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Meet the practitioner!

Building the foundations for innovation and growth with Frances Brown


Hopefully you’ve read our Meet the Practitioner Interview with Nightingale Design Research CEO, Frances Brown on what Innovation means to her and her experience of working with some of the biggest brands in the world like like Innovate UK, Lego, the NHSAccelogress and MyTutor. If not, we encourage you to read that first interview here. In this interview, the second of the two-parter, we break down in more detail Frances’ upcoming Innovation Methods and Mindset Short Course,  Build the Foundations for Innovation and Growth, and how this affordable, one day masterclass can help organisations can strong foundations for innovation and for growth.


Welcome back Frances. It’s great to have you back! So, who is this short course for?

This course is for individuals and teams who have identified a need or desire to innovate and who now want to give themselves the best chance for success.  Participants might be in a startup or scaleup, or in a well-established company – whatever situation they are in, they will gain the skills and knowledge they need to reduce the risk of innovating and set a very strong and reliable foundation for growth.


What challenges might potential participants be experiencing or looking for?

This course will suit anyone who is interested in tackling the innovation process in an effective and systematic way, to reduce the risk, cost and effort of innovating. It would particularly suit teams who know a change needs to happen – perhaps their products and services are outdated, or they are under pressure from competitors – but who are unsure of how to get started. It would also suit startups or scaleups who want to start strong and implement ways of working that will benefit them at every stage of their development.


Could you provide an overview of what participants can expect to learn and experience in this short course on innovation? What specific topics or areas of innovation will the course cover?

This is an interactive and practical course. Participants will discuss the drivers and dangers of innovation and use scenarios to explore the factors that trigger a company to decide to innovate. Using these scenarios, participants will work in teams to identify potential innovation opportunities and detail the pros and cons of each. They will learn how to use research to interrogate and test different opportunities, including what types of methods to use, how to analyse results and how to create a research spec. They will also learn how to create a business case for innovation by gathering insight into all the key factors that influence success, such as potential users, the market, stakeholders and the business model.


What inspired you to develop this innovation short course?

Since 2016 we’ve supported a very wide range of organisations, including the NHS, LEGO, the Department for Education, and a range of startups of scaleups to innovate successfully. Throughout this time, we’ve seen that while the majority of organisations understand the value of innovating, they tend to struggle to get started or they jump too quickly into an idea, resulting in time and money being wasted on products and service that have no potential. While there are a lot of frameworks and processes out there to support the later stages of innovation – designing a concept, finding product market fit etc – there is very little support for organisations that are at the beginning of the process. Our experience has shown us that getting things right at the start, by identifying and evaluating opportunities through research, makes a huge difference to the long term success of an innovative project. We’ve developed this short course to prevent energy and inspiration being lost on badly planned projects and to ensure that more organisations realise their potential, develop great ideas and grow.


Will there be any hands-on activities, group discussions, or interactive sessions during the course to enhance the learning experience? Why do you believe it’s important for the short course to have a practical approach, and how will this benefit the participants?

We use realistic scenarios that allow participants to discuss and consider key decisions that they may face when they’re innovating. There is also plenty of opportunity for debate and discussion as well as templates and guides that participants can take away and use to organise their thinking and their processes. The aim of this approach is to ensure that participants leave the course energised and ready to start their own innovative project, confident that they have the right skills and knowledge to make it a success.


Can you share any real-world examples or case studies that will be incorporated into the course to illustrate key concepts and principles?

In the course we’ll explore how LEGO tried and failed to engage with innovation in the late 90s, almost leading to bankruptcy. Of course, they turned it around to become one of the most influential and powerful brands in the world, but what many people don’t realise is how instrumental research was in this success. This case study illustrates the potential pitfalls of innovation, but it also highlights what a huge difference having the right decision-making processes in place can make. We’ll also explore how we’ve supported startups to scope and develop ideas for new products and services, to demonstrate how evidence and insight can lead directly to success.


Do you rely upon any practical or applicable methodologies or frameworks that will be emphasized in the course?

Participants will learn how to write effective research questions and to apply different research methodologies, such as interviews, surveys and prototype testing, to their innovation process. Our research spec template will allow participants to plan and scope effective research. Our business case template will provide participants with a process for considering and evaluating different innovation opportunities in order to identify which opportunities have the most potential for success.


How can participants measure the success of the course?

The success of the course will be measured in the enthusiasm and ideas that participants bring back to their own organisations. This course demystifies innovation, giving participants clear and logical steps to follow. It also gives them a safe space to ask questions and test out their own skill. Typically, participants come away with a clarity that they didn’t previously have, feeling confident that they can tackle even a complex innovation project without it becoming overwhelming. The success of the course becomes apparent when participants stimulate discussion and ideation in their own teams, leading a renewed sense of energy and a desire to move the organisation forward in a meaningful and effective way.


Thanks Frances! One final question… what sets this short course on innovation apart from others available in the market?

Advice and support around innovation tends to be vague and idealistic – there is a lot of interesting theory but not a lot of practical instruction. This course touches on theories of innovation but the focus is on allowing participants to unlock real innovative potential in themselves and their organisations. Participants won’t sit through long presentations about trends and tactics, they will dig into the detail of how innovation really happens and will be armed with simple and effective tools and processes that they can implement straight away.


We hope you found this interview inspiring and insightful! If you’re feeling readily inspired, we invite you to sign up for the short course here.