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

3 Ways to Have a Systems Mindset

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Jul 20, 2016 2:08:44 PM

Happy Birthday, No Guru Needed! Wow it has been a whole year since Happy Birthday Innovationwe’ve started this blog and after publishing just over 100 posts it is time to reflect on what we’ve learned. When summarizing the data from this blog I did my best to have a systems mindset. Meaning, my focus was less on the details of each blog post and more on the variance between them.

Here are 3 things I do differently when I have a systems mindset:

1. Don’t blame or reward workers:
We have 9 people writing post here and not a single writer is more popular than another. Is it because we’re all the same? Absolutely not. Each member of our team has their own strengths and weaknesses. We are not the same, but we are working in the same system. If you’ve been reading our post over the past year then you may recognize this quote:

“94% of the problems are due to the system, not the worker.”

We often quote Deming on this in attempts to educate leadership and get them to stop blaming and/or rewarding the worker based on occurrences caused by the system.

2. Making the system visible:
If success or failure is dependent on our system, then it is extremely useful to make the system visible. We do this in 4 steps:

  1. What is the aim of the system? For this blog we want to create inbound     marketing by posting meaningful content related to leading innovation.
  2. What are the boundaries? Hmmm, I don’t know. What is our budget,           who can we partner with, what can’t we do? Good questions that even after a year I can’t answer, but that is the benefit of making the system visible. These are things we need to define before we can improve the system.
  3. What is the metric? Blog views is our metric, but it could be anything from clicks to shares to subscribers. The key here is to only use one. 
  4. Draw a system map. A system map is like a flow chart. For this blog, the system map is very linear. We write blogs, then post them twice a week, then share them, then hope for the best and repeat. By drawing the system we start to see what step has the most variance. For example posting is very consistent, but what we write and how we share… not so much.
3. Control Chart the metric: 
After making the system visible and deciding that views is the metric, I used the IE tools to draw a control chart based on blog views. The control chart makes the variance visible and also tells us what range of views to expect if we continue with the current system. From here we create ideas for how to decrease the variance and increase the mean. It is also incredibly helpful to know where the metric needs to be in order to achieve the aim of the system. If the metric is orders of magnitude away from where it in needs to reach the aim, then core improvement ideas aren’t going to cut it.

Thank you for reading our blog and please share ideas, advice or what you have learned in the comment section below

Topics: innovation, Innovation Systems, Metrics

Greg Lemmon

Written by Greg Lemmon

Greg joined the team in 2008 after graduating from Northern Kentucky University. Since then he conducted over 3,000 sales forecast for new innovations, innovated how we teach research as well as developed and programed an online system for rapid research. Greg is passionate about researching innovation and developing new to the world systems to make innovation easier for organizations.

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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