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Are you still working on your strategic planning for 2017?

Or, are you still waiting to launch your strategic planning for 2017?

Or is strategic planning for the next year something your organization just neglects to do?

If you answered “Yes” to the first or second questions, or even to the third one, but you know you SHOULD do planning for next year, time is running out.

5 Ways to Still Complete Your Strategic Planning for 2017

orange-chairs

To help you get a handle on what you have left to complete for strategic planning, here are five things you can do to cope AND get completely on top of things for 2017:

  • Keep as much of last year’s strategy in place as is practical and focus only on updating tactics.
  • Expand the number of people collaborating on the plan, creating concurrent tracks of activity.
  • Simplify the various parts of the plan so that it is easier and faster to complete.
  • Invite people that cannot come together for in-person planning to participate via online collaboration.
  • Push out the expectation for finishing strategic planning until early next year to give you more time.

Each of these five ideas will remove a significant time drain during your planning activities. The key to all of these is that you have the wherewithal to make such a dramatic change and still deliver a strategic plan that moves your business ahead next year.

We can help make each of these adjustments, all in the interests of streamlining your strategic planning process. Let us know if you need help. We can make it happen in time for you to be ready to make next year your best year yet!

Let’s talk for thirty minutes, and see how we can still work together to complete your plan and start implementing! – Mike Brown

Streamline and Complete 2017 Strategic Planning!

Download our FREE eBook: 5 Keys to Streamline Your Strategic Planning Process

5-keys-streamline-cover2In this new eBook, we share some of what we’ve learned from shaping, streamlining, and implementing hundreds of strategic workshops. Through our experience, we’ve identified and now share in this eBook:

  • Suggestions for assembling a strategy team with the right types of diversity
  • Dependable ways to help non-strategists think strategically
  • Tips for streamlining strategic planning activities to best fit your organization and save time

These user-friendly techniques regularly cut weeks (sometimes months) from typical strategic planning activities so your organization can focus on successful implementation for 2017!

Download Your FREE eBook! 5 Keys to Streamline Strategic Planning Activities!


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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Should you NEVER have fun during your company’s strategy planning process?

I suspect you know my answer to that question!

I had dinner the other evening with a former colleague from the corporate world. He is the relatively new CEO of a nonprofit organization. As we were exchanging stories about what we had done since the last time we saw one another, we discussed strategic planning.

He mentioned that the organization’s current strategic planning process facilitator “reprimanded” him at a strategy meeting. She told him never to mention the idea of having “fun” during strategy planning. Supposedly, the previous CEO set the tone for strategy, and fun was not part of the strategic planning process equation.

Wow.

Double Wow.

Strategic-Planning-Fun

I immediately showed him how one of our most recent strategic planning eBooks was all about working to create a fun atmosphere for strategy planning. He recalled how we always spread out a bunch of toys at strategy planning meetings. While toys may or may not be part of the mix during strategic planning activities, the key principle is that being serious and mind numbing does not, in and of itself, lead to stronger strategy.

In the Brainzooming worldview, the best strategy comes from pushing on the edges of everyday thinking.

Or pushing beyond those edges into territory no upstanding businessperson would typically venture. And in those cases, fun and laughter are all part of the strategy deal. You cannot imagine boldly when your brain is chained to serious thinking.

Mind numbing thinking does not lead to breakthrough thinking.

Wild thinking (which IS FUN) does.

That is why we highly recommend that fun and your company’s strategic planning process go together!  – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Strategy Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

 

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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What are basic brand strategy moves to quickly take an older brand into today’s market?

An “Inside the Executive Suite” article from Armada Corporate Intelligence looked at this brand strategy question last month. They evaluated the options for the band Depeche Mode. The group is making a “comeback” and incorporated a variety of brand strategy approaches to freshen its brand.

An Old Brand Is Just an Old Brand – Until to You Do Something New with It – via Armada Corporate Intelligence

Depeche Mode, a 1980s and 90s alternative band, is discussing a new record and tour. The group, known for hits such as, “People Are People,”  “Personal Jesus,” and “Enjoy the Silence,” announced its newest record, “Spirit,” six months in advance along with a twenty-one country tour during mid-2017.

Depeche Mode has remained active since its biggest hits decades ago. This week’s announcement, however, seems to represent a new push to return to greater prominence.

What makes an old product new again?

We raised the question yesterday of how brands rekindle, dust off, improve, innovate upon, and reintroduce themselves to the market. The Depeche Mode update involves multiple brand strategies:

  • Involving a new producer and tech music luminaries
  • Putting the brand into new formats
  • Ramping up promotional elements
  • Playing up pure nostalgia

If you have a long-standing brand needing a boost to reach its previous heights, what are your options for bringing it back to the market in a way that attracts attention, engages existing and new audiences, and delivers improved business results?

