0

In the past few weeks, we’ve had several discussions with potential clients about facilitating their strategic planning processes for 2015. (Yes, we’re already working on 2015. I KNOW, but that’s what planning people start doing months before others do!)

In each of the calls, we’ve discussed the concept of “producing strategic conversations.”

Producing Strategic Conversations?

Strategic-ConversationsThe phrase, “producing strategic conversations,” actually predates the creation of The Brainzooming Group.

We started using it to describe what we were doing internally in a Fortune 500 setting. It was an apt description of how we were helping marketing managers and senior leaders quickly (as in one day) explore, articulate, and document their strategic plans. We delivered this efficiency by avoiding a typical strategic planning approach: handing participants a slew of confusing or vague planning templates and expecting them to complete the templates on their own.

Instead, we were creating strategic impact by leading them through creative structures and strategic thinking exercises. These exercises helped them efficiently and actively explore and discuss opportunities and challenges in new ways within groups of their internal collaborators. We captured the details and themes emerging from the “strategic conversations,” using the output to document plans within a very brief time frame.

It was during hundreds of these sessions (many conducted in the hotel meeting room shown here) that we honed the Brainzooming methodology.

Facilitating a Strategic Conversation

In terms of facilitating strategic conversations, it’s not the typical facilitation used in a market research or focus group setting, although that might be what it resembles.

Instead, we facilitate in a style that both encourages and challenges participants. To put it in a sports setting, we act as both cheerleaders and tough coaches. All the while, we earn and honor the trust that allows us to move back and forth between these two contrasting roles.

Specific fundamentals we employ in producing a stimulating strategic conversation include:

  • Demonstrating sincere excitement for participants’ contribution
  • Not letting a participant flounder when trying to contribute (esp. when just starting to share ideas)
  • Making only productive interruptions, i.e., those that help guide them and draw out additional comments
  • Physically leaning in to the discussion to signal interest and anticipation for what participants have to say
  • Smiling as a way to demonstrate our connection with a participant

Again, the differences are subtle relative to typical facilitation. But coupled with the wide depth and variety of tested strategic thinking exercises we bring to the table, it works very differently, and it works wonders.

Are you thinking about next year’s planning yet?

If you’re already thinking about next year (and we know SOME of you are) and would like to get a huge head start that will even benefit your current year results, give us a call or email. Let’s see how we can work together.

Now is definitely the time to get started! – 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

Love-IdeasIt’s easy to fall in love with a new idea you have hatched.

It’s yours (which makes it seem great right off the bat), and the more time you spend with it, the more you can become completely enamored with your creative thinking.

It’s helpful in most cases, however, to challenge your own creativity before you start loving your new idea TOO much.

Creative Thinking and 6 Challenges to Consider

How to challenge your creative thinking in healthy ways? Here are six possibilities:

  • Share your creative thinking with someone else to get their reactions.
  • Start over with the original objective and a different creative thinking approach, seeing if you come out with the same idea or something different.
  • Consciously begin adding other elements to your idea that fit strategically to see if it can work better.
  • Scale back your idea by 50% to see what you would keep and what you would scrap.
  • Expand your expectations for the idea by 2X and see if it holds together.
  • If a competitor were to implement your new idea, would it look different, and if so, how would it look?

The point of challenging your creative idea isn’t to turn you into being a “NO” to innovation.

It is simply to provide an opportunity to strengthen your creative thinking before loving your idea too much blinds you to weak spots it may have.

Once you have challenged your creatie idea sufficiently, and it holds up, you can get on with loving your new idea way too much as you start implementing it! Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Mike-Brown-Gets-Brainzoomin

Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your organization’s 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

The past eighteen months, I’ve participated in several life changing Bible studies produced by Jeff Cavins.

The point of this blog, however, is not to share the impact they’ve had on me. The objective is to share intriguing learnings about visual thinking and the value of organizing content and infographics the courses have taught me.

Visual Thinking and Organizing Content

Bible-Timeline-InfographicAt the heart of Jeff Cavins’ “Bible Timeline” series is a visual thinking and teaching method.

He organizes the books of the Bible based on the type of literature each represents. To help readers understand the “story” the Bible contains, Cavins focuses on fourteen narrative books. These books span twelve specific historical periods. Other books are slotted to fill in details or expand understanding of what happened during each period.

To visually communicate this multi-faceted content, Jeff Cavins developed a color-coded infographic. The Bible Time infographic illustrates multiple patterns within the Bible’s content.

Cavins creates additional insights into the content by highlighting and organizing content in multiple ways. These include the following organizing concepts:

  • Sequential – A beginning to end arrangement of selected content to create a story
  • Chronological – An earliest to latest historical timeline of broader events
  • Thematic – Specific related message and content grouped together
  • Purpose / Function-Based – Arranging pre-existing content in new ways to highlight more subtle patterns (i.e., geographic movement within the Bible)

I had an opportunity to see Jeff Cavins present in November 2013 and videoed part of his talk where he discussed the strategic thinking behind developing the Bible Timeline infographic.

If you’re interested in creating visual thinking insights from complex content, it’s worthwhile to view Cavins’ discussion about organizing content and using an infographic to communicate his message.

While you may think this is far afield, if your organization has a wealth of content that’s been created by multiple people at various times for different purposes that would benefit from SOME type of organization to make it easier to use, there’s a lot to learn here.

