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Yesterday’s Brainzooming article shared ways to increase the strategic thinking in your organization without holding an offsite meeting.

Here’s another way to improve daily strategic thinking. It builds on one idea in yesterday’s post (“Develop a working command of ten to fifteen strategic thinking questions that fit many of the business and organizational situations you encounter”).

This approach leads to developing a list of targeted questions specific to your business situation. You can complete it in a week, but we recommend spreading it over several weeks or during a typical month of activity.

4 Steps to Customizing Your Strategic Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Step 1. Anticipate

Before the week or month you have selected, list typical business issues and conversations you have with your team and other groups you work with regularly.

Step 2. Categorize

Group the issues and conversations into general categories. Possible examples include:

  • Understanding things (analysis, evaluation)
  • Developing things (innovation, creativity)
  • Building things (operations, manufacturing, efficiency and process improvements)
  • Growing things (creating more sales, implementing more initiatives)
  • Fixing things (diagnosis, correction)
  • Forecasting things (projections, estimates)

Step 3. Track

With the list in Step 2 complete, use it during your selected timeframe to keep track of how many issues and conversations pertain to each category. If you need to add other categories, add them.

Step 4. Compile

After you’re done monitoring your conversations and activities, see where your focus is. Work on developing a custom list of ready-to-use questions in each area. You can mine our extensive lists of strategic thinking questions for ones to use. Here are links to some of our most popular lists:

This focused approach will pay dividends with your ability to develop a solid command of strategic thinking questions for daily use to boost strategic thinking in your team, yourself, and everyone you work with in the organization.  – 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 816-509-5320816-509-5320 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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Before a creative thinking workshop, a “front row” participant (you know, the “walking in the room already engaged in the content” type of participant) asked what school of thinking The Brainzooming Group belonged to with respect to our creative thinking approaches. She dropped a couple of potential names she suspected as possibilities. I may have already been in pre-presentation mode and didn’t completely catch what she said, because only one name sounded familiar.

I shared with her that we borrow from anywhere when it came to schools of thought for creative thinking, and that many are quite non-traditional. I mentioned she’d see one strategic thinking exercise just added back into the workshop based on Ghostbusters (Yes, THAT Ghostbusters)!

Creative-Inspiration-Bulbs

One advantage of looking broadly for creative thinking influences is we’re never stuck waiting for some expert to publish a new book or article to expand our set of strategic thinking exercises. To the contrary, the Brainzooming repertoire changes and grows continuously through new techniques and influences.

The discussion prompted telling her the proper answer should be a Brainzooming blog post. In a similar vein, we’ve covered the A to Z of Strategic Thinking Exercises (which referenced some influences), and discussed in another where strategic thinking exercises in another workshop originated.

This list of creative thinking influences, however, is different.

Reviewing the slides, stories, and blog posts from the creative thinking workshop deck yielded this list of fifty-nine influences. They aren’t in any specific order, and it certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of all our influences (especially since very few people I have worked with directly are on the list).

Nevertheless, this gives you a good representation of why it’s tough to describe a specific school of thought you can connect to Brainzooming.

59 Creative Thinking Influences

  1. Chuck Dymer
  2. Edward de Bono
  3. Greg Reid
  4. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
  5. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
  6. Ted Williams – The Science of Hitting
  7. A.T. Kearney
  8. Gary Singer
  9. Interbrand
  10. Monty Python
  11. Sue Mosby
  12. 75 Cage Rattling Questions
  13. Linus Pauling
  14. Woodrow Wilson
  15. Ghostbusters
  16. The Wall Street Journal
  17. Business Week
  18. Fast Company
  19. Cake Boss
  20. What Not to Wear
  21. The Bible
  22. Dilbert
  23. Milind Lele, Ph.D.
  24. Presentation Zen
  25. Tom Peters
  26. Don Martin
  27. Hank Ketchum
  28. The Scream
  29. The Squirrels in Prairie Village, KS
  30. Steve Bruffett
  31. Enterprise IG
  32. David Bowen, Ph.D.
  33. Arizona State University Center for Services Leadership
  34. FedEx
  35. Seth Godin
  36. Joe Batista
  37. Tony Vannicola
  38. Peter’s Laws
  39. Whoever invented the 4-box matrix
  40. Gordon MacKenzie
  41. Appreciate Inquiry
  42. David Cooperrider, Ph.D.
  43. Benjamin Zander
  44. Keith Prather
  45. Brett Daberko
  46. Philip Kotler, Ph.D.
  47. Robin Williams
  48. Improv Comedy
  49. Jim Collins
  50. Jay Conrad Levinson
  51. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  52. Jan Harness
  53. Muhammad Ali
  54. R.E.M.
  55. Music Fake Books
  56. Seinfeld
  57. Gilligan’s Island
  58. Whoever came up with the concept of Reverse Engineering
  59. The Family Feud

