Last Thursday, I presented a session on ‘Linking Blogs to Business Strategy’ at Kansas City’s Central Exchange. While discussing editing blog posts, one potential blogger asked about overcoming the problem of perfectionism when writing. I rather flippantly answered psychological help might be in order.While trying to be funny, the answer wasn’t completely facetious. I love when things happen exactly on strategy. Through years of observation, however, I’ve come to realize very few mistakes mean even a ‘figurative’ end to the world. Why drive yourself crazy trying to solve every little issue.This realization began in earnest early in my career, when another person and I were working on a matrix comparing our company to major competitors. It was an arduous project, with many revisions and lots of eyes (including eyes senior to ours) reviewing various drafts. It was eventually published for several thousand sales and management people in the company.Everything was … Continue reading

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Are Best Practices Your Worst Enemy?

When I speak to CEO groups, trade associations, and industry conventions, this is one of my favorite questions to ask.Why? Because I love the reaction from the audience. They look at me like I’m nuts!Questioning the sanctity of best practices in a roomful of corporate leaders and managers is like walking into a Boston Red Sox convention wearing a New York Yankees cap. Or walking into a Microsoft Corp. strategic planning session with an iPad in your hand. I might as well criticize mom, apple pie, and puppies.But I dont ask the question merely to provoke a reaction from the audience. I ask it because it may prevent someone from going out of business.In the 1980′s, when Japan was eating our collective lunches in one industry after another, best practices played a critical role in helping American companies develop better quality products. We wouldn’t be where we are today had … Continue reading

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Innovation Perspectives - Shepherding a Team of Opportunists

This is the sixth of several ‘Innovation Perspectives’ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘Who should be responsible (if anyone) for trend-spotting and putting emerging behaviors and needs into context for a business?’. Here is the next perspective in the series:by Robert F Brands with Jeff ZbarWhen an entrepreneur creates a new product or company, the result usually is borne by spotting an emerging trend, conceptualizing an innovation, or seizing an opportunity unmet or consumer behavior emerging in the marketplace.But what happens once the company opens its doors or the product hits the market? Whose responsibility is it to spot the next trend or opportunity? More important, who should be charged with shepherding the behavior of trend-spotting across the organization?Everybody is responsible for trend spotting. This isn’t some cliquey club; limit your people’s involvement at your own peril. From the Marketing and … Continue reading

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Environmental Integration - Vinci, Italy

Over the past several years, I’ve had the good fortune to be able travel around Europe. I’ve taken tens of thousands of pictures.I love this shot below.Terra cotta roof tiles, and lush, greens hills a patchwork alternating vineyards and olive groves. This is Vinci, Italy. Where Leonardo was born and grew up – you know – Leonardo da Vinci (of Vinci).However, in the middle of this great shot – is a mark of the late 20th Century – the satellite dish. You can also see mid-century old-school antennas.[Fig. 1 Vinci, Italy View]You can click the image above for a larger view. Take out the tv equipment, convert to black and white, and you’d enjoy the same view from over 200 years ago.Environmental IntegrationWhile it’s not perfect, I spotted this solution to disguise dishes in Amsterdam. They’ve covered the dishes with a ‘picture of brick’ to blend into the building. This … Continue reading

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I had the opportunity to interview Eric Liu, author of the new book “Imagination First” at a book event last night. I’d like to share a video interview I did with Eric before the event:Interview – Eric Liu – Author “Imagination First” from Braden Kelley on Vimeo.If you prefer YouTube, I’ve split the interview into Part 1 and Part 2 there.Eric Liu was interviewed on stage during the event by Warren Etheredge and I’d also like to share some of the key insights from Eric’s talk at the event:We all have the capacity for imagination, but as we grow up we are disincentivized to share itWe need to teach kids to have respect for limits and to stretch their imaginations by giving them activities with limits and inviting them to create within those limitsWe need to be careful not to strip out the play from education”Play matters” – leaning forward … Continue reading

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The Museum of Why

Too many brands, companies and even vertical sectors assume what they do is, well, what they do. They define their value based on their current tactical, delivered product or service to the market and to their customers. But that’s not at all what they do, of course. Let’s look at a couple examples.People don’t buy a newspaper because it’s printed news. They can get that news from a myriad places today. So what makes newspapers unique? What value do they really serve? I actually read the newspaper more often now than ever, but I don’t subscribe to the print edition. I read online every day, check various reporters’ blogs for intra-day updates, and count on newspaper reporters to take complicated issues and boil them down to something I can read briefly, get the gist of the story or message, and move on with my day. That’s value, and has nothing … Continue reading

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Innovation Perspectives - Purpose, Frequency and Responsibility

This is the fifth of several ‘Innovation Perspectives’ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘Who should be responsible (if anyone) for trend-spotting and putting emerging behaviors and needs into context for a business?’. Here is the next perspective in the series:by Jeffrey PhillipsI’ve written before about the reactive nature of many businesses. It often seems there are more incentives to ignore signals in the marketplace and then conduct heroic efforts at recovery than to simply plan effectively and study trends and act accordingly. The purpose of today’s topic is to examine whether or not trend spotting and scenario planning is important and valuable (hopefully already answered) and if trend spotting and scenario planning are important, what individual or team within your firm should be focused on this work, and how frequently it should be done.First, let’s put to bed the debate (admittedly … Continue reading

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