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As we meet senior executives, it’s clear there are still many unanswered questions on social media strategy, especially for those companies early in social media strategy implementation or those that yet to even develop a social media strategy.

How Strong Is My Organization’s Social Media Strategy?

Among the most common questions senior executives are asking include:

  • How can a social media strategy meaningfully contribute to business objectives?
  • What metrics are relevant for measuring the impact of a social media strategy?
  • How do you determine the right staffing for a social media team?
  • Are the brand’s messages being appropriately represented through social media content?

To assist senior executives in evaluating both performance and opportunities in these and other social media areas, The  Brainzooming Group has created a new ebook: “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.”

Free Ebook: 9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

This latest free ebook from The Brainzooming Group takes a sampling of the strategy exercises we use with clients and offers them in a format suitable for performing a quick self-diagnosis of a brand’s success with social networking. In a relatively brief amount of time, you’ll have a sense of where you need to concentrate your efforts to ensure you maximize the benefits of your organization’s social media efforts.

Securing your free ebook copy is easy: simply click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the sign-up page to download it. You’ll soon be identifying where your organization is missing vital business opportunities in social networking. – Mike Brown

 Download Your Copy

 

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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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One challenge with standard strategic planning approaches is people quickly become too familiar with the standard strategic planning questions, i.e., What are our strengths and weaknesses? Who are our main competitors? What are the threats and opportunities in the next few years? Familiarity breeds less attention to probing every aspect of the questions.

This phenomenon is compounded by people who having been at one company or in one industry for any length of time. If people are entering strategic planning with that type of history, they likely know ALL the standard and expected answers to the standard strategic planning questions.

The result is you get a standard strategic plan that falls far short of creating strategic impact.

Strategic Thinking Exercises and Creating Strategic Impact

Creating Strategic Impact through Strategic Thinking ExercisesThe approach The Brainzooming Group takes with clients in developing strategy is to twist the standard question areas into strategic thinking exercises with a greater likelihood of yielding new, unexpected and insightful ideas.

When you have new ideas versus the standard answers, you have a foundation for greater business success.

As you work on plans for next year, here are a few of the strategic thinking exercises we use as variations on the same old strategic planning to ensure we are creating strategic impact for our clients.

What are our opportunities?

What are our threats?

What are our strengths and weaknesses?

What benefits do we deliver?

Who are our competitors?

What trends will shape the future?

What should we do?

What should be our priorities?

Give these a try and see what new strategic insights you generate! – 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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4

Let me start by saying I’m blessed with wonderful parents who would do nearly anything for me. I never take for granted how remarkable that is. In fact, at times I create roadblocks so they can’t or won’t do something for me.

One example was a car I had in grad school and during our early marriage. While it wasn’t a flashy car by any means (it was an Olds for goodness sake), I loved it, my parents had gotten it for me, and my intention was to drive it until it wouldn’t run any longer.

At some point, the mileage reached a level that made my parents uncomfortable, and they insisted on getting me a different car. That was the last thing in the world I wanted them to do. So I told them the only way I’d stand for them getting me ANOTHER car was to have one just like it, and not just the same make and model, but even the same exterior (white) and interior (blue) colors. I figured that would be enough to scuttle things.

More of the Same Isn’t Always a Good Idea

Boy was I wrong. In the pre-Internet days, my dad tracked down a new version of the same car model with the exact same color scheme. While I was (AGAIN) tremendously appreciative of their kindness, quite frankly, I found I didn’t REALLY want an updated version of the same car. It was the SAME, and that was boring. It didn’t create a different driving experience. It was simply more of the same with fewer miles and none of the great grad school memories of the identical first car.

Replacing Yourself as a Leader

Acorn-TreeThe reason I pulled this story out is I’m developing a presentation on strategic planning and building legacy agencies for an organization of advertising executives. Based on conversations with the event organizers, many members are agency founders or have been the principals for quite some time. And if the agencies are going to live on beyond the careers of the principals, they need to do more strategic planning and identify their replacements.

I’m guessing more than a few of them might adopt my attitude in the car story. Emotionally, they don’t want to deal with the prospect of considering the agency’s future without their involvement. Knowing they’ve been integral to their agencies being successful, they may set out to find replacements just like them.

While that might seem to make sense on the surface, pursuing this strategy could yield the same dissatisfying results it did for me.

If an identical successor moves into leadership, it creates legitimate hurdles for this new person to compare favorably. And it is quite likely that an agency needs someone and something different to grow and prosper in the future than it did ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. That means the right answer is looking for the right next person, not an identical replacement.

