Embrace the Naive Expert

n my role as Business Advisor, I meet with an average of 15 business owners a week, and of those 15, typically 3 are business owners I haven’t met previously.

I am truly in my element in this environment. I thrive on meeting new people, learning about their business ideas, gaining insights into industry “quirks” and experiencing the motivation and drive entrepreneurs have for making a difference in their community.

When faced with industries or business concepts I am not familiar with I have, on occasion, found myself apologising for not being well versed in the particulars of the industry.

Until recently that is. I was fortunate to sit in the audience of a presentation by Duncan Wardle, Former Head of Innovation and Creativity for The Walt Disney Company. Duncan introduced the concept of including a Naive Expert when holding brainstorming sessions, and making important business decisions.

He spoke of the benefits of having an unrelated person in the room to ask the “silly questions” and encourage the group to think differently.

Armed with this insight, my perspective of having limited industry knowledge has changed. I now embrace my naivety of industry quirks, and use it to my clients advantage when working with them to provide insights in to their business operations and strategy.

It provides me with the avenue to ask the basic questions, to challenge the status quo, to remove the blinkers, and to present out of the box ideas. All the while applying my knowledge of business principles to achieve sustainability and longevity.

This approach empowers the business owners to consider their options from other angles and to come up with a business model which sets them apart from their competition.

So when planning your next brainstorming session, or if you’re feeling stuck in your business, reach out to an unrelated party, who DOESN’T know your industry or business. They may be your most valuable contributor.