3

DHL-FasterNot every disruptive marketing tactic in a competitor strategy has to be an industry-changing move by a non-traditional competitor against a stagnant old-line competitor. 

Sometimes disruptive marketing might simply involve one behemoth beating up on another one in an unusual way – even through a prank.

A video appearing online last week is an intriguing example of competitor strategy involving disruptive marketing although, according to some reports, it is a prank of a prank.

Disruptive Marketing Pranks

The original video “suggests” that courier DHL shipped several boxes via its competitors, including UPS and TNT. At pickup, each package initially appeared to be black, allegedly from being covered in “temperature-activated ink” that was chilled before shipping. As the boxes warmed during transport, the black disappeared to reveal a prank message on the difficult-to-deliver boxes. DHL (or its agency or some other third party) videoed delivery of the boxes to hard-to-find addresses to create the video shared here.

At the time this is being originally published, there are questions about whether DHL was involved in the prank.

Quite honestly, having competed against DHL where they directly used our company’s name (along with reference to the UPS Brown campaign) in a print ad, I would not put this past them. But whether DHL was involved originally or not, it is still a trigger for strategic thinking about going after a competitor in an unusual way.

Another thing interesting about this example is that from a US perspective, this looks like a small, potentially disruptive competitor (DHL) going after a huge industry leader (UPS).

But that’s not the global picture.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL (which is the German Post Office), the world’s largest courier company. So instead of the little guy engaging in disruptive marketing against the big guy, this would be the biggest guy slapping around a couple of enormous, but still smaller competitors.

Having been in the transportation industry, the delivery side of a prank like this (again, if it is real) would be the least of the concerns for UPS and the other competitor involved. The bigger issue would be the complaints about these boxes that would not move through competitors’ conveyor systems, likely necessitating one-off handling as they started revealing their messages!

Would this fit your competitor strategy?

What do you think?

Would you ever prank your competitor and stick it in the brand’s face like this? Have you already done it? And does the strategy matter based on whether you are the big player or small player in your market? 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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2

Extreme-CreativitySuppose you have an opposite strategic situation relative to the one described in yesterday’s article: you have too many extreme ideas you need to determine how to implement.

In cases where you have more extreme creativity than you can begin to implement, you want to be able to turn a really big creative idea into something that can actually move forward.

If you’re trying to create strategic impact, you don’t want to have to abandon a big creative idea because of failing to figure out how to turn it into something you can make happen.

5 Creative Thinking Questions to Harness Extreme Creativity

If you’re facing this issue, try these five questions to re-shape and re-shift extreme ideas back to reality:

  1. If it’s too big or risky to do, how can you break off a small piece and pursue that?
  2. If it’s too dangerous to do, how can you take away the least amount of danger while keeping as much extreme as possible?
  3. If it’s too ridiculous to do, how can you make it just realistic enough to get started implementing it?
  4. If it’s too radical, how can you make it seem not as overtly threatening?
  5. If it goes off in the wrong direction, how can you take a seed of the idea and nurture it so it develops in a valuable way?

Having worked for several creative geniuses during my career, these types of questions were de rigueur for turning their extreme creativity into reality. – Mike Brown

 

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4

Designing a strategy planning session, a client expressed frustration that the leadership team never challenged itself with big enough strategic thinking for the organization’s future.  

As a result, we incorporated a set of extreme creativity questions into the strategic planning session.

Detour-SignThese strategic thinking questions are designed to drive bigger, bolder creative ideas. They provide, in effect, a detour around conventional thinking.

In this instance, faced with a different type of question to answer, the leadership team members didn’t miss a beat and started delivering the unusually challenging ideas they had never articulated previously.

The difference was simply having the leadership team answer new types of questions than it had previously. The group was very open to responding to the strategic thinking questions we posed and could respond appropriately to questions intended to drive bolder ideas.

Asking a Different Type of Question to Drive New Strategic Thinking

It’s clear that the intent behind the questions you ask makes a huge difference in the strategic thinking a group does. Depending on what type of thinking you need from your team, consider these sets of questions.

Remember – if you’re not getting the right types of answers, it could likely be it’s because you aren’t asking the types of strategic thinking questions you really need. – 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 in creating strategic impact for your organization.

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

A couple recent Brainzooming articles highlighted strategic thinking exercises comparing online and offline situations to help better understand, explain, and develop social media strategy.

One article focused on how using a network TV model helps create fantastic content on an ongoing basis. The other article used models for various social networks as a way to understand how and why you approach each of them differently.

Both these articles and the strategic thinking exercises were well received in part, I think, because they compared the relatively new (social media network strategy) to more familiar things (TV networks, campfires, networking events, etc.).

5 Benefits of Using a Strategic Model

Apples-Orange-LOWe’re big believers in the value of models as strategic thinking exercises for a variety of reasons.

A strategic model can:

  • Provide a different perspective on what you do that you can readily consult to freshen your strategic thinking.
  • Allow you to see the impact of ideas you might want to try in an analogous situation.
  • Create an ongoing source of new ideas through examining what new things are happening within an analogous situation.
  • Suggest potential networking opportunities to reach out to non-competitors facing similar challenges and opportunities.
  • Help you to forecast future events based on how older, comparable industries to yours have changed.

The key to finding viable models for strategic thinking exercises is identifying analogous situations, strategic connections, and even apples and oranges comparisons. With a few options, you can pick one or models that work for you most effectively.

What’s your take on using models for strategic thinking exercises? Any success stories you’d like to share? -  Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

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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

Mozilla-Chris-LawrenceThe Building the Gigabit City 2.0 event on February 13 in Kansas City was an incredible day in so many respects.

