The experts are going to hate this one.
They’re going to hate it because what I’m about to share will break the spell they have over their followers. It will expose the limitations of expert advice. It will activate your unique creativity — and it will help you grow the one-of-a-kind business only you can grow.
Want to know the truth about expert advice?
Here it is…
…Reliance on expert advice creates a glass ceiling.
Reliance on expert advice creates a glass ceiling because it turns off the independent decision making region of our brain. It stunts our creativity. It eliminates innovation. It strips us of the exact skills we need to grow a business.
This isn’t me spouting off, either. There is science to support it.
One of my favorite Ted talks is from Noreena Hertz, an internationally recognized economist who studies how people think, who they listen to and why. She advises prime minister’s, business executives, and more.
In her Ted talk she references a study where researchers monitored the activity of brains listening to expert advice. The findings were shocking. The study found that when we listen to expert advice the independent decision making area of our brain turns off. It goes completely dark!
What this means is, when we rely on an expert we lose our ability to be creative.
And it gets even scarier…
The concept of neuroplasticity says the brain changes shape, form, and ability throughout a lifetime. And the driver of that change? Our behavior. In other words, the parts of our brain we use most often grow strong and dominant. And the regions of our brain we don’t use? They go stale. They die off.
This means when we soak up expert advice we not only cost ourselves our creativity in the moment, we also weaken our ability to be creative in the future.
Put another way, if our creative brain was an olympic athlete who needs world-class nutrition, expert advice would be like nacho cheese doritos and a two-liter of Coke. Not quite the high-octane fuel we need.
We see it online everyday
Marketers and entrepreneurs scan blog posts for 3-hours at a time, they stash list articles in their pocket app. They Google every question that comes to mind.
Meanwhile, they never step back and allow themselves to be creative. They never pause long enough to let their intelligence go to work.
As a result, they usually ask the wrong questions — and even worse — they try to find answers to those bad questions in the wrong place.
Not a recipe for business growth. Disaster, maybe, but definitely not growth.
So if piecing together a random assortment of expert advice isn’t how growth engines are built, how are they built? What should we do instead? What are the elements of an effective growth engine?
Three Elements of an Effective Growth Engine
An effective growth engine avoids the oppressive limitations of expert advice. It moves the business down a path of originality and innovation. It does this with three specific elements:
1. An effective growth engine fosters creativity by asking the right questions
The systematic approach creates mental space for creativity. It brings the mind deep into the nuance of a problem. It connects you to creative solutions; solutions you won’t find in a blog post. It doesn’t send you rummaging through the Google dumpster.
A question I get often is, “How do we increase conversions?” If we Google that question we find a sea of tactical recommendations from experts with “the answers”:
If you read those articles when you’re asking the wrong questions you’ll get a nice shot of dopamine, and you’ll sadly put your creativity to sleep.
A better question is, “how do we optimize a visitors thought sequence in order to increase conversions?” This immediately takes us to the customer. It gets us thinking about their frame of mind. Their desires. What they’re looking for, and how we can help them find it easier.
In this case, implementing “101 conversion tips” costs us the valuable insights of a customer-centric approach.
2. An effective growth engine prioritizes growth opportunities
…because with creativity comes the gut-wrenching need to decide, “what do I do next?” It can be a paralyzing position. I’ve seen it derail entire businesses. When you prioritize your growth opportunities you get a clear-cut answer to what you should do next, and how much time and money you should invest.
In order to prioritize your growth opportunities, consider the following:
- Resources needed to test an idea
- Potential impact on revenue
- Potential impact on key metrics
- Time needed to test the idea
- Probability of success
Scoring each opportunity against these criteria will tell you with certainty, what you should focus on next.
3. An effective growth engine validates ideas with a scientific process.
In other words, it proves that the ideas you have ACTUALLY grow your business — and it does that with quantitative proof. Creativity is great, but creativity that moves the needle is even better.
Creative ideas turn into hypotheses on how to grow your business.
This is the piece everyone knows, but almost no one does it. And the reason is it sounds good in theory — “yes, I want proof, let’s be scientific” — but in practice it can be burdensome. It can bog down the process. It can drag tests out for months.
In order to avoid the pitfalls, commit to a simple process to get started. It’s better than no process at all. Here is a simple framework you can use to get started:
Choose an idea: Look at your growth opportunities and pick the best idea according to the criteria you set. Go with it.
Design an experiment: Think as simply as possible. What is the least you can do to produce a meaningful result? What resources do you need? Whose help do you need? What is your hypothesis? How will you gather the data you need?
Run the experiment: Set it up and run it!
Analyze the results: Suppress your bias. Look at what the evidence is telling you. Ask yourself, what did I learn? Is this significant evidence? What are the numbers telling me? Detail what you learned and keep it filed away. This is your gold.
Make a decision: Clearly state the outcome of the test. Should you run another test? Should you invest in the idea? Should you abandon the idea? Can your learnings be applied to other areas of your business?
Now before you ditch your experts, let me clarify.
What I’m saying is a RELIANCE on expert advice limits our creativity. A healthy relationship to expert advice can be great. As long as expert input doesn’t hold you back (i.e. it’s something you need for every decision), then you’re good.
The entrepreneurs and executives I work with accept the notion that a reliance on expert advice kills creativity. And it’s an important awareness because it opens the door to a new approach. A more effective approach.
A methodical approach that fosters creativity moves us from desperate mimicry to unshakable originality. So instead of relying on experts for tactical advice, set up systems that accelerate creativity, action, and validation.