No Guru Needed: Anyone Can Lead Innovation!

3 Reasons an Idea Ships

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Sep 22, 2016 10:16:44 AM

There are lots of reasons why ideas ship and plenty more why they don’t. I wanted to use this blog post to highlight the real reasons why a core innovation I developed shipped.

Reason Number 1: It solved a PROBLEM.

The customer’s problem was that it is difficult to resolve killer issues within a project. My idea was to make it easy to problem solve by immediately providing helpful stimulus with a click of a button.

But it wasn’t enough to just solve the customers’ problem, it also solved a problem for us that the current TRIZ tool wasn’t being used as much as it should be based on how effective it is.

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Topics: Create, innovation, alignment

3 Simple Principles for thinking about Innovation Training

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Sep 20, 2016 10:32:42 AM

Our friends at Innovation Leader reached out to us last year and asked if we would answer a question from one of their readers.   Below is an excerpt from Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education, response to the question:

Q&A: How to start training on innovation?

This member question was answered by Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education at Eureka! Ranch, which is a nearly 30-year-old firm that has developed a method for increasing innovation speed and decreasing risk. A partner of Innovation Leader, Eureka! developed a field of study known as “Innovation Engineering” with the University of Maine. Because of Eureka’s extensive experience educating executives at many of our members’ companies, we thought Maggie was uniquely positioned to answer this member question…

Question: Was fascinated by the educational / training data in your 2015 Innovation Benchmarking Report. We’re in the process of starting an educational / training initiative around innovation, and could use some guidance on where to start. Is there a typical starting point for these programs? We’re a relatively big company (15,000+ employees) and are struggling with whether we begin in marketing, product management, product development, executive management, etc. Any thoughts or best practices or the progression / trajectory of such programs???

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, leadership, innovation training

The existing state of affairs in my family is about to change.

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Sep 15, 2016 10:47:21 AM

By the time you read this, one of my three children will be married.  “Princess” is my middle child, the oldest daughter, the first to be married.  I am stunned.  Before you ask, yes, I expected my three children to return home from college and be my little family forever.  I expected them to never change, never take advantage of new opportunities, certainly to never move halfway across the country.  I thought I would be all they ever needed to have a happy, fulfilled life.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, why innovate

3 Innovation Lessons from Tootsie Pops

Posted by David Lafkas on Sep 14, 2016 3:11:23 PM
For those millennials reading this, there is a classic 1970 TV commercial for Tootsie Pop that has taken on a cult following and the rest of us likely remember.  Here is a link: Tootsie Pop!

In the commercial, a young man asks “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”

So, what can we learn regarding innovation and this Tootsie Pop commercial?

1. Ask questions.  The young man in the question first went to Mr. Cow, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Turtle, as experts, to ask his question.  The first three characters asked admitted that they didn’t know but they suggested other “experts” that the young man should ask.  This eventually brought the young man to Mr. Owl, as the wisest.  

We all know that when posed with the question, Mr. Owl, as the wisest of the experts, offered to help.  After three licks he lost his willpower and bit into the Tootsie Pop.  He then returned the now Tootsie Pop free stick to the young man, and said it takes only 3 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

2. Experiment.  Through Mr. Owl, an experiment was run to determine the number of licks.  Arguably the experiment “failed,” but the answer was correct.  It took only three licks for Mr. Owl to be overcome and bit into that candy shell and reach the center of the Tootsie Pop.  And from that experiment, the young man has learnings.  

3. Pivot.  Because of Mr. Owl’s actions, the young man learned that he needs to pivot and rephrase the question to something like, “How many licks does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop without biting into the candy shell?”  However, without experimenting with Mr. Owl, he may not have known enough to even be able to know how to ask the right way.  

Each of those learnings - Ask Questions, Experiment, and Pivot - are exactly what each of us should be doing with our own products and services to improve them and innovate.  

And before anyone dismisses Tootsie Pops as real science, I would like to point out that there are at least three scientific studies that have been publicized showing the number of licks it does take to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Purdue University reported that its licking machine, modeled after a human tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.  University of Michigan recorded that his customized licking machine required 411 licks to reach the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.  And Swarthmore Junior High used human lickers, reporting an average of 144 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop.  

What projects are you working on where you should be asking more questions?  How can you more quickly and affordably experiment to learn more?  And how are you pivoting when you do learn more?
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Topics: innovation, fail fast fail cheap, pdsa

9 Times Leaders Missed the Mark on Innovative Thoughts

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Sep 1, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I was recently searching for inspiration on what to write when I came across a list of creativity and innovation quotes.

