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A participant at a Brainzooming creative leadership presentation stayed afterward.

He asked an intriguing question.

His department is about to undergo a reorganization. Currently, certain people are underutilized. While the reorganization isn’t intended to move them out of the department, he wondered how to best involve all the team members in re-imagining the department. He wanted ideas to do that without making the currently underutilized employees nervous. Additionally, he doesn’t want them to try to game answers to the questions to keep themselves fully employed and under-worked.

5 Strategic Thinking Questions to Engage Employees in Reorganization

I offered him five strategic thinking questions:

  • When is our organization at its best in performing the variety of activities we do?
  • What professional skills – whether used in your job currently or not – could you teach other department members to improve everyone’s effectiveness?
  • On what activities do our internal customers spend more time than they prefer (and that we can better address)?
  • What are our internal customers not able to accomplish because they are bogged down with other duties?
  • Where could we provide greater value if we were able to prioritize or focus more?

All five strategic thinking questions avoid anyone needing to game the answers to protect themselves or expose anyone else. I suggested that he ask the questions individually, compile the answers, and then use an edited version of the responses to shape the team discussion.

If you’re facing a similar situation: keep it neutral, simple, and focused to help your team constructively contribute to reorganizing in the smartest, most strategic way possible. – Mike Brown

Looking for Fresh Insights to Drive Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

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“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

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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 had a day-long meeting with one of our strategic partners to further develop our inbound marketing strategy. He commented near the meeting’s end that he appreciated that we spent our time collaborating instead of having him put on a show-and-tell for me. As he put it, the meeting allowed him to be himself, for which he was grateful.

He said that he imagined that our meeting was like what a Brainzooming strategy workshop would be like. I told him it definitely was.

8 Principles to Create Collaborative Meetings

Want to create meetings that are more about do and accomplish than about putting on a show?

Here are eight principles we embrace to make that happen:

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Let others be themselves.
  3. Don’t make anyone conform to an external standard for the proper behavior in a meeting.
  4. Discuss things that people really understand and know about.
  5. Don’t over-manage the process to the point where the process gets in the way of getting something accomplished.
  6. Trust that if everyone comes in with good intentions and a bias toward results, good things and productive results will transpire.
  7. Use analysis as a platform for places to go, not as a tool to shoot down new thinking.
  8. Accept the unexpected.

Looking to create collaborative meetings?

Embrace these eight principles. They work. We use them in everything we do.

Want even more help to create collaborative meetings? Contact us, and let’s chat about how Brainzooming can help facilitate collaborative, strategic meetings for YOUR organization! – Mike Brown

 

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

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

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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Mike Brown

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

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When you are faced with a new strategic thinking quandary, what do you do?

Here is the Brainzooming formula to improvise strategic thinking questions and use them to solve a business challenge:

The first question is: What has worked in this situation or with this client before? Return to that technique, framework, or outcome. This creates CONTINUITY.

The second option: Look for what has worked elsewhere in comparable situations. This takes advantage of LESSONS LEARNED.

Option three: Look for different, but similar situations that could apply and frame the discussion or decision in light of those. Here, it’s all about the power of ANALOGIES.

The fourth option: Ask, “What can I pull out of my rear to experiment with and see if it will work?” THIS is total improv.

If all else fails: Call a break in the activities to CLEAR YOUR MIND, THINK, and PRAY for more strategic thinking questions to imagine and try. – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



 

Mike Brown

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

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We facilitated a two-day innovation strategy workshop for nearly two hundred members of a prominent, long-established brand’s marketing organization. The innovation strategy workshop covered a variety of topics related to disruptive innovation.

Prior to our Brainzooming workshop, a tech speaker addressed external innovation opportunities and challenges facing the brand. After his talk, the audience posed multiple questions to get to more actionable details. One person asked him what would keep him up at night if he were a leader at their company. While our workshop hadn’t started yet, I immediately wrote one word on a sheet of paper to answer the audience question. I handed the paper to my Brainzooming co-facilitator, Emma Alvarez Gibson:

If I were at the company, except would keep me up at night. EVERY night.

The reason?

Our client’s leaders, unconstrained by anything else, know the types of disruptive innovation moves they should make. The brand has tech-centric, disruptive competitors surfacing. Related product and lifestyle categories are innovating in ways that will allow them to bundle their own version of our client’s products into theirs. Major data aggregators, including any company gathering GPS and other user behavior data, could make a move into our client’s space with compelling new offerings.

Yes, they likely know what and how they could employ disruptive innovation.

That’s where except appears to mess things up in strategic ways.

An article I found about the brand’s current innovation strategy initiatives included company executives highlighting a variety of new and exciting changes, EXCEPT they wouldn’t innovate away their sales model.

Before the workshop, conversations with attendees focused on the importance the brand is placing on disruptive innovation, EXCEPT they can’t mess up their current business model and revenue stream.

During the innovation workshop, participants used our Brainzooming tools and models to imagine and develop nearly two-dozen innovation strategy concepts. EXCEPT, the judges didn’t pick the one focused on giving away what they do for free to their clients in exchange for those same clients handing over all their data. That was one concept that seemed, at least to us, like a sure thing that SOME disruptive player will do.

