Yesterday’s post explored sixteen signals to identify when strategizing becomes procrastination, stopping you from moving forward with implementation. At the heart of many of the sixteen signals is apprehension with decision making for various reasons.

In light of the challenges we all (okay, maybe most of us) face at times with making decisions on a timely basis, here is a recap list of Brainzooming articles on making successful decisions.

Decision Making Techniques

1. Don’t Overthink It? 5 Key Questions for Quick Decisions

Here are five ways to constrain thinking when it’s too easy to take more time to make decisions. Chopping off some available time, resources, and possibilities can get you to a decision much faster.

2. Making Decision Making Easier – She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

One factor that can slow decision making speed is too many available choices. Here is a low-tech, very direct way to narrow your decision options and move directly toward decision making.

3. Strategic Thinking Exercise – Simply Making Big Decisions

Your approach for making big decisions doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It can be as simple as listing your criteria and asking yes or no questions about the options you’re considering.

4. Black and White Decision Making? Today, Change to Grey (and Vice Versa)

There are benefits to consciously changing your typical decision making style, even if temporarily.

5. Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

I enjoy events because they have a built-in deadline: at some point, the event will start, and all decisions are either made or you’ve lost the chance to tinker any longer. When looking at all deadlines as “events,” these techniques help focus and move forward when time is running down.

Decision Making with Teams

6. Level 5 Decisions – Decision Making without Your Influence

Maybe part of your decision making challenge is you are trying to make too many decisions yourself. This helpful strategic thinking approach helps move decisions away from you toward your team so everyone can be more effective.

7. Striving for Simple Revolutionary Ideas

This prioritization and decision making approach not only helps identify winning ideas, it takes best advantage of using both individuals and groups working through a group decision making process efficiently.


8. Built for Discomfort – An Alternative Prioritization Strategy for Innovation

If the easy decision is always the decision that gets made, this prioritization strategy will help force a group to more strongly consider uncomfortable ideas that can be more challenging but also more beneficial.

9. Prioritizing Things Others Are Depending Upon

When you’re in a team situation, delaying a decision or action can really screw things up for the next person in the process. This alternative prioritization approach places a premium on taking actions that set the next person up for success.

Dealing with Varied Decision Making Situations

10. Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

It can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and turn small decisions into protracted ones. This guide adds some perspective to seven common decision making situations that could be quick decisions once you strip away everything that’s surrounding them.

11. Market Research – 5 Ways to Not Screw Up Focus Group Decision Making

As a market researcher, I’m quick to support the idea of getting market input to help make better decisions. If you misuse market research as a way to tap market input, however, you can make the situation worse. Here’s how to not screw up focus groups if you’re using them.

12. Is Your Brand Headed for Trouble? 5 Strategic Warning Signs

While decision making isn’t the central focus of this article, poor decision making is at the  heart of these strategic warning signs that suggest a brand is heading for trouble, if it’s not already present and accounted for in Troubleville. – 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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Most of the time the Brainzooming blog shares strategy, innovation, and creativity ideas while consciously trying not to tout what we do at The Brainzooming Group. Our hope is by sharing intriguing and insightful content on strategy, innovation, and creativity, you will want to explore more deeply how The Brainzooming Group can improve your organization’s performance. Suffice it to say, we do not toot our own horn too much. (Did you like the way I got both “tout” and “toot” into the same paragraph? That will make the SEO grading apps crazy.)

Why Change Is Hard and 3 Ideas for Making Change Easy

Recently I was reading (okay, listening) to, Switch (affiliate link), the book on change by Chip and Dan Heath. I was struck by how The Brainzooming Group successfully addresses what Chip and Dan Heath identify as three of the main points from Switch addressing why change is hard:

Why Change Is Hard #1: Organizations resist planning for change because it is too complex or too hard

Group-Strategic-ConnectionOur Approach for Making Change Easy: At The Brainzooming Group, we refer to this challenge of planning for change as the “can’t get over the hump” problem. We see it repeatedly. Smart organizations with solid people get only so far with developing implementing strategy, but cannot get any further.  Sometimes the answer is strategic thinking tools; sometimes it is resources; sometimes it is strategic focus.