Shout outs to everyone and everything on this list. It’s clear we need to write blog posts on a variety of these creative inspirations because Brainzooming wouldn’t be what it is without you! – 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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Writing a newsletter article, it struck me that for as much as we discuss the importance of diverse strategic perspectives on better strategic thinking, we don’t seem to have a compilation of our articles on the topic.

Let’s fix that!

Workplace Diversity – The Why, Who, and How of Strategic Thinking

These Brainzooming articles are arranged based on why you should seek workplace diversity to benefit strategy, who holds the important perspectives, and how you can take best advantage of them to improve your organization’s strategy.

Dilbert-ThinkerWhy Workplace Diversity Benefits Strategy

Who Holds the Strategic Perspectives You Need on Your Team

How to Manage Workplace Diversity and Varied Strategic Perspectives Working Together

 

Making Workplace Diversity Work for Your Strategy

This list of articles is a start to thinking about the value of having people with different thinking styles, perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds on your teams.

If you’d like to discuss how to put this all together for your organization’s benefit, let us know. We’d love to customize a strategy that delivers the best results for you! – 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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If you’ve ever seen me present a strategic thinking workshop, you’ve likely heard me say, “People think strategic planning is boring, and I agree with them. I’m a strategic planner, and even I don’t enjoy strategic planning. That’s why we make it fun!”

That’s not simply a throw-away line. It’s the absolute truth.

We consciously try to develop fun strategic planning activities.

The reason fun strategic planning activities are so important is they prompt people to want to engage with strategic planning at that moment plus make them eager to participate in the future.

5 Fun Strategic Planning Activities

Funny-Orange-2

“Fun strategic planning activities? You have to be kidding,” you may be thinking. No, we’re absolutely SERIOUS about the FUN part!

If you’d like to incorporate more fun into your strategic planning activities, here are a few ideas we’d offer:

1. Eliminating Boring Introductions

If you’re going for a more enjoyable strategic planning session, it’s important to start on a light note. This ice breaker dumps the typical boring self-introduction and uses introductions where everyone BUT you gets to tell something about you. Here’s one secret for even more fun – have one person make up all the answers they share. When you read this post, you’ll get what I mean by that!

2. Invite Katy Perry for Her Fashion Sense

You have to go see the picture to get this, but Katy Perry’s dress at this awards show a few years ago is all kinds of fun. If your challenge is reimagining old strategic ideas, this strategic thinking exercise will inject fun into your planning.

3. Put the Pin Prick to Your Competitors

This strategic thinking exercise involves targeting a pesky competitor and thinking about every way you can be a complete nuisance for them. You have to keep the ultimate ideas you choose legal and ethical. Before that point, however, anything is fair game and lots of fun!

4. What does Ghostbuster have to do with strategy?

By definition, you aren’t supposed to be able to anticipate black swan events. But when a client wants a black swan exercise, you figure out a way to give them a black swan exercise. This fun strategic planning activity gets its fun from the connection to Ghostbusters that inspired the exercise. Other than that, it should be a LITTLE more serious than the others here.

5. Try Some Shrimp!

This exercise is called “Shrimp,” but you’ll see a picture of a pumpkin throwing up pumpkin seeds on the original post. Yeah, it’s kind of gross, but this particular strategic thinking exercise is a blast. In workshops, I tell the story about when we used it with a group working on a NASCAR sponsorship program. They turned the exercise toward some pretty tawdry topics, yet came out with an idea that led to getting their company’s NASCAR driver on an ABC reality TV show!

Fun, Fun, Fun, Fun*

I wouldn’t necessarily advise trying to use ALL these fun strategic planning activities with one group. But if you do, let me know. THAT would be funny! – Mike Brown

 

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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.

 

*BTW, sorry about that RebeccaRoll.

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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Speaking on social media strategy at various fantastic conferences, I’m surprised by how many individuals from prominent brands tell me they are handling ALL the social media for their brands.

