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Are you in budget meetings right now, determining what funds you will have to implement next year’s strategic initiatives?

Is your budget process running late? Are you still reviewing budgets for next year?

If so, you have time to turn tedious budgeting exercises into productive strategic planning activities focused on business growth.

Budgeting Can Be the Worst, but There Is Hope!

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During budgeting in the Fortune 500 world, we spent too much time on the numbers and not nearly enough on making sure we were prioritizing the best strategic initiatives to grow the business.

I worked with some great people in the accounting and financial areas that understood forecasts and budgets do not just happen by themselves. My peers at the vice president level and above were, however, too often engaged in micro-managing budget details they could manage while not tackling tougher strategic issues within budgeting.

To counter this preference for numbers over strategy, we routinely tried to bring new thinking to the table to turn budget meetings into productive strategic planning activities.

3 Ways to Turn Budgets into Strategic Planning Activities

In our new Brainzooming eBook, “3 Ways to Turn Budget Meetings into Strategic Activities,” we reveal how to:

  • Introduce productive questions you can address to improve strategy AND financials
  • Ensure you invest meeting time on high-impact areas (instead of minutiae)
  • Adopt an effective, highly-strategic approach to business metrics that addresses the link between strategic activities and results

If you are leading budget meetings, you can use these ideas to improve their strategic impact.

Even if your role is to develop and present your business unit’s budget, you can use the concepts in this eBook to highlight strategic activities and create a stronger linkage between forecasts, budgets, and the important strategic initiatives that drive growth.

The bonus part is that “3 Ways to Turn Budget Meetings into Strategic Activities,” is FREE!

What finance or accounting person is going to nitpick that?


Download Your FREE eBook! 3 Ways to Turn Budget Meetings into Strategic Activities

Download your copy today! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I don’t know that we have ever run a reader letter here, but the story in this email and the writer’s comments deserve a wider audience.

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The letter is from Barbara Lane at Telesystem in Northwood, OH. She wrote in response to Emma Alvarez Gibson’s post-election reflection. What Barbara relates is another helpful part of the reflection and need to move forward that is the air right now:

Mike and team,

First, I want to say thanks for your blog and plethora of articles on strategic planning.  I have used many of your techniques both at work and as I facilitate visioning and strategic planning at my church.

With regards to the email today, I am currently in the middle of leading a Bible study based on the book, “Fear of the Other” by Will Willimon.   In it, he puts forth many of the same ideas contained in Emma Gibson’s reminder. But one that particularly spoke to me was an exchange between Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.  Douglass was bemoaning the plight of black slaves and the country’s reluctance for – no, outright anger and indignation against – the proposition of freedom for them.  Truth, who was fully aware of Douglass’ Christian beliefs asked him, “Frederick, is God dead?”

I think this is very pertinent to what many people are feeling today, and we have to realize that there is a greater power out there who works all things according to his purpose.

BTW – if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

I greatly appreciate you and your efforts,

Barb

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 woke up this morning, and the first thing I saw on Facebook was this reflection by Emma Alvarez Gibson (from our West Coast Brainzooming outpost) as the election returns in the United States were coming in last night.

It says everything beautifully.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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As the election season in the United States draws to a close, it’s time for a moment of reflection. Here’s what I have to offer.

Time for A Moment of Reflection

I lector at 6:30 a.m. mass nearly every Tuesday. Every two years on this Tuesday (during the 32nd week of the liturgical year), my favorite business-oriented bible verse is part of the first reading at mass. It is from the letter to Titus (Chapter 2: 7-8):

“Show(ing) yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.”

After an election season where candidates at al levels have done exactly the opposite of this verse, it is time to reflect how we got here and how we change it going forward.

I believe prayer is part of the answer. All the other parts of the answer? Wow, that’s going to take all of us.

Get away from the media today, and have your moment of reflection on what part of the change YOU can make happen! – Mike Brown

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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Is your strategy team tired of the same old strategic thinking exercises?

