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

Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer

Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer
Maggie P. is the Director of Education, fearlessly leading and teaching 1,000s of students around the world the best practices for innovation and applying systems thinking to their lives and organizations.
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Recent Posts

3 Questions That Can Keep Your Innovation Projects On Track

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Oct 7, 2016 8:00:00 AM

I am working on two major projects at the moment. And I will use my absence of disciplined working rhythms and feedback loops as a lesson to all of us this week.

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Topics: innovation, Dr. Deming, collaboration

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

Innovation Pop Quiz, Will You Pass?

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Aug 5, 2016 1:54:06 PM

Is Innovation a priority where you work?

Is “being Innovative” one of your skill sets?

Okay, Pop Quiz.

1. Can you DEFINE "Innovation"?

2. Are you having FUN Innovating? 

3. Can you REPLICATE success with Innovation? 

Let's see how you did. 

1. DEFINITION: If you answered yes, my follow on question to you is, "Is
your definition the the same as the one your coworkers would give?" If you can't define it, how do you know if you're doing it? Or doing it well?

We use a simple definition. Innovation is equal to Meaningful Uniqueness. A Meaningfully Unique idea or solution meets the following criteria; A) the idea is MEANINGFUL to three parties, the organization, the customer/stakeholder, and the individual who works on it, and B) the idea is UNIQUE compared with alternative options. 

This definition guides our work. We often say, if you're not Meaningfully Unique, you better be cheap. And that applies to your product, service, processes, and YOU as an individual. 

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Topics: innovation, Education

3 Simple Principles for thinking about Innovation Training

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Jul 26, 2016 10:40:12 AM

Our friends at Innovation Leader recently reached out to us 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

We’re halfway through 2016 - What have you learned?

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Jul 6, 2016 2:06:27 PM

Something I learned from my boss Doug Hall, the founder of the Eureka! Ranch is to stop and reflect often. This reflection is built into our culture, our corporate habits, and our client work. 

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Topics: Education, leadership

Make Your System VISIBLE

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Jun 3, 2016 10:22:33 AM

Appreciation for a System is Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s first principle from his teachings on management and transformation of business. Deming teaches us that a leader must understand the system he or she is attempting to manage.

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Topics: Leading Innovation, leadership, Dr. Deming

3 Ways to Get Your Innovation Team to Think Different

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on May 3, 2016 10:00:00 AM

A few weeks back, I asked you for yourInnovation Questions.  Thanks to everyone who contributed a question, and please continue to do so. The goal with my responses will be to suggest a tool, process or principle that could help you build a systemic solution. 

Below is a question from Graeme Crombie about helping his innovations teams open up to fresh insights.

“How can I persuade an innovation team to be more outward looking, curious, InnovationTeamLookingOutside.jpgand receptive to new insights? I often find myself working with experienced groups that already know a lot about their products and the industry and this knowledge somehow makes them feel like they don't need to speak to customers or suppliers or look at other industries. There is just a closed-mindedness sometimes - and I don't mean arrogant or even really complacent - just that they are unable or unwilling to look at things with fresh eyes.” - Graeme Crombie

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Topics: innovation, alignment, Education

How to Include Your Manufacturing Team in Innovation

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Mar 31, 2016 10:00:00 AM

A few weeks back, I asked you for your Innovation Questions. Innovation Questions. Thanks to everyone who contributed a question, and please continue to do so. The goal with my responses will be to suggest a tool, process or principle that could help you build a systemic solution.  Below is a question from Greg Allen about getting more people involved in his innovation initiative and a response from a non-Guru.

“How do I get my manufacturing team more involved? The office folks are starting to make the transition, but the team who is out on the floor getting their hands dirty building our products do not seem to understand that their insight and input is gold for our innovation process.” - Greg Allen

Hello Greg, thanks for asking this question. I can tell you are already heading in the right direction by seeking information on how to include your manufacturing team and leverage their invaluable insight.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, diversity

What are your Innovation questions?

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Mar 1, 2016 10:00:00 AM

This week, I’d like to call upon you all for help. 

I would like to ask you, a community of self-identified innovators, what are you struggling with right now? 

When it comes to…

  • aligning the people you work with towards a common pursuit to innovate,
  • supporting collaboration across your company or team,
  • running effective experiments and market research on new ideas, 
  • inventing patentable inventions and/or filing for patents,
or implementing innovation education and training,
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Topics: innovation

Your Org Chart Does Not Apply to Innovation

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Jan 28, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Don’t get me wrong, organizational structure with job functions and some kind of hierarchy is useful for conductingbusiness as usual. People have specific roles to play in serving yourcustomers. However, when it comes to innovation, the structure is less useful, because by definition, innovation is not business as usual.

So how do you make use of that structure when it comes to innovation? Who is best positioned to generate and develop ideas?

You shouldn’t be surprised to hear my answer. After all this blog is called No Guru Needed, Anyone Can Lead Innovation!

With a system in place, anyone from any department at any level within your organization could lead your next successful innovation project.

That’s because when you have a system that enables people, so anyone with the energy and passion for an idea is able to explore it.

How can this possibly work?

Well, I’ve seen innovation thrive inside organizations who don’t have a guru when…

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Topics: innovation, innovation system, strategy, alignment

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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