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Many leaders find themselves faced with the difficult task of harnessing their team’s creativity to solve challenging problems.  Yet so often, group brainstorming yields little or no significant benefits.  Why?

Sometimes it is a question of facilitation skills.  Sometimes a lack of creative process.  But often it is because of one key fact that is so often forgotten: at the core of great group creativity, is great individual creativity. This is where leaders need to focus.

People need time to think by themselves; without this opportunity, there is a risk of groupthink.  Said another way, people need time to recall relevant knowledge from their deep memory banks, and then they need time to process this experience in the context of the challenge at hand.  Asking people to brainstorm individually first is far more productive for this reason.  Then, when the group gets together, there is that magical synthesis.

Here are 11 ways to build better brainstorming:

  1. Ensure individual pre-prep time is scheduled, and expected.
  2. Ask participants to write down X number of ideas, and bring them in.
  3. Invite a diverse group to attend.
  4. Capture all ideas visually.
  5. Try using mind-map techniques / fish-bone diagrams.
  6. Don’t use a creative meeting to discard ideas – only generate them.
  7. Foster idea growth (instead of saying “no but”, say “yes and”)
  8. Penalize people who shut down ideas by requiring the payment of a token dollar
  9. Circulate ideas afterwards to pick up additional concepts.
  10. Use an external facilitator.
  11. Ask the group beforehand: how do you become more creative?

This week’s action plan: At your next meeting that requires any creative output, start with this list as an input.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Website launch checklist

by Randall Craig on December 11, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Web development

Tagged as: , , , ,

While websites aren’t new, most organizations only redesign their website every 3-4 years – which is just enough time for everyone to forget what needs to be done to properly launch it. While every website (and organization) is unique, here is a partial list of activities that can help:

Three months prior to launch:

  • Confirm metrics to evaluate the success of the new site.
  • Integration points with existing systems defined.
  • Revise existing traditional marketing collateral.
  • Amend social media editorial calendar to take into account the new site launch.
  • Identify campaigns, advertising (and any communications) that promotes the website, or a landing page URL.
  • Review website legal terms and conditions for potential update.

One month prior to launch:

  • Demonstrate website (design and functionality) with a wider internal audience.
  • Update graphics within marketing collateral that reference the website.
  • Prepare internal communications plan.
  • Prepare external communications plan (including prospects/members/clients/regulators/customers.)
    • Design launch collateral (postcards, direct mail, posters, etc.)
  • Schedule appropriate Social Media posts to support launch.
  • Train front line staff on answering queries about the new website.
  • Site security regime in place and tested (certificates, firewall code, intrusion detection, reporting, recovery, etc.)
  • Final usability testing.
  • CSS/HTML code is validated and compliant with standards.
  • Legal compliance testing (Accessibility/WCAG standards, Privacy, and CASL/CAN-SPAM.)
  • Collect screen shots of all [existing site] lead generation forms for proof of CASL compliance.
  • Review all content (images, videos, text, etc) to ensure all is appropriately licensed and documented.

One week prior to launch:

  • Final content updates.
  • Robots.txt and (dynamic) sitemap.xml files created.
  • Site speed optimized.
    • Code “minified”, graphics optimized, site cached, content distribution networks enabled, etc.
  • Finalize reporting dashboard(s).
  • Even more testing:
    • All forms work correctly, including user feedback when incorrectly filled out.
    • All ecommerce transactions work correctly.
    • All password-protected areas of the site work correctly (and are secure.)
    • All placeholder content (eg “lorem ipsum”, “Hello World”, etc.) removed from site.
    • Error pages work as expected.
    • Final review for bad links.
  • User content update training is completed.
  • Website training for call center/receptionist/front-line staff.
  • Website preview for selected audiences (internal and external, including media.)
  • Back-up and restore systems tested.


  • Update “redirects” so that old URLs are redirected to new URLs.
  • Final test for bad links and errors.
  • Cut-over tracking tools (Google webmaster, Google analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, etc.)
  • Change links in internal systems.
  • Cut over changes in CRM and Marketing Automation systems.
  • Cut over uptime monitoring and back-up systems.
  • Update Social Media.
  • Internal and external communications.
  • Kick off traffic generation plan (Pay-per-click advertising, SEO, etc.)
  • Update corporate signature on outgoing emails.
  • Copy of “Final” version of the site is made.
  • Hand over from the web development team to the support team.

Post launch

  • Post mortem review meeting: what went right or wrong.
  • Daily/weekly/monthly monitoring (Social Media, Web analytics) for issues.
  • Double check Google to ensure the site is fully indexed (and tweak robots.txt and sitemap.xml).
  • Development and Feature roadmap planning session.

This week’s action plan:  Print this Tipsheet, and file it in your web folder – then forward it to others on your web team.  And if you’re feeling helpful: what else would you add to this list?

Marketing Insight:  Almost every marketing and communication activity involves some connection to the web, which means that this list can be easily adapted for…

  • a new microsite,
  • specific landing pages,
  • new service or product pages,
  • a change in information architecture,
  • a design or interface change,
  • new functionality.