Strategic Planning – Creating a Legacy for the Future

This concept extends to any of you charged with replacing  yourself as a leader and engaging in active succession planning. The process needs to begin by identifying the talents an organization needs to develop, grow, and thrive, followed by seeking someone who fit those needs. Leaders have to realize: your legacy implies a vibrant future based on a solid foundation, not force fitting so that everything is exactly the same. – 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

It’s no surprise that search phrases including “strategic planning” have been sprinkled throughout the top searches drawing people to the Brainzooming blog recently: it’s strategic planning season!

Creating-a-Strategic-Impact-ArrowsStrategic planning season for a planning person starts in April or May. Most senior executives, however, do not begin thinking about it until the third quarter. No matter the time of year, this updated Strategic Planning Toolkit from The Brainzooming Group can be a help to you.

There are a variety of links here to background information and tools on various dimensions of strategy, including preparing for strategic planning, strategic thinking exercises, and keys to creating strategic impact from your planning efforts.

The Brainzooming Group is also here as a resource for your strategic planning – especially if you’re feeling under the gun to both develop and deliver the implementation steps necessary for creating strategic impact in your organization. Give us a call, and we are ready to get started to support your efforts!

Preparing for Strategic Planning

Brainzooming – A Strategic Thinking Manifesto

Marketing Strategy When You Are Too Smart for Strategic Planning

8 Questions to Ask Before Launching a Strategic Planning Process

Strategic Planning Benefits – 18 Ways Strategic Planning Helps Your Organization

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

Before Wild Creativity, Get Grounded in Strategy First

Strategic Planning – 5 Dangers of Cheaping out on Hiring a Facilitator

The Process of Strategy Planning: 5 Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating

Strategic Thinking – Damn Right, Left Brained People Have a Creative Thinking Role

Creative Thinking Skills – 5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally

Strategic Thinking Skills – 29 Clues You’re Not Dealing with a Strategic Thinker

Strategic Planning Exercises and Tools

Strategic Planning Doesn’t Have to Kill Creativity

Strategic Thinking Exercises – 6 Characteristics the Best Ones Have

Strategic Thinking Exercises – More than 200 Strategic Planning Questions

Strategic Thinking – Exercises and Tools for Creative Thinking and Strategy

Strategic Thinking Exercise – 7 Ideas to Turn a SWOT Analysis into a SWOOT

A Strategy for Predicting the Future More Accurately

Strategic Opportunities – How to Effectively Prioritize Them

Creating Strategic Impact

A Simple Strategy Check

Disruptive Innovation, Change Management & Taking the NO Out of InNOvation

Strategic Thinking Exercise – 16 Signals Strategizing Has Become Procrastination

Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

Strategic Planning – 7 Questions for Avoiding Strategic Management Failures

No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem

Why Change Is Hard – 3 Strategic Thinking Ideas for Making Change Easy

8 Change Management Lessons

Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps

Strategic Alignment – 4 Lessons for Line and Staff Organizations Working Well

Project Management Techniques – 21 Articles to Better Manage Projects

Checklists – Helping Visualize the Uncertain When Plans Fall Through

Are you achieving the strategic impact and results you expect?

If your results can be more than they are right now, email or call us and let’s talk about creating strategic impact for your organization! – 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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I’ll admit to being hopeful about the strategic planning benefits an organization can realize. But not from the typical strategic planning – the kind with too many boring meetings, too few real insights, lots of forms to fill out, takes forever with little real world impact.

Instead, my hopefulness is tied to the type of strategic planning we facilitate with:

When it comes to that kind of strategic planning, there are plenty of benefits for an organization.

18 Ways Strategic Planning Benefits Your Organization

When an organization engages in real strategic thinking-based planning with broad participation, an organization and its people should be:

  1. Brainzooming Strategic Thinking ExercisesSmarter
  2. More results-driven
  3. More confident of attaining performance goals
  4. Able to more successfully take on stretch objectives
  5. Very focused on high impact strategic initiatives
  6. More actively thinking and implementing strategically
  7. Better able to accommodate rapid change
  8. Prepared to better handle uncertainty
  9. Aligned more tightly to key objectives
  10. Able to readily identify and close knowledge gaps
  11. Experiencing stronger affiliation for the brand
  12. Displaying greater alignment within the senior management team
  13. Achieving stronger alignment within teams throughout the organization
  14. Gaining greater visibility for the senior leadership
  15. Engaged in more honest, strategic conversations
  16. More successfully tackling challenging strategic issues
  17. Experiencing a richer, actionable understanding of the strategic direction
  18. Interested in participating in future strategic planning

Not all these benefits may come right away, but over time, vibrant strategic planning will deliver on these benefits.

Wonder how all those strategic planning benefits are possible?

2014 is just around the corner. Email or call me and let’s talk about how these strategic planning benefits can become reality for your organization. – Mike Brown

 

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WeedsPreparing a creative and strategic thinking workshop for a client this week, one of the attendees mentioned in the pre-session survey a desire to identify ways to stay out of the weeds on project teams.

