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 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

Why Can’t STEM methods be for adults too?

Posted by Scott Dunkle on May 12, 2016 10:02:39 AM

If you were to look in any motivated progressive school district these days, all the way from upper-elementary through middle and high school, you will see evidence of STEM being taught at the heart of the curriculum.  Educators began realizing that the push over the last couple decades towards more and more standardized tests was creating a generation of smart knowledgable adults that were less likely to get down and dirty and “make” things to solve problems.

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Topics: innovation, stem, 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.

 



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