Yes, being a solo social media professional isn’t something that happens just in smaller companies. Big brands also find themselves putting a tremendous amount of responsibility and social media work on one person. In fact, one study reports that 42% of professionals working on social media full-time serve as one person departments.

Solo-Social

That background prompted us to work with the Social Media Strategy Summit to offer a new Brainzooming workshop at its February 2015 conference on “Staying Sane as a One Person Social Media Department.”

The presentation content will be built on various Brainzooming posts on social media efficiency and effectiveness (some of which is highlighted at the end of this post).

I hope to also infuse the presentation with the ideas and suggestions of all of you who are solo social media professionals currently or have insights about the upsides and challenges of their jobs.

If you’re a solo social media professional, please take a few moments to answer the questions below to be a part of the Social Media Strategy Summit workshop and share this link with your peers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SoloSocialMediaPro

If aren’t a solo social media professional but know others who are, please share the link with them also so they can participate and offer their ideas: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SoloSocialMediaPro

Thanks in advance for your participation and all the great ideas!

A Sampling of Brainzooming Resources for Solo Social Media Professionals

Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s 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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Your plan is completed, and you have your brand building strategies for 2015 in front of you. The big question remains – are these brand building strategies going to deliver dramatically better business results this year?

Better-Business-Results

These strategies SHOULD lead to better business results. You know you invested the time and effort to develop what seemed to be the right set of brand building strategies.

You know too, however, your actual strategic plan and tactics often sit on the shelf and do not fundamentally deliver better business results.

Why is that?

It could be your strategic plan is disconnected from what moves the business on a daily basis. Another possibility is that despite all the hope you have to focus on implementing the strategic plan in January, unexpected opportunities and challenges develop, and they gain more attention.

No matter what factors are at work to derail your strategic plan from developing better business results, keep the following list handy. These 15 articles each target specific business issues that could get in the way of using your strategic plan implementation creating better business results this year.

If your organization easily loses focus, if your brand benefits aren’t clear, if your competitors are getting the best of you, these are places to go here for immediate, implementable ideas to avoid getting derailed and actually using your planned brand building strategies for all they are worth to create a stronger year with dramatically better business results.

  1. Creating a Stronger Strategic Focus on What Matters
  2. Better Defining and Articulating Your Brand Benefits
  3. Strengthening the Brand Language You Use
  4. Heading Off Critical Issues in Your Brand Strategy
  5. Bolstering Your Brand’s Value Proposition
  6. Asking Better Questions to Identify Business Opportunities
  7. Uncovering New Opportunities with Existing Clients
  8. Improving Your Strategic Response to Competitors
  9. Developing Proactive Strategies to Disrupt Your Market Before Someone Else Does
  10. Anticipating Unexpected Potential Disruptions and Growth Opportunities Before They Happen
  11. Increasing the Diversity of Employees Involved in Strategy for Your Company
  12. Better Integrating New Product Development with Your Business Strategy
  13. Creating Strategic, Cool Products Name for Your New Offerings
  14. Developing a Better Strategy for How Social Networks Support Business Building
  15. Moving from Talking about Great Ideas to Implementing Great Ideas

If you want to go deeper on any of these issues, email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320. We would be happy to talk through the opportunities for your organization to improve its success this year and beyond.  – Mike Brown

 

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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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After compiling yesterday’s list of your Top 10 favorite (i.e., most-viewed) new Brainzooming posts from 2014, here are my favorites.

As is often the case, there are stories behind these posts. Sometimes the stories are contained in the posts, sometimes they are not. Nevertheless, there are some overlooked gems in this list (if I do say so myself), that you will enjoy if you didn’t catch hem the first time around in 2014!

Strategy and Creative Thinking – My Favorite Brainzooming Posts for 2014

Strategic Planning Exercises – Have you tried a Zoomference yet? 

This recounts a fun content marketing success story. The original story covering how we use our online collaboration platform to work with teams spread out across multiple locations prompted a two-year Brainzooming reader to contact us. Over a few hours, we put together a strategic plan for her organization that set the stage for 2015.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Identifying Left Field Competitors

I love when questions during workshops turn into blog posts. This competitive strategy post was the answer to a question at the Compete through Service Symposium on how you can push your organization to better imagine surprising competitors.

