How to run a business growth innovation program with no training, no support and no processes
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How to run a business growth innovation program with no training, no support and no processes

Most people will tell you that you need an innovation structure, multiple procedures, company-wide training and an innovation team to run an effective innovation program.

They're WRONG! It's one of the reasons so many of these initiatives fail. People make them too complex, stifling business growth innovation rather than enabling it.

But don't you provide these services Nils? 

Yes, I do. But I make sure processes don't overwhelm and that the training feels like fun. The difference is in knowing what will help people versus hinder them.

A massive hurdle that people face in changing their results is a behavioural one. You can have the best process in the world, but if you don't know how to fundamentally change behaviour, those processes are worth diddly squat.

Today, I will show you the critical concepts you need to run a business growth innovation program without any processes, support, or training.

So that you can get results happening now without having to implement costly programs. 

And suppose you do want more structure, training and support as your initiative grows. In that case, you'll know the fundamentals for the business growth innovation program to succeed.

This will mean you can leave work on time and sleep easy knowing business growth results are coming your way.

Let's dive in now….

There are four pillars you need to create behavioural change

I've got well over 20 years of psychological technique experience behind me.

I'm not a psychologist, but I did date one for 10 years and then spent the next 10 years in therapy understanding what went wrong…

But seriously, behavioural science is one of the simplest ways to get more out of yourself and your team. And if it's a change in results you're looking for, then look no further than creating behavioural change.

There are four pillars you need to create behavioural change:
1. Creating the 'Want to' - this is the motivation, desire, and need to do a behaviour
2. Creating the 'Chance to' - giving people the time, space and or permission to do the behaviours
3. Creating the 'How to' - learning the desired behaviour skill or
4. Creating the 'Prompt to' - every behaviour follows a prompt

1. 'Want to' 
People are 100% motivated all the time. It's just that they may not be 100% motivated by your business growth innovation.

To help change that, we need to give people an alternative narrative (story) to the one already going on in their heads. Their existing narrative might be that innovation is too risky, too hard, not worth it etc.

Your job is to share stories that help illustrate why business growth innovation is important. You also need to share how it can be safe so that people can see themselves in this new story and replace their old story with your new one.

I unpack this in my latest resource The Relaxed Innovation Leaders Guide to Getting Anyone to Innovate 

2. 'Chance to'  
Your people are very capable of innovating, but if you don't give them permission or time to do it, then nothing will happen. If both of these are an issue, call the innovation something else and ensure there's a time code for their timesheet that gives them permission to work on it. Or employ the 5minute innovation techniques shared earlier.

3. 'How to' 
We all have latent innovative and creative skills (many of which we had when children), but not all of us know how to innovate. In fact, very few do. Showing them a technique or asking them how they could learn a technique is a cost-effective way to get training happening without spending any money. More on this in a few moments.

4. 'Prompt to' 
All behaviours are triggered by a prompt of some kind. The prompt may be obvious or inconspicuous, but there are prompts for every behaviour we have. At its most basic, your phone rings, and it prompts you to pick it up. Your email inbox chimes, and you check your email inbox.

The good news is you can design for new desired behaviours (e.g. innovation growth. behaviours) by coupling a desired behaviour or activity with an existing activity. So that an existing behaviour becomes the prompt. For example, after our Monday morning check-in, I will write on the whiteboard and ask the team one idea-generating question.

Research by Dr. BJ Fogg, the worlds leading Habit scientist from Stanford University, has shown its best to add new behaviours to follow an existing one. Some others could be - After I check my emails, I will…, After getting off the phone, I will… 
Make sure you check out his awesome book for more tips on this.

While there are other components to consider, such as culture and specific observable, measurable behaviours, the four pillars are more than enough to get great results.

Get people to prompt their own training
I've often said to my clients, "To get better results, you need to ask better questions".
This same approach can be used to help people to prompt their own training. This is really useful when you don't have money for any training.

Here are some prompts to get people to train themselves by simply asking a question.
  • How can I/ we get better at identifying customer insights? (NB: An insight might be an emerging trend or unmet customer need, desire, or frustration that can be capitalised on)
  • How can I/ we get better at generating lots of good ideas?
  • How can I/ we get better at validating that the market is willing to pay for a solution to this identified problem? 
  • How can we get better at validating that our solution effectively solves the problem?
  • How can we better build and promote our new solution cost-effectively with maximum impact and engagement?

Once you've worked through these questions, you can take it even further by asking one of the following questions regarding the preceding question/s.

"What specific steps do I/ we need to be take in what order to learn…?" 

