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Suppose you usually employ impeccable project management techniques to stay on top of all the details of your work. But maybe, just this once, in spite of your best intentions on making progress on a project, other factors have gotten in the way.

While the big five thousand pound weight of not staying on top of the project has not fallen on your head yet, it seems like it will soon.

You just do not know when.

If you are in that position now on a project, or think you may be in the future, it is good to know what project management techniques you can use to come from behind.

Strategic Thinking Exercises for Social Media Policy

14 Project Management Techniques to Come from Behind

Take Short Cuts

  1. Look for nice-to-have steps or deliverables you can eliminate.
  2. Prioritize the aspects that you can most easily complete with the biggest relative impact on the project.
  3. Simplify expectations.
  4. Take advantage of work you have previously done that can be used or adapted.
  5. Take advantage of forms and structures you have previously done that can be used or adapted.

Reach out for Help

  1. Invite others to help you jumpstart or accelerate progress.
  2. Create examples or templates that others can follow.

Manage the Clock

  1. Negotiate for more time.
  2. Schedule dedicated time blocks to work on it.
  3. Figure out what small pieces you can break off and make progress with in very small chunks of time while you are waiting for other things to progress.

Attack the Project Differently

  1. Figure out a different order of steps that could work better and faster than how you would typically approach things.
  2. Make a fast pass through the entire project that is more than an outline but involves less time than a typical first draft or prototype.

Make Your Progress Clear

  1. Create an artifact to give some tangible form to your progress.
  2. Create an outline or checklist of activities to monitor your progress.

There’s a starting list of project management techniques to try.

Pick what might work for you, and get started coming from behind! – Mike Brown

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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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When you’re on the road, lots of things are going on, and you’re up at 4:30 a.m. trying to write, you get very creative about what you can share in that day’s blog post.

At least that’s what happened with these strategic thinking quotes for today!

These strategic thinking quotes all came from some of the earliest, pre-Brainzooming strategy sessions we were doing in the Fortune 500 world. Some are serious; some were meant to take friendly jabs at our economist; some (specifically the last one from me) were made up to get a laugh when one was needed in the middle of the afternoon.

Blah-Blah-Blah

16 Strategic Thinking Quotes on Ideas

“Most people don’t take the time to think. I made an international reputation for myself by deciding to think twice a week.”  – George Bernard Shaw

“No brain is stronger than its weakest think.” – Thomas L. Masson

“The man who gets the most satisfactory results is not always the man with the most brilliant single mind, but rather the man who can best coordinate the brains and talents of his associates.” – W. Alton Jones

“I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” – Woodrow Wilson

“Our best thoughts come from others.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”  – Dr. Seuss

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to look after them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

“The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.” – Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance

“To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains.” –Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole, 1938

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” – Georg C. Lichtenberg

“Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.” – Thomas Dewar

“I dwell in possibilities.” – Emily Dickinson

“If you have to forecast, forecast often. “ – Edgar R. Fiedler

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” – Laurence J. Peter

“For a successful strategy session, keep the food light, the lights bright, and drink caffeine all night.”– Mike Brown

“Generating exciting new ideas burns 325 calories per hour and has no carbs. Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. Rambling aimlessly about a point that someone has already made burns only 3 calories per hour.” – Mike Brown (Definitely don’t quote me on this one!)

 

10 Keys to Engaging Employees and Creating Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short 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 senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees in strategy AND implementation success

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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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There is no one right way to gather information when you’re working with multiple parties. That’s why it’s beneficial to think upfront about what ways might work best for you.

Ask the Same Questions Over and Over

One natural way to gather information from separate, multiple groups is asking the same strategic thinking questions repeatedly so you can aggregate or compare answers from among all participants. This is the basis of quantitative survey research. You can employ the same strategy in more qualitative settings too, such as in focus groups or when evaluating between separate groups or individuals (think of a job interview or a vendor review process).

This same approach underpins much of our strategy work.

For example, it’s what happens when you answer the same questions annually about an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Asking the same strategic thinking questions of multiple people each year provides a basis for making effective comparisons.

We employ this approach for strategic thinking questions across many situations.

Identify What Answers You Need and Ask Different Strategic Thinking Questions

There is another valuable technique for using strategic thinking questions, however, that many organizations overlook. We use it actively, however.

