Tools | The Brainzooming Group - Part 184 – page 184
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This week’s articles tie to my current interest in all things Liz Phair. If you’re unfamiliar with her, she’s one of the early alt-indie-tough-sexy-filthy-rocker chicks, hitting the music scene in 1993 with “Exile in Guyville,” an album ranked as one of the best that year and on many long lists of all-time bests. With a 15th anniversary digital re-issue of “Guyville,I’ve been going back through her catalog and story – as varied as both have been.

“Guyville” was envisioned as a song-by-song answer to “Exile on Main Street” by the Rolling Stones. Answer songs aren’t new though. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard was an answer to Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” triggered an answer in Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

Beyond simple inspiration, in each case a new creative work was formed as a reply to another. The approach is certainly used in commercials, books, and other creative efforts.

Try applying this intriguing creative technique yourself in a twist on changing your perspective. Choose a particular work’s subject matter or statement, figuratively walk around to its opposite side, and create a response from 180 degrees away.

Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll mine Liz Phair’s lyrics and music for other interesting creative insights, so please use the comments section to provide your own “answer posts”!

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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Powerful comparisons are important to many creative thinking exercises. While the types of comparisons may vary, for the more than twenty-five “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises on the Brainzooming blog, delegating an opportunity or challenge to someone you wouldn’t typically think about selecting to do your work yields a wide variety of creative ideas.

Creative Ideas from an Unlikely Character?

The Change Your Character creative thinking exercises use someone in a completely different line of work to help you look at your own situation with a fresh perspective.

Here are the steps for Change Your Character:

  1. State the business challenge that you’re addressing – it could be an opportunity, a problem, a new process or approach, etc.
  2. Pick who you want to work on your situation. This could be a real person, a fictional or cartoon character, or even another business that faces an analogous situation.
  3. Once you’ve identified who you’ll put on the job, list 8 to 10 approaches that the person, character, or business uses to address opportunities or challenges.
  4. Using the 8 to 10 approaches, apply them to your situation to generate at least 3 new ideas each for solving it.

Each of the Change Your Character creative thinking exercises does steps 2 and 3 for you. This allows you to focus primarily on step 4 – creative idea generation.

25 “Change Your Character” Creative Thinking Exercises

Here’s a compilation of 25 of these creative thinking exercises you can bookmark for use in successfully addressing future opportunities. Within each category, the situations and characters covered are listed, along with a link to the original article.

Strategy

Relationship & Brand Building

Team Building

Management & Problem Solving

Professional Skills

Just a note – I used Bart Simpson recently, and it worked very well. Give it a try and have great success Changing Your Character! – Mike Brown

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Learn all about Mike Brown’s creative thinking and innovation presentations!

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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When you need to tap your creativity for a new look at an old project, try this 3-step creative quickie approach with a goal of generating 33 new ideas from each creative thinking exercise step.

A Creative Thinking Exercise with “3 Steps and Pick”

Step 1 – Think Connections: Ask, “What’s this project like?” Generalize the project, select an analogous situation, and then apply attributes, lessons, and possibilities from the analogous situation to your project.

Step 2 – Think Random: Select random words, phrases, and images from a magazine and ask, “What does this word, phrase, or image suggest about possibilities for my project?” Stuck for a good magazine to use? Try “Real Simple” or any other big, picture-rich magazine outside your field.

Step 3 – Think Again: Go back through your 66 current ideas and start pairing them up to generate 33 more possibilities.

Pick: With the 99 ideas you now have, there should at least 10 to 15 possibilities that you can select and directly apply to your old project to enliven it!

How’s that for a creative quickie to get a lot of ideas and then do something with them! – Mike Brown

 

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity 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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Following up Tuesday’s article, I appeared Friday, June 20 on the “Eye on Small Business” radio program with Kelly Scanlon (KCTE Hot Talk 1510 AM). It’s an hour show, providing an opportunity to talk with Kelly, publisher of “Kansas City Small Business Monthly,” about ways to foster a more innovative approach in business and life. You can listen to the entire program by clicking on this link to her Talkshoe.com site.