In the Brainzooming process, we analyze what the sticking point is and apply the correct “lubricant” to move the process forward. When you have built up the arsenal of strategic thinking tools and successful creativity approaches we have over the years, finding the answer to move a strategy toward implementation is quick.

Why Change Is Hard #2: People have a fear of failure, so they won’t even try to think about what should be changed, much less make the effort to change it

Our Approach for Making Change Easy: We account for the probability of failure as we design our strategy thinking process. As a result, we inoculate you against being afraid of change. The Brainzooming Group helps you generate a significant number of ideas and concepts as we temper the natural inclination to censor or needlessly debate whether ideas or concepts are good during the early stages of strategic thinking.

We don’t leave you with a pile of uncategorized and unusable ideas, though. We have tested strategic thinking tools to help organize, categorize, and evaluate the new you generate. Knowing the chaff is going to be thrown away helps people not be afraid to generate the kernels of wheat (or nuggets of gold) that lead to successful change.

Why Change Is Hard #3: There is too little attention paid to building upon success and too much attention placed on solving problems

Our Approach for Making Change Easy: The Brainzooming process helps you solve problems. Just as important though, we also help organizations better recognize what they are doing right and provide them the structure and options for building upon that success.

Would You Like to Make Change Easy? At Least Easier than It Has Been?

Thank for indulging this exploration on how the Brainzooming process accomplishes relative to making change easy. We’d love to talk with you about the opportunities and issues in your organization where you are finding change is hard. We’ll return tomorrow to our usual focus on less self-referential issues of strategy, innovation and creativity. Today though, I wanted to point out specific ways we help smart organization make successful change easy. – Barrett Sydnor

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We don’t frequently report new product case studies on the Brainzooming blog. One reason is we don’t cover our own client innovation work because it’s almost always confidential.

Another reason?

Commenting on stories about new product development innovations as reported in magazines is too speculative. Having been involved with public relations spin for Fortune 500 level companies, by the time you read a major story in the press, it may have little resemblance to what actually happened to innovate the new product.

Instead, the case study-oriented stories we cover tend to focus more on a strategic thinking question we use frequently: What brainstorming questions or creative thinking exercise would have generated this innovation?

Even if the brainstorming questions or creative thinking path we hypothesize isn’t what the brand used to hatch its innovation, it helps us continually develop new strategic thinking exercises or refresh familiar brainstorming questions we use with clients of The Brainzooming Group to generate ideas.

Tostabags – Making “Cooking” a Grilled Cheese Sandwich Easier

One recent product that was new to me, however, screamed for a blog post on brainstorming questions.

Grilled-Cheese-EasyTostabags (affiliate link) literally jumped off the shelf during a Saturday morning grocery store shopping trip. With Lent approaching and me doing more of my own food preparation (notice I didn’t say “cooking”) recently, the promise of an easy grilled cheese sandwich was top of mind!

As Facebook friends pointed out, it’s not like making a grilled cheese is that hard. But when your main food prep motivations are using as few dishes or utensils as possible and trying to maximize the microwave oven’s role, traditional grilled cheese preparation is a 3-item chore (stove, frying pan, and spatula).Talk about complicated!

The clear benefit of Tostabags, developed by Guy Unwin of the UK’s Planit Products, was not lost on me. This was especially true since the price tag covered the brand name, making the benefit more clear than the brand name! The ability to take two pieces of bread, put a piece of cheese between them, slip it into Tostabags, and slide the whole deal into a toaster? That’s much easier, and what’s even better, having tried one out, Tostabags work. The grilled cheese sandwich was great!

Brainstorming Questions that Could Lead to Tostabags

Not knowing how Guy Unwin came up with the Tostabags idea, you can imagine the idea flowing very naturally from an exercise learned from Chuck Dymer called Trait Transformation (it also goes by the name SCAMPER).

