On: November 11, 2019 In: Ideas generation
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In no particular order –


Think about how you could remove the fear for your team of delivering new ideas. At animation studio Disney Pixar each day team members show unfinished work which liberates individuals to try new things, because nothing has to be perfect the first time around!

Think small

Consider the smallest daily tasks and whether the right people are doing them.

At PizzaExpress the waiters were chopping lemons every morning ready for drinks. A chef came up with the idea that they should chop the lemons, adding lemons to their existing chopping tasks was simple and saved waiters from taking a break from their typical role and saved time preparing an additional area and cleaning up.

As a massive global chain, changing who chopped the lemons made a significant saving in hours and therefore costs.

You may not be a global business, but small ideas can make big differences.

Challenge yourself

Don’t wait for the competition! Liftshare took a small team from their existing workforce and implemented an internal start up challenged to create a business that would wipe out their existing business – why wait for others to challenge you?

Time to speak up

How could your business use voice recognition and create an Alexa skill? Bigger brands are getting involved – Diageo’s virtual bar lets you ask Alexa for cocktail ideas and Nestle’s Purina lets you find out detailed info on dog breeds – what could your business do?

Beyond the obvious

Look at other challenges your product/service may solve. Botox was originally a treatment created by Dr Scott for cross-eye disorder; used to relax the muscles. Patients would joke that they went to the doctor to remove their lines. 10+ yrs later the idea to sell it as a wrinkle treatment finally emerged. Turning the product’s sales from £310million to nearly £2 billion! That’s definitely not something that would make you frown

Get personal

Today, 85% of people are more likely to buy a product/use a service if you create a personal connection.

Consider what data you can use to make your interactions with customers more personalised!

EasyJet ran one of the better personalised campaigns to celebrate an anniversary – they analysed a lot of data on customer journeys and the result was an email campaign that used personalised copy, images and links to tell each customer their own story from their first flight with them to the present; they added some fascinating facts about their travel behaviour and recommendations for future trips.

What data can you pull to get personal (but not creepy) with your audience?

Living your ethos

Look at the businesses who support you – check their beliefs & values match your own and consider how you can include them in your marketing. The depth of your convictions is becoming increasingly important to customers & if your values run deep it shows authenticity, so show it.

Open Desk, a furniture company with a sustainable manufacturing approach, partnered with like minded businesses to provide props in their photoshoots. This stood the company’s catalogues and images out from every other furniture business and helped them deliver more stories that fit their brand values and customers loved them even more!

Who’s the inspiration?

If your business was a person who would it be? Learn everything you can about that person and start considering what they would do when you are looking at your business approach.

Savannah bananas baseball team chose PT Barnum as their inspiration. They wanted to give fans a show not just a game! The business began to think like Barnum & the ideas exploded. Now they do indeed create one of the most entertaining shows/games on earth and every baseball game is sold out with 1000+ waiting list!

Ask the questions

Follow in the footsteps of Baroness Sue Campbell, one of the key figures responsible for the success of British Sport at the Olympics and more recently at the Women’’s World Cup, and unlock the potential of your team, by asking these 3 questions:
– What do you do?
– What could you do?
– What’s stopping you from doing that?

The answers will enable you to give your team the freedom to do what is often the same job but in a completely new, innovative way – and it will unlock the passion and drive for them to seek perfection in their role.

Forget ‘to do’

Swap your ‘to-do’ list for a ‘done’ list for a week & see where your time and energy goes. Review a ‘done’ list at the end of the day or week – is the inportant stuff on there that will get you to the big goal or is it all just quick wins and, in the grand scheme of things, distractions?

There’s always time for food

If you really want to know people’s opinions and get to the crux of problems quickly within your business meet with employees over a meal or breakfast. Jeffrey Katzenberg CEO of DreamWorks Annimation swears by this approach and used to do just that. He found people naturally relaxed and the fear and anxiety eased over food. Whilst more informal in nature it helps you connect personally with your people.

Visit the Pyramid

Use the ‘Elements of Value Pyramid’ to ensure you’ve considered which customer needs your product/service satisfies.

This will help define exactly what you sell. The more of these needs you can associate your offering with, the better you’ll do.

As a benchmark Apple satisfies 11!

Sssshh it’s a secret

Take a leaf out of Martha Stewart’s book – she teaches you how to make your life & home awesome – how? She gives away her secrets! People love it if you give away secrets and if you are smart about it they’ll reward you by buying what you’re selling. So consider what business secrets can you share with your audience and go for it!

Let it blossom

Build your own creative tree. We can’t learn or take in everything at once so a great approach – inspired by Marcel Duchamp – is to choose one role model you really love, study everything there is to know about them, then look at who they were inspired by and find everything you can out about them – repeat this over and over and build a tree of influence & creativity that resonates with you.

It’s all in a title

If you run a small business give your employees the biggest and best job titles you can that will help them externally. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie is all for this approach. Think about it, who are you more likely to take a call from the VP of communications or a sales executive? They could well be the same person! Help your staff do the best job they can with good titles that empower them.

Give it away

Don’t limit your possibilities by hoarding ideas for fear of someone else taking them. If you have an idea, give it away, share it, tell the world. The more you give away, the more comes back to you. Giving ideas forces you to look for others to replenish – each time we do this our ideas improve, so make your ideas open source!


Small talk – WTF! You have to start somewhere and small talk is it. The good news is small talk can lead to bigger things. But sometimes small talk can be a struggle so always think WTF – work, travel, fun – use these as your jumping off topics, remembering this means you’ll always have something to say and who knows where it will lead.

Reach out

David Epstein drills down on why you shouldn’t focus on specialisation and teaches you that If you want to solve a difficult problem – ask more than the specialist in the area of that problem. Specialists are constrained problem solvers. Open up the problems to others and see what results you get!

Are you bored yet?

Don’t be afraid to embrace ‘boring ideas’ if they solve a problem they may well be the best ideas yet! Kikkerland who are usually renowned for creative and ‘cool’ products took a punt on what they thought was a boring idea and found one of their most successful products in a cord organiser! Don’t be too quick to dismiss any idea.

A super model

If a business model doesn’t already exist that matches your business don’t be afraid to create one.

Net-Works enables fishing communities in developing countries to sell discarded, environment-damaging, fishing nets back into a global supply chain. The recycled nylon is turned into beautiful and long lasting carpet tiles by Interface, and the local communities receive long-term incentives to protect their natural environment.

Net-Works created their own pioneering business model that is good for communities, the environment and the business.


There are plenty of ideas for business – if you can’t think of any, just have a look around at other businesses for inspiration!