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Yesterday’s article talked about creating strategic impact through breaking a business and recreating it as something new and better. I’ve been reworking various Brainzooming strategic thinking questions to make them better suited for identifying and exploring concepts for breaking a business.

9 Strategic Thinking Questions for Breaking a Business

Here’s a working list of the first nine refashioned strategic thinking questions.

  1. How would an incredibly successful company with a very different business model rework our business into something new?
  2. How can we go shopping with our customers on a daily basis to gain breakthrough product ideas?
  3. What do we have to do to increase our number of employee-generated ideas by 100x?
  4. If we listed everything we think is essential to our business, what would be the first 50 percent of items we would cut from the list to remake our organization?
  5. If we cut the number of product/service options, variations, and alternatives we offer customers, what else would we do to improve the value we deliver to them?
  6. What has our industry known about and ignored for years that could deliver incredible value to customers that no one has every pursued?
  7. If our brand is trying to catch the #1 in our industry, what can we do completely differently instead of simply following the leader once again?
  8. How can we boost our speed, expertise, and strategic thinking by an order of magnitude to disrupt our industry?
  9. How could we turn the most complicated processes in our customer experience into one-step processes that are dramatically easier for clients?

The first couple of questions focus on generating many more insights; three through seven address strategic options; eight and nine push for creating strategic impact via increased speed and simplification.

Which of these strategic thinking questions would you tackle first?

I’m leaning toward 1, 4, 5, and 9 as our initial strategic thinking questions to think about breaking our business and turning it into something new.

Which questions get you thinking about breaking your business? – Mike Brown

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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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Between working with smart consultants at A.T. Kearney and spending time at the Arizona State University Center for Services Leadership on multiple occasions, I became immersed in the concept of “high performing customers.”

As shared in a previous post, I obviously had some notion of making others “high performing” early in life. These later influences, however, provided a way to envision and define the concept more formally. You can think about creating high performing customers as anticipating what people taking part in a process might need to learn, know, or do, as well as how they need to adapt and behave so the process owner can deliver the greatest value.

Think about the vocabulary and process Starbucks uses to keeps its lines moving as smoothly as possible; that’s what we’re talking about with this concept.

7 Questions for Creating High Performing Customers

High performing customers have been at the forefront of my thinking while developing a new stream of Creating Strategic Impact content for a client workshop. While the workshop is rooted in strategic thinking, the focus is heavy on how to adapt a strategic planning process so the Marketing team can better facilitate annual planning.

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If you have responsibility for designing, developing, or improving a process (especially related to strategic planning), here are seven questions to explore before you begin your task:

  1. What do participants know right now, and what do we need them to know?
  2. What strengths do they already have that will boost their success?
  3. How can we compensate for their weaknesses by changing the process or bringing other resources to them?
  4. How should the process be designed to keep them engaged (mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, etc.) as long as needed?
  5. Are the participants pretty much the same, or do some of them have materially greater or lesser likelihoods of success?
  6. In what ways can we involve participants with the highest likelihood of success to shape and/or help carry out the process for others?
  7. In what ways will other processes they are involved with affect their success?

The answers to these questions are tremendously helpful in thinking about processes from a user’s perspective to help design something that sets them up for success.

How We Apply these Questions to Strategic Planning Process Design

When I tell people we design planning processes to suit a client’s situation, as opposed to introducing a standard process, they must wonder what that means exactly.

Our strategic view is it’s easier to change what we do to help participants perform as needed, than deal with the frustration and challenges of putting them through a strategic planning process that is ideal for us, but doesn’t work for them. This distinction is at the heart of how we approach strategic planning.

If you’re up for it, let’s talk about what this concept might mean for planning at your organization. – 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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As we mentioned recently, we’re on the lookout everywhere for strategic thinking exercises to share.

AEIB-GraphicWe spotted a recent “Inside the Executive Suite” feature from the Armada Executive Intelligence Briefing featuring a thirteen-question checklist for strategic change management. The origin for the strategic change management list was two stories in the Wall Street Journal. One story covered Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon and the other Apple CEO, Tim Cook.  Both CEOs are in the midst of trying to change what have been very successful companies over the long-term.

While issues (some major) exist for both Wal-Mart and Apple, the Inside the Executive Suite piece offered the strategic change management checklist as an example of introducing more aggressive innovation and change management when a company doesn’t exactly seem to need radical change.

A 13-Point Checklist for Strategic Change Management

If you’re contemplating (or even in the midst of) making dramatic changes within your own organization, this list is helpful as a strategic thinking exercise to make sure you’re considering the breadth and depth of changes two pretty successful companies are undertaking.

  1. Are you getting as close as possible to the customer to understand what’s working (or isn’t working) for them?
  2. Are you challenging yourself and the organization by strengthening your leadership team?
  3. Have you looked beyond your immediate organization chart to identify people with important perspectives to fuel innovation and change?
  4. Are you taking steps to invite external parties to help fuel more innovation and improved customer experiences for your brand?
  5. Are you open to matching smart competitive moves you’ve been slow to previously adopt?
  6. Are you learning from the new competitors who are beating your company in new ways?
  7. Are you pushing prototypes, trials, and pilots to dramatically increase the pace of innovation?
  8. Are you making the small internal changes necessary to pave the way for bigger, higher-profile moves?
  9. Have you been willing to go against what brought you earlier success when it might not work in the future?
  10. Is your organization investing in vital areas where competition is going to be waged now and in the future?
  11. Can you stomach making longer-term investments that are critical to growth?
  12. While advocating innovation, are you still emphasizing the fundamentals that haven’t changed?
  13. Are you willing to be a different type of leader at a different type of company?

