Breaking Down Template Thinking

Differentiating and prioritizing opportunities is a primary function of the strategic plan. This is important to remember because we so often get sidetracked with all the different sections and points that typical outlines demand to be part of a ‘finished’ plan. Remember that plan templates were developed over time by two sorts of authors. The first is the inspired, successful company that discovered a form that works. The second is the academic who has studied the inspired, successful company that discovered a form that works. From those two sources come all sorts of ‘proven’ processes and plans. Funny thing is…The run away successes almost always deviate from the standard. They succeed specifically because they blaze an inspired trail. So where to begin? 3 pointers: Start Simple and Straightforward. If your strategy feels foggy then your people will be lost in it. Let Your Strategy Limit You. If your strategy offers nothing but … Continue reading

Throw Off The Covers

Have you identified the project in your organization that will shift the ground all your competitors compete on? Have you protected it from suffocation under layers of corporate security blankets? No matter what kind of organization you work at, there is a good chance the idea is there — In a business plan, maybe in development. And, more than likely covered in security blankets. Alice Rawsthorn identified corporate security blankets as a prime culprit in a recent article, Why The Overwhelming Number Of Design Flops? (April 8, International Herald Tribune). Included in her list of blankets was ‘My Competitor Did It’ and ‘Design by Committee.’ Ground shifting innovation is moved by two key forces within any organization: Vision and Fear. When conceptualized, vision drives truly innovative ideas. It attracts key talent in your organization. It drives energy and excitement that something astounding is working its way through the pipeline. But then the … Continue reading

What Is Your Company’s CCC Quotient?

Why can’t we be more creative? Simple question certainly but the answer is usually a lot more complicated and a lot more work than managers want to hear. Building and maintaining an organization that is successfully and productively creative has to start with the basic understanding of what creativity is and what breeds it. Creativity is about building something new out of what you have: “I have a broken chair and a roll of duct tape.” “I need a solution to our dependency on foreign oil and I have corn.” “I need a way to read at night without the risk of fire and I know a bit about physics.” “I have a nation that needs something to energize and unite them and I have scientists who are smart and a moon waiting to be explored. Most organizations want the “something new” but have trouble understanding the process to get … Continue reading

Seth Godin On Marketing Creativity Killers

Seth Godin writing about what kills marketing creativity, identifies two primary culprits: Fear and Lack of Imagination. As part of his piece, Mr. Godin says: “Basically, most people don’t believe something better can occur. They believe that the status quo is also the best they can do. So they don’t look. They don’t push. They don’t ask, “what else?” and “what now?” They settle.” It is so easy for a marketing organization to fall into this trap…innovation often creates discomfort throughout a company. And when marketing looses it edge the rest of an organization will follow. Recently I spoke about a study that divided Midwest manufacturers into Advanced, Progressive, Struggling and Disengaged categories based on their desire to incorporate new technology and systems into their workflow. The largest group – The Disengaged – have lost their vision for change and innovation. Even under extreme economic pressure they fall into the … Continue reading

Friday Afternoons

Now that summer hours are over and the snow has started to fly (at least here in Chicago) I think it is time for marketing departments to try to infuse Friday with excitement and creativity. (Actually all departments should but I will talk to the marketing team for now.) Plan regular “events” to help keep ideas flowing and to go into the weekend with seeds planted in the mind of your team. Keep them fun and high-energy. They shouldn’t be “problem-solving sessions” but stretching out to new and interesting thoughts. How about spending an hour with a spread of Jumbo Shrimp, Oven-Fried Chicken, and a 12-oz pound cake and see how many oxymorons your team can identify. Then take 10 randomly and see if you can figure out how each one applies to your business. Every great idea starts somewhere, maybe they have been hiding in the quiet of the … Continue reading