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The forming and use of creative thinking heuristics fascinates me.

That shouldn’t be surprising.

As the Brainzooming name suggests, we concentrate on opportunities for short cutting creative thinking in smart ways to keep (or start) things zooming along. If there’s a smart creative thinking shortcut to be tried, we’re up for it.

Creative Thinking at #BJSSC15

During the presentations from mentor teachers and intern teachers at the Boulder Journey School Conference, it was fascinating to hear the lengths to which they go to honor and fulfill the intricate thinking paths the children devise.

150629-BJSSC-Ideas

For instance, the children in one class were working on designing homes for animals, thinking about and accounting for all the things a home would need to include to be homey. The work inspired one of the teachers, Lauren Frazier, to pursue the idea of actually getting a pet for the classroom. Through multiple rounds of voting on what type of pet they wanted (and even absentee voting for parents and grandparents) and what the pet would be named, the class arrived at Nibbles, the guinea pig.

Then, beyond translating their ideas about an animal’s home into Nibbles’ new home, the children wanted to decorate Nibbles’ cage in her favorite color. They devised a series of tests where “doors” of various colors were placed with Nibbles. Students tallied Nibbles’ activity across several days, and using multiple criteria, and they determined red was Nibbles’ favorite color. This paved the way for creating a series of red decorations in her cage.

Before Shortcuts, There Were Many Steps

You may wonder why I’m sharing the Nibbles story.

Beyond the striking separated-at-birth resemblance between Nibbles and our very own Brainzooming Director of Enthusiasm, there’s a very important reminder.

It’s so easy in business and organizational settings to cut out steps and reduce thinking time to save costs and improve the bottom line. We hear the mantra to “ship” new products sooner and fix it later. It’s all part of what we think is making business more revolutionary these days. It’s all about taking fewer steps.

At the Boulder Journey School, however, they walk through each decision step. And the children are the ones charting the steps…not the adults who know better and thus might be the first ones to cut out steps. I know I fought the quick conclusion during the Nibbles presentation to think, “Just pick a color for goodness’ sake and get on with it!”

The learning is when your audience or stakeholder group is newer to ideas and concepts than an organization’s leadership is, there is value to letting them chart the steps and taking all the steps necessary to bring them along in shaping and supporting new ideas. Even if it takes longer, and even if it so deliberate that it can seem maddening, maybe the best answer is going to be the one that emerges from all those steps.  – Mike Brown

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




 

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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We all encounter strategic bumps in the road in both our business and in our personal lives. To help you address the problem solving associated with some of the more common bumps in the road you may face on a daily basis, here are twenty-five articles to help you devise your plan of attack.

25 Articles on Problem Solving and Handling Bumps in the Road

Bump-Bump

Problem Solving Exercises

Brand Challenges and Turnarounds

Innovation and Change Challenges

Getting Things Done

Personal Bumps in the Road

Career Challenges

 

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 with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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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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Today, I am co-delivering the welcoming session for the two-day Boulder Journey School Summer Conference. The Boulder Journey School, founded by my friend, Dr. Ellen Hall, educates young children with fundamental values “based on an image of children as competent and capable, and as valuable citizens with inherent and irrefutable rights.”

The school’s curriculum focuses on “21st Century Skills” including:

  • Critical Thinking and Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Self-Direction
  • Invention

The list should sound very familiar to long-term Brainzooming readers since these are many of the same topics we try to address here related to creative thinking for professionals in the workplace.

In my opening talk on “Creativity, Talents, and Perspectives” at the conference, I will share a few Brainzooming creative thinking concepts plus a couple of idea capture frameworks specifically designed for the educators attending the conference to help think about their experiences and ideas to take back home to their own schools.

Creative Thinking Skills

Here are links to the Brainzooming creative thinking skills content shaping the talk.

Perspective and Talent – Common Challenges for Creative Leaders

Defining Creativity

Using All the Talents a Creative Leader and Team Has

Cultivating a Creative Perspective

Embracing a Creative Experience

I will be at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference throughout the event, so I plan to immerse myself and be able to share some new insights on creative thinking skills here soon! – Mike Brown

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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.

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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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We are huge fans of using a four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises to help clients evaluate priorities. There is something about arranging strategic options against two strategic dimensions that brings new (often, much needed) clarity to a business decision.

While extolling the benefits of these simple strategic thinking exercises, we recognize not all major decisions actually come down to only two strategic dimensions.

That has been in evidence recently when making personal decisions having a significant business impact. My mother-in-law has been going through a serious illness, and for various reasons, I have needed to take significant time away to be with her and the rest of the family.

Thinking about the strategic decision to concentrate on family concerns, I cannot point to any typical decision factors in strategic thinking exercises that would place diverting focus from the business in the “attractive” upper right quadrant of a matrix. In fact, the decision involved many things I consider “unattractive” – long car trips, sitting around doing nothing, making small talk about whatever is happening, not having opportunities to exercise, scarcely focusing on business development, etc.

Kansas-Highway

In fact, thinking about the decision criteria on the way back from my most recent trip to see my mother-in-law, I realized the factors keeping me focused on family over business the past few weeks are ones I would never include in a business-oriented strategic thinking exercise: sense of obligation, ability to be available, and regret from not acting.