The list can also be adapted for the launch of an intranet or extranet.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)




Finding the Social Media Tipping Point

by Randall Craig January 23, 2015

How do you know the “right” amount of Social Media? Too little Social Media is like spitting into the wind: no traction and no impact.  It also leads to discouragement: if the efforts are not making a difference, then why bother at all? On the other hand, too much Social Media is an obvious waste […]

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Ten tips for when the media calls

by Randall Craig December 26, 2014

The phone rings or an email arrives (or a Twitter direct message appears) from a journalist, asking for your opinion on a particular topic.  What should you do? a) Panic b) Answer their questions c) ??? Journalists are half sleuth/half expert communicator:  they are paid to find out what is happening, and then make it […]

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Creative Time and Place

by Randall Craig October 3, 2014

How can you be your most creative? Google the topic and you will find millions of pages with an answer. Some will say you are “born” with it. Others will say it is a matter of following a process.  And others will claim it is a matter of using a secret sauce formula, which, when […]

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Avoiding costly web development corner cutting (Part I: Four key reasons developers cut corners)

by Randall Craig March 21, 2014

Have you ever purchased a new house, only to later discover that the contractor cut some corners?  And that buck or two savings for the contractor now translates into thousands of dollars of extra cost for you?  Unfortunately, many website developers have taken a page from the building trade, and are cutting corners as well.  […]

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Blog Content Creation: Idea seeding

by Randall Craig March 7, 2014

Have you ever spent time staring at your blank screen, wondering what your next blog post should be about, then staring at the clock, stressing about the looming deadline.  While it’s tempting to think of this problem as writer’s block, it is really a question of process. Idea seeding is a process for blog content […]

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Learning Strategy from McDonalds… and Five Guys

by Randall Craig February 21, 2014

There is an important lesson to be learned from fast food menus, and particularly, the vastly different strategies of McDonald’s and Five Guys. For those who aren’t familiar with the McDonald’s menu, there is something for everyone: burgers, fish, chicken (in a bun or nugget-style), salads, fries, gourmet coffee and desert.  If you arrive for […]

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Seven Reasons to Skip Social Media

by Randall Craig February 7, 2014

If you read anything, anywhere about marketing, sales, customer service, recruiting, IT, or executive leadership, you can’t help but notice that Social Media seems to have become mandatory – full stop.  But are there circumstances where it makes sense NOT to use Social Media?  Where turning down the volume on blogging and tweeting – sometimes […]

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Insight: Marketing Beyond Commitment with the Relationship Chain

by Randall Craig January 10, 2014

The Relationship Curve is one of the most important Marketing 2.0 concepts around.  It states that as relationships improve over time, the target person (prospective client, prospective member, prospective employee, etc) moves through the stages of awareness, preference, trial, and commitment. The job of marketing is to put together initiatives that help that target person […]

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Viewpoint: The End of Social Media

by Randall Craig November 8, 2013

Here’s a bold prediction: The End of Social Media. Yes, despite the success of the Twitter IPO, and before that, Facebook’s public offering, social media is quickly moving to its end. Consider the evidence: Over a billion users on Facebook, and hundreds of millions each on LinkedIn and Twitter. All of these platforms (and others) […]

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Not back to school – Lessons for every student

by Randall Craig September 1, 2013

Just about every Friday for the last eight years and four months, I went to school – but no more.  I was a consultant to the Schulich school of business, where I gave 288 presentations, coached over 2100 students, and mentored 128 of them at 7am almost every week. I interacted primarily with full and […]

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Low Social Productivity?

by Randall Craig February 22, 2013

Are you one of “those” people who have thoroughly adopted Social Media, but have a nagging feeling that you just aren’t that productive with it?  Or are you tapped out, and have no interest in adding extra time to your day with low-value Social Media activities?  In either case, you’re not alone. Here are the […]

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Your Daily Social Media Routine

by Randall Craig June 14, 2012

How do you spend the first 20 minutes at the office each day? If you were in the 1970’s, you would spend the time reading the newspaper, then organizing your inbox (the box on your desk), and finally looking at your calendar before “starting” your day. In the 1980’s, you would be doing the same, […]

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by Randall Craig October 12, 2011

How often have you struggled to show up on time for a meeting, only to be kept waiting as others stumbled in 5-10-15 minutes later? Or have you ever tuned in to your favorite TV show, only to find that it was “rescheduled” for some other time? Or travelled to a faraway store, but finding […]

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Social Media Stop Sign

by Randall Craig September 13, 2011

How long ago did you (or your organization) start your Social Media “work”?  Likely, a few years ago.  First came LinkedIn: you filled out your profile, asked for (and responded to) connection requests.  Then you asked for (and responded to) recommendation requests, asked (and responded to) questions, and joined a number of groups.  Then you […]

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Strategy and Synergy

by Randall Craig April 5, 2011

Many people are interested in writing a blog, particularly if they have special expertise.  Yet, the precise subject of the blog usually eludes them.  Choose the wrong subject, and you’re stuck with it, and because of Google, it sticks to you… forever. The overall blogging rule is simple: write for your reader.  Imagine who that […]

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Summer Motivation

by Randall Craig July 7, 2010

Have you ever found yourself becoming less motivated – and perhaps a bit less productive – during the summer? It isn’t surprising: great weather, outdoor activities, and more social time all conspire to have us think beyond the job. Yet to be successful, especially in a tough economy, requires both focus and productivity. Here are […]

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