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

Lydia Carson

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.
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Recent Posts

Employee Engagement & Dr. Deming

Posted by Lydia Carson on Apr 21, 2016 10:23:50 AM

The cover story on the ASQ April 2016 Quality Progress magazine about the cost of employee disengagement made me flash back to my first day on the job as an engineer.  My boss gave me a big box of VHS videos to watch - yes, VHS! 

My first assignment in the “real world” was to watch the Deming video library covering his System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) and 14 Points for Management.  I learned about Dr. Deming in College, but the videos really brought his approach to life.

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Topics: leadership, alignment

3 Keys to Disruptive Innovation in Operations

Posted by Lydia Carson on Mar 22, 2016 10:22:49 AM

Many companies use Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and the like for continuous improvement, but how can we push further and achieve disruptive innovation in operations?  As it turns out, the best practice innovation fundamentals used to create disruptive new products work just as well for operations.  To start with, we need:

  1. Clear Strategic Mission.  A clearly defined and actionable strategy for disruptive ideas is just as critical for operations as it is for new products.  I’ve heard, “We’ve got this.  We already have strategic goals for cost savings in operations.”  A goal is not good enough.  Employees must know what types of ideas we are looking for, why this is very important, what we don’t want, and what other boundaries apply.
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Topics: innovation, Leading 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 recently 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.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, fail fast fail cheap

3 Must Do’s to Activate Your Strategy

Posted by Lydia Carson on Dec 16, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Leaders and employees often express dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of their company’s strategic planning process.  Clearly, it’s a problem if there is no strategy, but even when leadership has developed a strategy, too often it’s not properly “activated.”

In order to effectively activate a strategy, at a minimum, don’t overlook these 3 “Must Do’s”:

  1. Conduct internal and external research to help gain confidence.  Leaders can be reluctant to set a specific and clear strategy due to lack of confidence in picking “the right thing to do.”  Taking the time to identify the areas where confidence is low and conducting some research that can
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Topics: innovation

PDSA - What Does Plan Really Mean During An Innovation Project?

Posted by Lydia Carson on Nov 17, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Many people are familiar with the most basic version of the scientific method, Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA), also known as the Shewhart or Deming Cycle.  Those of us who are engineers or scientists tend to use PDSA quite frequently, so you might think we’d have the process down pat.

Unfortunately, not so.  Even with the best of intentions, super-smart innovation project teams often skip over the most important part of Plan.  They interpret the word like the simple Merriam-Wester definition, when it should be more.

plan (noun): something that a person intends to do

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Topics: innovation, Dr. Deming, fail fast fail cheap

Top 6 Frustrating Business Challenges

Posted by Lydia Carson on Aug 21, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Are you frustrated with business challenges like the following?  If so, surveys show you’re not alone.  Click on the business challenges below to watch videos from the Innovation Engineering curriculum to learn how innovation systems can knock out these challenges.

1. Administrative - Your internal administrative processes are slow and frustrating.

2. Decision Making - It's slow and painful to make decisions about moving innovation projects through the development process. 

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Topics: innovation, innovation system

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.


So, many exciting things are going on at Eureka! Ranch and with Innovation Engineering don't miss out on anything:

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