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

Take a Minute as a Leader to Think About 2,000 Tomorrow's from Now

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Aug 30, 2016 10:00:00 AM

For years I've run projects for large companies, small companies and all in between.  And for many of those years our company used a "gimme the ball" approach to creating ideas.  And with each session we focused first and foremost on the objective for the session, to make sure we got the company what they needed.  The objective setting conversation went something like this...

ThemWe'd like to create ideas ideas that we can launch soon - in the next 6-12 months - and also ideas that are further out.

UsWe can help you with either of those, but we know focus helps us increase our odds of success and that's particularly true with an objective.  With 2 targets we minimize our ability to do either one really well.  If you had to give a % of effort allocation between the 2 - short term versus long term - what would you say?

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Topics: Create, innovation, Leading Innovation

4 Easy Steps to Get the Most Out of Your Employees

Posted by Brad Hall on Aug 23, 2016 10:20:47 AM

We all have great people that work for us but sometimes it can be hard to get their full potential out of them.  These four steps are easy things to do that can help get the most out of the people you have working for you.

1. Set a mission and some boundaries:
No matter what it is every task from the smallest day to day thing to drastic changes in your company should have a mission and some boundaries to it.  How detailed these things are change depending on what it is of course.  For making a part in a factory the mission can be as simple as produce x number of parts per hour; while the boundaries could be the tolerances the part has to be within.  On the other end of the spectrum is your companies strategic planning for the year where the mission is where you want the company to head and your boundaries are the things you want to avoid or how much resources you can devote to it.  In the end everything that happens within our companies has a mission and boundaries and you should take the time to consider them even if it’s just in an informal way.

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Topics: Leading Innovation, strategy, alignment

Innovation Training: Fast Food And Fast Thinking

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Aug 10, 2016 2:46:26 PM

People often ask us where to start and what about training?  We wanted to share one companies experience with the trianing we LOVE the most:

Picture the scene: ‘Eureka Ranch’ in suburban Ohio; a meeting of professional minds from such diverse backgrounds as an international supermarket giant, Hawaiian culture programme INPEACE and a Canadian fish company; a super-charged week of 12 hour days with exercises timed against the clock and assignments graded in real time; a ‘no whining’ policy in place; and American-sized food portions and a self-serve M&M bar that would keep us fueled throughout.

It was the scene of our ‘Blue-Belt’ training in Innovation Engineering last month. IE is a world class innovation system deployed by power brands like P&G and with $8 billion worth of innovations in active development. The claims are no less impressive than its calibre: increasing speed to market by up to six times and reducing risk by 30-80%, and they have data from more than 20,000 innovations and 33 years of quantitative research to back it up.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, innovation system, innovation training, Education

Innovation is about things you DON'T do

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Aug 2, 2016 10:34:22 AM

Leading Innovation is about choices.  The big choice to do innovation could almost be considered the easy one.  Innovation is shown to make a meaningful impact to a bottom line, to a company’s return, to employee pocket books, and morale.  Doing the new thing isn’t necessarily hard, it’s NOT doing other things that forces you to make choices that’s hard.

When innovation is at stake, when you have people clamoring, “We can’t work any more!  Our plates are full!  Innovation is nice, but we have no time!  We’re too busy!”  It would be easy at that point to walk away and just put off the innovation decision until later.  Until the day when your employees come back and tell you, “What else can we do for you?  We’ve finished all of our tasks early and we’d like to do more.  We noticed that earnings aren’t what they once were so we’d like to give back a bit of our pay.”  (And if you’re saying to yourself, that’s a long-shot - you’d be right.)

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation

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

What are Your Options For Innovation Education?

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Jul 12, 2016 10:00:00 AM

If you want to be truly successful invest in yourself to get the knowledge you need to find your unique factor.  When you find it and focus on it and persevere your success will blossom.
- Sidney Madwed

If you are taking the time to read this you probably understand learning and education are a life-long pursuit. 

Arguably the most powerful tenet of Innovation Engineering is our belief that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.  This kind of optimism and hope comes from a conviction that when people supply the motivation and confidence, the skills enabling meaningfully unique innovation can be taught.

Many options exist for studying innovation.  Executive programs, conferences, seminars and webinars can be found every week where we can hear about the latest study or the newest product launch.  I enjoy going to these, too.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, Education

Do You Use The Product You Sell?

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Jun 30, 2016 10:00:30 AM

I hope that everyone got a chance to read Maggie’s post on Tuesday,“Get the "Close to the Work" ReEnergizer.” It was a great post about how doing the work can bring life back to a leader.  I want to build on that and talk about not just helping to create ideas, but the importance of understanding and using the product you are innovating.

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Topics: Create, Leading Innovation

Get the "Close to the Work" ReEnergizer

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Jun 28, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Most everyone want to be the leader.  Over the course of your career you're groomed and goaded to "get to the top."  Because when you get there, you get to do the real stuff.  You get to direct, not do.  To make all the best decisions that the yutzes before you missed.  To
inspire.  To be the envy of your peers.  And when you get to the top, it might indeed be all those things.  But it will also be many other things - annoying, frustrating, stressful, tiring, overwhelming...the list goes on.  And while I can't help you overcome all those things in one blog post, I can help you with one:  HOW DO YOU GET ENERGY as a leader? 

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Topics: Create, innovation, Leading Innovation

When Is It Time To Start?

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Jun 9, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I Remember taking my son to a baseball game on a really hot summer afternoon.  He was very young and anxious to see his favorite players.  We had gotten to the stadium early as I have an aversion to parking in a different time zone than where the game is played.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, 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

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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