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

What Will You Innovate & Build?

Posted by David Lafkas on Dec 13, 2016 10:12:22 AM

In 1947, Ole Kirk Christiansen purchased a plastic injection-molding machine.  Some questioned why he did so, because for the previous 17 years he had been a carpenter and made primarily wooden toys, including traditional stackable wooden blocks.

By 1951, more than half of the outputs from Christiansen’s toy company were plastic.  This despite his native country’s trade magazine, Toy-Times, believing that plastic would never be able to replace traditional wooden toys.

The plastic toys that Christiansen’s toy company became known for were interlocking bricks, which we all know of as the familiar Lego bricks.

Those simple interlocking plastic bricks have developed into a subculture, six theme parks, video and board games, movies, and clothing.  By July 2015, it is estimated that 600 billion Lego parts have been produced, and Lego was named one of the world’s most powerful brands.

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Topics: Create, passion, decisions, leadership

How Good Is Your Guru?

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Nov 17, 2016 2:03:12 PM

Who among us has not smiled at the “Netflix Event” story?  The little upstart bringing a behemoth to its knees by defying the odds, reinventing the business model and disrupting an entire industry.  As well as we know the story, these events are hard to see while in progress.  These are easiest observed after the fact.

Disruption has been happening for a long time, consider…

  • railroads destroyed the innovative “Pony Express” system…
  • electric lights disrupted the candle makers and gas lamps…
  • digital cameras disrupting film photography…
  • personal computers disrupting business (and weekends!)…
  • online shopping disrupting retailing…and so on.

All along the way there were gurus who knew everything there was to know about trends in the care and feeding of ponies, candle making, film processing, stenography and box store floor plans. 

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Topics: leadership, Leading Innovation, stimulus mining

Innovation & Employee Engagement: Lessons from a Chief Innovator

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Nov 2, 2016 8:00:00 AM

 I was recently interviewed by my friend, Justin Zawaly, COO  of TalMetrix about innovation & employee engagement...as Justin states, "One of the outcomes of an engaged culture is innovation. Innovation doesn’t just happen, or at least it cannot be sustained, unless both the employer and employee are thriving. Innovation becomes part of organizations culture and must be measured and monitored like anything else to ensure the creative vision is being nurtured."

Check out our interview below:


What does the term ‘innovation’ really mean?

Something that’s meaningfully unique. Unique in that it’s uncommon, unexpected, a wow or dramatically different than any other option. Meaningful in that it makes sense in your customer’s life. It improves something. It adds value.

Interestingly, so many of us over complicate this term. Others oversimplify. But in every case there’s something that holds true in everyone’s definition in a company - and that’s that they’re all different! One of the most common sources of misalignment on innovation is a common definition of innovation. And if I don’t know what we “count” as innovation, then how can I hope to know when I’m working towards it.

Why don’t more companies innovate?

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Topics: culture change, Innovation Culture, Leading Innovation, leadership, innovation

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 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

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.

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Topics: leadership, fail fast fail cheap

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

Innovation is not about a job title

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Jun 21, 2016 10:00:00 AM

The below post is reprinted with permission from Wendy Ferris at InVision Edge in Winnipeg.


When most people think of innovation, they think of Steve Jobs. They are right to do so. He was absolutely an innovator who changed the world with the work that he did. (Can you imagine carrying a camera, iPod, books and a cell phone separately now? The man saved me several pounds of luggage weight for my vacations with his inventions!)

Given that Steve Jobs is an icon, he sets the bar really high for the average person to think that they have anything innovative to offer. And although the average person innovates all the time in their personal lives tinkering in their garages, kitchens, workshops, basements… we are afraid to define ourselves as innovative at work. Instead, we leave it to the engineers and product development people.

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Topics: innovation, leadership

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?”

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Topics: innovation, leadership, 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:

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