The one process that's absolutely critical to have but simple enough that it can be drawn on the back of a napkin
Not having a transparent way to assess an idea is the fastest way to undermine a team's drive to innovate.

You've got a stack of ideas, but which one should you use or action?

If you don't have a transparent process to help you pick the right solution in front of everyone, you may have a future mutiny on your hands.

Look back over your ideas and score your best three ideas out of 10 for each of the following areas below.

Then add up your scores to identify the best idea to work on.

Score your potential ideas from the following three criteria:

Tactical - is this a problem the market wants solved?
How well does your idea respond to an insight, is this a problem the market wants solved? Is this idea a strategic fit for the business? (The better the fit and response the higher the score e.g. 10/10)

Technical - do you have the technical skills to solve this? How many unknowns are there with this idea?
Do you have the skills to solve them, or are they easy to find people who can do this cost effectively for you? (The less unknowns the higher the score e.g. 10/10)

Financial - how deep are the market's pockets? How big are the rewards versus risk? How deep are the pockets of this market? (The lower the risk and the higher the return, the higher the score e.g. 10/10)

Now plot the ideas accordingly on a graph like the one below.

Traffic lights versus rocket science
When it comes to strategy, most of us make it too complex. Strategy at its best is when we can rapidly identify what we need to stop doing, what we should continue and what we need to start doing. IT's that simple. Think of a set of traffic lights and apply them to the core sections of your organisation.
  • What do we need to stop doing in our marketing? 
  • What should we continue doing in our marketing? 
  • What new things should we be doing in our marketing?

You can think of specific behaviours that need to stop, start or continue, and you can also think of activities or processes too.

I encourage my clients to draw a simple stop, start, and continue chart. First, identify four or five key categories you want to base your business growth innovation around, such as production, process, sales and marketing, and delivery. Create the chart with the categories drawn as rows, and the stop, continue, and start sections as columns. 

Finally, get people to write out the behaviours and processes that need to stop, continue or start on Post-it Notes, so they can easily be stuck up and moved around.

How to get supported when no support is available or no support is being offered.
Too often, people will see support as money, time, and people. While these are valuable, they often forget to talk about psychological support.

If you and your people are time poor (which is what nearly all of our clients are), then we counter this by looking at 5minute innovation techniques. Visit this page to find out some of them.

The basics of doing this are creating a 5minute time limit to your innovation activity and using a timer. E.g. We've got 5mins to develop ways to validate that the market would be willing to pay for our new solution. Or, We've got 5 minutes to identify as many customer bottlenecks as possible.

I'm yet to find a company that will not find the money for a validated high ROI, low-risk business growth innovation. The back of the napkin process I shared before has helped my clients get funding and support without writing up a time-wasting business case proposal.

Getting people to help solve a business growth problem can be as simple as inviting them to solution sessions. All you need to do is ask them in the right way so they can see that they will gain something from it as well. Oh, and a bit of flattery and praise goes a long way.

For example, "Hi [insert name], You may have heard that the BIG priority the business has for this quarter is [insert topic area]. And we think your genius thinking can help us solve it, and you'll be able to share in the glory when it's done and dusted."

"We know your time is precious, so we've designed a rapid business growth solution session that will take no more than 20minutes. In fact, we guarantee that when the 20minutes is up. The meeting will be over. For one, we're doing a stand-up meeting, and secondly, we made sure that someone else has booked up the room after the 20minutes. Here's what we need to do next…"

The biggest issue that goes unaddressed is psychological safety. People want to feel safe and will avoid risk at all costs. To counter this, ensure that validation is discussed front and centre at every session. E.g. "Just to put everyone's mind at ease. Whatever solutions we generate and want to advance, we will be doing rapid validation around. So that no one and nothing is at risk…"

Here's a bonus facilitation technique to create a safe space to share ideas.
Start by getting people to write their ideas down to themselves first, then share with just one person, then share with a table before sharing with the group. 

This will reduce anxiety and fear around sharing ideas. Check out The Relaxed Innovation Leaders Guide to Getting Anyone to Innovate here to see the full instructions.

You now have a thorough overview of running a business growth innovation program with no training, no support and no processes. Implementing these will take a small amount of effort to start with, but results will come. 

By the way, did you know we have a business growth innovation membership that gives you access to processes and techniques that can make your job easier? backed up with 'how to' videos and step-by-step' flow charts? 

Go here to accelerate your business growth at minimal risk and with minimal effort.

If you'd prefer to have my team help you do it please contact us here.

Please let me know what you think of this technique. You can DM me or email me at if you'd like me to talk about something else.

Founder, Keynote Speaker, Author, Father, Extreme Sportsman

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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