In my corporate days, I was dispatched to work with competitive companies our corporation purchased. The objective was to help them become better strategic thinkers and marketers.

The ground rule was, however, I couldn't tell them WHAT to do. Since all the companies competed with one another, each one needed to determine its own business strategies.

When I tell people this story, they chuckle. It seems ridiculous to help a company become better at strategic thinking and marketing without being allowed to tell them how to do it.

While this constraint may seem (and actually be) ridiculous, it shaped how the Brainzooming method developed.

Strategic Thinking Exercises - 3 Responses to New Ideas


In planning how we would help these companies, we realized there were three possibilities whenever we asked people to answer a question inside our strategic thinking exercises:

  1. The answer could show their strategic thinking was in the right direction.
  2. The answer could suggest their strategic thinking wasn’t effective in this situation.
  3. The answer could be a complete surprise we hadn’t anticipated.

Each of the three options suggested a potential response from us:

  1. With on-target ideas, we'd cheer them on and encourage more like it.
  2. With off-target ideas, we would say, "That's great," and suggest other strategic thinking exercises to re-orient them toward a better direction.
  3. If the unexpected idea was on target, we'd consider it a pleasant surprise. If it was off-target, we'd suggest alternative strategic thinking exercises to try.

What this suggests for you is that when working with a team, you don’t necessarily have to be ready to respond by saying ideas and concepts are good or bad.

You can, however, vary your reaction based on whether you perceive an idea to be good or bad. And if it’s bad, use other strategic thinking exercises to gently bring the ideas back to something smarter and more productive.  - Mike Brown

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