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While it may seem far fetched, many organizations are already thinking about getting ready for strategic planning for next year. There’s a great advantage to investing time in early summer to identify changes to last year’s business strategy development process based on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you hope to accomplish for next year.

As you think about who to involve in developing business strategy for your organization, we’ve been talking for years about important groups to include:

We’ve been talking more recently about the three types of voices to incorporate into strategic planning visioning exercises – familiar voices, challenger, voices, and emerging voices.

Group-Watercolor

As you think about developing business strategy, however, there are three other perspectives to consider. You need people participating in strategic planning that are:

  • Familiar with the past
  • Grounded in what’s happening right now
  • Capable of imagining the future

As with the strategic thinking perspectives (business experience, functional expertise, creative energy), it’s rare that one individual will be strong at all these perspectives.

As you think about your entire planning team, we recommend listing the likely people for developing business strategy and then see which roles each of them satisfies. You can then look for where you have critical gaps in experience and perspectives. At that point you can be very selective and pin point the new people you need to add to the strategy team. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for strong ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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There is no one right way to gather information when you’re working with multiple parties. That’s why it’s beneficial to think upfront about what ways might work best for you.

Ask the Same Questions Over and Over

One natural way to gather information from separate, multiple groups is asking the same strategic thinking questions repeatedly so you can aggregate or compare answers from among all participants. This is the basis of quantitative survey research. You can employ the same strategy in more qualitative settings too, such as in focus groups or when evaluating between separate groups or individuals (think of a job interview or a vendor review process).

This same approach underpins much of our strategy work.

For example, it’s what happens when you answer the same questions annually about an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Asking the same strategic thinking questions of multiple people each year provides a basis for making effective comparisons.

We employ this approach for strategic thinking questions across many situations.

Identify What Answers You Need and Ask Different Strategic Thinking Questions

There is another valuable technique for using strategic thinking questions, however, that many organizations overlook. We use it actively, however.

Strategic-Questions

We inventory upfront what information we need to learn or insights we need to develop to move a strategy forward. With this inventory of strategic thinking ANSWERS, we can make decisions on whether the asking same strategic thinking questions repeatedly will deliver what we need OR if asking varied questions will work more effectively and efficiently.

This questioning strategy to information and insight planning provides various benefits:

  • If a key piece of information comes up earlier than expected during our process, we can capture it than and have it available when we need it later.
  • Asking strategic thinking detour questions allows people to share new insights and answers that won’t emerge from the standard questions.
  • Varying the strategic thinking questions we use provides greater flexibility and is less monotonous for participants.

Neither of these two approaches replaces the other one. Used together, however, the two approaches open up many more opportunities for stronger information gathering and developing new insights. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees and Creating Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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 am not a big Rudy Giuliani fan. Recent personal events, however, have me thinking about two messages from a closing keynote Rudy Giuliani delivered at a customer conference I produced back in my Fortune 500 days.

Giuliani-Stage

The two messages struck me strongly, and I have tried to adopt both of them into my strategic planning since; one is professional, and one is very personal.

How do you handle the unimaginable in strategic planning?

The professional message came through his discussion of 9-11 that took place several years before our conference. Rudy Giuliani said when the attack and collapse of the World Trade Center buildings happened, New York City had no strategic plans ready for what to do if two planes fly into the World Trade Center and they collapse.

What the city did have were various plans for things that were happening in the aftermath of the collapse. The strategic thinking key was putting the other plans together and executing them rapidly to address the crisis.

For Brainzooming, that means embracing the idea of rapid strategy planning and development to create mini-plans.

Rather than developing overly elaborate strategic plans with too many assumptions about the future and too many critical moving parts, we are oriented to create more streamlined, straightforward strategic planning documents. These strategic plans are quicker to prepare, allowing us to create more of them to accommodate a greater variety of things that might happen. They can also be more readily adapted, improving the effectiveness of strategic planning

What is optional, and what is mandatory?

The other lingering lesson from the Rudy Giuliani keynote speech was that when it comes to attending events, weddings are optional, but funerals are mandatory.

Funeral

Previously, I found excuses for not attending funerals I should have attended in order to support friends and family members. It was always too easy to say work responsibilities or travel prevented attending.

Since then, although far from having a perfect attendance record, I have made a concerted effort to travel to funerals I’d have found easy excuses to miss previously, including one this past weekend.

Not once have I ever regretted making decisions to attend these funerals, but I absolutely do have regrets over ones I did not.