What I found the most compelling was the list of creativity killers:

  1. "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
    - Charles H. Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899
  2. "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote."
    - Grover Cleveland, 1905
  3. "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
    - Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros Pictures, 1927
  4. "There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
    - Robert Miliham, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923
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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, stimulus mining

Take a Minute as a Leader to Think About 2,000 Tomorrow's from Now

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Aug 30, 2016 10:00:00 AM

For years I've run projects for large companies, small companies and all in between.  And for many of those years our company used a "gimme the ball" approach to creating ideas.  And with each session we focused first and foremost on the objective for the session, to make sure we got the company what they needed.  The objective setting conversation went something like this...

ThemWe'd like to create ideas ideas that we can launch soon - in the next 6-12 months - and also ideas that are further out.

UsWe can help you with either of those, but we know focus helps us increase our odds of success and that's particularly true with an objective.  With 2 targets we minimize our ability to do either one really well.  If you had to give a % of effort allocation between the 2 - short term versus long term - what would you say?

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Topics: Create, innovation, Leading Innovation

Learning vs failing: Five tips to encourage your employees

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Aug 25, 2016 10:24:49 AM

The following is reprinted with permission from Innovation Engineering Black Belt, Rhonda Honke at inVision Edge.


When I was younger, experiments were saved for science class. We’d formulate some sort of hypothesis, mix a concoction in a beaker, heat it up and watch it overflow like lava. We’d document what we did, the results we achieved, and make a call as to whether or not we proved out our hypothesis. Sometimes we were right and sometimes we were wrong — regardless, we always learned something as a result.

So here is the burning question: why have we, as adults, become so afraid of failure? The answer: Because it requires us to be vulnerable, and that incites fear. The average organization encourages learning but frowns on failure — giving employees the message that they had better be sure their hypothesis is correct before they even test it.

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Topics: leadership, fail fast fail cheap

4 Easy Steps to Get the Most Out of Your Employees

Posted by Brad Hall on Aug 23, 2016 10:20:47 AM

We all have great people that work for us but sometimes it can be hard to get their full potential out of them.  These four steps are easy things to do that can help get the most out of the people you have working for you.

1. Set a mission and some boundaries:
No matter what it is every task from the smallest day to day thing to drastic changes in your company should have a mission and some boundaries to it.  How detailed these things are change depending on what it is of course.  For making a part in a factory the mission can be as simple as produce x number of parts per hour; while the boundaries could be the tolerances the part has to be within.  On the other end of the spectrum is your companies strategic planning for the year where the mission is where you want the company to head and your boundaries are the things you want to avoid or how much resources you can devote to it.  In the end everything that happens within our companies has a mission and boundaries and you should take the time to consider them even if it’s just in an informal way.

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Topics: Leading Innovation, strategy, alignment

How To Believe That the Impossible is Possible With Innovation

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Aug 16, 2016 12:02:40 PM

The Olympic games have been a lot of fun to watch this year. While it is exciting when your country or favorite athlete wins gold, it is also exciting to see athletes break world records. 

In London 24 world records were broken and as I’m writing this there have been 21 records broken in Rio. These records are the result of innovation. People are not only working harder, but working smarter. Better competition, better technology, and sadly in some cases better drug cheating. We see the result of all the progress on display during the games, but just like when an organization ships a new innovation, we don’t see all the work that made the once impossible, possible.

Doing something new to the world is clearly a great way to win. It is tough to lose a race while running faster than every human in history.  But with this uniqueness comes doubt. It isn’t believable to others that you can do the impossible even while you’re doing it.

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Topics: innovation, innovation system

Innovation is not about Innovation

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Aug 11, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Once upon a time,  our magazine news consumption was somewhat easier.  We were constrained by what you could afford to buy and carry around, if you subscribed, the updates came either weekly or monthly.  If you did pay-as-you-go it was necessary to find a way to the news counter.  It was not unknown for me to get through a month with but a single copy of National Lampoon Magazine…and my books…The Lord of the Rings, Catch 22, The House of Sixty Fathers.

Now I am older, more proper, more mature, as a friend of mine says.

I have an assistive reading, or hand-held, device.

No excuse to not be current on business and innovation.  Just to be sure, this past week I saw a list of the 5 Most Important Business Magazines.  Not to be outdone, I saw a competing list of the 10 Most Important Business Magazines (yes, there was overlap).  This longer list was followed by another 81 recommended business magazines.  Any of these can be delivered to my hand-held device immediately upon the release of any new story.  Not only can I get the story via their “app”, I can get an email or I can get a “twitter-thing” about it.

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Topics: Create, innovation, stimulus mining

Welcome to the first blog from the Eureka! Ranch and Innovation Engineering Institute team.  Here you will find a diverse group of innovators dedicated to changing the world by transforming innovation from a random gamble to a reliable system that delivers increased innovation speed and decreased risk.

 


We are excited to introduce the Innovation Engineering Institute a brand new 3 day training program being held in the U.S. and Canada:

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Don't miss out on our upcoming Innovation College Sessions being held at Eureka! Ranch in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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