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Here is a look back on the last year and 46 articles on innovation strategy, whether it’s crafting strategy for your own brand, looking to the market for innovation opportunities, using structured innovative thinking to drive change, or contending with internal barriers to innovation strategy. All that, plus a few articles via innovation strategy expert, Woody Bendle.

Get out there and change things for the better!

Innovation Strategy

Innovation-Strategy

Marketing and Competitive Strategy

Rules-of-brainstorming

Structure, Exercises, Roles, and Rules

Barriers to Innovation and Change

We-Create-Innovative-Ideas-Brainzooming

Innovation Strategy via Woody Bendle

 

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Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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 received a question asking for more details on the recent post about how a Zoomference enables an organization to streamline strategic planning exercises and deliver a plan more quickly through using our online collaboration platform.

In response, here’s a case study from a Zoomference we facilitated last week. If you need to remove time from your organization’s strategic planning process (either for an imminent planning deadline before year end or for planning you do throughout the year), here’s how a Zoomference from Brainzooming makes it happen.

The Zoomference Case Study – Ideas to a Plan in 6 Hours

Our client is an industry association management team deployed in multiple locations. With forty potential initiatives identified as possibilities for the next year, our objective was to help narrow the initiatives to a manageable number and develop strategic plans for the top priorities.

The pressing deadline was the need to deliver the strategic plan to its board members a mere eight days after we started our work.

Based on a preliminary conversation with the client, we designed a planning schedule and four online collaboration sessions for the week. The first three Zoomference online collaboration sessions included an orientation and two working sessions to gather input on priorities and implementation; these sessions were MondayTuesday, and Wednesday. The final session, last Friday morning, was to review the plan based on the week’s work.

2015-strategic-plan

Zooming through Strategic Planning Exercises

Within the first three online collaborative strategic planning sessions (less than six hours of the client’s time), we:

  • Gathered input to develop a prioritization model for the organization going forward
  • Identified the list of forty potential priorities
  • Used a rough version of the prioritization tool to narrow the forty initiatives to six
  • Ranked the six initiatives and identified the top five
  • Gathered input from the group about their objectives and potential approaches with each of the five initiatives

After completing the third session on Wednesday, The Brainzooming Group team developed the input into five initiative plans, complete with strategy statements, metrics, critical success factors, and implementation steps to make the plan a reality in 2015. We reviewed the twenty-plus page strategic plan with the team on Friday morning, making final edits to prepare this week’s board presentation.

Yes, you read that right.

The start-to-finish client time investment for a prioritized, five-initiative strategic plan ready to share with the board was about seven hours.

In fact, at one point, I let the team know they’d done 4 weeks of work in 45 minutes.

And the client’s reaction? It’s “amazing.”

That’s the power of combining Brainzooming strategic planning exercises with our online collaboration platform to create a Zoomference.

Want to take advantage of the power of a Zoomference?

If you’d like to spend less time planning and more time doing, a Zoomference is what you need.

Email (info@brainzooming.com) or call us at 816-509-5320 to schedule time to learn how The Brainzooming Group can create a Zoomference to help you address your strategic planning questions and complete your plan for next year while there’s still time! – Mike Brown

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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1

A quote from actress, Julianne Moore in Entertainment Weekly (Oct. 31, 2014), is important from a strategic thinking perspective.

“Every actor you talk to, unless they’re fooling themselves, will tell you that you’re at the mercy of who will hire you next. The only control we have is saying yes or no.”

While Julianne Moore applies the quote to actors, the strategic thinking perspective relates to anyone in a role where what’s next after whatever you’re doing now isn’t routinely known.

Julianne-Moore

Framed that way, the quote extends to entrepreneurs, major brands making strategic decisions, and even employees inside companies who have some flexibility on navigating their projects and responsibilities.

Beyond extending the strategic thinking perspective to other fields, turning it into a strategic thinking question adds even more power. Ask yourself, “What am I saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to?”

Are you saying “yes” and “no” deliberately and strategically?

Or are you doing so out of instinct, feelings, boredom, or something else?

