• Clarify the focus on the event
  • Playful rules – this is about enabling – not disabling
    • One conversation at a time
    • Stay focused on the task
    • Encourage wild ideas
    • Go for quantity
    • Be visual
    • Defer judgment
    • Build on the ideas of others
  • Number your ideas – allows indexing later
  • Build and jump – use flip-chart carousels – staying in one place too long limits ideas
  • Space remembers – what has happened in it, going back from when it was constructed
  • Stretch your mental muscles – challenge – get outside the box
  • Get physical – keep moving, use AVK resources
  • Have come to recognize that innovation is more than just a process, or indeed an attitude. It is a style that is a factor of leadership and team working. It is that unique combination of factors which enable change and new ways of thinking.
  • Brainstormer killers: the boss gets to speak first, everybody gets a turn, off-site, no silly stuff, and don’t write down everything
  • 60 minutes only (90 max)
  • Playful, visual
  • No notes, don’t take turns
  • Fill all walls and flat spaces with butcher paper, use post-its and Sharpie markers (the power of spatial memory)
  • Sketching, mind mapping, diagrams, and stick figures
  • Watch for chances to build and jump
  • Number your ideas
  • Vote on best ideas

Strategic thinking is defined as the generation and application of business insights on a continual basis to achieve the competitve advantage.  New growth comes from new thinking.  Strategic planning is the channeling of the insights generated by strategic thinking into an action plan to achieve goals and objectives.  There are 4 types of strategic thinkers:

  1. Beach bums are managers who don’t contribute insights to the business.
  2. Snorkelers are managers who offer tactical solutions to issues, but their solutions don’t have a significant positive impact on the business.
  3. Scuba divers are managers who can produce strategic insights for solutions, but they require instruction and assistance to do so.
  4. Free divers are managers who, on a regular basis, generate insights that have the significant impact on the businesses.

10 strategic thinking skills:

1. Mastering the three criteria of great strategy: acumen, allocation, and action.  Consider your daily activities. How often do you have the opportunity to come up with insights that change the course of your work? What level of effect do those insights have on your business? What type of strategic thinker are you currently—a Beach Bum, a Snorkeler, a Scuba Diver, or a Free Diver? Consider your colleagues in the department. What percentage are Beach Bums? Snorkelers? Scuba Divers? Free Divers? How Deep Can You Dive?   The successful business strategy is about being better than the competition.  You need to have the “right people on the bus.”  Be different from the competition.

2. Insight: generating new ideas about the business.

3. Context: understanding the current situation.  Context is defined as the specific problem in a given business situation.  The circumstances in which an event occurs.  The combination of strengths and weaknesses an organization possesses to balance with opportunities and threats.

4. Competitive Advantage: creating distinct offerings with superior value.  Reduce prices to drive out the competition.  Change the customer’s value preferences.  Benchmark competitors and excel at best practices.

5. Value: determining the benefits/costs of the offerings.  Revenue growth, gross margin, and return on capital are forecasting the future.  Customer intimacy, operational excellence, product leadership, operational effectiveness, low-cost leadership, and innovation are all important in considering value.

6. Resource Allocation: deciding where to focus capital, talent, and time. Effective resource allocation will have profitability and productivity.  Profitability is when more resources are invested in the right activities.  Productivity is when fewer resources are invested in the wrong activities.

7. Modeling: visually capturing the essence of business issues.

8. Innovation: creating new value for customers.

9. Purpose: developing mission, vision, and values.

10. Mental Agility: the ability to improvise, adapt, and excel through adversity.



ABC News (1999), The Deep Dive, ABC News Home Video of Nightline on 2/9/99. 2. IDEO San Francisco (3/29/2001), DePaul Healthcare Innovation and Design Plan 3.

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm. Kelley, Tom. Doubleday, 2001

The Innovation Equation: Building Creativity and Risk Taking in your Organization, Byrd, 2003, Wiley

Weird Ideas that Work: 11½ Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation. Sutton, Robert I. 2002. New York: Free

Innovation-what consumer need we are not meeting?


  1. Make a great entrance
  2. Make metaphors
  3. Think briefcase (Make the customer emotionally attached to the product)
  4. Color inspires
  5. Backstage pass (Let customers know what’s going on behind the curtain)
  6. Make your product or service work faster and simpler
  7. Make it goof-proof
  8. First, do no harm
  9. Make a checklist of the “essentials” before you begin a project
  10. Great accessories can carry a product (the right small touches)

Diffusion of innovations: diffusion is the process by which innovation spreads, helpful in developing a successful product strategy

4 crucial elements in the diffusion of new ideas are:

1) an innovation

2) which is communicated through certain channels

3) over time

4) among the members of a social system

3 extraneous variables affect the rate of diffusion: the degree of perceived newness, the perceived attributes of the innovation, and the method used to communicate the idea; the more innovative a product is perceived to be, the more difficult it is to gain market acceptance

5 characteristics of an innovation:

1) relative advantage: perceived the marginal value of the new product relative to the old

2) compatibility: with acceptable behavior, value, norms, etc

3) complexity: degree of complexity associated with product use

4) trialability: degree of economic and/or social risk associated with product use

5) observability: the ease with which the product benefits can be communicated



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