Strategic-Questions

We inventory upfront what information we need to learn or insights we need to develop to move a strategy forward. With this inventory of strategic thinking ANSWERS, we can make decisions on whether the asking same strategic thinking questions repeatedly will deliver what we need OR if asking varied questions will work more effectively and efficiently.

This questioning strategy to information and insight planning provides various benefits:

  • If a key piece of information comes up earlier than expected during our process, we can capture it than and have it available when we need it later.
  • Asking strategic thinking detour questions allows people to share new insights and answers that won’t emerge from the standard questions.
  • Varying the strategic thinking questions we use provides greater flexibility and is less monotonous for participants.

Neither of these two approaches replaces the other one. Used together, however, the two approaches open up many more opportunities for stronger information gathering and developing new insights. – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Employees and Creating Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short 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 senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees 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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I am not a big Rudy Giuliani fan. Recent personal events, however, have me thinking about two messages from a closing keynote Rudy Giuliani delivered at a customer conference I produced back in my Fortune 500 days.

Giuliani-Stage

The two messages struck me strongly, and I have tried to adopt both of them into my strategic planning since; one is professional, and one is very personal.

How do you handle the unimaginable in strategic planning?

The professional message came through his discussion of 9-11 that took place several years before our conference. Rudy Giuliani said when the attack and collapse of the World Trade Center buildings happened, New York City had no strategic plans ready for what to do if two planes fly into the World Trade Center and they collapse.

What the city did have were various plans for things that were happening in the aftermath of the collapse. The strategic thinking key was putting the other plans together and executing them rapidly to address the crisis.

For Brainzooming, that means embracing the idea of rapid strategy planning and development to create mini-plans.

Rather than developing overly elaborate strategic plans with too many assumptions about the future and too many critical moving parts, we are oriented to create more streamlined, straightforward strategic planning documents. These strategic plans are quicker to prepare, allowing us to create more of them to accommodate a greater variety of things that might happen. They can also be more readily adapted, improving the effectiveness of strategic planning

What is optional, and what is mandatory?

The other lingering lesson from the Rudy Giuliani keynote speech was that when it comes to attending events, weddings are optional, but funerals are mandatory.

Funeral

Previously, I found excuses for not attending funerals I should have attended in order to support friends and family members. It was always too easy to say work responsibilities or travel prevented attending.

Since then, although far from having a perfect attendance record, I have made a concerted effort to travel to funerals I’d have found easy excuses to miss previously, including one this past weekend.

Not once have I ever regretted making decisions to attend these funerals, but I absolutely do have regrets over ones I did not.

Thinking about all the speakers I have seen before and after, two big, memorable, and actionable lessons from one keynote seems remarkable.

I’m so thankful for hearing both of them when I did. – 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 found this picture while cleaning off my iPad (yes, this one too). It was from a creating strategic impact workshop. While discussing project management techniques, I used it to show how to develop project management strategies when dealing with unpredictable people in business.

Working-With-People

Putting the range of predictability (from low to high) on the Y-axis, the X-axis conveys how “good for business” someone might be, from low to high.

Sizing up someone you work with regularly in these two areas helps develop a strategy to build and strengthen the working relationship to maximize its effectiveness.

Project Management Techniques – The 4 Types of People on Your Team

Obviously, the best situation (upper right quadrant) is someone whose business behaviors are predictable, and the person is good for business. We LOVE them! These are the people to recruit for any project you are leading.

In the lower right quadrant, you have people who exhibit productive business behaviors but do so unpredictably. They may not always finish things, could be prone to running late, or aren’t always available when needed. You still want to involve them, but your project management techniques need to include anticipating what to do if they fall down when you need them. It may require getting them assignments early or having someone else available to step in if they aren’t ready to deliver when you definitely need them.

In the upper left, these people aren’t great for business, but at least they are predictable in their shortcomings. If you must include these types of people on project teams or in management groups, be ready with work arounds or other maneuvers to minimize dependencies (especially critical dependencies) related to them. This way, they won’t compromise the group’s progress.

Finally, and unfortunately, we have people who are bad for business, but unpredictably so. You can count on them messing up things (unintentionally OR intentionally), but you can’t be sure how they will do it. You want to get them off the team or out of the organization if possible, but that is not always in the cards. If you are stuck with trying to manage around them, marginalize them or handle them as you would a sociopath. (Surprisingly or not, the articles we’ve written on the topic are among some of the most viewed on the Brainzooming blog.)