Thinking about all the speakers I have seen before and after, two big, memorable, and actionable lessons from one keynote seems remarkable.

I’m so thankful for hearing both of them when I did. – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your 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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You want input from your employees and partners on your branding strategy, but you cannot afford the risk of the input getting out of control.

Why the big risk?

DSCF6618

You are two-thirds of the way toward finishing your brand strategy development. And, while you are seeking input from others, you cannot afford the input to needlessly and non-strategically unwind the branding strategy work you have already finalized.

One option is to not seek any input. Another is to stipulate certain topics are off limits. Another is to have a town hall type meeting (a few individual speakers with lots of listeners) so people have to acknowledge (if they’re being honest) they were in the room as the branding strategy was discussed, even if very few of them had a chance to offer ideas.

All of those options are weak.

Not soliciting input sets you up for multiple issues, including looking as if you are trying to hide something. Taking certain topics off the table makes it OBVIOUS you are hiding something. Holding a town hall meeting runs the risk of exposing your most negative and toxic audience members to the widest possible audience.

3 Ways to Invite Productive Branding Strategy Input

The far better alternative is bringing your larger audience together and maximizing the benefit of the input they provide through several techniques:

  • Have them work in small groups (which you assign or let naturally develop) so each person has a greater opportunity to contribute.
  • Give them specific questions to respond to that focus on areas where you need input you can actually consider and incorporate.
  • Provide a way to capture their input and conversations in a way they can easily share it with you.

Using this type of approach, you can focus interested brand participants on topics that are additive to your branding strategy. And it ideas or other input surfaces that runs counter to your strategic direction, you can see it in the small group output and react in a sound strategic way – rather than having to field a hot question off-the-cuff in a big audience setting.

Want to learn more about the opportunity and value of incorporating more voices in developing strategy? Download our latest RESULTS!!! mini-book to learn more about the advantages of dramatically growing the perspectives shaping your strategy. Do you have many things you want your employees to understand about your corporate branding strategy, what they should be doing to carry it out, and how they should interact with customers to fulfill your brand promise? – Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

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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Would you like to gain greater advantage from the expertise and experience of your employees as you craft your organization’s strategy?

If that’s a goal for your senior leadership team, today is the day to download our latest FREE mini-book, “Results!!! – Creating Strategic Impact throughout Your Organization.”

Executives worldwide are downloading the new Brainzooming strategy mini-book to gain insights into cultivating strategic thinking, developing strategic alignment, and fully engaging their employees in strategy.

Today, we want to ensure all our readers are aware of the value they can unlock by downloading “Results!!!”

25 Reasons You Need the “Results” Free mini-Book

Better-Business-Results

Here are twenty-five reasons you should download the free “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact throughout Your Organization” mini-book RIGHT NOW.

It offers senior executives:

  1. A way to approach “developing strategy very differently,” versus handing everyone cumbersome strategic planning templates to complete. (Page 1)
  2. Strategy development techniques that will work even in organizations without innovation-friendly cultures. (Page 2)
  3. Action steps for each of the ten lessons so you can begin implementing them right away. (Throughout)
  4. Techniques to demystify strategy and strategic planning. (Page 5)
  5. An approach to effectively align strategy the organization’s daily activities. (Page 7)
  6. A simple set of questions to use in focusing their teams on strategic issues that make a big impact on the business. (Page 8)
  7. The granddaddy of all strategy questions to create more innovative strategies, greater focus on priorities, and stronger growth leadership. (Page 9)
  8. A credible, realistic way to increase engagement through expanding employee involvement in the front end of innovation. (Page 11)
  9. Ways to better prepare employees to anticipate and respond to customer opportunities that don’t fit neatly into policies and procedures.  (Page 13)
  10. A case for how broader participation in strategy benefits (rather than slows) implementation.  (Page 12)
  11. Action steps focused on pushing the boundaries of how senior executives include emerging leaders in strategic planning discussions.  (Page 12)
  12. A proven way to identify which senior leaders and management team members match three vital strategic perspectives for creating strategic impact. (Page 14)
  13. Insight into the three types of voices to include in developing strong strategies and implementation plans. (Page 15)
  14. A four-question diagnostic to identify the right mix of “structure and space” enabling non-strategists to contribute to innovative growth strategies. (Pages 18)
  15. Ideas for a game plan encouraging reluctant and apprehensive employees to engage in strategic planning conversations. (Page 19)
  16. An equation to identify how many total ideas are needed to reach the number of high-impact ideas you are seeking. (Page 20)
  17. Five secrets to more efficiently generate on-target, strategic ideas. (Page 22)
  18. Ways a strategic detour completely changes the innovation impact of strategic conversations. (Page 23)
  19. Techniques to break the, “We’ve been there, tried that, and know better” attitude of experienced management teams. (Page 24)
  20. Seven questions to make strategy understandable for all employees (Page 26)
  21. A three-point checklist for gauging a strategy’s clarity and simplicity. (Page 27)
  22. Examples of how strategic conversations among employees trump strategic plans delivered in notebooks. (Page 28)
  23. Three ways to directly connect strategy planning conversations to how the resulting strategies will be implemented. (Page 29)
  24. The inside scoop on a no-cost daily resource to cultivate a fresh perspective on innovative strategy.
  25. The Results!!! mini-book is FREE!!!