As a blogger with more than a half million words written (vs. the Bibe’s nearly 800,000 words), I definitely think about the lessons learned in creating the Bible Timeline and how they apply to adding value to our Brainzooming content.

What about your organization? What lessons are there here for organizing your content to better tell your story? – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

                                                                             (Affiliate Links)

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

There is a line in the movie “The Big Chill” that has stuck with me: “Sometimes, you just have to let art . . . flow . . . over you.”

That’s a great strategic thinking for art – and life.

Letting life flow over you, however, is easier said than done for most analytical people.

But it is wonderful advice you CAN extend to other situations in life.

The benefit of doing so will be a calmer demeanor and a lot less angst than sweating every detail.

If you can let the “art” that is part of your life flow over you, you can also:

  • Appreciate the bigger picture without overlooking the subtle, unexpected details that make life special
  • Adjust your time and effort expended on projects to ensure the biggest overall impact across everything you do
  • Tolerate and enjoy unplanned variations that can lead to new creative paths
  • Worry less, especially over things you are never going to control

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

So take my strategic tinking advice.

Try letting life flow over you more today than you did yesterday. - Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

2

imageWhen it comes to creative thinking exercises, I’m typically a proponent of introducing people to incremental creative thinking before trying to dunk them into extreme creativity.

That preference is predicated on getting people more familiar and comfortable with smaller creative steps. In that way, the first creative step you ask them to take isn’t such a doozie.

Sometimes, however, when it comes to creative thinking exercises, starting small is not the best strategy to follow.

We were using a combo creative thinking exercise recently. We had asked creative thinking session participants for three progressive creative leaps. For the first step, it was okay for their response to be a conventional idea. We wanted to stretch the creative thinking, however, for steps two and three, with the third answer being a strong example of extreme creativity.

While that was the plan, the mindset we first set was too incremental creatively and too lasting.

Our initial question got them too stuck on what’s happening today.

Subsequently, absent very strong and clear extreme creativity inducing questions for steps two and three, we had to work extra hard to move everyone toward more outrageous ideas. We eventually pushed toward extreme creativity in their responses, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

The lesson?

While it’s not always the case, sometimes you do need to go big creatively right from the start before you are forced to go home with overly familiar ideas. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

Brainzooming-Before-After

 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

It’s wonderful to feature four important brand strategy questions from customer experience strategy and innovation expert Woody Bendle. In the course of his typical daily routine, Woody has a more than healthy commute by Kansas City standards. Woody texted me about this brand strategy lesson on the way home one recent evening and followed it up the next day with this post reminding those responsible for brand strategy to think about what will happen when our ideas actually meet up with customers. Here’s Woody!

woody-bendleBrand Strategy – When “Good Enough” Isn’t by Woody Bendle

“The enemy of the good is great.”

Have you heard this expression before? 

If you haven’t, the sentiment behind this expression is this: If you are continually reluctant to move forward until you have something that is great or perfect, you might sometimes fail to make valuable progress by getting something out there that is pretty darned good – but not great.

In many situations, I wholeheartedly subscribe to this philosophy.

But, there are occasions when you absolutely need to be better than “good enough.”

One of those occasions involves your brand strategy and every time you are presenting your brand.

Brand Strategy Isn’t the Place for Good Enough

I recently pulled off the interstate to fuel up at a truck stop. As I was fueling, I happened to notice, for some reason, a display attached to the pump about never paying full price for gas again.

Shell-1

I really didn’t think too much about this display until I went around to the end of the pump to grab the squeegee and clean off my windshield. This is what I saw.

140410-Shell3

OOPS!

The original message that got my interest about never paying full price again didn’t come through on the Shell brochure holder.

There, thanks to the application holder lid’s placement, the “Never pay full price again” card became the “pay full price again” card.

I actually did a double-take, shook my head and wondered to myself if anyone had even thought about trying to stick some brochures in the holders to see what it looked like before they had a gazillion of them printed and sent all over the country. The sad thing is if they had just taken the two logos at the bottom of the brochure and moved them to the very top and shifted the rest of the content down,  the message would’ve been read very clearly.

Lessons learned, and it’s a great reminder that design and layout matters.

A Brand Strategy that is “Good Enough” Isn’t

I have no idea if anyone at Shell is even aware of this issue. It did, however, serve as a valuable reminder that every time you are putting your brand in the marketplace, you need to ask yourself several important brand strategy questions:

  1. What am I trying to convey / communicate about my brand or my brand’s promotion?
  2. Is the message clear and compelling – not to me but to the customer?
  3. How will the message be put in front of the customer?
  4. What exactly will the customer see, hear, think, and feel when my message is put in front of them?

And finally, as you are working through the above questions, you’d be well served to think like my Missouri neighbors and just say “Show-Me” a little more often. Woody Bendle

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

                                             (Affiliate Link)

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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

imageAre you interested in pursuing a corporate career? Are you in the midst of a corporate career already? Or maybe you are wondering how in the hell you get out of a corporate career and land on your feet?

Corporate Career Success – 35 Articles for Arriving, Thriving, and Surviving

If you find yourself in one of those situations, here are thirty-five articles from the Brainzooming blog archives to help you in arriving, thriving, and surviving for corporate career success.

Launching Your Corporate Career

Developing Your Skills for Corporate Career Success

Sustaining Corporate Career Success

Dealing with Mid-Career Stagnation

Troubleshooting Yourself

Troubleshooting Your Career Situation

Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success 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.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading