April 23,2021 Strategic Planning

Strategic Brainstorming

Strategic Brainstorming

Strategic Brainstorming

Strategic Brainstorming

The first record of syphilis stretches back to the 15th century throughout Europe. Around the same period cases began occurring in North America as well. Though it is believed that those case were brought along by the explorers to the new world.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease with an impact of sores and rashes. However, it can lead to cancerous growths and neurological problems. Numerous disfigurements plagued Europe during this time as well as bizarre neurological conditions that would lead to erratic behaviors. Even scarier, this disease held no known cure and was rapidly spreading across the globe.

Scientist and psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Jauregg was a Vienna based scholar during the 19th and 20th centuries. He became fascinated with the curing power of heat, specifically the power of controllable fevers. Previously, malaria had devastated travelers to warmer climates. Mosquitoes carrying the disease would bite individuals who would later succumb to high fever and in many cases death. During the 17th century, quinine was discovered as an effective cure of malaria.

As Doctor Wagner-Jauregg looked at the problem of syphilis, his focus was the tertiary stage of syphilis. This stage when the neurological effects began to take place and signified a death sentence for the patient. Wagner-Jauregg looking at the problem through a different lens experimented with infecting syphilis patients with malaria. He believed and later confirmed that the high fever caused by malaria would kill syphilis. He could then semi-safely treat the malaria with quinine. In 1927 Doctor Wagner-Jauregg was the first psychiatrist awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physiology.

Bringing Ideas to Life

Novel ideas come from setting the stage and unlocking the right perspective. These ideas are based on making predictions of the future. This includes identifying your key dimensions, locating your position, and determining your focus. Conceptual tools may help you get oriented to the market but in the end good ideas basically just jump into our heads, it’s called insight.

The framework starts with the purpose of an organization, which is to create a customer. Your next goal is to generate most ideas or options. More ideas equal better ideas. Typically, the first ideas are the thoughts that are top of mind, there is not much cognitive mining to collect these. However, forcing the mind to generate additional ideas unlock greater insights of true novelty. This also enables the ability to scaffold ideas building off one another. Additionally, it enables bisociation where two different ideas can combine to make something new.

An invention is a new idea that is turned into a tangible outcome, a product or system, innovation is the conversion of a new idea into revenue and profits. This is not routine thinking. This is identifying a need in the market that is not being serviced, finding your strengths, and devoting resources to it disproportionately.

Why Not Follow the Pack

Leverage is the best friend of strategy and leverage comes from new ways of thinking. The average strategy comes from a defined mental model of deeply held beliefs of how the world works. Being able to breakout of stagnant thinking unlocks novel value streams. Instead of spending incredible amounts of effort to capture a sliver of market share, shoot for a new market that has no competition.

Breaking these mental models calls for an elevation of the plain of thought to a new systematic train of thought. Your role as a leader is to generate this amongst the team. To pull out the social side of those that prefer to hold back their feedback. Social skills are a muscle, can be weakened and need to prep stage prior to brainstorming, a warm-up.

Associated with a team being comfortable enough to socialize ideas is enabling deep analogical thinking. This thinking is recognizing conceptual similarities in X number of domains that may seem to have little in common on the surface but have associative powers that create new insights. High ground companies redefine playing fields vice fighting for market share. These strategies don’t come top down from the management team but from the organization.

Breathing Life into the Innovation Process

Managing my company, I’ve been paid to run several brainstorming sessions for organizations. There are numerous activities and approaches to get people in the right space to create ideas and share them. It first starts with strategic framing. This sets the stage of what the organization wants to do be it to focus on a unique market segment, to become the cost leader, or to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Once the framework is in place, the team can move into scenario planning. Scenario planning enhances capacity to perceive change, intercept and respond to change, influence other actors, enhance organizational learning. Keys to scenario planning: make it plausible, not probable, balance relevant and challenging, stories that are memorable but disposable, add numbers to the narrative, scenario’s open doors, disagreements are assets, fit into a broader strategic system.

Scenario planning helps get the mind moving with the goal to help generate more ideas. I then ask them to identify their competitors and asked how they got to the top. Another activity-based question to imagine what business that you could completely outsource? This is all centered on unlocking deeper analytical thinking and creating dialogue that will inevitably lead to a more unique strategy.

Insights into Greater Perspective

Team sharing is the greatest indicator of organizational innovation. Nintendo co-founder Yoki held the philosophy that “If I can speak without fear of being misunderstood.” This is being able to express your voice freely and without judgement. Quickness to judge truly restricts idea creation.

Another favored practice is the application of aggressive actions. Military strategists focus on the goal of depriving the enemy of the freedom of action. But in a business setting what does this mean? That can be a primer question to ask your strategy team to pick apart your competitor and find new ways to restrict their progress.

Modern day capitalism is so heavily intertwined with China that there are no degrees of separation for any businesses. While their focus has mostly been on manufacturing, innovation has been their strong push across the nation and throughout the world. Fifty percent of overseas Research & Design centers in China are funded by U.S. companies. A great way to generate strategic ideas is to brainstorm how China could disrupt your business and vice versa.


William the Conqueror was the Norman King that believed he had a right to the English Crown located across the Channel. He took it upon himself to invade England from Normandy in 1066. He claimed possession of the 12 and a half acres of land held by feudal powers and established his foothold. These twelve and a half acres are disputed territory still today and just like new markets pioneering drives disputed claims.

Tesla, always known for their electric vehicles. Subconsciously, they are known as the company of innovation. They are not afraid to swing and miss. They know that the first to disputed land brings the greatest reward. Exampled by their Tesla Cyber Truck that never made an impact on the market. But it wasn’t about making money. It was about proving that Tesla is the innovation king and building innovation capital.

A monolithic approach to strategy is looking at your competitor and saying that you can do better because you say you can. This not only is a fallacy of many an army but many a business as well. You never want to throw your weight into a stroke when your opponent is on guard. History proves time again that the indirect attack is the most effective approach. Innovation is the indirect approach; it is finding the unique way to gain an edge while cutting your competitor. You can battle your competition head on and beat each other’s heads in. Or you can go find a market and let them try to catch you


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