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

Cintas Shares 3 Lessons Learned on Innovating in a commodity Market

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Nov 8, 2016 2:41:04 PM

Whether you know the Cintas name or not, odds are you’ve used their products nearly every day in one capacity or another. Thanks to their uniforms and apparel products and facility services everything from mom and pop restaurants to massive factories have the things they need to run smoothly.

But, like every business, Cintas knows well that in commodity markets it’s important to innovate. And now it was time to turn the focus to a product line we walk all over, mats.

“You might be thinking, ‘What can you possibly do to innovate mats?’ Well, it turns out, you can do quite a bit.” says Innovation Engineering Blue Belt and Innovation Leader for the Mats Category, Rich Bing.

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Topics: stimulus mining, Patents, pdsa

3 Places for Free Idea Starters

Posted by David Lafkas on Jul 7, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Having an innovation block?  Need to kickstart a project?  Here’s three places I go to get out of an idea rut to jump start my mental processes.

  1. Patent Databases.  Did you know that they are not just for attorneys or inventors?  Are recipe books only for top chefs?  Like recipe books, patents tell you how to make inventions.  And if you search the older patents, you can find some inventions that you are free to copy EXACTLY as the patent outlines.  Or, if you want to be more savvy, find those older free-to-copy patents and improve them and protect that improvement for yourself. 
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Topics: Create, stimulus mining, Patents

3 Simple Things to Look at in Any Patent

Posted by David Lafkas on Apr 5, 2016 10:00:00 AM

If you are like most people, reading a patent is not an easy task. 

They are filled with technical language, weird attorney speak, experiment data, antiquated black and white line drawings, and then end with a “definition” of the invention that is called a “claim.”

There are about 9,000,000 of these things in the United States alone.  And innovation and patentsthey can be a gold mine of information and stimulus - if you know what to look for. 

Have you ever asked a patent attorney or agent to read a patent?  Even a professional in the field can tell you that they may need a couple of hours to truly understand what is in the document. 

But you don’t want to spend countless hours looking at tons of patent documents.  You want to quickly assess what the patent protects and maybe whether or not it relates to your own innovation.

So, I am going to let you in on 3 speed-reading tricks that the fewer than 45,000 people registered to practice patent law do when reviewing patents:

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Topics: innovation, Patents

3 Reasons to Bother With Getting Patents?

Posted by David Lafkas on Mar 3, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Recently I found myself in the middle of a conversation that took me back to my many years of private patent practice.  The conversation was with some company inventors who were struggling with leadership in their organization who don’t want to “bother with filing patents” because they don’t see themselves ever spending the money to legally enforce one.

As we talked, I explained to the inventors to go back to leadership and talk about the other reasons to consider filing for patent protection.

  1. Equity.  PriceWaterhouseCoopers recently presented data to the World Intellectual Property Organization that upward of 70% of a company’s value is now associated with intangible property, i.e., intellectual property, which includes patents.  This is a huge reversal from decades ago.  So, if leadership wants to build greater company value, intellectual property needs to secured and increased.
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Topics: innovation, Patents, intellectual property

Patents: As Strategy or Tactics?

Posted by David Lafkas on Feb 4, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I was recently asked by a company leader if I think patents should be a part of a company strategy, or should patents be a tactic used to increase protection and increase profit.

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Topics: innovation, Patents

Proof Patents Directly Relate to Profits

Posted by David Lafkas on Dec 31, 2015 10:00:00 AM

I am often asked for some real world examples showing where patents really make a difference in a company’s upward trajectory. 

Forbes recently wrote about the rebirth of Columbia Sportswear, an outerwear brand we are all likely seeing daily during these winter months. 

The company started in 1938 and by the early 2000s was a more than recognized brand.  However, Columbia became recognized for being “that brand” that makes inexpensive fleeces for big name retailers. 

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Topics: Patents

Holiday Challenges That Lead to Innovations

Posted by David Lafkas on Dec 1, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Now that we are in the midst of the end of the year holidays, I am certain many of us are thinking of gingerbread, peppermint, hot chocolate, and cookies.  But, how many of us are thinking about innovations as well? 

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Topics: innovation, stimulus mining, Patents

Innovation Gut Check Or Reality Based?

Posted by David Lafkas on Nov 3, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Quirky was a crowdsourcing company that has been held up in the past as THE invention crowdsourcing model.  The front page of its website is bold: “Our mission is to make invention accessible.  We believe everyone can be an inventor, and invention can happen anywhere.”

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Topics: innovation, Patents, Math

Why Law and Accounting Firms Struggle to Innovate

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Oct 15, 2015 10:00:00 AM

This week's post is reprinted with permission from our friend,  Ryan Caligiuri at InVision Edge:

For almost a decade, I worked with professional service firms developing sales, marketing and account management strategies that would help them grow. One thing I had a tough time wrapping my head around was why so few firms were open to innovation.

Why is it that professional service firms, especially accounting and law firms, find it so difficult to embrace innovation in order to build a stronger future?

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, innovation system, Patents

3 Steps to Success with Patents

Posted by David Lafkas on Sep 3, 2015 10:00:00 AM

After a decade and a half of working with patents, I still have people who will approach me with their “million dollar idea.”  As a Leader, how do you determine what next ideas brought to your desk should be pursued?

It is actually not as hard as you think, as all you need is more of the right information.  And that right information is free and available within your organization.

Often I have seen where Leadership is told an idea - much like I am by inventors.  Of course, it is often just that - an “idea” or a concept, but nothing that has ever been made tangible.  And making the invention tangible in some way is critical to understanding if the idea actually works and how the parts (or steps) interact.

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Topics: Leading Innovation, Patents

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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