One hobby I enjoy in my free time is brewing my own beer. The obvious benefit is a fridge consistently full of beer, but what really makes it fun is experimentation. When I first started home brewing I would get kits from the local brewery supply store and follow the recipe. The results were good beer, but nothing truly unique. Once I gained a little experience I started to experiment more. The results became mixed. Some beers tasted great while others were great learning opportunities. Currently I have two kegs in the fridge. One is the best beer I’ve ever made and is based off a recipe from a local brewery. The other keg contains the weirdest beer I’ve ever made. I’m personally not a fan of it and it has been described by others as “not bad” and “very interesting”.
Topics: Leading Innovation
It is no secret that when you have a "to do" list you get more done and the same goes for innovation. When you use a "to do" list or checklist we see the following:
1. You will ship more innovations.
Innovation projects that leverage a checklist are over twice as likely to be in a development or shipping phase than projects not using a checklist.
2. You will ship faster.
Projects with checklist move 4 times faster.
Checklists tell the project teams: WHAT to do. WHY to do it. And HOW to do it. By removing this mystery at every step in the process teams can do more and move faster.
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.
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.
Happy Birthday, No Guru Needed! Wow it has been a whole year since we’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.
Typically talking to strangers is not behavior I recommend. However in the case of leading innovation it is behavior that not only should be encouraged, but should be systematized.
Last week we collected 100 responses to a survey by talking to strangers at a brewery. That research went great and brought an innovation project one step closer to shipping. Here are 3 reasons why you should get out of the office and talk to strangers about your innovations.
- Learn more from people. We created the survey to capture all the needed data for our test, but it can't capture everything. From people’s excitement when seeing something new to their faces when they taste something great or not so great. All of these moments and interactions can spark new ideas that are missed when you outsource the research.
Artificial intelligence has been making the news quite a bit lately. From winning strategy games, assisting online teaching, learning linguistics, and driving cars to creating art.
One article I read recently was about what jobs computers could never replace. Needless to say, I disagreed with the author’s list. Not because I think AI will replace these jobs, but because it is naive to think that a computer could never preform the functions of an author, teacher, chef, etc.
But then I got to the final job on his list: Entrepreneur.
Recently we launched a new innovation pipeline dashboard that summarizes metrics for our clients. Within these metrics we create control
charts which enable us to tell if the subsystems are in control or not.
Here are four types of systems I see and what leadership can do about them:
- The System Is to Do Nothing. This chart looks like a series of all zeros. It is time for change, leadership just needs to get people started doing something. It doesn’t matter where you start, but innovation won’t happen without a change.
Middle of March is one of my favorite times of year. The weather is warming up here in Cincinnati, we celebrate pi day and then there is a college basketball tournament starting this week.
I know I’m not the only fan of filling out a tournament bracket, in fact I read yesterday that more brackets will be completed than votes for our next president. A somewhat silly statistic, but statistics is what makes this time of year so much fun for me. Which brings me to my first of 3 lessons from March Madness to apply to leading innovation:
- Data is helpful, but statistics can not completely eliminate risk.
Kaggle.com is the world’s largest community of data scientist. The past 2 years they have hosted a data modeling competition to predict the odds of every possible match up in the NCAA tournament. If you visit their website you can download an almost overwhelming amount of data from past seasons and tournaments. The first year I participated I thought that with so much data it had to be possible to predict 90 to 95% of the winners, but I was wrong.
Innovation metrics have been a popular conversation topic for awhile, but before I get into what to measure and why, I want to link back to Jesse’s post from last week. Jesse said that the most important thing to do is start, so if not having metrics is your excuse not to start, please click here and read his post first and get started.