In all of these cases, the company is taking options off the table, EXCEPT that NONE of its potentially-disruptive competitors are removing comparable options from their attack strategies.

See, what I mean?

While I understand the reluctance, EXCEPT means that our client is going to market with numerous restrictions that completely-different looking brands that are targeting them would never consider as limitations.

That’s why except would keep me from getting ANY sleep.  – Mike Brown

Want to improve your innovation success? Complete this strategy assessment today!

Mike Brown

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

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We were working with a client’s C-level team to develop its strategic plan. To help them articulate the organization’s strategic direction, we used several branding exercises. These branding exercises focused on identifying:

The combination of branding exercises effectively identified new language to describe its strategic direction and supporting strategies.

During the exercises and conversations to develop its big strategy statement, we discussed the role that expertise plays in the organization’s brand. Because expertise is central to the organization’s products, it has only considered a very strict definition for the attribute. That can be okay, but in a fast-changing market, ensuring everything is 100% proven slows solutions customers need. It also allows new, more nimble competitors to set the ground rules for important product features.

When we questioned the narrow use of expertise, they played back the attributes on the left as the defining characteristics for what expertise means.

We then added all the attributes on the right.

Our point was that the organization’s unquestioned expertise allows it to extend this attribute to work harder. Expertise COULD involve exploration and prototyping, where customers actively test and help develop new solutions. It’s unlikely that any long-term customer invited to test a product in development would see a potential glitch as evidence that the brand lacks expertise.

One meeting participant said this type of strategic thinking was a breakthrough for them. It opens up a whole new array of potential options.

Is your organization laboring under similarly narrow perspectives about your brand attributes?

If that seems to be the case, rethink your narrow definitions of brand attributes. Look at your brand attributes as platforms to innovate, expand, and introduce broader meanings that deliver greater value for your customers.

Or better yet, contact us, and let The Brainzooming Group take you through the business and brand strategy exercises to open your organization to a wide variety of growth opportunities!  – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


Download Your FREE eBook! Big Strategy Statements - 3 Steps to Collaborative Strategy



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 see many business people conditioned to take what another individual asks or tells them at face value, accepting it as an order to fulfill.

That’s natural, I suppose.

Someone tells you they want something done, and maybe most of us are pre-conditioned to attempt to make it happen. That used to be me ALL the time. It’s still me SOME of the time.

5 Strategic Thinking Questions to Stop Undermining Your Success

Alternatively, when someone tells you what they want – whether it’s a boss, an associate, or a customer doing the telling – don’t immediately accept the comment as an order.

Instead, consider what the individual asked for as a suggestion.

Via Shutterstock

With that perspective, reconnect with the granddaddy of all strategic thinking questions: What are we trying to achieve?

Grounded in recalling what YOU want to achieve, ask yourself various strategic thinking questions to consider potential responses to the suggestion:

  • What other possibilities are broader or narrower that benefit the requester and enhance what we are trying to achieve?
  • What are other approaches that could add value for everyone involved?
  • How can we mock up something as an example to demonstrate the value of alternative approaches?
  • If delivering as requested isn’t the best situation for us, what can we suggest to complement the situation and increase the benefit for us?
  • If your first round of possibilities doesn’t resonate with the requester, what second round of ideas can you generate as possibilities?

When you run through these strategic thinking questions, you’ll be much better positioned to respond with ideas for mutually-advantageous alternatives instead of simply doing everything as ordered. – Mike Brown

Download our FREE eBook:
The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions

Engage employees and customers with powerful questions to uncover great breakthrough ideas and innovative strategies that deliver results! This Brainzooming strategy eBook features links to 600 proven questions for:

  • Developing Strategy

  • Branding and Marketing

  • Innovation

  • Extreme Creativity

  • Successful Implementation


Download Your FREE eBook! The 600 Most Powerful Strategic Planning Questions



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 talking with an executive about the dramatic changes going on in her organization. Everything is maxed out: expectations, pressure, stress, timelines. The whole nine.

In the midst of it, two leaders who experienced a serious professional rift a number of years ago are simultaneously thrust into the center of today’s crisis. They are readjusting their roles, as they’re now required to always be on the same page publicly. They also have to have a keen sense of what the other one is thinking, saying, and doing.

Hearing this, I wondered aloud: will today’s crisis heal the professional rift and reset the relationship?

via Shutterstock

I’ve experienced the impact of using a crisis to push forward with change. I’ve experienced the team-building and affiliating impacts of a group of professionals banding together to accomplish a major initiative. I hadn’t put the two together to think about embracing a crisis situation to reset a professional relationship.

Which prompts me to wonder: when today’s crisis emerges, what is the potential impact of reaching out to people that you aren’t as close to anymore? What are the potential benefits to involving them in facing a common, critical challenge? When you let a professional crisis go by without doing so, what is the missed opportunity?  – Mike Brown

 

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Facing Innovation Barriers? Here Is Help!

Innovation-Strategy-eBooks

Are you facing organizational innovation barriers related to:

We have free Brainzooming eBooks for you to help navigate barriers and boost innovation!

 

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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