Members Area | Login
Search Articles & Videos
The Buzz

Shirlaws UK

Join Love Business

...and receive our latest business growth articles as soon as they are published. Join now


The Shirlaws Innovate | Asset conference playback

"I arrived with a busy head and diary. I left with a mindset of innovation and a deep conviction to change my company."

In November, Shirlaws held its annual conference, this year on Innovating Asset. Why do business owners go to this event every year? Because these two days change lives and businesses. This year, more so than ever, as leaders experienced a deep mindset shift around innovation.

Many of you who weren't able to secure a ticket have asked us how you can gain insight into what happened in the room on those two days.

Here we share the magic, through the eyes of the business owners who attended, through the tweets and key learnings they shared during the conference itself.

The innovation mindset

Now that the economy is back in growth, do you know what to do? Can you remember how to innovate? #growthisbackwhatnow

The true entrepreneur innovates continuously #alwaysbeinnovating

Be an "innovation company" which culturally and commercially puts innovation thinking at the heart of every aspect of the business. #innovatIONnotinnovatIVE

P&L drives asset, which drives innovation... which drives P&L #bluefuelsnewblack

What to innovate?

The secret is to innovate ASSET, not just product. #innovateassetforgrowth

Creativity creates asset for free #ideascostnothing

This includes innovating brand, business model, market, organisation, technology and of course product. #theinnovationwheel

The problem you give your brain is the one it will resolve #firstunderstandtheproblem

How to innovate

Humans are good at solving problems with their left brain. They are poor at understanding problems with their right brain. #understandtheproblemfirst

Our brain invents rules for us that don't exist #breaktherules

Be an expert at finding gaps. The gap could be as simple as 'doing it correctly' in some sectors. #thesimplegapsarethebest

Which bit of the product don't they use? #opportunitytoinnovate

Where are the workarounds? #opportunitytoinnovate

What customer problems are so entrenched we forget to solve them? #opportunitytoinnovate

There are lots of ___ but no ___. What does this tell you about where to innovate? #opportunitytoinnovate

Think big, think long: what campfire stories will you tell in 20 years time about what you did in 2014? #thinkbiglong

Pave the way to unlocking innovation value

Culture makes innovation possible and fosters ideas into reality #culturesourceofinnovation

And time is a cultural terrorist #puttimeback

And everyone is looking at YOU to set the cultural tone #startwiththetop

Build ahead of yourself, not behind. Create capability and capacity in advance of revenue - create a strong foundation for your tower #prebuildplatformforgrowth

And don't forget to stop and 'take the rent' for a while. Or you'll miss the great stuff. #knowwhentopauseforbreath

A clear story rises out of these key learnings: innovation starts with the mindset of the leaders and their appetite to foster innovation across markets, process and culture, not just product and technology. What stops us innovating is two-fold: our fixation on solving, not truly understanding the problem, and our culture of 'time terrorism' that stifles innovative ideas before they become innovatION. And it starts with you, as the business leader.

We'd love to have a conversation about what comes up for you as you reflect on innovation in your own company. Could this be the breakthrough mindset shift you've been looking for?

Get in touch on 0118 366 2013 or at



Creating revenue – a final thought

We talk a lot about energy and feelings at Shirlaws, because in our experience the organisations that succeed recognise that they are a living, breathing community of people.  But, the business itself works very like an energetic system – growing and developing and creating a culture and personality of its own.

The following diagram shows the business in simple contextual themes.  It shows that each of these is dependent upon the others and that the business effectively flows like a river.  If any of the key parts of the business are not working it creates a block to the flow of revenue and energy.  If the river flows smoothly, it becomes effortless to manage and builds exponentially as revenue flows through it.













A useful exercise to do is to score your business in each of these key areas using a simple system of a  √  if you feel you’re getting this right in your business, a if you feel that there is work to be done, and a x if you feel this is really not working well.  You’ll quickly uncover where your blocks are and where you should be devoting your time and energy as CEO.  Once you have done that you can usefully move on to the next section.



Easyjet learn lessons from Ghandi - profits increase by 50%

What did Easyjet do to increase net profits by 50% in FY13?

They are in a relatively crowded market place, competing with Ryanair.

Both offer cheap flights to out of town airports.

Their fleets are similar, so you would think they would have results that reflect similarity.

Ryanair improved by 13% and around 70m euros.

Easyjet by 50% and around £160m.

Ramachandra Guha has just published his book “Gandhi before India” where he maps out how the great man repositioned himself [without calling it that] several times.

His career began as a dapper young barrister in middle chambers in London. His ambition was to gain promotion to the bar in Bombay. When that did not materialise, he took a project resolving a contract dispute in South Africa. He repositioned once that completed and became the go-to lawyer for the Indian community there.

