How to adapt external ideas to your industry when stuck for business growth ideas
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How to adapt external ideas to your industry when stuck for business growth ideas or facing an obstacle that you can’t get around

If you’re lost for business growth ideas or facing an obstacle that you can’t get around, stay tuned because you will learn the two adaptation techniques to help you overcome those obstacles and create low-risk business growth innovation ideas.

Every minute of every day, we come across brilliant ideas and inventions that could help us reinvent our results. Yet, because many of these ideas are found in an industry unrelated to ours, we ignore them. Instead, we continue along struggle street, hoping the big idea will land at our feet. 

The inventive thinker is always on the prowl looking for ideas to adapt to their business, industry, and customer. This hunt for adaptable ideas is called adaptation. 

There are two ways to use the adaptation technique

1. Identifying the attributes you need to solve your problem and then looking for them outside of your industry
2. Identifying a remarkable product, process, or invention that’s outside of your industry and then looking to see if you can use their attributes

Let’s look at each one of them:
1. Identifying the attributes you need to solve your problem and then looking for them outside of your industry

The inventive thinker starts with questions such as “What types of attributes to my overarching challenge do I need satisfied?” 

Or “What attributes do I need to solve our problem that might be found outside of my industry?”

For example, maybe I’ve created a new consultancy with an offering in a relatively unknown behavioural economics niche. I’m relatively young and have little professional status. 

An insight I might have is, “Clients need to sell more of their products but are unaware that their lack of sales is about not understanding what influences and drives the customers to buy. Subsequently, they fear investing in consulting and training in a service they haven’t heard about before.” 

The key attributes I’m trying to solve are trust, guarantees, and risk prevention. Now that I’ve got some of those attributes, I can ask myself, “Where else in other industries do people have to create guarantees to minimize risk and increase trust?” 

I can’t help but think of examples of other places doing this already, such as television-based sales initiatives with 100 percent money-back guarantees. Or product warranties offered by automotive manufacturers with free servicing. 

Subsequently, after adapting the money-back guarantee and free servicing idea, I might decide to offer a 100 percent money-back consulting guarantee with twenty-four months of free quarterly consulting check-ups. 

Now let’s look at the second application

2. Identify a remarkable product, process, or invention outside of your industry and then see if you can use their attributes.

Every remarkable process or product innovation has core attributes. If we can identify the attributes, we can apply them to our business.

This technique is great for creating growth solutions and also for staying inspired. Keeping a team inspired to create business growth innovation is a big challenge for the innovation leader.

A case study of successful adaptation

For example, I had a stressed-out GM from a brand spanking 5star hotel that was struggling to get new guests. They were burning money with all those empty rooms. They had next to no marketing budget and no full time marketing team. Oh, and the GM was time-poor. They needed some marketing business growth ideas fast, or people would be losing their jobs.

So here’s what I got the GM to do.

The GM’s task was to write up one question on the whiteboard at the beginning of every weekly sales meeting.

“What’s the most engaging piece of marketing or advertising you’ve come across outside of the hospitality world, and what made it so compelling?”

After the team had shared the engaging marketing and advertisements, he was to ask them to work out how they could adapt the attributes to their hotel.

So what happened?

At the first meeting, the sales team was slow to think of marketing examples. Still, they did nonetheless, and it started to get them creating bold ideas.

He wrote the same question up on the whiteboard at the second meeting. 
This time examples were flowing left, right and centre, and it was becoming easier for them to adapt. 
One of the ideas they had adapted came from a competition idea where a famous fashion designer would re-design and stitch up the winner’s favourite clothing outfit.

The hotel’s adapted idea was to run a competition with people sharing their favourite personal recipes.

The winner would win a night at the hotel where their Michelin hat chef would cook them a meal based on the recipe.

The campaign was a smashing success. 
It cost very little to do, created a stack of publicity, and created many sales.


Whether it's for a new product, a new service or a new and improved business process adaptation is a technique that is easy and works. 

Please DM or email with your success stories or challenges if you have any. I’m here to help you create results that matter.


Founder, Keynote Speaker, Author

PS: Whether you’re looking for an innovation agency to improve your product with innovation, create an innovation disruption, or hack your business growth, we’re here to help.

Nils Vesk is a Four-Time Author and International Keynote Speaker. Nils has worked globally with over 200 bluechip companies including 3M, American Express, Canon, Caltex, Microsoft, Nestle´, IBM, Fuji Xerox, PWC, HP and Pfizer.

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About Nils Vesk

He's the founder of Ideas With Legs.

His  clients call him a Reinvention Renegade. Nils Vesk is an international authority on innovation and the inventor of the ‘Innovation Archetypes Process’.

Around the globe, leading companies such as Nestle, HP & Pfizer turn to Nils to share his proven innovation techniques for formulating commercial insights, ideas, extraordinary customer experiences and irresistible products.

Nils unpacks the million-dollar innovation principles used to create rapid growth for the future.

Nils is the author of a number of books including "Ideas With Legs - How to Create Brilliant Ideas and Bring Them to Life", and "Innovation Archetypes - Principles for World Class Innovation".

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