It’s not that being less deliberate about saying “yes” or “no” to what’s next is wrong. It might simply mean it’s going to be more challenging for you to learn from and build on past successes and failures to move forward in a specific direction.

No right or wrong answers today. Simply the strategic thinking question you can use as a daily reflection if you so choose: “What am I saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to?”  – Mike Brown

 

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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1

I noticed this relationship between Disney and American Tourister on luggage at a retail store. The designation for American Tourister as the official luggage of Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland intrigued me because of the strategic thinking questions the relationship immediately suggested.

You don’t typically use luggage while you are at a Disney park unless you are staying on property. There isn’t necessarily a major signage opportunity associated with it. And luggage isn’t particularly integral to the experiences people most associate with Disney.

Official-Luggage-Disney

 

This sponsorship, from the outside looking in, seems driven by someone (or multiple someones) identifying a loose connection between two well-known brands. They then created from thin air a non-physical asset one brand could sell to the other brand.

This particular official sponsor designation got me thinking of a multiple ways a brand that isn’t vertically integrated (i.e., owning assets that come before and after it in a process) can vertically integrate “virtually” and generate revenue through sponsorships and partnerships.

10 Questions to Identify New Partners and Sponsors

Thinking about typical connections one associates with Disney, here are strategic thinking questions you can use to explore comparable possibilities for your brand.

  1. What do users do before they experience our brand?
  2. What do users need to know before they interact with our brand, and how do they learn it?
  3. What products or services do users buy or secure before they approach our brand?
  4. What products or services do users bring with them as they approach our brand?
  5. What other brands help make a user’s interaction with our brand more successful, productive, beneficial, or pleasant?
  6. What other products or services do users use when interacting with our brand, even if there are no current direct connections?
  7. What do users do after they experience our brand?
  8. How or where will users apply the benefits of the experience with our brand afterward?
  9. What products or services do users use after they experience our brand?
  10. What products or services will help sustain the experience users have with our brand even after it’s “officially” ended?

If you have an attractive brand and are looking to grow revenues through new relationships, these strategic questions form the basis for a healthy strategic thinking exercise to generate new partner or sponsorship possibilities. – Mike Brown

 

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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.

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Leave it to our friends over at Armada Corporate Intelligence for inspiring a new idea to close out the end of the year by enhancing your stronger creative thinking skills.

In their Wednesday “Inside the Executive Suite” edition, they recommended making a concerted effort during December to do something new each day as a way to boost readers’ creative thinking skills.

The four suggestions they offered to identify ideas for new things to do included:

  1. Stop asking what, why, and how questions that block new ideas
  2. Put something uncomfortable for you to-do on your daily to-do list
  3. Let others make decisions for you that will lead to doing new things
  4. Review the Wall Street Journal or Fast Company and identify ideas your company has never pursued

What an intriguing idea to go out of your way to do new things all the time. For those with a preference for predictability and efficiency, it can be challenging and uncomfortable to do something new daily, even if it could be a way to enhance your creative thinking skills continually.

But maybe devoting one month to trying new things daily is a way to get more comfortable inviting more frequent creative changes into your life.

DoNewCember?

In fact, maybe this could turn into a movement where each December becomes DoNewCember complete with a Twitter hashtag, social sharing of new activities, and lots of hoopla.

DoNewCember

Maybe launching DoNewCember as month-long movement could be my new activity for December 1st! – Mike Brown

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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2

While the year is winding down, it’s an ideal time to use strategic thinking questions to think about what you need to change for next year.

And what better way to get started than with a new batch of strategic thinking questions.

Strategic-QuestionMark

15 Strategic Thinking Questions to Explore

Some of these strategic thinking questions may seem reasonable; others may seem so outrageous that you wouldn’t ever considering using them. Our recommendation is to start with all of these ones that seem unbelievably outrageous.

In fact, the more outrageous, the better when it comes to applying these strategic thinking questions to your aspirations for the year ahead!

