Fire” quickly, but without having to postpone the all-important “Aim” step until later.

Sound good?

Give me a call, and let’s work together brainstorming ideas where you will see the successful difference for your organization and your new product development effort. – 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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6

We’ve been blessed to work with some wonderful non-profit organizations at The Brainzooming Group.

The first was Nature Explore, a wonderful organization headed by Nancy Rosenow. Nature Explore partners with organizations who hope to dramatically improve the lives of children by introducing them to the benefits of natural environments. It does this through workshops, design consultations, and natural products to transform children’s lives by creating connections with nature.

Beyond the incredible work our non-profit clients do, I enjoy working with them because we typically have a little more freedom to directly share the creative thinking impact they create for their stakeholders

RAFT Colorado and Creative Thinking for Teachers

Raft-SessionOur latest non-profit client is RAFT Colorado;

The Brainzooming Group has been working with the organization’s leadership and board on strategy and branding development. RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) uses discarded materials (such as plastic bottles, bottle caps, paper rolls, envelopes, rubber bands, etc.) to develop activity kits and idea sheets teachers can purchase inexpensively.

These kits enhance interactive learning and inspire students in the STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).

Well into the assignment, we had been using online collaboration and conference calls for our strategy and branding work. This past weekend, however, I had the opportunity to visit RAFT Colorado for an in-person strategy session with the organization’s board and its team, including executive director, Stephanie Welsh.

Creative Inspiration

From the minute I arrived, I was bowled over by the creative inspiration and energy in the brightly colored warehouse in downtown Denver. Beyond the inspiring colors, it was fun to look through the interactive, pre-planned activities teachers can purchase and incorporate into their learning programs to inspire creative thinking and other important skills.

Of particular interest were this striking inspiration wall and the art projects sprinkled throughout the space, including a flying pig, and a handcrafted Star Wars chess set made from champagne corks by Nick Haag, one of the team members at RAFT.

RAFT-Imagine-Wall

140220-RAFT-Pictures

And what about the Sharpie Markers?

Finally, for our all-day strategy session Saturday, I was thrilled to have Sharpie markers for sale outside the classroom we were using for a strategic planning venue. For a guy always focused on having enough Sharpie markers with him, it was great to have an ample supply and the extra dots needed to complete a two-part multi-voting exercise on branding words.

I can’t wait to advance the strategy and branding work to its final form and return to RAFT Colorado to both present the work and to spend more time recharging my creative inspiration! – 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 with a strategy session and branding development to create strategic impact for your organization.

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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1

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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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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FASTTRACI’m at Ft. Leavenworth today speaking to a group in the Kauffman FastTrac® NewVenture™ program.

The participants are active duty military personnel exploring business ideas for when they transition out of the Army over the next year.

The session topic is marketing strategy and implementation, addressing planning and implementation challenges, cost-effective marketing strategies, maximizing social media for a new business, and entrepreneurship lessons.

The four related marketing strategy question are included below along with links to Brainzooming blog articles containing more detail on each.

1. What are common challenges planning or implementing marketing strategy?

2. What are creative, cost-effective marketing activities?

3. What are the best uses of social media?

4. Based on your start up experience, what are your marketing strategy lessons?

These links are a good starting point for anyone exploring entrepreneurship and the marketing capabilities they need to address upfront.

What other suggestions would you add for these individuals who are serving our country as they prepare to transition to the next phases of their careers? Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

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0

It’s the time of year where you have already presented your overall strategy for this year. For most companies, the focus is now on further developing, refining, and sharing more detailed business strategy plans.

If this is the case in your organization, your senior team is likely sitting through multiple business strategy presentations.

No matter how invested (financially or otherwise) the senior team members may be in the initiatives, it’s easy for PowerPoint overload  to make the business strategy presentations run together for them.

Applying Creative Thinking Skills to a Business Strategy Presentation

To enhance your deliver, here are nine ways to present a business strategy to your senior team with panache.

Mad-Consumer1. Make a video

Bring people who can’t be there into the presentation or add a touch of pre-developed drama or humor by incorporating a short original video to illustrate key themes in your business strategy.

2. Introduce costumed characters

Only go here if you have solid (albeit non-professional) acting talent on your team. If so, introducing a character into the meeting at a key point definitely adds memorability.

3. Perform a song

As with costumed characters, you need talent to make this work. Add lyrics to a popular song to convey the strategic messages you want your senior team to really remember.

4. Go somewhere spectacular for the presentation

“Spectacular” is relative. Perhaps presenting your business strategy at a museum or other creativity-inducing spot will make your ideas stand out. If you can arrange a truly spectacular option (either based on geography or setting), it could be a solid investment.

5. Write a magazine article from the future covering the plan’s success

With a longer-term business strategy, you can create a feature article from a future business magazine issue to report how much better and different things have been based on implementing your recommendations.

6. Wrap it in education

If your area of responsibility includes social media or other technical areas unfamiliar to your senior team, attach an educational segment to the business strategy presentation. A smarter audience will be better prepared to understand your business strategy.

7. Feature your customers – in person or virtually

To provide a better sense of the customer needs you are addressing, invite customers into your business strategy presentation in-person or through phone, online, or video channels.

8. Translate the strategy into stories and pictures

You cannot necessarily put elaborate stories and pictures together at the last minute. This approach does provide a little more time flexibility, however, than video or presenting in alternative locations. Poll those involved in your business strategy for both stories and images to illustrate how you are creating strategic impact.

9. Make it into a game

Create a Jeopardy grid with subjects and relevant answers, putting strategy categories at the top. Then use the “answer is a question” format from Jeopardy to create a menu of choices your senior team can use to focus where they want more information on your business strategy recommendation.

How much panache are you up for with your business strategy presentation?

And yes, I’ve used all of these previously, so they’re road tested in varying shapes and sizes, including creating a movie of our company’s new vision, presenting the new plan at Arrowhead Stadium, and publishing a faux Business Week article covering our industry from five years into the future.

How are you thinking about presenting your business strategies this year? -  Mike Brown

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“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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