The Mozilla Foundation launched the event to stimulate proposal submissions for its $150,000 Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund in Kansas City.

The Brainzooming Group designed the afternoon interactive session for the day-long event. Throughout the afternoon, well over 100 participants imagined and described app and technology concepts to improve education, workforce development, digital access, and other areas within the Kansas City community and beyond.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0

With the number and range of participants at the majestic Kansas City Public Library, we recruited an extended team to facilitate six community-oriented tracks.

Our team included a mix of people – some we’ve known for a few months to others we’ve known for decades. All had facilitated, participated in, or tracked the Brainzooming strategic thinking methodology.

The fantastic strategic thinking session facilitation team included:

Mike-Alex-Brainzooming

Mike Brown (l), Alex Greenwood (r), and the Senior Living / Lifelong Learning team at work.

To ensure the facilitation team was ready to help participants work on new app concepts, we prepared a more than 30-page facilitator’s guide. The guide provided overviews on Mozilla objectives, background on each community group, and step-by-step overviews for using the Brainzooming exercises we designed.

Each facilitator brought their own expertise and experience to what we designed to bring it to life. We are so appreciative of everyone volunteering their time to make the event a success!

Strategic Thinking Learnings about the Brainzooming Methodology

Every time other people facilitate a Brainzooming strategic thinking session, it’s a fantastic learning opportunity both through facilitator comments and observing the groups. Among the strategic thinking learnings coming out of the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund session we designed:

  • The session emphasized how outcomes-based the Brainzooming methodology is. We start with what needs to come from a strategy session and design backwards, which creates a strong emphasis on production.
  • The Brainzooming methodology gains speed (the “zooming” experience) by eliminating elements that don’t add to the final output’s quality. That sometimes means participants (and facilitators) don’t get the context they’d like (even though the results suggest they don’t need it).
  • When you are monitoring group process but not facilitating, you rely on different cues. Rather than the content of the ideas, you depend on volume (of talking and of ideas), participant physical activity, posture, and eye contact as the primary signals for intra-session success.

Kudos to Kari Keefe of Mozilla and Aaron Deacon of KC Digital Drive who were the primary contacts Barrett Sydnor and I worked with leading up to the event.

Thanks also go to Alex Greenwood and the team at Alex G Public Relations for their work on, among other things, identifying the ideal spot above to do a video interview showcasing the visual impact of a Brainzooming session.

Building the Gigabit City 2.0 from LINC on Vimeo.

Now, we’re looking forward to seeing the variety of proposals coming forward to compete for funding! – 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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4

The easy move when a problem confronts you is to act right away.

We encourage taking action because it is tangible, and we can check a problem off the list, even if it is not solved. You won’t find many people who will argue with, “I did something about that right away!”

Pausing, hesitating, and downright stalling in the face of a problem?

Well, that comes off as laziness, inattention, or even indifference.

11 Advantages When You Wait Before Acting

wait-right-thereBut there ARE advantages to strategic patience and to not acting right away, such as:

  • Others may resolve the problem because they feel ownership for it
  • The hyper anxiety over the problem could die down
  • You may have time to think of a simple answer
  • Others may supply you with the right answer
  • Someone else could step up to solve it – for the good and bad that involves
  • The problem may be forgotten by tomorrow
  • It may no longer be relevant
  • Circumstances may remove the downsides you face in addressing the problem
  • You could discover that the new situations resulting from the problem are ACTUALLY better than the old one
  • You can develop a solution with a fresher perspective later
  • An unexpected situation may be putting you in a BETTER position than you had previously

I cannot put a specific percentage on the number of times strategic patience will work better than acting right away. But based on my own history and predisposition to pause (which sounds better than “wait”), it is significant. And it seems to be getting higher as peoples’ stress levels lead to more perceived problems and less inclination toward strategic patience.

Strategic Patience – Wait for It

So join me in exercising strategic patience more frequently to give yourself time to see what happens. I’ll wait while you decide. – 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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1

In a Strategic Thinking workshop recently, a participant from the largest business unit of a multinational company asked, “How, when it comes to corporate strategy, can the “tail can wag the dog”?

Put another way, he wondered how his business unit, which feels hemmed in by corporate strategy directives, can better influence or vary the corporation’s direction.

6 Ideas for the Tail Wagging the Corporate Strategy Dog

caymanAnswering his question generated these six ideas. The ideas range from the least risky to the most risky from both an organizational and a personal standpoint:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to outperform expectations even following a sub-optimum corporate strategy (in order to earn the right for greater latitude and experimentation)
  2. Identify new and better ways to deliver on the corporate objectives that stretch the organization in positive ways
  3. Build a rock solid business case demonstrating superior returns from an alternative strategy
  4. Assess what type of strategic change the organization needs and reach out to corporate leaders to make the case for moving forward with a different strategy
  5. Wait out the current direction until it changes, and you can pursue a more targeted strategy
  6. Create a stealth effort to push forward with targeted initiatives

While it seems numbers five and six are wildly different (i.e., one is suggesting “toe the line” and the other is advocating for going against the corporate strategy in a clandestine way), they are both very risky.

If the business unit truly has to sub-optimize to follow the prescribed corporate strategy, it should be a very conscious decision – not the accidental fallout of a strategic disconnect within the organization.

Similarly, making the decision to advance particular initiatives that are right for a business unit but clearly outside corporate strategy may be possible. But pursuing this strategy could be a recipe for huge problems for leadership and the overall organization.

That’s why both five and six, although wildly different strategies, are both very risky. If you decide to go there, be careful . . . very careful! 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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