Using this Strategic Thinking Exercise to Creating Strategic Impact

The “Inside the Executive Suite” article acknowledged that since the list was just developed, there’s no specific number of “Yes” answers to suggest your organization is definitely on the right track or not for creating strategic impact.

Instead, you can use this strategic thinking exercise as a great way to frame up your strategic change management agenda and push for appropriate innovation levels well before you’re in a “must-change now” situation. – 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 brand’s innovation strategy and implementation 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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Someone asked me earlier this year if I had simply gone to a facilitation training class, swiped the content, renamed it Brainzooming, and opened up shop.

My answer was an emphatic, “Definitely not!”

What has become the Brainzooming methodology developed from a wide variety of sources.  It evolved into a tested approach for developing strategy that takes full advantage of the diverse inspirations from which its strategic thinking exercises originated.

I was reminded of the diversity of influences we incorporated while creating the Strategic Thinking Fake Book for a recent Creating Strategic Impact workshop.

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In the workshop, we covered twelve different strategic thinking exercises in two hours. Revisiting the twelve strategic thinking exercises presented in the workshop, the inspirations are all over the place:

  • A Fortune 500 CFO
  • A strategic thinking book
  • An advertising agency
  • A poster from a poster shop in New Orleans
  • A strategic mentor
  • A magazine ad
  • My own thinking about anticipating disruptive competitors
  • A different advertising agency
  • My own thinking about social media networks
  • Lateral thinking principles
  • Helping a co-worker try to think differently about a business situation
  • An innovation consultant

The lesson here is there are great strategic thinking examples all around you.

Focus less on business gurus who get written up all the time in magazines and online. Their lessons are broadcast so broadly, there are many people trying to mimic them.

Look instead for the great lessons where perhaps YOU were the only person ever exposed to them who recognized them as strategic thinking lessons.

Those are the ones you can adapt and do something with to really set yourself apart.   – 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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A client made a comment recently, that falls into the, “I know that, but forget about it all the time” category.

While discussing how we’d approach strategy development and creating strategic impact for the organization, the client said, “You guys think about strategic planning very differently.”

That’s true, but it’s easy for us to overlook it.

I often tell participants in our strategic thinking workshops the Brainzooming approach for strategic planning, thinking, and implementation is different because it was designed on the client side, not the agency side. The Brainzooming approach accounts for the fact WE had to live with the plan, its implementation, and the results. We couldn’t simply walk out the door with little concern whether it worked or not.

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The client comment prompted me to include a new section in our strategic thinking workshops on ten fundamentals of creating strategic impact. In this way, participants understand the context for the Brainzooming approach. Since you’re reading our content, it’s valuable to share the ten fundamentals with you here.

10 Fundamentals of Creating Strategic Impact

  1. Strategic thinking involves addressing what matters with insight and innovation.
  2. What’s considered strategic or not shouldn’t involve how far in the future it is.
  3. Use the most important strategic thinking question frequently: What are we trying to achieve?
  4. The greater the range of diverse perspectives you incorporate into strategic thinking, the richer the thinking can be.
  5. Strategic thinking needs to include both quantitative/analytical people and creative people.
  6. The best strategic thinking comes from three strategic perspectives working together: people with direct experience, functional expertise, and creative energy.
  7. Strategy happens at all levels of an organization, so strategic thinking needs to happen at all levels also.
  8. Strong strategic thinking involves both using structure AND actively exploring multiple scenarios.
  9. When it comes to innovation, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” – Linus Pauling
  10. Using non-traditional questions creates strategic detours around conventional thinking.

With that foundation, our strategic thinking workshop attendees (and you) are much better prepared to see how the Brainzooming approach helps you realize incredible advantages in new insights, innovation, efficiency, and results!  – Mike Brown

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

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 brand’s innovation strategy and implementation 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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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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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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Strategic-Planning-SessionsConvening a group for strategic planning sessions DOESN’T have to be a boring, monotonous experience. If you’re creating the strategic planning experience right, it should be a fun, engaging experience for people who legitimately care about your organization.

And as much as we facilitate the strategic planning process across companies, you had better believe we want each one to be a fun, engaging experience.

Here are thirteen ideas for how strategic planning sessions CAN BE fun experiences:

  1. Invite people excited about participating to be a part of strategic planning process, even if you wouldn’t typically include them.
  2. Apply engaging structure and facilitation techniques so it is productive for participants.
  3. Incorporate fun, stimulating strategic thinking activities into strategic planning.
  4. Hold at least some of your strategic planning sessions in fresh environments.
  5. Bring in toys for people to play with and distract themselves.
  6. Have people participate in raucous, not-overly physical activities.
  7. Tell jokes as ways emphasize key messages.
  8. Use funny pictures in presentations.
  9. Teach people new skills or tools that are relevant for their ongoing use.
  10. Serve great, light food.
  11. Have someone illustrate the strategic planning results.
  12. Consciously manage the time to end early.
  13. Promise them a happy hour at the end of the day.

Try one or more of these and see what impact it has on adding fun to strategic planning.

Or better yet, these are standard practices for The Brainzooming Group. Call us to design and facilitate your strategic planning, and we’ll just make it all happen for you with more fun than anyone would ever expect from strategic planning! – Mike Brown

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

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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