We covered many topics during the show including those below:

Since there won’t be an article on July 4, here’s tip: If you have the opportunity, watch fireworks from the tallest building that you can. We typically watch from the 9th floor at work because we can see fireworks displays from all over Kansas City in one location! Hotels with restaurants at the top are another great option as well.

Be safe and check back July 7 for a “Creative Quickie,” the new every Monday feature to get your week started creatively.

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 always the potential for a business, a project, or even a personal situation to run into difficulties. In the business world, a frequent answer when something goes wrong is to call in a turnaround CEO to fix it. Using well-tested techniques, their goal is to quickly diagnose underlying problems, correct them, and return the business to solid performance.

This week, consider delegating a broken situation you have to a turnaround CEO and let them take a run at fixing it. Try to generate three new turnaround ideas for each item below as a turnaround CEO would:

  • Identify the most critical problems
  • Bring in unbiased consultants to help fix things
  • Make fact-based decisions
  • Look for smart & simple steps to take right away
  • Bring in their own people to run the company
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Cut costs in a dramatic fashion
  • Uncover hidden problems in the business
  • Secure needed resources
  • Write off bad operations

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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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The title is from a leadership presentation that I do. It’s how I’ve tried to live my life in business, organizations, and relationships. I’d never specifically articulated what “understanding the political fray” means though until a good friend said recently that she’s just not politically savvy. Here are eight general principles I shared with her for being attuned to an organization’s political environment.

  • Understand the organization’s long-term needs. Use your strengths to best address those needs and create results.
  • Know “what” drives the business – which revenue streams and cost centers really matter.
  • Translate that into “who” drives the business. Then figure out where you stand now relative to the “what’s” and the “who’s,” and where you want to stand relative to both in the future.
  • Figure out the organization’s tolerance for variation from the norm in the areas (important and unfortunately, trivial) on which people judge people. Know what the expectation is for fitting a certain type and make very conscious decisions about where you’ll play along (i.e., “fit”), and where you’ll make your stand for being different.
  • Consistently and unequivocally deliver value. Do it for lots of people at all levels of the company – above you, with peers, and at lower levels of the organization.
  • Make sure you’re seen as someone people can talk to and confide in reliably. Ask open ended questions, listen, provide a little bit of sound counsel, and keep confidences. You’ll help others and learn a lot.
  • Always know who you can trust. Challenging issues and situations are great tests of this. The people who support you and / or have your back during the intense times are the people that you should go out of your way to invest in generously.
  • Don’t stop thinking, and don’t say everything you think.
  • Cultivate as many personal options as possible, and know how realistically they can come to fruition.

This list has helped me. Please take the opportunity to share what’s worked for you.

Today’s Get ‘Er Written Approach A non-starter that was rescued. The original approach was too specific. I needed time to come back and generalize it for the blog.

Thanks for coming along on “Get ‘Er Written” week.

Ideally you’ve gotten some ideas in these posts for how to rescue the scraps of paper and incomplete electronic files that may still hold the seeds of creative or strategic value for you. Don’t be reluctant to twist, turn, and gut them in the interest of revealing lessons that could be very relevant for your current situation in business or personal life!

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 showed me a list of nearly 30 salesperson expectations in their company; these were things salespeople were expected to be informed about and follow at all times. Most of the processes and behaviors were reasonable, although the list came across as sprawling because there was no attempt to help readers make sense of its varied topics.

It was a classic example of intellectual laziness – failing to make the effort to help the audience process and act on information successfully. The lesson is if you must share a long list of complex or diverse information with a broad audience, do the hard work yourself of organizing it in ways to make it more memorable and easily implemented.

Understanding that people can only remember about 7 things at one time, look for meaningful groupings in a big list. Some possibilities could include:

  • Categorizing it by subject or type
  • Using a chronological sequence in particular steps or phases
  • Assigning clear priority levels to tasks

These are just a few possibilities; there are certainly others. The key point is to place yourself in the reader’s role, imagine you know nothing about the information, and think through and organize it in a way that allows your audience to spend much less time on deciphering it, and much more time on doing something with it.

Today’s Get ‘Er Written Approach Eliminating a theme that wasn’t relevant (in this case, cutting out a rant about bosses and teamwork that was getting in the way).

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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