Today’s list of strategic thinking questions is the last installment in our series based on the June 2013 Fast Company magazine and its list of The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2013. All of the strategic thinking questions were inspired by profiles from the Fast Company 100 Most Creative People in Business list for this year.

It’s exciting that today’s post features someone on the list I actually know: Sheryl Connelly, the Futurist at Ford Motor Company. I met Sheryl at a marcus evans conference in 2008 where we were both speaking. One year later, she was our kickoff speaker when I chaired the American Marketing Association’s national Marketing Research Conference. The strategic thinking question Sheryl Connelly inspired is the first listed under Strategy.

Across all three articles covering the strategic thinking questions the list inspired, you should definitely be able to find a few you can apply to your business or career to get you thinking of creative ideas to put you on the list in 2014!

Insights and Strategy Questions Inspired by the Fast Company 100 Most Creative People in Business 2013

The final thirty-one strategic thinking questions address insights and strategy.

Insights Questions

If you have access to “big data,” what are you doing to improve your human ability to ask insightful questions? (1. Nate Silver - PRINCIPAL, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT; AUTHOR)

How many customers are inside your company and how easily can they supply market information? (69. Emily Sugihara - FOUNDER, BAGGU)

How would you describe the emotional transitions your data is going through? (93. Eitan Grinspun - CODIRECTOR, COMPUTER GRAPHICS GROUP, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY)

Can you tell stories from your data? Can you find predictive relationships in your stories? (99-100. Hilary Mason and Leslie Bradshaw - CHIEF SCIENTIST, BITLY; COO, GUIDE)

Strategy Questions

How are you going to start regularly bringing examples into your organization of other businesses dealing with comparable issues to the ones you face? (24. Sheryl Connelly - FUTURIST, FORD MOTOR CO.)

When is it possible to test your idea on a radically small group and get enough confidence to move forward based on the feedback? (11. Carl June - PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA)

What new ways can you make it easier for your employees to share ideas and shape your company? (23. Art Peck - PRESIDENT OF GROWTH, INNOVATION & DIGITAL--A DIVISION OF GAP, INC.)

In what ways do you imagine young women will change your industry? (29. Reshma Saujani - FOUNDER, GIRLS WHO CODE)

How could it be better to fix a big problem you face by undoing the problem rather than putting another fix on a previous fix? (3. Diana Balmori - PRINCIPAL, BALMORI ASSOCIATES)

How could you better use your speed, expertise, and strategic thinking to disrupt a tired industry? (31 Tony Fadell and Hosain Rahman - FOUNDER, CEO, NEST LABS; FOUNDER, CEO, JAWBONE)

Looking at your internal processes, how do you break what you do into little pieces that allow you to create many more combinations than you can right now? (33. Ayah Bdeir - FOUNDER, CEO, LITTLEBITS)

How soon is the next time you’ll list everything you think is essential to your business and then cut the list by 50 percent? (36. Katie Rae - MANAGING DIRECTOR, TECHSTARS BOSTON)

How can you go “shopping” with your customers, no matter what “shopping” looks like, to gain breakthrough product ideas? (38. Evelyn Mazzocco - SVP OF CREATIVE, GLOBAL GIRLS’ AND GAMES BRANDS, MATTEL)

What more could you do to grow the rate and accuracy of insights your organization produces weekly? (39. Jill Beraud - CEO, LIVING PROOF)

How can you improve your ability to break even small problems into smaller, solvable parts? (41. Ruchi Sanghvi - HEAD OF OPERATIONS, DROPBOX)

What are new ways your organization can use yield management principles to improve productivity or grow revenue? (42. Susan Chapman - SVP OF GLOBAL REAL ESTATE AND WORKPLACE ENABLEMENT, AMERICAN EXPRESS)

Where are you looking for talent among teenagers who could contribute exciting new ideas to your business? (43. Kelvin Doe – INVENTOR)

What has your industry known about for years has great potential yet has never been delivered to customers to create new value? (44. Antonio Mata - PRESIDENT, MATA & ASSOCIATES)

How about immediately asking anyone who complains to you about a constraint, “How is that constraint really the best opportunity you’ve ever had?” 49-57. Urban Outfitters – NINE INDIVIDUALS REMAKING CITY LIVING

How is density, and its tremendous business and growth advantages, becoming a bigger part of your strategy? 49-57. Urban Outfitters – NINE INDIVIDUALS REMAKING CITY LIVING

If you’re a solopreneur, what are you doing to increase the number of people you MUST interact with daily (in the interest of stimulating conversations, exchanges, and ideas)? Where is your brand plotted on a simple vs. elegant x-y chart? (58. D.A. Wallach - ARTIST IN RESIDENCE, SPOTIFY)

If you’re trying to launch a business, how could doing what you do for a worthy cause get you the attention you need? (59. Agnello Dias - COFOUNDER, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, TAPROOT INDIA)

How can you give new customers a better view of the third or fourth thing you can do to serve them? (60. Peter Marino – ARCHITECT)

If your brand is trying to catch up to #1 in your industry, what can you consciously do differently instead of trying to do the same things as the leader? (61. Tom Cibrowski - SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, GOOD MORNING AMERICA)

If you start with what’s left-over, unused, forgotten, and rejected, what things can you create from them? (62. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu - FOUNDER, CEO, SOLEREBELS)

Who are the absolute best potential partners in the absolute worst performing areas of what you do? (65. Lynn Jurich - COFOUNDER, CO–CEO, SUNRUN)

If you wrote the introductory press release for a new project or process before you even started on it, what expectations would the press release set? (72. Ian Spalter - DIRECTOR OF DESIGN AND UX, FOURSQUARE)

When your brand gains serendipitous entry into a new audience or market, what steps are you taking to build on it so it’s not a fleeting success? (86. Heidi Ueberroth - PRESIDENT, NBA INTERNATIONAL)

For the important problems you can’t solve, how can you tell stories about them to reach someone who CAN solve them? (89. Christy Turlington Burns - FOUNDER, EVERY MOTHER COUNTS)

When imagining potential business partnerships, who else is commanding the time, attention, and dollars your audience has available? (9. Tracey Bleczinski - VP OF CONSUMER PRODUCTS, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE)

How can you win over to your cause the enemy that knows your fatal flaw (and is in the best position to help you get better)? (95. John Hering - COFOUNDER, CEO, LOOKOUT MOBILE SECURITY)

Mike Brown

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