During budgeting in the Fortune 500 world, we spent too much time on the numbers and not nearly enough on making sure we were prioritizing the best strategic initiatives to grow the business.
I worked with some great people in the accounting and financial areas that understood forecasts and budgets do not just happen by themselves. My peers at the vice president level and above were, however, too often engaged in micro-managing budget details they could manage while not tackling tougher strategic issues within budgeting.
To counter this preference for numbers over strategy, we routinely tried to bring new thinking to the table to turn budget meetings into productive strategic planning activities.
3 Ways to Turn Budgets into Strategic Planning Activities
Introduce productive questions you can address to improve strategy AND financials
Ensure you invest meeting time on high-impact areas (instead of minutiae)
Adopt an effective, highly-strategic approach to business metrics that addresses the link between strategic activities and results
If you are leading budget meetings, you can use these ideas to improve their strategic impact.
Even if your role is to develop and present your business unit’s budget, you can use the concepts in this eBook to highlight strategic activities and create a stronger linkage between forecasts, budgets, and the important strategic initiatives that drive growth.
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
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
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
Any skepticism you may have is certainly understandable. The more typical adjectives that come to mind when you think about strategy planning in your organization likely include:
Disconnected (from the business)
Do those words sound more like familiar adjectives for the strategy planning you have participated in previously?
We are confident they probably do based on how many of you are searching our website at this time of year for fun strategic planning activities to introduce to your companies. That is why we developed a new strategy planning resource just for you!
Download Our FREE eBook – 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning
Within just a few pages, this new eBook offers a handy list of things you can do before and during strategy planning meetings to create a more engaging, mentally stimulating, and fun environment!
You will learn ideas for:
Handling the not-fun parts of strategic planning
Turning people who aren’t strategists into strategic thinkers
Encouraging breakthrough ideas
Increasing the pace and variety of strategy planning meetings
As you look to your next strategy planning meetings, you owe it to yourself and all the participants to download “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.” Regardless of the ideas you choose to implement from the eBook, you will create an environment where people are interested and eager to engage and actively share ideas to move your organization ahead!
One way to deal with a common innovation strategy barrier – fear of change and new ideas – is to disguise new ideas as your team develops and implements them.
Yes, you got that right.
If your organization or other important audiences that will feel the impact of your new ideas truly fear change, it may be best to make your ideas appear less new, less frightening, and less like change than they might normally seem.
Innovation Strategy in Disguise
For a quick innovation strategy inspiration along these lines, this video is an example of doing something that doesn’t fit, but making it seems as if it does.
An Innovator’s Prayer for Humility
As an innovation leader, pursuing an innovation strategy in disguise requires a different perspective. Thinking further about the leadership qualities it takes to successfully engage an innovation strategy in disguise reminded me of a litany of humility I read frequently. It seeks help relinquishing our desires for the things most of us want.
Using the litany of humility as an inspiration, here is an Innovator’s Prayer for Humility to gain the perspectives to make successful change happen without seeking the notoriety and credit for it.
Give us the purity of motive that the new ideas and innovations we want to pursue are truly for the benefit of customers and the organization.
Reduce our need for credit for generating new ideas and moving them forward.
Reduce our need for overt direction so we can imagine and improvise the needed changes without asking for permission or guidance.
Give us the energy to work early and late hours when fewer people are liable to pay attention to our efforts.
Reduce our organizational visibility to allow us to make progress without calling unnecessary attention to our work.
Give us the foresight to move forward with needed changes that take a long time to implement because we are innovating unconventionally.
Increase our skills in innovating through trial and error, real-time learning, and integrating our tough lessons into future success.
Increase the opportunity for others to see the innovation as their own in order to take credit for and support its success.
Give us patience to wait without comment if people never notice new ideas as their own.
Reduce our need to call attention to and seek credit for the innovation our team accomplished.
Give us a sense of personal consolation if people never notice that new ideas have changed things.
You may think this innovation strategy is nuts. Trust me though: it can work.
