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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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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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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

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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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How many types of strategic planning are there?

And how many strategic plans do you need?

While you Google the answer, here are the types of strategic planning we see. We identified them several years ago while trying to explain what was happening in our corporation with so many different planning processes going at once.

3 Types of Strategic Planning

As best we could determine, there are three types of strategic planning.

Strategic-Planning-3

1. Strategic Direction Planning

This is the major long-range planning effort. It’s bigger, broader, and looks at an organization’s strategic foundation, performance, brand and competitive positions, and opportunities and threats to the current business model. It addresses big initiatives and major priorities to change an organization’s prospects for the better.

2. Annual Planning

As the name suggests, this is yearly planning. Many companies squeeze it into the last few months of the year to prepare for January 1 of the next year. We talk to many executives whose companies deal with annual planning as a financial exercise since they HAVE to get a financial plan in place. Too often though, the financial plan becomes disconnected from what has to happen to bring it to fruition. That leads to the third type of strategic planning.

3. Initiative Planning

This planning becomes a catch-all for whatever doesn’t get figured out in the other two planning processes. This is where it’s imperative to decide who is going to do what to move the organization ahead in a coordinated fashion. These plans typically have shorter time horizons. They are generally prepared with greater frequency, perhaps even multiple times within a year, as initiatives are readied for launch.

How many strategic plans do you need?

If you’ve got a solid strategic direction plan, you may only update it every three-to-five years.

And even though we’ve called it “annual planning,” you may be able to run annual planning on an eighteen-to-twenty four month cycle if you spell out enough detail. Initiative planning, however, pretty much happens every year IF you expect to have some type of coordinated plan to implement.

Wondering why we’ve grouped these all under “strategic planning”?

It’s because to us, strategic isn’t a description of time (i.e., near-term vs. long-term), but of the importance of what a plan is addressing. If a plan is addressing something that “matters,” then it’s strategic.

The good news in all this is if you play your processes right, you shouldn’t HAVE to do all three types of strategic planning at once! – 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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Not every lesson is a positive one.

Talking about careers with my niece, I mentioned the scariest boss I ever had, and how even that experience with a boss who said and did some pretty scary things led to valuable lessons. Fortunately or unfortunately, the lessons were all about how to never act when I got to be the boss!

The conversation got me thinking about other situations where scary comments turned into valuable business lessons

Scary-Stuff5 Scary Quotes about Strategic Planning

Since I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about gearing up for strategic planning, I jotted down these five scary quotes about strategic planning. Intriguingly, all five came from consultants at one consulting firm we worked with for several years during my corporate life.

Admittedly, I learned many positive lessons during that time about strategic planning. Yet these five scary quotes about strategic planning from our consultants profoundly shaped my thinking about how NOT to do strategic planning:

1. “We’ll put together the strategic planning process as we go.”

Whenever you put together a strategic planning process while you’re doing it, you know something is wrong. Earlier in my career it felt edgy, but as a more experienced business person, it just seems pathetic. If you’re a consultant and selling your expertise at strategic planning you need to walk in the door ready to go with something that’s pretty close to working.

2. “There are 14 tasks to complete between these two steps in the process.”

Fourteen tasks to get from one step to another in the strategic planning process??? Talk about overkill!!! And even if it isn’t overkill and you actually NEED 14 tasks to move from one step to the next, NEVER admit to anyone you’re involving them in that much minutiae.

3. “This is better done than right.”

Really? REALLY? Yes, a consultant told me it was more important to get a presentation completed than address whether it was right. I’ve since stolen and revamped the quote not once, but twice. Even really bad ideas can be the seeds of strategic brilliance.

4. “My family’s important to me, so I make sure I’m home every night.”

On the surface this quote is not only NOT scary, it seems to be a wonderful sentiment considering the outrageously long hours consultants often work. The problem was the consultant saying it in Kansas City (where our company was headquartered) LIVED in Chicago. Yes, he flew back and forth every day between Chicago (first morning flight out) and Kansas City (last evening flight out). It was supposedly cheaper than a hotel room. Right.

5. “I did an interview with a reporter today about business prospects in (your) industry.”

Bad idea. VERY bad idea. When one consultant did this (and was quoted in print  questioning our earnings projections for the year), his firm was fired the next day within 90 minutes of our CFO seeing the article in a national industry newspaper. As a result, they lost a 7-figure annual consulting engagement. Yup, VERY BAD idea.

Do you have any scary consultant quotes about strategic planning or anything else?

If enough of you have scary quotes from consultants to share, maybe we’ll have enough for a regular feature, or the next Dilbert comic strip!  – 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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