Resilience; a new team-performance standard

By Aprais

Theres’s a lot of speculation around how team behaviour will change as a result of the Coronavirus experience.

One thing is clear, the ability for teams to respond to crises has come into sharper focus.

Let’s not confuse ‘managing in times of crisis’ with ‘crisis management’. The former is a set of behaviours whereas crisis management is a specific skill-set most commonly attributed to the Public Relations field.

Crises come in all shapes and sizes. From a ‘storm in a teacup’ local market supply chain event to a full-on, global distaster like the Covid-19 pandemic we are now battling. But the fundamental behaviours required of teams in times of crisis, are the same and marketers and agencies need to respond to them almost daily. So surely this is a crucial performance requirement of business teams?

Speed, agility, flexibilty, availabilty, responsiveness, initiative and challenge are just some of the many aspects required in times of crises. We’ve been mapping these and similar crises-related behaviours for the past 20 years of evaluating teams.

Collectively, we call this behaviour; ‘Resilience’.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, ‘Resilience’ is the quality of being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems. Pandemic or local supply chain failure, each demand similarly of the teams involved.

Resilient behaviour is not just limited to leadership. In the client-agency relationship, Resilience is needed across all aspects of business performance and at all levels;

  • Briefing and Project Management
  • Approval
  • Leadership
  • Partnering and Collaboration
  • Research And Insight
  • Financial Management
  • Timing and Process Management

The Covid-19 crisis has accentuated the importance of ‘Resilience’ as a a new team-performance standard that deserves more attention from marketing and agency leadership going forward.

It will become increasingly important to measure, monitor and develop ‘Resilience’ behaviours to ensure team preparedness for future crises big and small.

About Aprais

Aprais is the global leader in maximising team and individual performance.

Over the past 20 years, Aprais has conducted over 21,000 evaluations of relationships between marketers and agencies globally. A purpose built evaluation platform has enabled Aprais to build a database that allows its clients to compare and manage team performance against robust benchmarks with near absolute statistical confidence.

Three – Is it Your Magic Number?

✅ Paper, Scissors, Rock ✅ Goldilocks & the 3 Bears ✅ Salt, Tequila, Lemon 

In the spirit of simplifying things, I’ve been revisiting the principle of The Power of 3, highlighted in Aristotle’s Rhetoric.

Our brains have evolved to protect us from harm – Fight, Flight, Freeze: if we don’t have an option when faced with danger, we may not find a way out of it. Yet, given too many choices, we may become confused and make the wrong decision. Running towards the tiger instead of away!

Consumers want choices, but not too many – we tend to get overwhelmed, and buyers brains become stressed with too many options. Keep. It. Simple. Sweetie.

In business we often categorise in sets of 3: high, medium, low probability. Sales leads: hot, warm, cool. An example I use in marketing is to have a MAXIMUM of 3 unique claims communicated on any product – all linked to a single differentiated customer benefit. It drives creative tension, focus, simplicity and memorability.

We can simplify most aspects of our lives by applying the power of 3 – Reducing options & choices & focusing on what’s most impo


KISS Goodbye to the Old Ways of Working

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius

Recently, with more time to reflect I’ve realised how relevant this ancient quote still is, particularly in the years leading up to the #covid19 event.

Our world has become ever more tech-driven and complex, with a constant focus and push to increase productivity. The disruption and ensuing stress created with the continuous implementation of automation and the continual need to upgrade systems and skills has contributed to unprecedented workplace stress levels and poor work-life balance. Many of us feel disconnected even though, ironically, we are ‘connected’ 24/7.

I’ve been reviewing tools used successfully in the past that are as relevant as ever. One of my favourites (that’s incredibly quick and easy to use), is KISS.


If it sounds simple, it’s coz it is.

We’ve had the opportunity to hit PAUSE and now we can RESET.

The restart, probably with fewer resources, is a chance to choose a less complicated, more balanced life and KISS.

If you would like me to send you the KISS Framework please send a request through our contacts page and I will guide you through it.

You Survived The Storm So What Now?

Many of us have been flailing around in choppy waters the past 6 weeks, waiting for the sun to break through the clouds and offer us a glimmer of hope..

Although the future landscape is still far from certain I have turned my attention to forward planning as best I can. I’m finding this ‘Adaptive Planning Process ‘ from @Hugh O’Donnell (High Performance Consortium) very valuable as I navigate my way.

The process is broken down into 3 parts:

🆘 Survive: It feels like the survival phase is an almost intuitive response – life jackets on! We want to ensure our staff and families are safe, we tighten our belts, conserve cash, secure supply.

🔋Sustain: Put systems in place to keep the ship afloat and all on board safe, turn our attention towards the future – scenario planning, financial modelling, evolve business model.