The basis of Trait Transformation is initially identifying:

  • An innovation objective, i.e., innovating new products to make cooking easier
  • Characteristics related to the innovation objective

In the case of coming up with the idea for Tostabags, the characteristics might have been kitchen items associated with cooking (i.e., stove, microwave, utensils, toaster, etc.) or common prepared foods (i.e., sandwiches, scrambled eggs, pizza).

With the characteristics (or “traits”) identified, they are modified through “transformers” to deliberately change how they factor into the innovation objective. Typical transformers include:

  • Simpler
  • More Complicated
  • Bigger
  • Smaller
  • Easier
  • More Customized
  • More Complex

Using a Trait Transformation approach, you can clearly see the combo question: How could we make preparing a grilled cheese sandwich easier?

Answer: Pop it into a bag in the toaster!

Try Them Both – Trait Transformation and Tostabags

If it’s not apparent already, I’m a longtime fan of Trait Transformation and a recent fan of Tostabags. Try Trait Transformation out when you need new innovation ideas that vary what’s already out there. And while you’re busy innovating, keep yourself energized eating an EASY grilled cheese sandwich with Tostabags!  – 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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Following up Woody Bendle’s innovation rant on  “best practices,” try this alternative approach: instead of cataloging industry best practices in search of new, innovative ideas, look at how another organization with a comparable situation outside your industry would tackle what you’re trying to improve.

We call this Brainzooming strategic thinking exercise, “What’s It Like?”

Strategy Planning with What’s It Like?

Hospital-Home-DepotI was speaking to someone who worked at a hospital during a graduate school class where I was presenting. She bemoaned a recent strategy planning session at her hospital. She said it was clear the doctors didn’t want to be there, the staff was bored, and the strategy planning session ended with no new future-looking ideas surfacing.

To give her a sense of how the “What’s It Like” strategic thinking exercise might have completely changed the dynamics of the hospital’s strategy planning session, I asked her to describe the hospital situation. We generalized the five characteristics she named, describing the hospital as focused on:

  • Fixing things
  • Taking care of customers
  • Employing people
  • Providing opportunities for learning
  • Making money

Reviewing the list for a comparable organization, we decided all five of the characteristics matched The Home Depot.

With the new perspective The Home Depot supplied, we started brainstorming. Ideas began flowing, including the idea of the hospital offering do-it-yourself surgery. While she scoffed at the idea, I pointed out people twenty years earlier would have said no patient would ever perform medical tests. Now, however, think about how many personal medical tests line the shelves at drugstores. Quite frankly, I can see some version of do-it-yourself surgery (assisted with robotics) becoming common within twenty years, even though it was so future-looking as to be laughable within the past few years.

New, Innovative Ideas from Outside Your Industry

What’s It Like is as simple a strategic thinking exercise to use as the hospital vs. The Home Depot brainstorming example demonstrates:

  • Pick your business opportunity or challenge
  • List a variety of characteristics of your business opportunity or challenge, potentially generalizing the characteristics
  • Select an organization facing a comparable situation
  • Brainstorm how the other organization, given its different view of your organization’s situation, would approach things

With What’s It Like, you get away from the idea of industry best practices, and allow yourself to think of completely new, innovative ideas for your organization no one in your industry is practicing! – 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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Final-ReportPreparing the final report for a long-term client engagement, I revisited our project management techniques relative to what goes into the document. Certainly The Brainzooming Group has nuances regarding how we conduct and create the final report for a strategy session we facilitate. Our new and reconfirmed project management techniques for closing out big projects, however, will be valuable to you when you are on the hook to prepare a final report of your own.

5 Final Report Success Tips

1. A final report is about the valuable output, not all the inputs

The important part of a final report is the set of recommendations from the project effort. While individual ideas generated along the way may have been interesting, their value as standalone ideas is secondary if they were not incorporated into the recommendations. While this is not surprising, there is still a part of me that struggles with not including all the ideas we had along the way into the final report for whatever value they may have in the future. Slowly, however, I am getting over this.

