TIPS and HINTS 1
When your great idea gets hold of you, resist the temptation to tell everyone about it. Publicity
triggers organisational immune systems. Hard selling excites fears and anxieties.
The key to getting quick approval is not to terrify people. The message to communicate is ‘The
decision to proceed isn’t dangerous. All we are deciding now is to authorise a test and intelligence
gathering. When we have more information, then we can make the big decision.’
Explain your idea modestly. Begin by talking to trusted friends and colleagues and ask for advice
on flaws, concerns, issues before exposing the idea to probable enemies.
Map out internal and external individuals, groups, organisations who may have a stake in the idea
and find formal and informal opportunities to seek advice, views and opinions. Some of these
views will be negative and this is where resilience and persistence pay off.
Never try to sell an idea, look for ways to improve it.
Accept all suggestions graciously.
Try to identify other people who will help you.
Listen, don’t expound.
In creating an ‘idea virus’, identify and infect the powerful ‘sneezers’ who can help pave the way
Keep checking the idea is feasible throughout the development process.
Remember the point of this is not what you can offer, no matter how wonderful, but what the
benefits are to patients.
Remember that decisions are rarely made on a rational basis but are made by human beings
subjectively and emotionally. You are operating in the theatre of the heart and not the library of
Throughout the development process, ‘scan the environment’ (politics, policies, priorities,
people) and be prepared to alter your plans at a stroke depending on intelligence. Plans are out
of date as soon as you produce them.
People love a good story.
Build a financial model at the conceptual stage, right at the very beginning. If you can add and
subtract, then you can do this. At first, this will be guesswork but as you act and learn, financial
estimates can be revised on a daily basis if necessary.
Be aware that your financial analysis also needs to tell a compelling story and will excite an
Do not be taken in and bamboozled by financial accounting and management systems you may
have encountered in the NHS. Simply, a financial model should identify costs and income. In the
early stages of a project, you will have to make lots of assumptions and, quite frankly, make stuff
Costs will be made up of fixed costs (the givens); variable costs (costs which may fluctuate like
salaries); development costs (always good to signal that this is important from the outset) and
capital costs (things like buildings, equipment etc)
Income may be secured from a variety of sources, not just NHS coffers. Researching this is very
important as, realistically, opportunities here will influence the development of the project.
However, do not let funding drive the project because this does not work.
Tips and Hints 2
‘I’m free to do what I want any old time.’ Mick Jagger
KEEP IT REAL
‘What I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I know.’ Ancient Chinese Proverb
The art of bringing an idea to life in whatever way you can, rather than relying on words and
Think of your audience or customer. Bring your idea to life in a way that the customer really
experiences it. The medium is the message.
Words fail us for 3 reasons: theatre of the mind; insider speak and brain styles.
Three benefits of realness: ‘props’ evoke reactions; when it looks real it prompts action; people
New ideas need a different business environment. Planning and decision making systems for day
to day management in the NHS do not support new ideas. New ideas need to be planted and
nurtured in the spirit of exploration and adventure. The challenge in the NHS is to navigate
successfully between ‘Planet NHS’ and ‘Planet Innovation’.
People and organisations have ‘decision habits’ when solving problems or responding to new
ideas. If our values or way we view the world are challenged, we tend to reject new ideas.
Organisations and people can adopt simple techniques to unleash creativity and different
thinking. Changing the ‘script’ in the way we respond to a new idea with lots of positive
statements can in itself change behaviours.
Signalling tells others how you want them to react to your idea.
Signalling allows you to navigate between a target driven managerial style and innovation.
Takes five seconds
Tips and Hints 2 (cont)
MAKING A PITCH
‘People think it’s all done through numbers; that’s how business works. They think that somehow emotions
don’t come into it and it’s all done in a kind of vacuum. But actually most decisions are made emotionally.’
Tell a story of a problem and a solution.
Do not be scared to show you understand the problem and to analyse it. This will give your
audience confidence that you ‘get it’. Offer a sympathetic diagnosis.
Once you have diagnosed the problem sympathetically, then offer the treatment.
Think ‘emotion’, not ‘logic’. Human beings make decisions subjectively. Decisions are rarely made
objectively and rationally.
Keep it simple and have only one big, central idea.
Reveal the central idea gradually.
Let the audience add shade, light and colour and use their imaginations.
Have a beginning, middle and end. Say what you are going to say, say it and say what you have
Audiences will always back the person and not the idea.
Look as if it doesn’t matter too much to you.
Find ways of showing you have a track record and you are a safe pair of hands.
Find a balance between excitement and reassurance.
Define what success looks like.
TIPS and HINTS 3
Do not be bamboozled by the mythology of business planning. Simply, a business plan is a
statement of how aspirations or commitments will be met by resources, usually over a three year
Business plans are usually prepared to convince funders of the feasibility of a project. The funder
becomes the ‘idea customer’. Think yourself into the shoes of the ‘idea customer’ and prepare a
different version of the plan depending on culture, values, priorities, policies etc. of funders. What
will excite one funder, will leave another cold.
You do not have to be constrained by the ‘rules’ of business planning but do reflect the language
and report formatting/styles of funders back to them. A little bit of research on this can pay off.
Otherwise, use compelling, convincing and warm language with a simple, clear presentation.
A business plan converts aspirations into a quantitative forecast of activity and staffing levels and
resource requirements and resource acquisition. Headings for the plan are likely to include: The
Problem; Intentions/Making a Difference; Project Evaluation; Endorsements and Financial
Analysis. The financial analysis is the most important section as this will give funders a snap shot
of the feasibility of your plan.
Costing is essentially a common sense procedure which we all undertake in our everyday lives. It
involves identifying all the different items, estimating or finding out what they will cost, and
adding them up. Costing only becomes complicated if the activities to be undertaken are
unfamiliar to you. It can be helpful to make this a team exercise to gain as many perspectives as
Think carefully about management time and other ‘hidden’ costs.
Costing helps in designing activities and in deciding whether the project is feasible and
worthwhile. The returns may not be worth the costs.
Costing a project to attract funding is a bit like price setting. If the price, or total cost, is
unacceptable to your funder, then you will be unsuccessful. It can be helpful to present the
costing alternatively eg firmly linked to programmes of activity or broken down into unit costs as
this may more clearly demonstrate value for money.
Remember, this is not a rational exercise but a political one.
The costing provides the basis for the budget against which spending can be checked and