Is your leadership team expressing its frustration with the inability to generate new insights about your brand’s strongest market opportunities?

Are you searching for ways to quickly and effectively engage brand leaders to anticipate and address emerging threats you face?

If you face these situations, The Brainzooming Group has a new eBook you need. It offers fresh ideas for using one of the most common strategic thinking exercises . . . and it’s FREE!

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. With simple, actionable adaptations, you can take your leadership team through a variety of fresh SWOT analysis approaches that:

  • Put your customers front and center with every look you take at your marketplace
  • Challenge your thinking about what parts of your strategy are obsolete, opinion-based, and open to serious objections
  • Push you to go deeper and bolder in your SWOT analysis

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Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, we designed “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” as a go-to resource throughout strategic planning. Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis alternatives include:

  • Creating a SWOT from multiple pieces
  • Using a SWOOT analysis to create a twist
  • Employing a bolder SWOT analysis than ANYONE expects
  • Going deeper with a Four x 4 approach
  • Triggering richer insights by varying participants, focus areas, and perspectives

All that in one handy, FREE Brainzooming eBook!

Download your copy of “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” today!Mike Brown

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

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 was scrambling to get on the road by 6:30 the other morning, to make the drive to southern Missouri so I could attend my Aunt Bette’s funeral. As usual, I had a running list in my mind of all the things I needed to do and take along for the trip. Somewhere near the bottom of the list were a box of cheese crackers (for road sustenance) and my Bluetooth headset.

About thirty minutes in, I was starting to get hungry and wanting to listen to Catholic radio on my phone, since I could not find the station on the radio. Sadly, I discovered I’d forgotten the delicious cheese crackers. And though I moved things around on the passenger seat and checked the center storage compartment, I couldn’t find my Bluetooth headset. I wound up listening the non-hands free way, holding the phone to my ear, still wishing I had those crackers.

Some time later, having stopped to make a crucial purchase of cheese crackers and use the facilities, I was washing my hands. Looking up from the sink to the mirror, I spotted the Bluetooth headset around my neck—exactly where I’d put it just a few hours earlier, before I’d gotten into the car.

What’s your mirror?

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Clearly, lessons are everywhere.

Here’s the strategic thinking question I saw in that moment: Where are your mirrors? And what are you doing to make sure you have the help you need, in order see all the obvious things you CAN’T see for yourself?

Your mirrors might be people (the ones that will kindly or not so kindly remind you that you’re missing the obvious), things (information and reports that provide real insights from multiple perspectives), or situations (new environments that create alternative perspectives from the ones you usually see).

Heck, the mirrors may take some other form altogether (if yours are cheese crackers, I’d like to know more).

Ultimately, you need to make sure you that your most valuable mirrors have the clearest views of you, so they can alert you as early as possible to important things you miss when you try to go it on your own.

So, what mirrors are on your list? And which mirrors can you start putting around you before the week is over? – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. They need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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 through a strategic thinking question-based approach to strategy
  • 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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Someone downloading the new 11 Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning eBook when we released it stated his biggest strategy challenge as coming up with fresh ways to do the same strategic planning exercises with the same executives every year

I hear that challenge in a big way.

When we were developing the Brainzooming strategic planning process inside a Fortune 500 company, we used it to plan strategy across a whole portfolio of services and clients in a B2B setting. While some participants in the early Brainzooming strategy workshops changed from day-to-day, we would often have the same people participating every single day for an entire week or more. I spent many late nights modifying each workshop format to change them enough to keep the participants (and me) engaged, mentally sharp, and creative.

9 Ways to Keep Strategic Planning Process Exercises Fresh Every Year

So when you are working with the same old audience every day (or annually) and trying the same old strategic planning exercises, what can you do to change things up?

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Here are nine ideas based on those early experiences to add variety to a strategic planning process workshop when the audience remains essentially the same:

Those are nine ideas to add variety to a strategic planning process. Doing even a few of these can provide a fresh, fun experience this year, and for days and years to come! – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Your
Strategic Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy 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

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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