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Brainzooming questions, tools, and exercises come from diverse sources. We often imagine them from reading between the lines of articles describing innovation successes. We’ll digest how organizations ranging from corporations to entrepreneurs and nonprofits are pursuing innovative growth. Then, we envision lists of questions and prompts that could have triggered their innovative strategies.

The January issue of Feast Magazine, which “broadens the conversation about food and engages a large, hungry audience of food-lovers” around the Midwest published its Rising Stars issue. Feast profiled twenty-four “culinary creatives making their mark.” Perusing snapshots of food innovators screamed out to me: take notes and describe the strategies these individuals are using, although not typically calling out in the article.

Donut shop innovation

94 Ideas to Imagine Innovative Growth Strategies

From my notes, here are ninety-four innovation and growth strategies these emerging food stars are employing.

No matter your industry or company size, you can dive into this list to generate potential ideas for innovation and growth. Ask for each prompt: What would doing this look like in our organization?

Go beyond listing one idea per prompt; use each prompt to generate five-to-ten ideas. You can select prompts from the categories where your business most needs an innovative jumpstart. Alternatively, you can select them at random to surprise yourself with the ideas they suggest.

Have fun. More importantly, take advantage of investing fifteen minutes to do some new thinking for your organization’s innovative future.

Branding and Marketing

  1. Create your equivalent of a pop-up version of your brand
  2. Go back to your brand’s traditional customer favorites
  3. Increase the customization in what you do
  4. Shift even more of what you do online
  5. Challenge the stigmas attached to your market and brand
  6. Share the newest things you do on Instagram
  7. Collaborate with other brands in your market
  8. Compete for third-party awards
  9. Host more events
  10. Tell more stories behind what you do
  11. Only offer things where you have a strong story behind them
  12. Don’t limit yourself to one cultural tradition
  13. Make your brand and customer experience fun for everyone
  14. Offer free giveaways to individuals who will use and share stories about your products
  15. Make your brand more cheerful
  16. Increase your brand (and market’s) approachability
  17. Get closer to the roots of your business
  18. Open a retail store
  19. Improve your facilities and capabilities

Strategy

  1. Don’t do any of the common things your competitors do
  2. Give up on all your plans that aren’t working
  3. Focus on the things that have generated the most momentum recently
  4. Tuck your brand under another brand to help you grow and develop more quickly and fully
  5. Refuse to give up on your original vision
  6. Repurpose the things that are working for you
  7. Decide to expand dramatically then do everything to make it happen
  8. Pay attention to how things used to be done and bring the best lessons forward
  9. Focus on the why underlying what you do
  10. Make sure you have a clear, well-understood mission and follow it with a passion
  11. Start a side business
  12. Start with a scaled-down version to develop the proof-of-concept for what you ultimately want to do
  13. Expand your long-term view
  14. Plan less and do more things in the moment
  15. Seek out grants to fund what you do

Customers and Experience

  1. Cultivate a more loyal more customer base
  2. Offer more types of customer experiences
  3. Give even more focus to your customers
  4. Give prospects the opportunity to sample what you do
  5. Let customers reserve what they want
  6. Solicit, listen to, and do something with customer feedback
  7. Show more interest in your customers (and everyone else who might be interested in your brand)
  8. Don’t overlook friends as prospects for what you do
  9. Consciously appeal to very different tastes among customers
  10. Work on creating camaraderie inside and around your business
  11. Create an enjoyable process for employees and customers
  12. Ask about fan favorites and heavy up on them
  13. Make it easy for newcomers (employees and customers) to succeed

Personal Development

  1. Work harder
  2. Approach your responsibilities as a solopreneur
  3. Reach out to your mentors for ideas and help
  4. Focus on where you have the most career experience
  5. Amp up your passion about what you do
  6. Focus your efforts on something you’d want to do forever
  7. Incorporate your hobbies into what you do
  8. Make everything yourself
  9. Be more perfectionistic about what you deliver, and let people know about that
  10. Take time to talk with your collaborators and share ideas
  11. Incorporate childhood lessons into what you do

Learning

  1. Watch YouTube videos for free training for you and your team
  2. Research more about what you do and could do
  3. Drown yourself in the fundamentals of what you do
  4. Make sure you are learning new things every day
  5. Keep a journal to record your learnings
  6. Provide the training for everyone to be successful with changes in your business
  7. Invest hours in R&D every week
  8. Look over all the books in your market space
  9. Always be learning from your customers

Innovation

  1. Experiment more with new offerings and specials
  2. Cultivate a broader market environment that helps both you and your competitors
  3. Go all-in on creative ideas
  4. Quit playing by your industry’s familiar rules
  5. Make up your own rules
  6. Take a road trip for inspiration and to discover needed assets
  7. Improve how to ease transitions within your business
  8. Challenge your marketplace’s views of what’s acceptable, normal, or safe

Community Building

  1. Feature other important people and brands in your ecosystem
  2. Partner with nonprofit organizations to do something good for them
  3. Create a network within and around your brand
  4. Actively support minority-owned businesses
  5. Encourage new entrepreneurs to start their own businesses
  6. Increase your brand’s generosity

Products and Services

  1. Offer DIY versions of what you sell
  2. Try new combinations of what you offer
  3. Frequently change what you offer
  4. Make sure everything you do is complete and will work the first time
  5. Test all the new things you are planning to introduce
  6. Don’t overlook a single detail

Team Development

  1. Feature your brand’s experts
  2. Get some part-time people involved to extend you (and your team)
  3. Bring people with no experience into your business to learn from their fresh perspectives and develop them
  4. Do more for your employees than most employers would

Expanding Diversity

  1. Increase the diversity of your experience
  2. Expand diversity within your team
  3. Merge different ways of doing things into unique combinations

Mike Brown

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