Tools | The Brainzooming Group - Part 189 – page 189
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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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0

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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We can all recall great school teachers who made otherwise boring subjects come alive and taught lessons that shape us still.

We’re all teachers in our own ways. There are people that we work and interact with daily who look to us for both technical learning and life lessons. Let’s explore great teachers’ approaches and see what they can teach us about our teaching roles. Great teachers:

  • Present challenging concepts
  • Are passionate about their subject(s)
  • Use vivid stories to illustrate lessons
  • Ask you about the subject area even outside the class room
  • Are true to the principles they teach
  • Teach heuristics to master & use the content
  • Make complex topics understandable
  • Are interactive
  • Make learning fun and rewarding
  • Don’t simply give answers away for the asking
  • Are still actively learning themselves
  • Have a love for the material / topic
  • Adapt to students’ various learning styles

Identify three new ideas for each of the approaches above that you can adapt to become a better teacher to those around you.

This post is dedicated to Dave Wessling, for so many reasons. May he rest in peace.

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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3

I’m okay with having started projects that will never be completed. While I don’t have a problem finishing things, sometimes the overwhelming amount of learning and growth a project will yield comes well before its completion. Or perhaps the effort to finish it far outweighs the benefit it will provide. In either case, if there’s no overriding reason to finish such a project (i.e. a commitment has been made to someone else), it’s likely it will be abandoned.

Usually, though that means keeping the remnants around in case there’s more value to be squeezed from them later. Whether you’ll really get more value at some point in the future often depends on modifying the original idea. Based on the potential issue that’s halted progress, here are questions to ask for modifying an idea that’s:

  • Not good or relevant – Is there an element that has value and can be moved to something else?
  • Not fully formed – Can it be combined with something else?
  • Being used too ambitiously – Can you break it apart and only keep some of it?
  • Inconsistent with your brand – Could it fit with another brand that’s available?
  • A true non-starter – If you walk away and come back later, might it make more sense?

This is relevant because I have a number of partially-written blog fragments started weeks or months ago that haven’t yet made it into the blog. Before completely trashing them, I applied these questions to try and resuscitate four ideas into posts for the rest of the week. Check back in, and see which of the possibilities above worked to rescue these ideas.

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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Police detectives are responsible for identifying and developing leads, often with little actual information to go on, and successfully solving cases. The challenge is not unlike the effort required to find and develop solid leads for business development purposes.

Next time you’re faced with that task, delegate your challenge to a police detective and see how their methods could help you solve the case of the missing customer. Detectives:

  • Interview witnesses & knowledgeable people for clues
  • Gather evidence
  • Check for & analyze fingerprints
  • Perform forensic analysis
  • Search databases for suspects in previous similar cases
  • Work with other related agencies
  • Tap phone lines
  • Conduct surveillance
  • Ask the public for help

Once again, try to generate three ideas for each of the police detective approaches above. And be careful out there!

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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1

I’ve always wondered why Bruce Springsteen has only played a few guitars on stage during his career while Tom Petty seems to change guitars on nearly every song. The different strategy each of them takes probably comes down to what it takes to fuel creativity. The last several weeks, I’ve gotten a little better insight into the impact of various creative tools you might use.

The morning of a recent plane trip to Las Vegas, we stopped at Wal-Greens for last minute items. I bought a relatively inexpensive sketch pad similar to ones I’d had as a kid. My desire was to simply have a tool to spur creativity by offering a different type of bare wall to go along with the change of scenery (Las Vegas) and activity (an actual non-working vacation).

Lo and behold, the bare wall theory for creativity held up. On the way, I sketched out seventeen potential posts for another blog I’m doing. Once in Vegas, the creative tool of focus shifted briefly to the camera on my phone, which yielded another 5 ideas for posts. Returning from a quick trip to Washington last week, it was back to the sketch book’s creative boost, writing out some posts (including this one) with a Sharpie marker.

Going back to a previously familiar creative tool has provided an opportunity to wring some new and varied creativity from it. Needless to say, I’m really enjoying the creative stimulus provided by the sketch book right now!

So ask yourself – are you more like Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty when it comes to your creative strategy? And do you have all the tools you need to keep your creativity flowing in various situations? Act on the answers to these two questions to fuel your creativity!  – 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 help make your strategic thinking and planning more productive, even when you’re not on a plane!

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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Here’s a quick check for generating a simple, solid strategy. Is your strategy?

  • Understandable – Will employees be able to read it and comprehend your direction, even if someone isn’t there to explain it?
  • Implementable – Will something be able to be done with the strategy to create positive business results?
  • Aligning – Will following the strategy create a natural inclination for employees to work in a cooperative fashion toward a common goal?

Solid (and simple) strategies should generate three “Yes” answers to these questions. So how does your strategy stack up? Ideally it displays the appropriate level of simplicity.

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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