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November 16, 2006

News & Opinion: Prop It Up

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 5:22 PM – Filed under: Marketing & Sales

A friend of mine has a wry, insightful blog called Anthropologist for Corporate America|: Multitasking My Way To Inner Peace. From her subtitle, you might gather the tongue-in-cheek-yet-sadly-true idiosyncrasies of todays corporate environment that she writes about. She works for one of the major computer network companies and we were talking about how every brainstorming meeting she endures starts with a clear set of goals (think our Best Wish List) but it is only a matter of time before people lose sight of the agenda because each person brings his or her own real agenda with them. These agendas come complete with favorite ideas, personal priorities, egos, and lots of baggage to boot. Before you know it, there are so many tangents going on, its three hours later and precious little has been accomplished.
An essential part of successful single-minded brainstormingon your own or in a groupis the ability to concentrate on one area at a time. Every meeting needs an anchor, a focal point, and something that will help put tangents to the side, where they (by definition) belong. One way to do that is use a prop, a picture, or a page from a magazine that represents the idea and literally keeps everyone on the same page. (The most important thing is that that the item has to work with the proposition, or else youll spend time focusing in on the wrong idea.)
For example, if I go back to one of yesterdays hypotheses, I wanted to borrow from the success of iMac or iPod. So I would actually hunt out an iMac or iPod advertisement (theres plenty of them out there) and think how I would create a similar visual communication for my line of funky staplers.
Another way to use props and pictures is the I Spy approach. Look around wherever you are right now and ask yourself: is there something around you that might bring you one step closer to the answer you are looking for?
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By Lynn Altman, author of Brand it Yourself.