Sometimes the only way to make positive change happen is to make it happen WITHOUT calling attention to what you are doing. While we have done this successfully as an innovation strategy, it takes a different mindset to do it with honest motives and a willingness to abandon your need for others celebrating you for innovating once it is successful.
Call this a prayer or call it a checklist for an innovation strategy in disguise. Either way, if you are trying to hide innovation to be able to innovate, these are twelve things to pave the way for it happening!
Are you encountering innovation barriers in your organization? Here is help!
The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations innovate successfully by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.
We were leading a creative thinking workshop for a subsidiary of a German-owned, privately-held company. One of the executives (who was a fantastic participant and brought a double dose of creativity to any group in which he was in) said at one point, “All I can hear are the ‘rules’ and the ‘nos’ with every new idea!”
Whoa! What is that all about?
It is about an organization’s leaders being comfortable with whatever is in front of them and being fearful of the uncertainty of business innovation.
Business innovation is a numbers game. That means there are going to be misses. And failures. Maybe spectacular failures.
If you are smart in how the organization is pursuing its innovation strategy, however, there are going to be wins along the way. It just may not always be possible to know ahead of time with certainty what the big wins are going to be.
7 Strategies for Conquering Business Innovation Fears
If your organization is routinely coming up against fears of change that slow (or undermine) innovation, the new Brainzooming eBook is for you. 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears looks at typical fears and offers solid ideas for how to best mitigate them to push forward with new ideas.
This eBook is the latest in a series of eBooks we’re releasing on successfully tackling business innovation barriers.
Whether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for innovation involving any significant level of risk.
This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:
Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
When it is smart to call attention to even bigger fears to motivate progress
Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground
Facing a major goal when seems you have is too few resources CAN BE an incredible inspiration for your organization’s innovation strategy.
I worked with a CMO who would revel in difficult situations where it seemed we had too few resources, negligible support, and slight chances of success. As he’d always remind us, when you have almost no support, you have almost nothing to lose. Because of this, he saw difficult and resource-scarce times as the BEST opportunity for creativity and moving ahead with a bold innovation strategy.
Too Few Resources Can Create Opportunities to Innovate?
That idea sounds ridiculous on the surface, especially if you have plenty of money and support to bring your new innovation strategy to life.
Yet in situations where we had far fewer resources than necessary, we would step up our innovation game with extreme creativity and more ingenious ways to bring big ideas to life.
Based on these experiences, coming up with many possibilities to get things done in novel ways became second nature!
Whether you use the questions individually or with your team, you’ll discover ample new options to work around resource limitations standing in the way of your innovation strategy’s progress! – Mike Brown
There is good news, however: none of the innovation barriers is insurmountable.
Understanding which challenges you’re facing is vital. That insight drives the smart change management steps needed to navigate each innovation challenge.
10 Innovation Barriers Lurking in Your Organization
We group innovation barriers based on their ties to strategy, process, and people issues.
Lacking an overarching direction
Loving the status quo too much
Managing with an exclusively short-term focus
Using ineffective metrics
Ignoring the need for a structured process
Struggling with core capabilities
Lacking sufficient resources
Operating with a history of unsuccessful innovation implementation
Failing to recognize innovative talent
Not motivating the team to take risks and innovate
Tackling Innovation Barriers
We use a diagnostic with senior leadership teams that ties to the ten innovation barriers.
The first step in the brief strategic thinking exercise has individual leaders assess the presence of the organization’s roadblocks. After leadership team members complete individual assessments, we collect and analyze the responses as input for a strategic conversation among senior leaders. In that conversation, we:
Acknowledge areas of agreement on the presence or absence of specific barriers
Discuss reasons where there are different perceptions on innovation barriers
Identify, based on the overall scores, whether significant barriers are tied to strategy, process, or people issues
Is Your Organization Struggling with Innovation?
Are you trying to push for new ideas and innovation in your organization, but not finding success?
This free Brainzooming eBook highlights ten common organizational innovation barriers. A one-page evaluation sets the stage to quickly self-diagnose where to focus your organization’s efforts in customizing a successful innovation initiative.