  1. How can we educate and cajole customers to raise their standards about the product / service we deliver? Then how can we more overtly encourage them to proactively point out when we aren’t meeting their high standards?
  2. What steps can we take to lower our brand’s tolerance for creating products and service that aren’t perfect?
  3. How can we reduce the barriers to starting new initiatives for our people who are most likely to do great things and deliver incredible value?
  4. How can we enable talented and less experienced people to get the backing for new initiatives early in their work histories before they’ve had a chance to imagine their ideas won’t work?
  5. How do we design new products or services for the potential customer who could be the most outrageously important and critical customer we could ever serve (as opposed to designing it for the lowest common denominator)?
  6. What would our brand look like if we deliberately tried to break every rule we can imagine that’s defined our industry and business until now?
  7. Where does our company move the slowest, and what steps can we take to dramatically speed things up by next week, at the latest?
  8. How would it improve our organization if we only paid people based on delivering the specific results we need for customers?
  9. In what ways would only paying people based on delivering the specific results we need for customers make things worse?
  10. What steps could we take to turn the craziest good idea we have into reality as soon as possible?
  11. Before we start deciding how we’re going to do something, what are all the ways we could decide to measure success or failure as early and often as possible during development?
  12. What are all the little pieces we need to break a “too big to start or even imagine how to start” project up to finally get it started?
  13. What will it take to blow up every reason why our organization fails to start tackling the important challenges we’ve become too accustomed to accepting?
  14. If we ruled out the belief that ANYTHING is impossible to accomplish, what would we start trying to accomplish RIGHT AWAY?
  15. What are nine other projects we could start that are related to our organization’s biggest project to help us move it ahead more quickly?

Are there enough strategic thinking questions on this list that make you squirm?

If so, be sure you start asking those first! – Mike Brown

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Download: FREE Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookAre you making the best use of customer input and market insights to deliver innovation and growth? Creating successful, innovative new products and services has never been more dependent on tapping perspectives from outside your organization.

This new ebook features sixteen strategic thinking exercises to help you ideate, prioritize, and develop your best innovative growth ideas. Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Learn and rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate crowd sourced perspectives into your innovation strategy in smart ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s growth.

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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0

How do you help people with varied creative thinking skills perform most productively in a group setting?

We ask ourselves that question regularly, both in a general sense and with specific groups participating in creative thinking sessions we design and facilitate.

If you lead group meetings or teams, you should be asking this question also. If you don’t you’ll waste a lot of your time and others’ time fumbling around and hoping they individually, collectively, and spontaneously apply their creative thinking skills in the best possible way to solve whatever challenge you’ve presented.

From hundreds of formal creativity and strategy sessions and thousands of less formal meetings, here’s how we answer the question. The best way to help people with a wide array of creative thinking skills perform most productively is to provide questions for them to answer.

Sometimes they are simple questions. Other times, the creative thinking questions are more complex or approach an issue from multiple directions.

When you give someone a creative thinking question and some structure, however, you set the stage for people with different perspectives to work together successfully.

Questions and Structure Fostering Creative Thinking Skills

For example, at the Literacy Kansas City strategy session we facilitated, we wanted the group to react (in a constructive, additive way) to in-process planning underway for a new initiative’s launch. After two staff members shared their current plans, we could have moved to a blank flip chart and asked for reactions, which is what happens in most meetings.

Instead, we used the strategy poster in the photo below with targeted creative thinking questions. We designed it to help participants focus on critical success factors, ramifications from implementing a new model, and the metrics needed to measure success. By using multiple questions, people had a target for how they could contribute to the discussion and the planning’s progress.

Session-Poster

At the meeting’s end, one participant told the group she came to the session intimidated and wondering how she’d be able to contribute. After she saw the collaborative approach, however, she realized she had a lot to contribute throughout the day.

That’s a wonderful confirmation for using questions and structure to help people contribute to a productive meeting and a successful strategy.

Next time you’re expected to plan a meeting, spend time thinking about how YOU can help participants tap all their creative thinking skills through questions and structure.

Or if it’s a high-stakes, big, complex meeting, call us. We’ll do the planning for you to get the results you want! – Mike Brown

 

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

If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational 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 your organizational 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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