Left-Field-Fenway

What to Blog About – 11 Buying Process Questions for Blog Topics

Some blog posts are written to share what we’re trying to improve upon in our own business. While content marketing has been a significant part of expanding The Brainzooming Group, we have work to do on linking our content to the steps potential clients are going through in selecting strategy and innovation partners.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – Taking Risks with a Live Audience

This post recounts a live experiment that showed why using different types of strategic thinking questions changes what types of answers you’ll get. While I was confident the experiment would work, the possibility that I could have failed is what made it exciting to throw in to a live presentation as an unplanned exercise!

Creating Strategic Impact – Challenge and Change

It seems like there are a few posts similar to this every year, where someone on Facebook or Twitter supplies the missing piece to turn a random idea into a fully realized thought. This was my favorite example from this year, as we teamed up to define what “lle” stands for when it comes to positive change.

Strategic Planning – 10 Signs of a Strategic Planning Meeting Nightmare

I love this Halloween-oriented GEICO ad because it skewers the improbability of horror films. At the same time, though, it’s a great analogy for the bad judgment you find in organizations that stick with the same old strategic planning approaches instead of trying something new – such as how The Brainzooming Group approaches developing strategy!

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

This strategic thinking exercise to help in designing a new website went from being used in a meeting on a project we were working on to a blog post in less than twenty-four hours. I love when that happens!

Strategic Thinking – Andy Warhol and Practicing What You Preach

I’ve been carrying this Andy Warhol quote around with me since writing a paper on him for a high school “Modern Thought” class with Fr. Gilmary Tallman. I couldn’t believe it had taken this long to share it in the blog post. There just aren’t that many ideas I still have kicking around from back then that haven’t found a way into the blog yet.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A New Type of Big Focus Group

This one is a favorite because of the event, the event’s co-sponsor (Nature Explore, an organization where I’m on the board), and the opportunity to create a self-facilitated focus group of well over one hundred people. And what’s even better is we just reached an agreement to close the 2015 Leadership Institute with another full-audience, self-facilitated strategic thinking exercise.

Nature-Explore-Session

Brand Strategy, Airplane Talk and Rolling in the Aisles

The story of the funniest plane flight I’ve had in years, courtesy of my new friend, Ahava Leibtag. By the time I’d try to explain it, this would be as long as the post. Just click and read it!

Strategic Thinking – Using Caution with Business Content

This post with a recommended disclaimer that should go on all (or at least most) business blog posts is perhaps the truest post ever on the Brainzooming blog.

Strategic Thinking – When to Fix a Business Process that’s Never Failed?

This is a favorite because of the photo. I took a photo of an automated trashcan at the Atlanta airport thinking it would come in handy one day for a blog post about throwing something away. There is the big lesson: Always be taking photos that might fit into future blog posts. ALL THE TIME.

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Okay, maybe THIS is the truest Brainzooming post ever. Even though I KNOW these steps, I cannot seem to avoid them EVERY TIME I prepare a new presentation.

Creative Thinking Exercises – Change and Grow Constantly

I like this post because it reminds me of things we did during live workshops that, if not for the post, would have been lost to me even just a few months later. A reminder to take better notes on what we do rather than just committing it to memory!

Life Lesson – Living Your Life and Dying Exactly the Same

This one is very personal. It started life as a blog post about a former co-worker’s life (and death). When I actually wove the story into a presentation about Aligning Your Life’s Work, I wasn’t sure I’d get through the story without crying. Emotions are a challenge for me. To have a story that forces me to deal with emotions during a presentation says it’s an important message.

Strategic Thinking Exercises – A Sex Tip to Boost Strategic Thinking

It’s about sex. And what about that photo?

The 4-Step Career Advice Nearly Everyone Ignores

This is the best, most widely applicable advice I have to offer. And yes, it is also the most-ignored advice I offer when people ask for career advice. That alone puts it on this list of my favorite posts: it’s full of unrealized value just waiting for you to do something about it!

Creative Idea: Jimmy Fallon Turns Brian Williams into a Rapper’s Delight

This one required very little creativity from me, but it’s likely my most-viewed Brainzooming post from the year because Brian Williams doing Rapper’s Delight is a scream!

Social Media Disclaimer: Coming Clean on Humble Brag Social Sharing

This one isn’t a favorite for the written story as much as the untold story behind the two pictures of Kate Jackson and me snuggled up. I always liked the smartest Angel best, I have to admit.

Here’s hoping you enjoy some of these favorites from 2014!

Mike Brown

 

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

 

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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