2. Do not waste too much time working out of sequence on the final report

Preparing the final report of a project that is complex will not necessarily happen in sequential order. If you are stuck trying to work on the beginning of the report, your inclination may be to start skipping around between sections to make at least some forward progress. As a project management technique, that is worth a try, but resist the inclination to skip around too much. Instead, settle on the section you think you have the best chance of advancing and focus on pushing that section of the final report forward for an extended time. Doing this lets you build momentum in a way that skipping around will not.

3. Print the final report draft and spread it out

When you have a big final report document underway, it is possible you will only be able to go so far organizing it onscreen. This is especially true if you need to make significant changes to move the final report of the project toward completion. If you find yourself staring at the screen for more than ten minutes unable to make a move to rearrange it, print the document (or at least a section of it) and use a paper copy you can spread out, reorder, and discover a better way to organize it.

4. Some final report sections may not fit and aren’t worth any more time

If a project is strategic, creative, and/or developmental in nature, by the time you get close to completion, you may have sections of the final report in both varying stages of completion and applicability. Some sections may seem less applicable the further along you get in preparing the report. Do not be reluctant to yank those sections from the final report if you cannot reasonably fix or complete them efficiently or on a timely basis.

5. Finishing can involve taking things away, not doing more

Looking at this project at one point, my comment was, “It’s too much and too little at the same time.” Sounds like Goldilocks when you read it here. The point is for as much as completing the final report of a project “seems” to be about adding more things, if you’re getting lost in how to complete it, smartly removing things may be the fastest way to get a project done.

What project management techniques help you finish the final report of a project?

We have many readers who have project management responsibilities, so what works for you in completing a significant final report document? Or what have you tried and found to not work – even though you would think it would? Getting projects closed out is a valuable skill, so we’d appreciate hearing your successes. – Mike Brown


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Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the wherewithal to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented project management techniques will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 for a free consultation on how to get started.


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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Obviously, innovation is a key topic on the Brainzooming blog. Here’s a recap of fifty innovation in business articles from 2012, including several by Woody Bendle.


1.       Innovation Success – Innovating, Strategy & Pissing Off People – You’d think from reading many innovation blogs that you have to piss someone off to demonstrate your innovative thinking skills. I don’t buy that.

2.      Strategic Thinking Exercise – Black Swan Events in Your Plan – Will the completely unexpected thwart your innovation strategy? You can’t predict the unpredictable but you can anticipate your responses.

3.      The Waiting Game Strategy and “Wait” by Frank Partnoy – Making It Work – Strategic patience is much overlooked as a solid innovation strategy. Here’s one point of view on considering a patience strategy.

4.      Incremental Innovation – In Praise of 3 Creative Examples - Barrett Sydnor’s report from the road and home on how incremental innovation may be more than enough.

5.      Innovation – Can Successful Innovation Only Happen in a Certain Way? – It was the year when Jonah Lehrer (who I seemed to always disagree with) was discredited. This rant, from before Jonah Lehrer was discredited, took issue with his anti-brainstorming perspective.

6.      Google Fiber Innovation – Paul Kedrosky on 4 Important Lessons – Barrett Sydnor recaps a presentation by venture capitalist and senior Kauffman fellow Paul Kedrosky on the innovation strategy opportunities presented by Google Fiber.

7.      15 Ways Whoever Is Going to Disrupt Your Market Isn’t Like You – Your traditional competitors may be a pain right now, but they aren’t likely to be the ones who will kill your company without a sound. When it comes to disruptive innovation, your threats don’t typically look like your organization.

8.      Innovation Strategy Lessons from Moneyball - I don’t watch movies often, but when I do watch a movie, I’m looking for business lessons. Here are innovation strategy lessons gleaned from Moneyball.