Those are the first twenty-five reasons you should download Results!!!

If you‘re a senior executive seeking dramatically different results for later this year and early 2016, today’s the day! Download Results!!! Right now!!!

10 Lessons for Engaging Your Employees to Create Stronger Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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 learned in a Bible class that one meaning of the word “holy” is “to be set apart.” In the case of religion, obviously, whatever is considered holy is being set apart for God.

Extending this idea to business can help explain executives who act as if they are the only ones involved in developing strategy for their organizations.

Many executives commonly think, believe, and act as if strategic planning activities are “holy” since they are set apart as something in which only leaders can participate.

Everyone else gets told (ideally) or not (far too often) what the company strategy means for employees, customers, and other stakeholder groups. This communication about strategy may be so superficial it is nearly impossible for an employee to understand and connect to the business strategy to effectively it to life with customers.

Who Participates in Strategic Planning Activities?

At its heart, how the broader organization participates in strategic planning activities is a philosophical issue about what “owning” a company’s strategy means. This extends to who in an organization (or even outside an organization) provides input, hypothesizes about, develops,  shapes, articulates, and implements strategy.

From spending most of my career in the Fortune 500 world leading and participating in developing strategy, the approach The Brainzooming Group supports is that strategy SHOULD NOT be considered “holy.” We push for and support more people participating in developing strategy because it paves the way for dramatic marketplace success.

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Our thinking about strategy permeates the content here.

Creating Strategic Impact and Results!!!

Additionally, The Brainzooming Group has published a new mini-book for senior executives called, “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact throughout an Organization.”

In this mini-book, we share ten lessons for how senior executives should approach developing strategy as an open, collaborative process that meaningfully involves participants and insights from inside and outside their organizations.

These lessons from our work with clients across industries lead to discovering new ideas and changing how organizations serve customers more successfully. The lessons include how to efficiently incorporate a wide number of perspectives about delivering value and more seamlessly linking strategy and implementation throughout the organization.

Download your copy of “Results” today and get a big head start beating your competitors to new heights for strategic impact and dramatic results!


Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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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If you want to maximize your project management success when implementing a new strategic initiative, should you start at the start or start somewhere else?

Should you start, for instance, at the end?

We’re currently implementing Hubspot as an important component of our content marketing strategy. It’s an exciting opportunity and capability to maximize the effectiveness of the vast array of content we’ve created on strategy and innovation since the inception of The Brainzooming Group.

At the same time, it’s a daunting project management task to work through all the pieces that need to be created and snapped together to make it work as best possible.

Among the intriguing project management techniques Hubspot imposes is to start at the end.

For any new campaign, the implementation process leads you to the end (i.e., creating landing and fulfillment pages and emails) before you do anything else. These two elements are at the end of the first phase of a campaign. Working backward in this way ensures you don’t start a new strategic initiative and then fall down because the final pieces were not in place.

Adding “Start at the End” to Our Project Management Techniques

While it can seem awkward to start from the end, it’s a valuable project management technique we’ve written about relative to planning new strategic initiatives and following up major events.

how-does-this-end

Based on our Hubspot experience, we’ll be looking for more ways to incorporate a comparable “start at the end” project management discipline into our planning process. This should help ensure implementation actually takes place as we help a client plan for and advance a new strategic initiative.

What about your organization? Do you routinely start from the end?

If you don’t start at the end and have struggled with implementation success, run ahead on your next big initiative to make sure the last steps are in place before your first ones and see what a difference it makes for creating strategic impact. –  Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.


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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