During a lull in your next management meeting or project update, draw this grid and see where all your team members fit. Here’s hoping you fill up the upper right quadrant right away!– Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short 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 senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

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 more employees 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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I found this picture while cleaning off my iPad. The notepad with the message, “Leave a Trail of Genius,” was from a meeting at a Marriott in Jackson, MS.

Leave-Trail-Genius-Pic

When it comes to creating strategic impact, what CAN you do to leave a trail of genius?

That doesn’t have to mean you have to be a genius, however. It simply means you have been creating strategic impact by bringing out the genius in others.

26 Ways to Leave a Trail of Genius

So what are you doing to leave a trail of genius wherever you interact?

  1. Encouraging people to use their distinctive talents to express their ideas.
  2. Teaching people things that took you a long time to learn.
  3. Asking questions of others that lead them to discover new ideas.
  4. Being able to listen to others with as much skill as you display when doling out advice to them.
  5. Encouraging others by reminding them of past successes.
  6. Seeing potential in others they don’t even realize.
  7. Knowing exactly when to push and when to let up.
  8. Introducing big possibilities without specifying all the answers for how to accomplish them.
  9. Bringing excitement to unexciting situations.
  10. Seeing new possibilities where others only see the status quo.
  11. Assembling the right team for the moment.
  12. Challenging what’s expected and expecting the challenges you’ll receive in return.
  13. Not worrying about being understood.
  14. Painting a compelling vision that stretches everyone.
  15. Creating things people haven’t even imagined before.
  16. Getting everyone focused on what matters.
  17. Experimenting all the time.
  18. Cultivating enough mystery to keep everyone intrigued and guessing.
  19. Borrowing ideas from other places that are new to what you do.
  20. Knowing how long to repeat what is working before you suddenly change it.
  21. Giving others the time and preparation to come along and be ready to perform when they need to perform.
  22. Laughing at authority figures that believe they matter much more than they really do.
  23. Trying for something bigger every time.
  24. Never learning anything from your mistakes that would make you fearful of making future mistakes.
  25. Always letting other people shine by giving them the opportunities and stages on which to perform.
  26. Cultivating just enough of the myth behind all the genius moments you leave on the trail.

That’s a start at a list for creating strategic impact. What do you do to leave a trail of genius behind you? – Mike Brown

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

ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help you generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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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First-time workshop questions always trigger blog posts. A new question from last week’s Outside-In Brand Innovation Brainzooming Workshop at the Brand Strategy Conference is no exception.

The intimate size of the brand innovation workshop afforded a rare opportunity. The participants decided to select one brand from among the attendees with everyone working together on outside-in innovation exercises for that brand. Using this approach with the strategic thinking questions, we created a tremendous jumpstart for a B2C brand whose brand manager admitted struggling with differentiating itself from its closest direct competitor.

The group’s responses to the strategic thinking questions and their brand innovation ideas filled many easel-sized Post-it pages.

Modifiers

7 Keys to Creating a Brand Toolkit for Brand Innovation

The voluminous poster-based output led one participant to ask what we do AFTER the strategic thinking questions and exercises to document the Brainzooming results.

That’s something I don’t typically cover in workshops, especially since most involve participants working on exercises individually.

After reviewing the poster photos to begin documenting a session, here are the next strategic thinking questions we ask ourselves to create actionable report outs:

  1. What big ideas jump off the page (or stand out in our memories) as natural big messages?
  2. What are big ideas people overlooked that should be brought to the forefront?
  3. Are there big themes that emerge when we aggregate multiple ideas from across exercises?
  4. How do we best call attention to the expected deliverables and outcomes from the workshop?
  5. If we are putting results into a table or matrix, are there obvious dimensions for organizing them? Are there less obvious dimensions to organize them in new ways?
  6. Were there any ideas that took my breath away when they were suggested? (From our Brand Strategy Conference workshop, one attendee shared an insight that could be a million dollar idea for a differentiated brand position. Those ideas make me gasp when they emerge.)
  7. Are there interesting parts of ideas that emerged during different exercises that need to be put together?

Asking and answering strategic thinking questions such as these helps develop what we characterize as a “strategic brand toolkit.” A brand toolkit (in electronic form) provides a brand manager so many possibilities for ongoing brand innovation.

Does that sound like what your brand needs?

Let’s talk about making it happen for your brand! – 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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