9.      Television Program Ideas – How Many Ideas Per Television Series? – A real life example from ABC to demonstrate how many total ideas are necessary to get to a hit TV show. Preview: it’s not a two ideas for every hit TV show ratio!

10.  Customer Service Experience Innovation – Your Big Opportunity by Woody Bendle  - Many companies are trying to differentiate on customer experience. If you expect to pursue customer service experience differentiation, it will take a robust approach.


11. Disruptive Innovation, Change Management & Taking the NO Out of InNOvation - An updated exploration of the ten barriers to innovation in businesses with links to Brainzooming posts for each NO.

12.  16 Employee Idea Killers Your Management Team Could Be Committing – Some idea killers are blatant. Some idea killers are subtle. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of ways management can kill ideas if that’s their goal.

13.  24 Ideas for Dilbert (and You) When a Great New Idea Is Lacking – Inspired by a Dilbert cartoon, you never have to give up on coming up with a new angle on an idea, unless it’s simply easier to give up than try something new.

14.  When Creative Thinking Exercises Quit Providing Value – The brainstorming tools that help you generate new ideas can outlive their usefulness. At some point, an idea stands on its own, irrespective of how it was generated.

15.  Brainstorming Ideas – 10 Signs You’re Done Brainstorming – You may be done brainstorming well before you’re brainstorming session has reached its scheduled close.

16.  Brainstorming Is Challenging with these 6 Brainstorming Session Types – There are certain types of people who pose real challenges to effective brainstorming. Here are six types of people you may have to work around to keep the brainstorming ideas going.


17.  Innovation Success Through Planning, Preparation, and Organization by Woody Bendle – An overview of the nine-step, end-to-end, i3 Continuous Innovation Process prolific guest blogger Woody Bendle developed and uses to introduce new innovations.

18.  7 Innovation Lessons for the Google Fiber Project from Nick Donofrio – Seven innovation lesson takeaways shared by Barrett Sydnor from a Google Fiber-related presentation by former IBMer, Nick Donofrio.

19.  Creativity and Innovation Lessons from Desperate Housewives – Even if you never watched Desperate Housewives, the producers share valuable creativity and innovation lessons you can put to use.

20. Five Innovation Lessons from Improv Comedy – by Woody Bendle – Guest blogger Woody Bendle makes the tremendously helpful connection between how improving your improve chops will benefit your innovation skills.

21.  New Business Ideas and a Creative Block in Your Organization – If you suspect your organization is suffering from creative block, it may just be you haven’t taken best advantage of the ideas it has already brainstormed.

22.  Brainstorming Doesn’t Work, Groupthink, and the Brainzooming Method – Some more Jonah Lehrer-inspired perspectives here along with a discussion of how the Brainzooming methodology addresses shortcomings in some ideation approaches.

23.  Continuous Innovation and Continuous Improvement – By Woody Bendle – A strategy for making both  innovation and improvement continuous in an organization as a result of adopting repeatable processes and systematic approaches.


24.  Stupid Questions? A Call for Asking Stupid Questions by Woody Bendle – A plea from guest blogger, Woody Bendle, for more questions – no matter how hard, not matter how stupid they may be perceived as being!

25.  15 Innovative Strategic Planning Questions to Get Ready for 2013 – We’re firm believers that great questions lead to great innovation strategy. Here are fifteen innovative strategic planning questions helpful at any time of the year.

26.  Extreme Creative Ideas – 50 Lessons to Improve Creativity Dramatically – This recap article features links to a variety of extreme creative ideas from big creative personalities.

27.  Strategic Thinking Exercises – 6 Characteristics the Best Ones Have – Not all strategic thinking exercises will lead you to innovative thinking. Look for these six characteristics to make sure you have the best chance of pushing productive new ideas.

28.  Creative Process – 5 Creative Ideas with a Twist for Product Design – Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a personal favorite for extreme creativity ideas. With all the wild food ideas shared on Triple D, it’s also a great source of product design ideas too.

