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

Are You Out of Touch With Your Innovation Boundaries?

Posted by Scott Dunkle on Oct 18, 2016 10:47:03 AM

I recently read a post about the difficulties of becoming of CTO and the struggles of no longer being part of the “doing the menial work” crowd as it relates to a web programming department of an organization.

The job of the leader in this instance isn’t to be on the forefront finding and implementing new technologies, but instead to provide guidance on which technologies can be implemented - and when - based on the information provided by the person that researched it.

So often the leader of an organization or department sets boundaries on how far the employees can go with their research, “because I’m the leader and I know from experience what is best”. How do you know what is best now compared to when you WERE in the trenches?

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation

Why in the World Would I Do That?

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Oct 13, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Imagine the cockpit conversation…

First Officer:  Looks like we are headed into turbulent air, sure glad you checked the annunciator panel when we started up and before we took off.

Pilot:  Yeah, looks a little rough…wait, what’s that about the annunciator?

First Officer:  You did check it, right?

Pilot:  I’m supposed to do that before every takeoff?

First Officer:  I thought so??

Pilot:  Well, why didn’t you say something…

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, innovation system

3 Tips to Increase Your Innovation Speed

Posted by David Lafkas on Oct 11, 2016 11:07:14 AM

Lets Get right to it...

1. Write It Down.  Sounds simple, and writing down what your innovation is serves two purposes. 

First it forces you to focus on what the innovation truly is and what its benefits are.  Think about how different it is when you read a description of something versus having someone tell you about it.  The written version, if done properly, is going to be more focused and to the point.  And that's important when you consider that eventually your consumers may only see a written description of your innovation - usually in the form of the product package.

Writing down your invention also helps get your invention out of your head so others can help you improve upon it.  Which brings us to our next tip…

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Topics: innovation, collaboration, increasing speed

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, collaboration, Dr. Deming

No One is Safe from Innovation

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Oct 5, 2016 8:00:00 AM

My friend, Wendy Ferris, at InVision Edge recently shared the article, "Costco's CFO doesn't belive his company is Amazon-Proof."  After reading the article in Business Insider it reminded me of one of my previous blog posts and I thought it was worth another share. What I think Richard Galanti has that those before him didn't understand is that he doesn't believe that Costco in invincible.


The world is constantly changing.  Nothing stays the same. Innovation changes the world on a regular basis. In my short life I have personally experienced life changing innovation in how I watch movies, communicate with friends and family, and receive world news.  By no means is that a complete list. 

What I ask you today is, "Are you planning for the next big world changing innovation?"

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, strategy

The Smallest Thing you can do to get a Big Change

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Sep 29, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Change is hard.  Change is scary.  Change is uncertain.  Change is chaos.  

And when something is hard, scary, uncertain, and chaotic any human does a cry out - a reach out for help to survive it.  It’s often a knee jerk reaction, but a real and fragile reaction all the same.  

In that moment - when the fear is high - it’s that moment when it’s most important for the support to stay calm and help them take the first step out of the dark.

Let me explain with 2 recent encounters.

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Topics: innovation, leadership, fail fast fail cheap

3 Reasons an Idea Ships

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Sep 22, 2016 10:16:44 AM

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.

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Topics: Create, innovation, alignment

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

The existing state of affairs in my family is about to change.

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Sep 15, 2016 10:47:21 AM

By the time you read this, one of my three children will be married.  “Princess” is my middle child, the oldest daughter, the first to be married.  I am stunned.  Before you ask, yes, I expected my three children to return home from college and be my little family forever.  I expected them to never change, never take advantage of new opportunities, certainly to never move halfway across the country.  I thought I would be all they ever needed to have a happy, fulfilled life.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, why innovate

3 Innovation Lessons from Tootsie Pops

Posted by David Lafkas on Sep 14, 2016 3:11:23 PM
For those millennials reading this, there is a classic 1970 TV commercial for Tootsie Pop that has taken on a cult following and the rest of us likely remember.  Here is a link: Tootsie Pop!

In the commercial, a young man asks “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”

So, what can we learn regarding innovation and this Tootsie Pop commercial?

1. Ask questions.  The young man in the question first went to Mr. Cow, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Turtle, as experts, to ask his question.  The first three characters asked admitted that they didn’t know but they suggested other “experts” that the young man should ask.  This eventually brought the young man to Mr. Owl, as the wisest.  

We all know that when posed with the question, Mr. Owl, as the wisest of the experts, offered to help.  After three licks he lost his willpower and bit into the Tootsie Pop.  He then returned the now Tootsie Pop free stick to the young man, and said it takes only 3 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

2. Experiment.  Through Mr. Owl, an experiment was run to determine the number of licks.  Arguably the experiment “failed,” but the answer was correct.  It took only three licks for Mr. Owl to be overcome and bit into that candy shell and reach the center of the Tootsie Pop.  And from that experiment, the young man has learnings.  

3. Pivot.  Because of Mr. Owl’s actions, the young man learned that he needs to pivot and rephrase the question to something like, “How many licks does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop without biting into the candy shell?”  However, without experimenting with Mr. Owl, he may not have known enough to even be able to know how to ask the right way.  

Each of those learnings - Ask Questions, Experiment, and Pivot - are exactly what each of us should be doing with our own products and services to improve them and innovate.  

And before anyone dismisses Tootsie Pops as real science, I would like to point out that there are at least three scientific studies that have been publicized showing the number of licks it does take to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Purdue University reported that its licking machine, modeled after a human tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.  University of Michigan recorded that his customized licking machine required 411 licks to reach the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.  And Swarthmore Junior High used human lickers, reporting an average of 144 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop.  

What projects are you working on where you should be asking more questions?  How can you more quickly and affordably experiment to learn more?  And how are you pivoting when you do learn more?
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Topics: innovation, fail fast fail cheap, pdsa

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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