🚅 Regenerate and Accelerate: Hoist the sails and full steam ahead – new customers, markets, adaptive business models (ready to weather future storms), technology enabled.

I’m excited to see where we land Post COVID-19 and ready to adapt to the changed environment.

🙋I’d love to hear what you have in your survival kit?

Are You Being Left Behind?

Innovation ‘The quick or the dead…?’

Are you trying to re-invent the wheel? Is it just about improving it or do you want to get rid of the wheel all together?

Innovation…. the word is thrown around quite casually with the assumption that people know what it is or what to do with it. But not everyone does and that’s where many organisations fall short.

Achieving innovation success isn’t easy and can just be luck! However, consistent innovation delivery is much more difficult, and luck NEVER comes into it.

You might have the next big idea but is your business competent enough to drive the innovation to its maximum potential? Do you know your competency gaps, what you should prioritise and how to address them?

We can help you!

FREE Innovation Competency Survey Opportunity – how do you measure up? First 10 completed, qualifying responses in Australia or New Zealand receive a no obligation complimentary consulting session.

  1. Aspire: Set a vision in place for the organisation that embeds innovation in the culture. Create financial and non-financial business objectives that require significant innovation to deliver and align leadership thought-out this process.
  2. Choose: Prioritise areas in which innovation should occur, understand where the business’s strengths can be best leveraged, where new capabilities are needed for success and ensure there is alignment among all business functions.
  3. Discover: Explore upcoming growth opportunities through a business, market and technological lens and develop learnings and insights to help the organisation create differentiated value propositions.
  4. Evolve: Look for possibilities to improve market intelligence, position in the value chain and existing business models.
  5. Accelerate: Ensure there is a culture of collaboration and exchange of ideas between cross-functional teams, with a strong agile project management system in place.
  6. Scale: Prepare to expand rapidly to drive adoption and create barriers for followers when you sense you’re onto a winner, by investing in technology, talent and operations.
  7. Extend: Involve strategic networks and partners beyond your business to expand innovation pathways and create a culture of collaborative thinking.
  8. Mobilise: Establish clear roles and responsibilities, encourage learning and collaboration and foster an environment of support, growth and open-mindedness.

These outcomes are aligned to similar research conducted by Stage-Gate® International and other organisations. How do you think your business rates against these eight essentials? What are some other critical success factors for your business?

We’ve developed a simple and effective Innovation Competency Survey that can help you evaluate your decision. The ‘XPotential Innovation Capability Benchmarking’ survey is based on global best practice and sourced from multiple references with over 70 years of combined experience driving innovation within large corporations and start-ups. The framework is relevant for large and small organisations developing new products or services. It’s been tested with over 120 people across 64 companies in the ‘Fast n Furious Innovation’ short course we have run with Australia’s ‘Department of Industry Innovation and Science’ and ‘Food Innovation Australia Ltd.’

If you’re serious about improving your business’s innovation performance and want some insight into where to start, then take our Innovation Competency Survey and receive your FREE report within 48 hours.

For the first 10 qualifying companies we’ll also throw in a 30-minute free consult session.

Click link below or use the email address to contact us and we’ll get you started.

I’d like to take the innovation competency survey:

People. Your brand’s greatest resource.

Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Today, we take a look at just how essential talent and culture are to a brand’s success, and how businesses should focus on nurturing people and their abilities. 

Greg Creed, CEO of YUM! Foods, recently stated, in an article in the Australian Financial Review, that ‘a company’s true value is in people and brands, not in the buildings or processes’.  At XPotential, we share a similar ethos and believe that ‘brands are the most important asset of your business and your people are the most important resource in building brands’. We work with clients to equip and empower people with the right tools and skills so that they can go on to become effective brand-builders and change-makers.  

Mr. Creed also stresses the importance of building ‘relevant, easy and distinctive brands or ‘RED’ brands and uses KFC (One of YUM! Foods most successful brands) as a real-life example of his successful growth model.  

The fast-food chain, in the UK, managed to wriggle out of a messy situation- when they ran out of chicken due to a supplier mix-up, simply by apologising to the public albeit in a cheeky way. Their ‘FCK, We’re Sorry’ campaign not only addressed the brand’s obvious shortcoming but also helped to create recall in consumers’ minds, by playing around with the brand letters. The campaign is perhaps a reflection of the work culture at KFC, where being honest and upfront, especially after an own goal, makes a positive difference to its audience.   

Brands like these are known to have ‘unmatched franchise operating capability, bold asset development and unrivalled culture and talent’, and as a result are able to make an effective impact on consumer perception and behaviour.  