29. Creating Cool Product Names for a New Product Idea – 8 Creative Thinking Questions – Eight questions that will work harder for you than a random brand name generator to imagine what your new product, service, or program should be called.

30.  11 Strategic Questions for Disruptive Innovation in Markets - These questions don’t guarantee disruptive innovation, but they’ll start you down the path of thinking about your own (or somebody else’s) market in a disruptive fashion.

31.  Quickie Strategic Thinking Exercise: Bad Practices to Make You Better – While business people talk about best practices all the time, the key to innovation success could very well be doing the opposite of what notable business failures have done.

32.  Chasing Cool Ideas vs. Solving Consumer Needs – By Woody Bendle – Short story? Cool ideas are only cool if they really solving consumer needs. Target legitimate needs, not imaginary coolness.

33.  Richard Saul Wurman – No New Ideas – TED creator Richard Saul Wurman on his contention there is very little new thinking and no new ideas anymore. Do you agree that all ideas masquerading as new are really derivations of old ideas?


34.  Creative Thinking Skills – 5 People Vital to Critical Thinking, Literally – People with challenging points of view shouldn’t be excluded from innovation. At the right times and in the right amounts, critical thinking is vital to innovation success.

35.  Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions – While divergent thinking can be among the most enjoyable parts of innovation, there are times where too much thinking can get in the way of making a decision and moving on.

36.  Brainstorming for Creative New Product Ideas – Dilbert, Basketball and Oflow – A comic, a quote, and a new app to all shed light on your innovation efforts.

37.  Visual Thinking Skills – Getting Them in Shape with Letters and Shapes – Even for people who don’t view themselves as artistic or particularly strong in visual thinking skills, a few basic letters and shapes are enough to improve your visual thinking effectiveness.

38.  61 Online and Social Media Resources for Motivating People to Create – Inspired by the Adobe “State of Create” study, this listing of online resources should inspire innovative thinking in many different ways.

39.  The Process of Strategy Planning: 5 Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating – Even a well-intentioned boss can stand in the way of innovative thinking within a team. Here’s how to get around that challenge.

40.  Reinterpreting Creative Inspiration – 7 Lessons to Borrow Creative Ideas  – Not every new idea is completely new. You can borrow creative inspiration, but there are right and wrong ways to do it!

41.  Batter Up! Ten Moneyball-Inspired Innovation Roles by Woody Bendle – One of two Moneyball-inspired innovation posts, this one from Woody Bendle highlights ten innovation roles . . . nine players plus the designated hitter’s worth!

42.  Dirty Ideas? Let Others Clean Up Your Creative Thinking - It may be the best way to generate innovative ideas among your team is to not finish your own thinking. Get started, but don’t clean up your work before handing off what you’ve developed so your team can play with your dirty ideas.


43.  Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps – Major change definitely isn’t one and done. Following any significant innovation, you’ll have stragglers who will need to be brought along with more attention.

44.  Outsider Perspectives – 6 Vital Insights They Offer - Don’t shut yourself off from people who have less or no experience with what your organization does. People with outsider perspectives will always uncover things you haven’t seen before.

45.  Skepticism – Selling Ideas to Answer 10 Skeptical Perspectives – There are no guarantees that everyone will love even the most innovative thinking. Here are ideas for addressing die hard skeptics standing in the way of implementing innovation.

46.  Making Big Ideas Happen – 9 Ways to Address Innovation Fear – As you roll-out innovative ideas, fear is a roadblock emotion. Successful innovation means you have to combat  fears  status quo lovers cling to in resistance.

47.  No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem – The best innovative thinking doesn’t count for much if you can’t get it implemented. Here are thirteen issues to manage as you shift to implementation mode.

48.  Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options – Before you launch into innovation, determine what your organizational environment suggests about what level and type of innovation makes the most sense now.

49.  March Madness and What Outstanding Point Guards Bring to Business Teams – There are many similarities between what makes a great point guard in basketball and what makes a successful innovation implementer.

