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

Is Innovation a Skill to Be Learned?

Posted by David Lafkas on Nov 10, 2016 1:07:34 PM

If your best friend called you today and asked you to go scale El Capitan tomorrow morning, would you be able to do it?

For most of us, the answer would be an absolute no, as it would truly end in a cliff hanger. 

Most of us are not experts at scaling mountains, and if you have interest in scaling mountains, you likely would start by taking some classes and starting on practice rock-climbing walls before slowly graduating to longer and steeper cliffs.

In other words, you would practice and learn from those who know more and have gone before us.

So, why would you treat innovation any differently? 

Read More

Topics: training, fail fast fail cheap, Education

Developing a new idea? Now’s the time to be critical

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Oct 27, 2016 8:00:00 AM

The following post is reprinted with permission from David Moskal at InVision Edge in Winnipeg.

We’ve all seen entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank pitching their idea and pouring their heart out because they are so passionate about it. Some say they’ve even remortgaged their home or spent their retirement money to fund their idea, only to hit a death threat that puts the idea in jeopardy. The Dragons or Sharks beg them to stop investing in their idea and kill it before it’s too late.

What a defeating feeling. Imagine investing a bunch of time and money into an idea, only to find a roadblock that is immovable. All those hours and dollars become a sunk cost and leave you wishing you had seen this coming earlier. This happens more often than you’d think – and even multi-million dollar companies experience it.

Read More

Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, fail fast fail cheap

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.

Read More

Topics: innovation, leadership, fail fast fail cheap

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?
Read More

Topics: innovation, fail fast fail cheap, pdsa

Learning vs failing: Five tips to encourage your employees

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Aug 25, 2016 10:24:49 AM

The following is reprinted with permission from Innovation Engineering Black Belt, Rhonda Honke at inVision Edge.

When I was younger, experiments were saved for science class. We’d formulate some sort of hypothesis, mix a concoction in a beaker, heat it up and watch it overflow like lava. We’d document what we did, the results we achieved, and make a call as to whether or not we proved out our hypothesis. Sometimes we were right and sometimes we were wrong — regardless, we always learned something as a result.

So here is the burning question: why have we, as adults, become so afraid of failure? The answer: Because it requires us to be vulnerable, and that incites fear. The average organization encourages learning but frowns on failure — giving employees the message that they had better be sure their hypothesis is correct before they even test it.

Read More

Topics: leadership, fail fast fail cheap

Don’t be a Helicopter Leader

Posted by Scott Dunkle on Jun 16, 2016 1:31:41 PM

Summer.  The time of year when many children and teenagers head off to summer camp for a week of independence.  Parents everywhere are wondering at that moment and throughout the week: “will my child lose all their things?”…“will my child make the right decisions?”

Read More

Topics: innovation, leadership, fail fast fail cheap

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.

Read More

Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, fail fast fail cheap

3 Things you can do NOW to Grow your Innovation Pipeline

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Dec 29, 2015 10:00:00 AM

During the last quarter of 2015, the Innovation Engineering team did an analysis of InnovationEngineeringLabs.com, a web-based portal through which thousands of organizations run their innovation system. The purpose of the analysis was to zero in on the actions that caused growth to the Innovation Pipeline's value (which is most often reported in dollars). Because the value of your Innovation Pipeline is how we measure the health of your innovation system. 

The good news is, there is no mystical recipe for success. The types of things that influence pipeline value are very intuitive. In fact, you can set yourself up for a better year by simply taking a look at the calendar for 2016 and blocking off some key activities NOW!

The top 3 activities that trigger growth to an innovation pipeline are 1) Sessions, 2) Learning Cycles, and 3) Collaborations. 

Read More

Topics: Create, innovation, collaboration, fail fast fail cheap

What Do You Focus on During The Holidays?

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Dec 24, 2015 10:00:00 AM

In my many years of working, the holidays have always been a time to slow down and reflect on the year and think about what is to come in the new year.

This year is no different - except here at Eureka! Ranch we are excited to be gearing up for our first trip to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas. 

Part of that prep work is finalizing messages and plans for what we are going to do while we are there.  As an innovation systems company we walk the talk -- when we work with clients we teach them how to rapidly test products and messages at minimal cost.  We call this Fail FAST Fail CHEAP.

Read More

Topics: fail fast fail cheap

How many failures does it take to ship a successful innovation?

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Dec 10, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Here is the quick story. Leadership said they want innovation, worker has idea, worker starts project, project fails. What do you think happens next?

Well what should happen is that the worker starts another project based off a different idea. In fact even if the first project was a success, as long as leadership still needs innovation, the worker should always be leading a project.

In reality we have a problem. That problem is after one failure or two or twenty people eventually start to get demotivated. Your job as a leader is to keep people motivated. You can do this with mission, strategy, improving the system, etc. But I have a new idea I’d like to try.

Read More

Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, fail fast fail cheap

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:

Go to Website



Subscribe to No Guru Needed

Recent Posts