Great question and a strategic thinking topic we haven’t necessarily covered from that angle. While we talk frequently about the importance of focusing on what matters for an organization and staying productive, we haven’t necessarily addressed specific ways project teams can stay out of the weeds.

12 Ways Project Teams Can Stay out of the Weeds

Here are twelve ways to monitor whether a group is addressing strategic topics and ways a project team can stay out of the weeds if that is where it is stuck:

  • Involve a senior executive on the project team who has a short attention span for detail.
  • Prepare a meeting agenda that addresses big topics, but plans for a brief time near the meeting’s conclusion to revisit overly-detailed topics emerging during the project team meeting.
  • Maintain a running list of decisions and assumptions your project team has made and unless there is a clear and compelling strategic reason, make it difficult for the group to revisit and rework them.
  • Set a time limit for how much time you’ll spend researching, discussing, or deciding on a topic.
  • Invite fewer people to meetings where you’re discussing detailed topics.
  • Use an impartial facilitator to run the project team meeting and keep it moving toward the meeting objective.
  • Have someone with no experience participate in your discussion and whenever you get into topics that person doesn’t understand, pull the conversation back up to a meaningful level.
  • Ask whether the topic you’re discussing will have a material impact on the organization.
  • Continually ask how overly-detailed conversations are going to lead to discernible impact for customers or other important audience members.
  • Call time out on any topic you’re discussing that promises incremental impact but will be complex to implement.
  • Assign the people who want to get bogged down on a topic to do individual work to investigate or explore the issues and report back to the team.
  • Be willing to wrap up (or leave) early if there’s no forward progress toward the team’s objective and rethink your approach.

How do you keep a project team focused on strategic thinking and out of the weeds?

Do you have a tendency to get into the weeds when you really should be staying strategic? If not you, but others around you have a tendency to get into the weeds, how do you keep it from happening? – Mike Brown

 

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An organization contacted us about facilitating a large, multi-organization strategic planning session. They ultimately decided, since the timing was tight and a lot of the details hadn’t been decided, to facilitate it themselves internally.

Bored-GuyShortly after the meeting, I heard about it via a couple of participants. Fifteen minutes was scheduled for introductions. TWO HOURS LATER, introductions wrapped up. Turns out, getting nearly two hours behind at the meeting’s start was the highlight of the two-day experience. It was supposedly all downhill from there, with a lot of questions about what, if anything, came from flying a large number of people to a relatively remote location in the middle of the country to meet.

Have you been in one of “those” meetings previously? I know I have.

While it seems like anyone can facilitate a meeting (I mean who CAN’T stand in front of a group and write things on a big pad of paper), it’s just not true that anyone can.

Strategic Planning and 5 Dangers of NOT Hiring a Professional Facilitator

When an organization tries cheaping out and not using a strong professional facilitator who can design and carry out an interactive strategic planning session, it COSTS an organization in at least five big ways:

1. You burn up participant goodwill

You may have only one shot to get a board or other stakeholder group to agree to participate in a strategic planning session based on their interest in the organization or initiative. If you frustrate them with an unproductive meeting, you COST yourself important goodwill you may have built up with them.

2. You don’t make a big enough and sustainable enough move forward

If a strategic planning session is really intent on driving big change, frittering away the opportunity to harness the expertise you’ve assembled to pave the way for big change will COST time and positive returns as you wait to cycle back until your next opportunity to push for big change.

3. You blow through opportunity or hard dollar costs

Even if you think you are not writing many checks to pay for your strategic planning session, there are still opportunity costs for the participants’ time investments. When a poorly designed meeting wastes the time for the participants, it COSTS you because you send a clear signal that you don’t respect their time investment in what you’ve asked them to help accomplish.

4. You stretch patience, not imagination and creativity

When a poorly designed strategic thinking session fails to push an organization’s imagination and creativity in a productive way, it winds up pushing the wrong buttons instead, i.e. impatience and boredom. The COST comes from failing to excite the organization to grow and develop to be more competitive and successful.

5. Stakeholders won’t take it seriously in the future

When you summon people for a strategic planning meeting and it goes nowhere, the next time you try to do the same thing – even if you have stepped up to using a professional facilitator, you will have COST your organization the active participation of stakeholders you burned previously. Why should they believe the next time will be any different? And you’ve not only tarnished their enthusiasm for your organization’s strategic planning efforts, you’ve done it for any other organization for which they may be involved.

So how beneficial is it to hire a strategic planning facilitator?

If you’re serious about wanting a productive, efficient, and interactive strategic planning, strategic thinking, or creative development experience for your organization, call us. Please call us. Don’t COST your organization in stupid ways. We’ll show you how hiring a strategic planning facilitator will deliver a positive return right away, and down the road! – Mike Brown

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 For More Information |  Phone: 816-509-5320  |  Email: info@brainzooming.com 

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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