50.  Creative Thinking and Idea Magnets – 11 Vital Creative Characteristics – Certain people bring out the most innovative thinking from those around them. This article covers eleven of the vital characteristics idea magnets bring to the table. – Mike Brown


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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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 haven’t started already, there’s not much time left to make sure your organization is asking itself innovative strategic planning questions and looking for top opportunities before 2013 starts.

The good news in all this, however, is it’s ALWAYS a good time for strategic thinking and considering innovative strategic planning questions. No matter when it is, you can use great questions to push your strategic thinking and move you into increasingly smarter, more differentiated, and successful market strategies.

Strategic Thinking Questions for 2013

Reviewing conference tweets, Brainzooming strategic planning engagements, and leftovers in our strategic thinking exercise R&D lab, here are fifteen innovative strategic planning questions (plus a bonus ice breaker question) to move to the top of your strategic planning questions list – whether you’ve started planning or not!

Strategy & Purpose Questions

  • When we say our purpose and messages aloud to someone outside our business, do these statements make sense? (Evan Conway, president of OneLouder, a Kansas City-based mobile app developer)
  • What would you do differently if you HAD TO get 10x better / bigger in the next 12 months? (An incredibly challenging question was inspired by Chuck Dymer – Brilliance Activator)

Strategic Marketing Questions

  • How can we shift more value to the front end of a customer relationship, not charging anything until later when the customer fully realizes the benefit? (Inspired by TEDxKC presenter, Shai Reshef)
  • Have we set a pace for our brand experience to allow a customer to get the maximum value from our brand? (Inspired by Julian Zugazagoitia, Director of the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art at TEDxKC)
  • What are our organization’s passion and purpose, and how are we effectively and innovatively marketing them? (From BigIdeas12 conference tweets)

Strategic Innovation Questions

  • How can we get more ideas at early stages when it’s easier and less expensive to incorporate great ideas? (Inspired by Rob Grace of Bazillion Pictures)
  • What can be removed from what we do / produce? (A variation on a Steve Jobs question to drive simplicity, via Ken Segall, author of “Insanely Simple” affiliate link)
  • In what ways can we innovate to offer “more for less”? (Michael Raynor, author of “The Innovator’s Manifesto” affiliate link)
  • To identify potential innovation opportunities, what are the most frequent workarounds customers are asking our sales, customer service, and other representatives to perform?
  • How can we break up big change into pieces too inconsequential to fail (i.e., no matter what happens, we’ll either meet our objectives or learn so much when we don’t, we still win)?

Customer and Market Questions

  • Who specifically is representing the customer 24/7 in our business?
  • What benefits are our customers seeking when they buy from us, and who else is poised to deliver those benefits to them?

Learning Organization Questions

  • Who are our rising stars two jobs away from ever being included in strategic planning that need to be included starting right now?
  • What makes the work our organization does worth it for our employees? (From author of “The Commitment Engine” author, John Jantsch at TEDxKC affiliate link)
  • How are we learning (individually and as an organization) by doing, failing, collaborating, creating, and teaching? (Danya Cheskis-Gold of Skillshare at BigIdeas12)

And a Bonus 16th Strategic Thinking Question – My New Favorite Ice Breaker

  • If you could have the characters in any painting come to life, which painting would you choose? (A wonderful ice breaker from Amy Dixon of CreativeRN.com on Twitter that elicits very diverse and insightful answers)

Still Need to Get Your Strategic Planning Set for 2013?

If you’d like help in developing your annual plan done faster than ever, call us at 816-509-5320 or email info@brainzooming.com. Our Brainzooming name means what it says: we’ll stretch your brains through strategic thinking exercises to consider new opportunities and quickly zoom them into a plan that’s ready for next year when next year starts! We’d love to help you hit next year zooming!   – Mike Brown


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If you’re struggling to create or sustain innovation and growth, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our  strategic thinking, brainstorming, and implementation tools to help you create greater innovation 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 innovation and implementation 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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