Tools | The Brainzooming Group - Part 184 – page 184
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During ideation and strategic thinking exercises, we use individual, colorful sticky notes in great quantities to capture new ideas and comments. This contrasts with keeping meeting notes on a single big white easel pad. We employ colorful sticky notes so aggressively because they provide a variety of advantages for strategic thinking exercises through effectiveness and efficiency.

Sticky notes allow:

  • Sustainability – written ideas gain tangibility and “life,” moving beyond dependence on someone remembering the creative idea for something to happen with it.
  • Portability – individual sticky note ideas can be moved from one place to another for sharing, further work, or later electronic capture.
  • Visibility – creative ideas can be displayed on walls in the meeting room so all participants can review and consider them, even if they weren’t in the sub-team that generated the idea.
  • Combinations – in moving an idea written on a sticky note, you can arrange and group multiple ideas to trigger new ideas, develop / clarify emerging themes, or create a natural sequence.
  • Separation – the opposite of combining ideas, a sticky note’s portability allows participants to review ideas and select those they find intriguing and may want to advocate for development.
  • Boundaries – different colors, shapes, and sizes allow you to subtly distinguish between the output of various exercises or teams.
  • Ranking – individual ideas can be placed on a matrix or ranked on a single criterion, allowing a group to interactively and quickly prioritize ideas that are more attractive.
  • Revisiting – because the idea has been given initial tangibility through being written, it can be revisited during or after a session so that opportunities not emerging right away still have the possibility of being identified later.
  • Disposal – you can also easily recycle sticky notes when you’re done with them.

So if you want to help make your ideas stick (and not stick), get yourself some sticky notes.

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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In part 2 of using relationship advice columnists for the Change Your Character exercise, here are the recommendations they’d offer for strengthening & maintaining relationships. Once again, identify 3 ideas for each of these pieces of advice that can be applied to improving your customer relationships.
  • Be friends.
  • Make sure that there’s good chemistry.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Make sure rules and boundaries are understood.
  • Be willing and open to communication.
  • Listen carefully to each other.
  • Stay connected to each other.
  • Take a class or do other things together.
  • Do the simple things.
  • Celebrate each other.

Next Wednesday, the advice columnists will wrap up by helping fix some problem relationships.

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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There have been several posts focusing on collecting and asking great questions. Here’s an opportunity to get a perspective from someone else on the importance of questions to innovation and the use of QuestionBanks, strategic lists of questions designed to stimulate strategic thinking. The manifesto is by Corinne Miller from InnovatingResults! It’s well worth the time to download.

When you’re checking out the “Questionating” manifesto, it’s also a great time to poke around on Change This, a website featuring manifestos on a variety of topics, many of them tied to innovation and strategy. And while you’re there, vote on proposed manifestos that others would like to submit or really try to change something by proposing a manifesto of your own!

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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My wife and I see the need for home repairs very differently. She’s more attuned to subtle defects, noticing many I don’t. It’s not surprising. She spends more time at home and views things more closely. We also look from different perspectives – different chairs, bathrooms, even heights, since I’m taller. Yet with my more distant perspective, I notice certain items needing attention that she doesn’t. It usually occurs when I’m doing an unfamiliar activity – putting things away, cleaning, yard work, etc.

This same phenomenon happens in business even with things such as opportunities, challenges, and processes. You look at something very closely, maybe because you have responsibility for it. Since you spend so much time with it, you may view it from several perspectives, but all of them VERY close. Still you’re likely missing things that are obvious to others who see what you see from a different vantage point.

The key is to be able to actively look at a situation from blatantly different viewpoints. So if I may, here are a few great suggestions for changing how you “look”:

Move Further Away

  • Have someone completely unfamiliar with the situation observe it, and ask them, “What are your impressions of what took place?”
  • Change your seat – physically or virtually – and take a few steps back from where you usually “sit” while viewing a situation. What do you see differently?

Look Closer

  • Look at only one aspect of a process – repeat “how” and “why” questions (i.e., How is this working? Why does this happen?) until you’ve explored many possibilities for new insights.

Look from a Different Height

  • Spend a day on the front lines with sales, manufacturing, or customer service – what do they see about the process or opportunity that you don’t?
  • Spend time directly with a customer as they interact with your business – how does it look to them?
  • Shadow a senior executive (maybe a mentor) – what regularly makes its way to their level?

Look from a Different Perspective

  • Have someone else carry out the process – what’s different?

Several of these techniques helped diagnose what wasn’t working with a new planning process recently. By having new participants review it, sitting in different seats to observe interaction, and using different facilitators to lead the process, we’ve cut the initial time for the process by 50% and created more-tailored exercises. And we got these results by simply changing how we look – without plastic surgery or having to address the worst Valentine’s Day “look” question of all, “Does this make me look heavy?”

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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Notice something about the ritual of pulling petals from a flower and saying, “she loves me, she loves me not?” There are only two choices – yes or no, one or the other. Makes decision making pretty simple. You can force this technique on yourself when you’ve got lots of things to prioritize and are struggling in your decision making.

Say you’re writing a Poweroint presentation for your senior management and have 15 points you feel you have to make. But you know that there’s no way you’ll get to cover more than 3 of them. Here’s how you can use a forced comparison model to help in your decision making about narrowing the list:

  • Write all 15 key messages on individual sticky notes and place them on a wall or desk.
  • Select two messages and compare them, asking, “If I could only make one of these points, which one is more important?” Place the one you pick at the top of the wall or desk, with the other below it.
  • Pick up another sticky note, asking the same question relative to the top-most sticky note. If the new sticky note is more important, it goes on top, and the others move down. If it’s not more important, keep moving down and asking the question (Is this one more important or is that one?) relative to each sticky note until it’s appropriately placed based on its importance.

When you’re done using this simple decision making model, you should have a fairly quick prioritization, getting you out of the decision making trap that everything is equally important. The technique works well either individually or with a group that’s trying to do decision making in a whole variety of situations. So try it, or try it not…try it! – Mike Brown

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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can provide as-needed assistance to challenge and refine your strategic thinking 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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Visiting Disney World in the mid 1990’s, a rule was communicated several times while waiting in long, unwieldy lines for rides: Move up and fill all available space. That was much more easily done for an adult couple (such as my wife and me) than for a large group. Following this guidance created a great benefit as we shaved at least an hour or two off our wait times over the course of several days (and created only one small incident with a father at It’s a Small World).

It strikes me that the same opportunity is true in business – smaller, more nimble players should be better able to identify market gaps and move into them than their bigger competitors.

I was in Orlando recently, but didn’t get a chance to go the parks. Nevertheless, this photo taken at an Orlando Airport Burger King rekindled the lesson and prompts a question – how many artificial “lines” do we wait in all the time without seeing or sensing the opportunity to step to the right or left and move up?

So next time you or your business feel stymied and tired of looking at the back of heads, ask yourself, “How can I move up and fill all available space?” You’ll be surprised at how often the only thing keeping you waiting in line is 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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Today is Ash Wednesday; this marks the beginning of Lent, a time for, among other things, more intense prayer. In light of that, rather than the typical Wednesday feature on Changing Your Character, here’s a link to a creativity prayer.

Invest a few moments today to ask for a potentially new source of help for you to use your creativity to enliven and inspire others.

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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