Igniting Innovation: Tips, Sparks and Ideas for Acting on Innovation

3 Keys to Innovation Project Success

Posted by Lydia Carson on Feb 18, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I was pleased to get a chance to talk to an innovation project team GrafTech Innovation Jacketrecently who is progressing through development with a new product in a new market to find out what they have learned.  Deana, Craig, and Marty with GrafTech International are working on the 2Degree Jacket project, and identified three things that have been keys to their success to date.

  1. Get focused on what we don’t know.  From the start, focusing on THE killer issue that can prevent the project from moving successfully into development is critical.  There can be lot’s of unknowns - especially when going into a new market - so there’s no time to waste on more minor tasks that aren’t as significant.  We need to get smarter fast on the big threats to increase confidence.
  2. Have an engaged, innovation-educated executive providing frequent guidance.  It’s always important to have the support of leadership, but when a team has a management coach who has in-depth knowledge of how to lead innovation as a system, he/she is more of a co-pilot for the project vs. a “sponsor.”  By providing honest input and helpful advice to the project leader a couple of times a week, fear is reduced and progress is accelerated.
  3. Don’t hesitate to look outside for help.  Engaging external experts to help address a killer unknown is often the right thing to do - and sooner rather than later.  However, as the Graftech team pointed out, it’s important to do a bit of research to ensure the expert is the right fit.  Just be sure to balance the time needed to vet against the risk involved, and set clear expectations for both sides.

Depending on your organization, some of these may be easier to do than GrafTech 2Degree Jacket Innovationothers, but it’s worth it to keep them all in mind when getting started on a project.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, fail fast fail cheap

Lydia Carson

Written by Lydia Carson

Lydia is the Vice President of Innovation Engineering Systems at Eureka! Ranch. She is a straight shooter who is known for getting the job done and is excellent in her skill for helping others succeed. Around the Ranch she is known for her laser focus. Prior to joining the Ranch, Lydia’s corporate experience included working for Lexmark International and Ford Motor Company. Since joining the Ranch, she’s helped a diverse group of companies create breakthrough new products, services, and systems. To name just a few: Tyson Foods, Bush Brothers, Walmart, Pon, GOJO, The Edrington Group, Humana, and Toyota. Lydia received a mechanical engineering degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Executive MBA program. She is passionate about learning and has received numerous certifications, including Innovation Engineering Black Belt and Six Sigma Black Belt. She received Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) training – which introduced the Jobs to be Done approach – from Tony Ulwick in 2006. Lydia applies her broad skills and experience when tackling any challenge that comes her way. Lydia is a lover of sailing and baseball who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband Paul and two kids.

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.


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