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Many organizations are in the early stages of executing new strategies for this year.

That is when you discover whether you have a solid, implementable plan or something that (maybe) looks good on paper, but doesn’t work well when you try to execute the strategy.

9 Strategic Thinking Questions for Helping Teams Execute Strategy

Team-Execute-Strategy

When it comes to helping teams execute strategy, we recommend leaders ask themselves these strategic thinking questions before convening the team to launch a new initiative.

  1. Do you personally believe in the strategy?
  2. Is it believable to others?
  3. Were serious, strategic people involved in creating the strategy?
  4. Is the plan realistic – and that doesn’t mean “easy” – just that you can see how it comes together in a reasonable way?
  5. Is the strategy specific and simple enough that people will understand their roles?
  6. Does the implementation team have an opportunity to weigh in and make smart adjustments that improve implementation?
  7. Are there early indicators to signal if something is amiss?
  8. Are there provisions for correcting potential issues?
  9. Is there support for the strategy in the places where it needs support?

Asking yourself these strategic thinking questions upfront gives you a head start to address any issues you can with the strategy you are about to hand over to the team to implement.

So while these questions are about helping teams to execute strategy, they are as much about making sure you’re a strategic leader that is setting up your team and your organization to maximize success.  Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Improve Strategic Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and 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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After a client meeting, I received the most humbling, wonderful pick-me-up email from a client that said nice things about what we do and suggested the value The Brainzooming Group is delivering is worth more than what we are charging for our services.

At the conclusion of a recent strategic planning workshop, one of a client’s leaders came over and said, “I’m a skeptic about things like this, but you turned me into a proponent. In the last few days, you took away two years of frustration.”

In the workshop evaluations for a social media strategy workshop, one participant wrote, ““So energetic! Whoa. Totally helpful and so pumped for the eBook.”

Those are all the things we like to make happen and hear about from our clients!

13 Reasons to Appreciate Incredible Clients

 

You-Are-Incredible

To return the favor, we wanted to share the wonderful things we can say about our incredible clients.

Our clients:

Yes, that’s one of the joys of what we do: we get to work with incredible clients from so many different companies!

What can we do for you?

If you’re among our clients, thank you for all your support and for being incredible!

And if you aren’t among our clients, and the list above includes aspirations you have for you organization, let’s talk about how we can work together to make those aspirations come true! – 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 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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Many people visit the Brainzooming website looking for ideas on making strategic planning fun. As I always say, those searches are no surprise. I’m a strategic planning guy, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning the way it is typically handled for groups.

Part of making strategic planning fun involves fun exercises, which we continue to create and share here.

A big part of making strategic planning fun, however, involves focusing on boring details that create a fun* experience.

And the asterisk on fun acknowledges we’re stretching the definition of fun to cover things nerdy strategic planners think are fun such as “mental stimulation,” “highly collaborative groups,” and “people that want to be involved in strategic planning the next time it happens.”

11 Boring Details for Making Strategic Planning Fun*

Strategic-Planning-Fun

In any event, here are 11 boring details that lead to strategic planning-grade fun!

  1. Getting as much homework and other stuff involving individual work done before the strategic planning workshop so everyone isn’t waiting around for one person to share information
  2. Making sure the meeting room isn’t cramped and uncomfortable
  3. Having enough food and drinks throughout the day to help stay energized
  4. Providing structure that takes participants off the hook for starting strategic planning from scratch
  5. Letting everyone know upfront that WE will handle turning the input into a strategic plan (so they don’t have to)
  6. Providing participants with a starting point to begin planning
  7. Offering a shared direction at the start so they have a place to head
  8. Designing strategic thinking questions leading to engaging conversation among familiar and new participants
  9. Not sharing all the upfront homework in long presentations (which are almost always NOT FUN), but instead designing the entire strategic planning workshop to reflect the homework’s findings
  10. Asking people about things they’ve already thought about in new ways so they can actively participate (as opposed to asking them about things they haven’t thought about before using the same old strategic planning questions)
  11. Having toys to distract them and to throw at peers saying stupid things that warrant getting beaned with a harmless squeeze toy

Yes, none of these 11 boring details are glitzy or sexy.

It’s doing boring things in the background, however, that often create lots of the fun in any event. – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make a Strategic Planning 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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When is the right time for brainstorming in strategic planning, or really any other type of planning for that matter?

The short answer?

Brainstorming CAN make sense throughout a strategic planning process. It’s not isolated to one specific time where it makes sense.

And the longer answer?

The Right Time for Brainstorming in Strategic Planning

Multi-Thinkers

The way we look at it, brainstorming – or whatever you want to call trying come up with new ideas – is typically, give or take, the third step in any phase of a strategic planning process. We apply that approach no matter whether we’re clarifying strategy, determining objectives, developing the strategy plan, or beginning implementation.

The first step in any of these strategic planning phases is asking: What do we know about what we are trying to solve?

Answers to that question routinely include recapping information about strategic priorities, clarifying goals, prioritizing specific opportunities, identifying implementation steps, or various other direction-setting information.

The second step is asking: What gaps exist where we need new ideas?

Answering this question will suggest specific opportunities where brainstorming can create the greatest impact. If you need new ideas about how to approach strategic opportunities and challenges, a collaborative workshop to imagine a variety of possibilities can be very productive.

when-is-brainstorming

If the gaps pertain to unknown facts and information, brainstorming won’t be productive. You can’t brainstorm facts and information. That’s when it’s time to direct your energy toward fact gathering, analysis, and generating insights. Once that’s done, you’ve cycled back to where it is the right time for brainstorming in strategic planning.