Evaluating Your Brand Update Options

Using possibilities suggested in the Depeche Mode story plus a few others, we identified (and labeled) six potential brand update strategies for long-standing brands to undertake enhancements. These include:

Pure Nostalgia – In this strategy, everything essentially remains the same with the original brand. The brand’s promise (what it delivers to customers), elements (what makes up the brand), and experience (what happens for customers as they use the brand) to remain relatively unchanged. The brand attraction is dependent on audiences having positive (and likely intense) memories of the brand from an earlier, more prominent time. There may be a significant marketing push for the brand, but it constitutes the main effort to return the brand to earlier prominence. (Example – A cereal or candy brand marketing itself as a brand you remember from childhood)

Reintroduction – This strategic option involves updating the brand promise, elements, and experience to reflect current capabilities, knowledge, and market realities. Elements of the old brand may be eliminated and replaced with different aspects than the brand originally possessed. While certain brand elements are distinctly different and reflect today’s situation, a strong connection remains to the brand’s earlier days to create clear linkage. (Example – Bringing back current actors to play Colonel Sanders for KFC)

Refresh – Within a brand refresh strategy, the objective is to focus on a brand’s strongest elements – the things making it most distinctive and valuable to the primary audience – and preserve them. Any brand aspects that are outdated or lacking in some way are replaced with distinctly new elements reflecting a contemporary look, feel, and sensibilities. (Example – Pokémon GO, moving a familiar brand into mobile gaming and augmented reality)

Reformulation – In this brand update scenario, a brand retains its name and perhaps a few very important core elements. Everything else is completely redesigned and modernized. The underlying expectation is to call to mind the old brand among loyal audience members while relying on modern features to fuel new growth and success. (Example – The “new” Yankee Stadium replacing the old, historic ballpark)

Promotional Reintroduction – Even when a brand promise is largely intact and all aspects of the brand are strong, it may need an extra something to maximize its impact in a new way. That is when a promotion-based brand update strategy comes into play. The objective here is using a short-term change in the brand (or attaching something new to the brand) to generate interest and attention. After some finite period, the brand change or addition is reversed.  (Example – Coca-Cola adding personal names to its cans and bottles for the summer)

161102-mummy-pops

(Re)Launch – This brand update strategy involves keeping the brand largely intact as it has always been. The major change involves inserting the brand into new channels, locations, or markets. It could also involve returning to current channels, locations, or markets where the brand was previously active but withdrew or minimized its presence. (Example – A restaurant chain that enters and exits a particular market, only to re-enter the market at a future time)

A couple of notes about these strategies:

  • These options are not mutually exclusive. They likely benefit, in fact, from smart, strategic combinations.
  • We selected the labels based on how we’ve seen these described and deployed, so you may see them labeled differently elsewhere

Against this backdrop of potential strategies, we recommend conducting an exercise to identify a comprehensive list of everything closely associated with your brand. Beyond listing anything tied to the brand promise, elements, and experience, include language, customer perceptions (positive and negative, quantitative and qualitative), images, and any other sensory cues related to the brand.

After identifying a robust list of brand-related aspects, assemble a group of people from throughout your organization with strong insights into the brand. Have the group individually and collectively make their best assessments of whether each brand item is:

  • Critical to defining the brand
  • Important to the brand, but open to modification or significant change
  • No longer relevant for the brand

While it is ideal to have quantitative market research to incorporate into this type of brand assessment, a diverse group can generally make a strong first pass evaluation of where you have room to modify your brand. As you develop a point of view on where your brand is ripe for change, review the brand update strategy options list. Choose one or multiple strategies that might make sense for updating your brand.

Does your brand need a refresh?

Beyond this article, let us know if you want to talk further about updating a brand. With many organizations currently preparing next year’s strategies, it is a great time to perform a brand check to determine if it is time for something new.

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“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

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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Is your strategy team tired of the same old strategic thinking exercises?

Is your leadership team expressing its frustration with the inability to generate new insights about your brand’s strongest market opportunities?

Are you searching for ways to quickly and effectively engage brand leaders to anticipate and address emerging threats you face?

If you face these situations, The Brainzooming Group has a new eBook you need. It offers fresh ideas for using one of the most common strategic thinking exercises . . . and it’s FREE!

“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. With simple, actionable adaptations, you can take your leadership team through a variety of fresh SWOT analysis approaches that:

  • Put your customers front and center with every look you take at your marketplace
  • Challenge your thinking about what parts of your strategy are obsolete, opinion-based, and open to serious objections
  • Push you to go deeper and bolder in your SWOT analysis

strategic-thinking-exercises-swot-analysis

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, we designed “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” as a go-to resource throughout strategic planning. 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

Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis alternatives include:

  • Creating a SWOT from multiple pieces
  • Using a SWOOT analysis to create a twist
  • Employing a bolder SWOT analysis than ANYONE expects
  • Going deeper with a Four x 4 approach
  • Triggering richer insights by varying participants, focus areas, and perspectives

All that in one handy, FREE Brainzooming eBook!