As his vision increased, he repositioned as the spiritual leader – changing his look substantially in readiness to go back to India as the First World War broke out, ready to help lead India to independence from the British Empire.

Every step marked a need to reposition – to own a new space in the minds of the world.

Easyjet saw that their opportunity was to lead their competition on service.

Just by ending the boarding scrum and enabling passengers to choose a seat (essential for business passengers) and deciding to become friendly, they took the lead in service.

In a crowded market, you can only lead on Price, Product, Market or Service.

Where could your company take the lead?


Take Stages test: burst through your brick walls


There are 14 key stages that each business needs to go through to get to advanced, sustainable growth - including two brick walls which many companies never break through.

Find out where you are in the lifecycle - and what to do next. Complete stages and download your 15-page action plan.

Take the Stages test



My boss, my perfect boss

What do mean, your boss is not perfect!

There are some. I have met some.

But the majority are flawed.

They are human.

In the past, I have responded in different ways.

I accepted their flaws. That seemed to limit my performance, because I did not get the best guidance, coaching and development.

I walked away to get another job. That had the effect of weakening my CV. The next job always took me a while to get up to performance. I sometimes behaved like a victim.

I pushed back sometimes. So I showed up as a rebel,  not compliant and was marked down on reviews.

There must be a better alternative.

My old approach when I discovered I was working for a flawed boss was to mentally list all their flaws then share them with other victims of the same boss. Sharing tends to amplify things, so the flaws gained power and became even more noticeable.

So I made their imperfections more powerful and have an even bigger effect on me. Good victim!

A better alternative.

List the flaws and then list the behaviour that the perfect boss would display.

Then call upon the part of you that can behave that way – you must be an expert, otherwise you would not be able to acknowledge its existence.

Then you take responsibility for infilling your bosses flaws.

You might find that your leadership skill evolves, you might become more forgiving of your flawed boss – poor human! And your own performance and enjoyment of your current work improves. So between you and your boss, you have created your perfect boss.


Take Stages test: burst through your brick walls


There are 14 key stages that each business needs to go through to get to advanced, sustainable growth - including two brick walls which many companies never break through.

Find out where you are in the lifecycle - and what to do next. Complete stages and download your 15-page action plan.

Take the Stages test



Robert Peston says it's all over. Better get a move on!

Well it's official. This week it has been widely reported that Mark Carney has officially called the end of the historically worst recession for three generations. "Recovery has finally taken hold", he says, "the economy is growing robustly as lifting uncertainty and thawing credit conditions start to unlock pent-up demand." Robert Peston remarked: "It is quite difficult to remember when the Bank of England sounded so positive".

So the Bank and BBC have finally caught up? As entrepreneurs and business owners we, of course, knew this already. Regular readers will know that we have been highlighting signs of growth for over a year, not least our view that £750,000,000,000 of corporate current account(!) cash had to go somewhere. Those with long memories may recall Darren in 2009 predicting growth firmly established in Q1 and Q2 2013.

So, here's another sign of recovery. Our Annual Conference next week is restricted to 200 CEOs of ambitious fast-growth businesses (i.e. you). This year tickets sold out in three weeks. Why? I think because, in the entrepreneurial community, we know that growth is coming back and is coming back strong. And we know we need to move fast, be agil and fundamentally change stuff fast into this growing market. We know, in a time of real transition, those who don't will fail. That's why this conference is all about innovation (by which I don't mean 'thinking of new ideas' but IMPLEMENTING new ideas). It is about specifically which changes to implement to really win out in the next 18 months. That's why this conference has sold out.

So, if you can't be there next week what can you do? The answer exists in the word innovation. Rethink everything in your business (you can be sure your customers are) but only based on a clear understanding of your core IP or value proposition. If you're bemused by that then take a look at previous blogs or give us a call. Otherwise here is a list of topics to rigorously examine with your team under a context of innovation:


  • Your people (culture, talent, capability)
  • Your system (how you do business)
  • Your product (what people would really want to buy from you)
  • Your core proposition (rocket juice/IP) and how that can power product and channel extensions in this rapidly evolving market that you have not even thought of.


Look out for the materials and insights flooding out of the conference next week on this blog, on the website and on Twitter, using the hashtag #ShirCC13.

In the meantime, let's look at the first of those key areas of innovation... your people.


Take Stages test: burst through your brick walls


There are 14 key stages that each business needs to go through to get to advanced, sustainable growth - including two brick walls which many companies never break through.

Find out where you are in the lifecycle - and what to do next. Complete stages and download your 15-page action plan.

Take the Stages test


Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 36 Next 5 Entries »