Image courtesy: ADWEEK

The response to the  KFC campaign is an indication of how strategy, in the midst of change, needs to be dynamic, relevant and above all, people and culture centric. Consumers tend to take to a brand that adopts a more human-centred approach towards their operations.  

Having said that, brands are not instant successes from the get-go. There is a fair amount of behind-the-scenes preparation that goes into building RED brands, and this always begins with people. 

People are not an asset to a business, they are not owned or exist on a balance sheet, but an important resource that has discretionary time and effort. How much of that time and effort goes into building your brand and driving growth vs. focusing outside the business? 

Through our change management framework, or the KUBA (Know, Understand, Believe, Act) model, we embed brands, people and culture in all our consulting and training activities. 

Know: People should know what they need to do. By explaining what we are ultimately trying to achieve, we are developing an aware workforce. 

Understand: Once they understand the brand’s expectations, they will also be able to determine how their actions will impact not only the organisation, but themselves too. 

Believe: By providing information and guidance on tasks to be achieved, we are empowering them to believe in their abilities and deliver results.  

Act: They are now equipped to act on their skills, and implement effective change strategies, that will eventually lead to organisational success. 

Image courtesy: Pexels

This model shapes the way we think about the impact of our programme, process or workshop on a business, department or team and ensures we accelerate the delivery of results.  

With people at the core of what we do, we support businesses to achieve sustainable long-term growth, creating value for the brand, along the way. 

To know more about Greg Creed’s approach to branding, you can read the full article here.

To learn more about our brand building programmes and workshops, please visit us here or contact us here


Fast ‘N Furious Innovation Key Learnings Article 2 of 2

In Article 1 we provided background on the Fast n Furious short course, including the 4 Stage Engagement approach. In this follow up article we highlight the core tool we use throughout the program and key learnings from working with nearly 60 companies who completed the course during 2016 -2017.
Research conducted by McKinsey and Co highlights the importance of tying innovation strategy and objectives into core business strategy and goals. Over 90% of businesses participating in our short course had not established clear financial goals for their innovation pipeline, nor had they established an innovation portfolio that balanced short term ‘incremental’ innovation e.g. line extensions such as new flavours with ’step-change’ innovation e.g: new category or channel entry and business model’s innovation. Every business has a limited resource pool and capability, so this must be a starting point in building consistent innovation success.
If you don’t know where you need to go, any road will get you there… (Lewis Carrol)

We adapted the start-up business Lean Canvas model for the food and agribusiness sector to provide an ‘Idea to launch’ process for businesses to follow.

1/ Start with the Consumer – Early Adopter
Fast n Furious Innovation participants often had a general idea of where they wanted to innovate but often had not identified a tight target consumer group
who would be the early adopter. We need to know which group of consumers we are targeting to then delve deeper into the underlying problems they have with the category; the language they use to describe it and then understand how we provide a solution that addresses their specific problem.

2/ Identifying their real Problem(s)
In the food sector getting consumers to adopt a new product or service always requires some form of behaviour change on their part. It’s much easier to
change behaviour if we understand problems they have with current offers on the market – real, perceived or not yet known. Consumer Profiling Tool and open-ended question techniques were used during calls & interviews conducted during the workshop to check that the problem hypothesis was real with the early adopter before jumping into solution mode. This reversed the process many companies used previously of trying to ‘sell’ an idea or product concept without fully understanding the underlying consumer problem that exists in the first place and then developing a solution that meets their need.

3/ Unique Value Proposition
4/ Solutions – Top 3 Features
Many businesses Innovation value propositions &
solutions fell into 3 traps:
1. They didn’t know if the consumer problem was important enough to change behaviour for the solution offered.
2. They loaded up a new product with so many features they confuse the customer. This drove a value proposition that was not single-minded, differentiated
and often ended up costing too much to produce.
3. Focus on the product alone and not recognising how elements such as brand, service, channel and customer engagement were also key areas to differentiate, gain trial, adoption and repeat purchase as well as making it harder for competitors to copy.
This situation was exacerbated for innovation focused on export where over reliance on the ‘Australian story’ and a lack of consumer understanding in target
countries led to less meaningful differentiation.

5/ Channels
Traditionally food companies focus early energy and significant expense on gaining distribution through the large grocery retail chains in Australia with slow routes to market waiting for range reviews and significant inherent commercial risk. We recommend SME consider alternative channels to rapidly commercialise
and test their Minimum Viable Product including: Farmers Markets, Independent Retailers, On-line stores or their own retail outlets if available. The focus is on learning whether the value proposition works, including price from consumer and customer feedback rather than using traditional market research or just
financial feedback.

