Tools | The Brainzooming Group - Part 186 – page 186
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When you are suffering from a creative block, almost any forward creative progress is positive, no matter how small. It is even better when your progress can be turned into something tangible, i.e. an artifact.

An artifact can take any of a variety of forms including a word, a sentence, an image, an outline, a chart or graph, a good article you’ve found, etc. Anything that provides you with a jumping off point for further creative block busting ideas is valuable.

One of my strategic mentors, Bill McDonald, taught me this concept when we’d get bogged down on a strategy project. Often the artifact was simply creating an outline for a business plan or completing a small section of a report. This piece of the ultimate creative output would be enough to provide a sense of progress and rally our enthusiasm to keep plugging away.

It was always surprising how simply have something to see was enough to trigger a second creative wind on project after project.

The next time you hit a creative block, try to lower your expectations, look for a small something that is more achievable than the whole creative project (maybe even something already sitting in the creative trash heap as trash), create it, and use it as your first step to bust your creative block and get to the next step! – Mike Brown

To tap into your own extreme creativity, download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! 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 brainzooming@gmail.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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My contention is that time shouldn’t be a factor in determining whether an issue is strategic, i.e., what you’re having for lunch 3 years from today isn’t strategic simply because it’s long-term and a significant quality performance conversation isn’t tactical simply because it’s happening this afternoon.

Based on this assertion, somebody asked me the question: if long-term doesn’t define strategic, what does?

Here’s a partial list for considering what’s strategic for a brand. Obviously the list would look different at a department or project level, but here’s an overall picture.

  • Is it central to the brand, its representation, or delivery of the brand promise?
  • Does it broadly and/or directly affect key audiences for your brand?
  • Could it significantly attract or disaffect customers and prospects?
  • Does it significantly affect organizational structure or alignment?
  • Could it materially affect the brand’s financial prospects?
  • Does it touch the heart of the core purpose, values, and/or vision of the organization?
  • Will the organization’s supply of resources or raw materials be dramatically affected?

The more questions you can answer in the affirmative, the more likely an issue is and should be addressed strategically.

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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Baseball scouts review many talented players, narrowing prospects through successfully anticipating which have the talent to perform at the highest levels of the game.

You can benefit from generalizing their selection criteria in the “Change Your Character” exercise to strengthen the prospect assessment criteria that you’re called on to perform in your job. Your prospects may be employees, customers, vendors, or other parties in business. Baseball scouts look for the following types of characteristics in their best prospects:

  • Have strong interest in success
  • Are always aware of what’s going on and what the right thing to do next is
  • Are dedicated and loyal
  • Are easy to be around and are strong influencers
  • Can make things happen & produce consistently
  • Have the skills to turn apparent failure into success
  • Field whatever comes their way
  • Never give up
  • Will follow through and give everything they have

Next time you have to develop criteria to assess prospects, identify three new ideas from those used by baseball scouts.

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

 

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

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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I talk all the time about the value of doing a PMIR. It’s an Edward de Bono-based exercise to look at the Plusses, Minuses, Interestings, and Recommendations for an event or project.

Its benefits were underscored the other day. Stuart Fedt from the local BMA chapter was checking up to see what had come out of speaking to the group in March. My first reaction was, “Not much.” Then I started thinking about it for the first time, because I hadn’t done a PMIR after the luncheon, prompting the realization that the appearance had created:

So despite the first reaction, this event prompted perhaps more good things than any speaking engagement in a long time. Something I’d have realized much sooner if I’d have just done what I tell everybody else: create a PMIR. Lesson learned.

Speaking of the BMA, check out the May 15 Kansas City BMA program. It should be a great one as Tom McEvoy, president of Business Markets for EMBARQ will talk about the challenges of creating a dynamic new brand almost overnight from a company that’s 106 years old. For full details, check out the BMA website.

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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For this Wednesday’s Change Your Character exercise, let’s look at exercise and doing it successfully. Specifically, someone exercising usually works with a trainer trying to trim their waist.

So let’s think about how we can apply a successful exerciser’s approach to trimming wastein a business setting. A successful exerciser:

  • Sets a realistic, aggressive goal
  • Works with a trainer to increase their knowledge, accountability, and results
  • Exercises regularly
  • Varies the workout to stay motivated
  • Pushes to achieve better performance all the time
  • Tracks and records their activity
  • Consumes less food
  • Monitors food intake by counting calories
  • Measures progress toward the goal

Next time you’re charged with reducing something at work (costs, unnecessary process, re-work, etc.) generate at least three potential new ideas for each of the steps above to help you improve your odds of successfully trimming fat.

Note #1 – Today’s post is dedicated to Jenn Oxler, my trainer for the past two years. With her help (and her repeated questions about my food intake), I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds and have gotten into the best physical shape of my life. Thanks Jenn!

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

 

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

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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It’s surprising how many readers go right along with popular business books that report historical case studies as if it were always evident that they’d succeed. It’s easy to pick winners when “the game” is over. It’s much more difficult while the game is still going. Having been in big corporation most of my business life, it’s clear that things which look very calculated after the fact often depend on a variety of very fortunate, difficult to repeat circumstances, for success.

You can glean additional value from case study winners by figuring out how the success could be repeated; in essence, what are the strategic bread crumbs that would help find your way down the success trail again? Here are four questions to identify strategic bread crumbs:
  1. What’s a generalized description of the case study, i.e. what were they trying to accomplish and what other businesses have similar situations?
  2. What questions would you ask and answer to recreate the successful situation?
  3. What were the critical success factors – things that had to be there for success or would have thwarted success had they been present?
  4. What steps would it take to recreate the situation or move it into another business?

Also use these questions in your own situations to create the strategic bread crumbs to lead you back to repeat successes.

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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Amid too much jargon, the state of business communication isn’t stellar. We could all benefit from delegating a writing assignment to a great reporter to see how they’d approach it to ensure it’s as clear, concise, and memorable as possible. Here are some of the things a good reporter is going to concentrate on during a writing assignment:

  • Interview people directly involved in the story
  • Use multiple sources of information
  • Write in order to gain attention right away
  • Put the most important things at the start of the story, followed by supporting material, then background information
  • Address fundamental questions – who, what, where, when, why, and how
  • Use specific, concrete examples
  • Have an editor who reviews it and makes changes

In addition to identifying at least three new ways to incorporate each of a reporter’s approaches to improve your writing, here’s a bonus book recommendation – do yourself a favor and track down a copy of “How to Take the Fog Out of Business Writing” by Robert Gunning and Richard A. Kallan. It’s a precursor to “Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide” and is a short, straight-forward guide to dramatically simplifying your business writing.

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

 

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

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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