Even though these decision factors are all personally driven and there are more than two of them, they are the most important areas shaping my business life right now.

Pat-Room

So while our standard four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises overwhelmingly deliver what we need so often, there are times when you have to put them to the side and make the right decision no matter what the matrix shows. – Mike Brown

 

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

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Going back through extreme creativity content for a Brainzooming workshop prompted a new look at Peter’s’ Laws. We used these sometimes way over-the-top laws in developing our first set of extreme creativity questions.

Then, after a conversation about how a leader can develop and implement a strategic initiative without letting everyone KNOW a strategic initiative is underway, it prompted spelling out The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done.

Weasel

The name is a bit of a misnomer. It springs from a college nickname relating to someone’s ability to maneuver into and out of difficult situations in the pursuit of getting things done with no apparent political or social harm to the maneuvering. In other words, it’s about carrying out project management techniques that are vital to getting things done when thing REALLY need to get done.

This list will likely grow over time, but here’s a first version of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, just to get you thinking and talking!

Project Management Techniques – The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done

Weasel-Principles

What would you add to this list of project management techniques? You know, the ones where you have to twist and turn a bit to hold a project together and bring it completion.

If you’d like a pdf download of The Weasel Principles of Getting Things Done, you can grab it right here.

Mike Brown

 

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

 

Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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





Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book




 

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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Whenever readers or workshop audience members initiate conversations and ask questions, it is so much easier to write blog content.

I doubt that is a unique situation.

If you are looking to find more ideas for your content marketing strategy, have you tried mining your organization’s daily customer conversations?

Tap into open-ended customer conversations already taking place with sales, customer service, executives, technical staff, drivers, retail associates, e-commerce and social media staff, market researchers, and any other employees interacting with customers whether in-person or virtually.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Additionally, create new opportunities to capture customer conversations through listening posts you create. These are specific interactions you create to capture additional inputs from customers about your brand and its products and services. It could be as simple as actually capturing the feedback from questions you are already having your employees ask customers during routine interactions. It might extend, however, to doing something completely new to find out what customers are asking or saying about your brand.

4 Customer Conversations and Content Marketing Strategy Ideas

How do you turn these conversations into content marketing possibilities?

One way is to think about the conversations based on their nature (statements vs. questions) and tone (positive to negative). Categorizing customer conversations along these two dimensions is a first step toward turning them into content using the matrix below.

  • Positive statements can suggest ways to highlight brand value.
  • Positive questions turn into education opportunities
  • Negative comments are opportunities to anticipate objectives and challenges other customers are facing but not voicing.
  • Negative questions open the door to both process changes to address pain points and update opportunities for what your brand is doing in these areas.

Customer-Convo-Med

Effectively mining customer conversations sets you up to expand content you can be better assured is relevant to customers and prospects because THEY are generating the topics!  – Mike Brown

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question. Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy.

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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These five articles stood out this week in our core content areas of strategic thinking, creativity, and social media and content marketing. Each of them is worth a click and a look!

Mouse-Click

1. Ten Ways to Weave Creativity into your Classroom!

Dr. Cyndi Burnett of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State and her co-author, Julia Figliotti, have released a new book on creativity: Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum. (Affiliate Link) To develop the book, they reached out to more than one hundred educators and creativity-focused experts for creativity ideas. The resulting book features more than seven hundred ideas. In this blog post, they highlight their ten favorite ideas. Even if you’re not an educator, this post is worth checking out because nearly all the creativity ideas and tips also apply directly to the workplace.

2. The $50 Billion Question: Can Uber Deliver?

I’ll come right out and admit I don’t “get” Uber. Realizing that puts my WAY in the minority, this Wall Street Journal article about Uber trying to get into the delivery business (just one of several Uber-realted articles in the Journal this week), includes several refreshing contrarian voices. Products don’t find the vehicle at pickup or make their way into the final destination at delivery on their own. They are also perishable in a variety of ways. That means even if Uber is working for people, it’s not necessarily a quick translation to moving products.

3. CVS to Buy 1,600 Drugstores from Target for $1.9 Billion

CVS buying the Target pharmacy operation is an intriguing strategic thinking example. Two brands competing in several retail categories are planning to co-exist and create mutual benefits for both. It’s a great example of two brands engaging in an unusual strategic relationship that fits both of their near- and longer-term plans. Combing through multiple takes on the story yielded multiple strategic thinking questions a brand can use to expand its list of potential competitors and partners.

4. Stop Sending Traffic to Your Homepage: 3 Reasons Why Landing Pages Convert More Visitors into Leads

I saw this post on LinkedIn, but this is the original link from Mike Whaling at 30Lines. Mike helped us set up our initial landing pages. This is a great reminder about one of the keys to online and content marketing that many businesses miss.

5. From the Brainzooming Archives: Social Media Moments of Silence – 5 Areas to Monitor during Tragedies

This article arose from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, CT and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. There was a lot of talk at the time about brands needing to recognize a moment of silence when major tragedies take place. As of the publication date, I haven’t heard the same talk following the tragic shootings in Charleston, SC, but it seems like a comparable tragedy that should have warranted a bigger national pause than seems to have taken place. – 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 strong 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 with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • 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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