8/ Key Metrics
Traditionally businesses have tended to focus on lag measures of innovation success like sales volume, revenue and margin or perhaps market share. This was certainly the case for most participants in this program. Unfortunately, these measures don’t help quickly understand four things:
1. Are you reaching your target early adopters with your value proposition and message?
2. Is the message understood and addressing a problem that is relevant?
3. After trialing the MVP, does it solve the problem they expected at a price where they see value?
4. Are there unexpected things about the MVP launch you can leverage in the next evolution of the product?

The beauty of engaging directly with the target market to get the ‘Voice of the Consumer’, whether physically or through the digital environment, is you can quickly put these lead measures in place for a low cost to get feedback. This insight allows you to learn fast and explicitly. The build, measure, learn cycle (outlined below) focuses on building and validating a model for the business and innovation to ensure you can create something that meets a real consumer problem.



Fresh Fodder, owned by Max and Fiona Schofield, produces hand crafted dips, salads and meals from its home base in Orange, NSW. Sold in independent retailers in NSW and Victoria, Fresh Fodder has a turnover of $4 million per annum and 22 employees. Renowned for producing Australia’s best tasting Taramosalata, ‘The Gangster Dip’, Fresh Fodder had extended its range of fresh natural products into salads and ready meals. Max and Fiona participated in the Central NSW FIAL Fast n Furious Innovation short course, hoping to discover the next ‘big thing’ in dips.
During the pre -workshop briefing session and subsequent workshop they used the Design Led Thinking approach to identify that the core problem with their dips
wasn’t the product, but poor packaging visibility and lack of differentiation on shelf, (this problem was exacerbated by the glut of competitive products on shelf, many of them ‘me-too’) . They also identified the need to improve distribution to enable availability where target consumers shopped.
During the short course phone interviews were conducted and they found that people either couldn’t find their brand or it wasn’t available in certain stores, so loyal customers had to make a compromise in a hurry.

“We’re trying not to create [completely] new products if possible but do more with the ones we have.”

They left the course with the realisation that profitable growth potential lay in innovating their core range, channel extension and business model adaptation as low sales were not attributable to the product, but to poor packaging visibility and differentiation on shelf as well as a need to improve distribution.

“Before I did the course, the way I worked was, let’s just make better stuff, if we want to sell more, we need more products. That’s how I built us into the corner we were in. The course challenged me to think differently.”

Since the Fast n Furious short course, the owner/directors of Fresh Fodder have brought a team of people on board to help run the business, so they can devote more time where they can add value; growing the business and building on their innovation capabilities. This includes expansion into new channels, outsourcing production of non-core products and expanding product formats within their core range.

The unique mentoring session held 6 weeks post the workshop focused on how to address the key shopper problem – lack of shelf visibility and standout – to drive greater differentiation and presence.
“We have upgraded our labels, we have reversed the map, it’s basically white with a bit of colour and now coloured with a bit of white.”
Coupled with the different colours for each of the dips in their range, starting with blue for ‘The Gangster Dip’, this quick and simple solution provided far greater impact on shelf.

“I think our we’ve improved our brand story telling by making it more concise and consistent. I think in the long run, it makes it much easier for the consumers to buy into it.”



Bringing change from within

Trends in wellness, regulatory affairs, government spending and technology are shouting out a bright future for Consumer Health, yet the slow rate of growth is frustrating.

We all talk about the potential opportunities for innovation. We act by merging and acquiring, by switching and launching, yet we continue to languish at a paltry 4.3 %.

We are stuck in so many paradigms that we constrain ourselves at every opportunity.

Clearly we want to grow but we don’t know how! We ask our people for outstanding ideas and deep emotional insights and then we try to kill these almost as soon as we have them. We ask our people to get closer to the market, to consumers and to customers but then we chain them to their desks and make them fill out spreadsheets or force them into taking part in useless meetings.

We hire in the best of talents and then within months manage to beat out their passion and disengage most of them. A study by Gallup across the leading organisations in the world showed that only 20% of employees are really engaged, 60% don’t care and 20% are actively disengaged.  That is a significant failing of leadership and as senior managers we have to hold ourselves responsible.

So, if we cannot change the Consumer Health industry from the top down, then I propose that we must try to inspire change from the inside out. Giving individuals and teams the skills, the knowledge, the motivation and so the behaviors, that will bring industry wide change from within.

Change from within is the only answer for sustainable growth.  It’s only when we have organisations of individuals that are developed, inspired and adequately rewarded – and that’s not just about money – that we will have growth not just today but into the future. Inspired individuals will break boundaries, redefine paradigms and create unparalleled opportunities.

Don’t look for inspiration for growth outside of your organisations; the best opportunities are inside, if only we create the right environment to let them grow.