Download your copy of “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” today!Mike Brown

Need Fresh Insights to Drive Your Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“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

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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Reading responses about the strategic planning challenges faced by executives downloading our eBooks suggests a variety of strong blog topics.

One challenge mentioned recently is how one organization’s previous strategic planning processes did not work. This necessitates looking for new and better approaches.

This is not a unique situation. Many of you are likely finding your way to the Brainzooming website because you are searching for new ways to address strategic planning challenges.

failed-strategic-planning-process

As we developed the Brainzooming methodology inside the corporate world, our strategic planning did not always work as well as we planned (which is ironic). Sometimes the gap was about the planning itself. Other times it might be about the process steps or the leaders sponsoring the strategic planning process. Still other times, it involved challenges implementing the plan after we completed it.

13 Strategic Planning Process Questions When Strategy Planning Isn’t Working

Irrespective of the specific reason, if your strategy planning approach has not worked in previous years, what potential issues should you explore to fix it? And what questions should you ask to identify underlying issues to address?

Could you change ______?

The people involved

Leadership sponsoring strategy planning

  • Are there opportunities to create greater engagement?
  • Can you create a stronger understanding of how planning benefits the organization?
  • Is it possible to communicate to the leaders a better sense of critical success factors for the strategic planning process?
  • Can you more thoroughly incorporate leadership expectations into the strategy planning approach you use?

The strategic planning process

The transition from planning to implementation

Who knows where your answer to improved strategy planning lies among those questions?

The important point is to explore the questions and realize there’s an answer out there.

If you would like to talk about what that answer might be for you, contact us, and let’s discuss how an approach to strategy planning that’s built around your organization would look! – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make a Developing Strategy More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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 was scrambling to get on the road by 6:30 the other morning, to make the drive to southern Missouri so I could attend my Aunt Bette’s funeral. As usual, I had a running list in my mind of all the things I needed to do and take along for the trip. Somewhere near the bottom of the list were a box of cheese crackers (for road sustenance) and my Bluetooth headset.

About thirty minutes in, I was starting to get hungry and wanting to listen to Catholic radio on my phone, since I could not find the station on the radio. Sadly, I discovered I’d forgotten the delicious cheese crackers. And though I moved things around on the passenger seat and checked the center storage compartment, I couldn’t find my Bluetooth headset. I wound up listening the non-hands free way, holding the phone to my ear, still wishing I had those crackers.

Some time later, having stopped to make a crucial purchase of cheese crackers and use the facilities, I was washing my hands. Looking up from the sink to the mirror, I spotted the Bluetooth headset around my neck—exactly where I’d put it just a few hours earlier, before I’d gotten into the car.

What’s your mirror?

mirror

Clearly, lessons are everywhere.

Here’s the strategic thinking question I saw in that moment: Where are your mirrors? And what are you doing to make sure you have the help you need, in order see all the obvious things you CAN’T see for yourself?

Your mirrors might be people (the ones that will kindly or not so kindly remind you that you’re missing the obvious), things (information and reports that provide real insights from multiple perspectives), or situations (new environments that create alternative perspectives from the ones you usually see).

Heck, the mirrors may take some other form altogether (if yours are cheese crackers, I’d like to know more).

Ultimately, you need to make sure you that your most valuable mirrors have the clearest views of you, so they can alert you as early as possible to important things you miss when you try to go it on your own.

So, what mirrors are on your list? And which mirrors can you start putting around you before the week is over? – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders are looking for powerful ways to engage strong collaborators to shape shared visions. 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 leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved 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 through a strategic thinking question-based approach to strategy
  • Actively engage stakeholders 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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Someone downloading the new 11 Ideas for Fun Strategic Planning eBook when we released it stated his biggest strategy challenge as coming up with fresh ways to do the same strategic planning exercises with the same executives every year

I hear that challenge in a big way.

When we were developing the Brainzooming strategic planning process inside a Fortune 500 company, we used it to plan strategy across a whole portfolio of services and clients in a B2B setting. While some participants in the early Brainzooming strategy workshops changed from day-to-day, we would often have the same people participating every single day for an entire week or more. I spent many late nights modifying each workshop format to change them enough to keep the participants (and me) engaged, mentally sharp, and creative.

9 Ways to Keep Strategic Planning Process Exercises Fresh Every Year

So when you are working with the same old audience every day (or annually) and trying the same old strategic planning exercises, what can you do to change things up?

strategic-planning-process-changes

Here are nine ideas based on those early experiences to add variety to a strategic planning process workshop when the audience remains essentially the same:

Those are nine ideas to add variety to a strategic planning process. Doing even a few of these can provide a fresh, fun experience this year, and for days and years to come! – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for Ideas to Make Your
Strategic Planning More Fun?

Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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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