See, we told you that would be the longer answer! – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and 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 are a couple of different ways to apply structure to strategic planning exercises:

  1. You can enforce using templates and forms participants have to complete so their answers are uniformed and structured.
  2. You can provide people with strategic thinking exercises, creative thinking tools, strategy questions, and ways to collaborate with one another, using structure to help imagine better strategies.

Many consultants focus only on the first type of structure.

Templates make it easy to compile the work participants are left to their own devices to figure out and complete. The problem is many (most? nearly all?) people who aren’t full-time strategic planning fanatics don’t have efficient and effective ways to imagine the answers that fit in strategic planning templates. What’s worse is participants often resort to completing templates individually. This means there is no opportunity for productive collaboration to devise the plan.

Productive Structure for Strategic Planning Exercises

Structure

The second type of structure, however, is all about helping people use what they know and understand about an organization and its audiences to strategically, creatively, and efficiently develop smart business strategies. And not only does it help them develop the current strategy, using productive strategic planning exercises helps them learn to be more effective in future strategic planning.

After this strategic collaboration, a full-time strategic planner (i.e., such as The Brainzooming Group) can take the output from great strategic thinking exercises and shape it into templates.

If you’ve been through too many strategic planning exercises that feel like the first example of structure, we need to talk. The Brainzooming Group uses the second type of productive structure to create a lively, positive, and collaborative strategic planning process. It will pay dividends for your organization now and for years afterward. – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and 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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People frequently complain about how a strategic planning process, whether accidentally or on purpose, is disconnected from employees’ regular duties and priorities. Too often, employees see strategic planning exercises as separate from and unrelated to what they need to do to run a business. With this view, the natural reaction is to avoid the strategic planning process or hope it goes away soon, so someone can return to daily activities full-time and get work done.

What a waste for the employees and the companies using strategic planning exercises in ways that cultivate this experience!

Seeing this phenomenon multiple times in a corporate setting was one motivator for developing the Brainzooming planning approach.

Strategy-session

 4 Ways to Make a Strategic Planning Process Productive

What can you do to make strategic planning more productive before, during, and after? Here are four different approaches The Brainzooming Group employs with clients:

  1. Instead of using complex strategic exercises that aren’t beneficial outside planning, we use strategic thinking questions that fit how people think and work on a daily basis.
  2. Instead of including too few or too many people in strategic planning and not thinking about how to help them participate successfully, we specifically match participant perspectives, expertise, and interests so they can most efficiently and effectively share innovative ideas.
  3. Instead of requiring people complete complex strategic planning templates unrelated to daily business, we use productive interactions to change the strategic planning process from completing complex forms into conversations, events, and experiences people engage in and learn from as they participate.
  4. Instead of delivering a high-level, generalized strategy document, we deliver an implementation toolkit leaders can continue using to develop innovative ideas, tactics, and alternatives to implement the plan.

Long story short, there is no reason a strategic planning process has to be an energy-sucking, disconnected experience.

With The Brainzooming Group approach to strategic planning exercises, your company will have broader engagement, active involvement, and a path to apply the strategic plan and the work that went into creating it as part of your organization’s daily activities!

Contact us to discuss how your next strategic planning process can be energizing, productive, AND improve your business results. – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategy and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and 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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We are working with a client to develop a content marketing strategy for multiple business units in the organization. The first step was for our client to talk with the presidents of the various business units to understand their strategic objectives. With that information, we will be in a strong position to identify a content marketing strategy specific to each business unit’s needs.

In Search of Strategic Objectives

One business unit president described his objectives as including employee retention, improving a critical aspect of the brand experience, and addressing a significant cost area. During the discussion, he apologized for not having any strategic objectives. He reported being too focused on near-term issues to have developed any strategic objectives to tackle.

His comment prompted a question from our client about whether something was wrong with the conversation since it did not lead to identifying any strategic objectives for the business unit.

My response was the conversation was incredibly successful and yielded exactly what we were seeking. For each area the president listed, there were natural content marketing opportunities.

Strategic-Objectives

What are Strategic Objectives?

Why didn’t the business unit president realize he had strategic objectives on his list? Why didn’t he see initiatives tied directly to the brand, its people, and significant factors for its financial success as strategic?

My suspicion is the business unit president didn’t think he had strategic objectives because nothing addressed growth, innovation, or things that would only come to fruition years in the future. It seems evident that he operates under a mistaken belief about what is strategic and what is not. He is not alone; many executives labor under that misunderstanding.

3 Helpful Questions

We have covered ways to identify what is strategic using various questions and criteria. This new situation suggested a three-question exercise to identify likely strategic initiatives and objectives. Simply ask these three questions about an opportunity:

  • If we do not pursue it, will its absence be widely noticeable?
  • If we do pursue it, will its impact be widely noticed?
  • If the underlying situation or opportunity is ignored, will it create significant issues?

If you get three “Yes” answers, it is a safe bet you have a strategic issue on your hands. Two “Yes” answers suggest a borderline strategic issue. If you cannot justify even one “Yes” to the three questions, it is likely not a strategic issue.  – Mike Brown

 

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

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

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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