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

No One is Safe from Innovation

Posted by Corie Roudebush Spialek on Oct 5, 2016 8:00:00 AM

My friend, Wendy Ferris, at InVision Edge recently shared the article, "Costco's CFO doesn't belive his company is Amazon-Proof."  After reading the article in Business Insider it reminded me of one of my previous blog posts and I thought it was worth another share. What I think Richard Galanti has that those before him didn't understand is that he doesn't believe that Costco in invincible.

The world is constantly changing.  Nothing stays the same. Innovation changes the world on a regular basis. In my short life I have personally experienced life changing innovation in how I watch movies, communicate with friends and family, and receive world news.  By no means is that a complete list. 

What I ask you today is, "Are you planning for the next big world changing innovation?"

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, strategy

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

Is Your Innovation System Out of Control: The 4 types of systems I see most often

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Apr 12, 2016 10:09:15 AM

Recently we launched a new innovation pipeline dashboard that summarizes metrics for our clients. Within these metrics we create control
charts which enable us to tell if the subsystems are in control or not.

Here are four types of systems I see and what leadership can do about them: 

  1. The System Is to Do Nothing. This chart looks like a series of all zeros. It is time for change, leadership just needs to get people started doing something. It doesn’t matter where you start, but innovation won’t happen without a change.
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Topics: innovation, strategy, Metrics

Work on the Right Thing…

Posted by Jesse Bechtold on Apr 7, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I was a twenty-year old Airman First Class driving some even younger airmen to dinner on a midnight shift.  We were not supposed to be without a sergeant, but the dining hall was only open so long and we had to get “chow relief” finished. 

Our supervisor, seeing a truck full of relatively new airmen without a sergeant, called in a security exercise.  We had to respond to a building and secure the outside.  As the most senior person in the truck I had to direct the response.  We arrived, we deployed in a textbook way.  Our supervisor called us together, “A1C Bechtold, you showed confidence as you deployed your men to secure the building.” 

I was waiting for the big compliment!  “However, you failed the exercise.” 

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Topics: innovation, strategy, alignment

The Top 7 Ways to Screw Up Innovation

Posted by Maggie Nichols on Mar 24, 2016 10:00:00 AM

To truly screw up doing innovation would simply be to not do innovation at all.  So if you’re at least reading this list, likelihood is you’ve overcome at least that one fundamental hurdle.  If you’re doing something, anything at all - you’ve at least taken the first step of acknowledging how critical it is. 

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, strategy

Blandness Wins and Failure Looms

Posted by Brad Hall on Mar 17, 2016 9:57:31 AM

You sit in the hard backed chair, the ultimate torture device, it’s somehow not uncomfortable but so close that it constantly weighs on your mind as you sit in it.  The fluorescent lights above you hum along at their steady pace and the air around you encompasses you in it’s mediocrity, not quite too hot, too cold, or too stuffy just bland.  Across from you the sun shines through the window and a flock of birds fly by, just enough to give you blissful seconds of a distraction.  Through it all comes the drone of someone talking; you try and pinpoint it as your mind wanders.  You feel like it’s something important, something you should be listening to but you struggle to pin point it.  You look to your right and see the same blank look on the faces of people you feel like you should know.  As you sweep your view back to the left your brain kicks into high gear as you piece together the puzzle and the realization that the voice is coming from your boss explaining the next year’s strategy dawns on you.  Relief, as you listen you realize it’s the same tried and true strategy that has been used for the four years you’ve been here.  Well at least close enough that it won’t affect your daily life in anyway.  Suddenly he announces the end to the meeting and with glee you pack up your things ecstatic to be done for the day and already thinking about the project you’re working on at home.

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Topics: innovation, strategy

What has a greater impact on organizational growth? Strategy or leadership?

Posted by Scott Dunkle on Mar 10, 2016 10:04:49 AM

This week's post is brought to you by Rhonda Honke an Innovation Engineering Black Belt at inVision Edge our partner in Canada...

“Strategy will not succeed in a void, and leadership often makes the difference between merely reaching for great opportunities and actually realizing their potential.”  – McKinsey Report, Tsun-yan Hsieh and Sara Yik.

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago with a senior leader in a successful manufacturing organization. He proudly spoke about the company’s products and employees and beamed as he walked me through the facility, pointing out visual systems, key performance indicators, and lean improvements they have made over the years. He talked of mentoring his next level leaders to improve their confidence and decision making abilities; so much so that his job was a bit ‘boring’ now.

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Topics: innovation, leadership, strategy

Your Org Chart Does Not Apply to Innovation

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Jan 28, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Don’t get me wrong, organizational structure with job functions and some kind of hierarchy is useful for conductingbusiness as usual. People have specific roles to play in serving yourcustomers. However, when it comes to innovation, the structure is less useful, because by definition, innovation is not business as usual.

So how do you make use of that structure when it comes to innovation? Who is best positioned to generate and develop ideas?

You shouldn’t be surprised to hear my answer. After all this blog is called No Guru Needed, Anyone Can Lead Innovation!

With a system in place, anyone from any department at any level within your organization could lead your next successful innovation project.

That’s because when you have a system that enables people, so anyone with the energy and passion for an idea is able to explore it.

How can this possibly work?

Well, I’ve seen innovation thrive inside organizations who don’t have a guru when…

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Topics: innovation, innovation system, strategy, alignment

3 Things I learned from a 5 Year Innovation Sales Forecast

Posted by Greg Lemmon on Jan 12, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Sales forecasting is an important part of innovation. In fact I believe that every idea in the pipeline should have a value associated with it. Some sort of prediction of how much impact that idea will have if it ships. Having project leaders calculating sales forecast helps innovation leaders, such as yourself, plan for the future.

Recently I’ve been working on forecasting 5 years of sales for innovations. Here are 3 things I’ve learned that I think would be helpful as you think about the ideas in your innovation pipeline.

1. Variance Matters - All the inputs to a forecast have variance. I like to model this variance and report the effect in the sales forecast. It is no surprise that inputs with more uncertainty yield forecast with more uncertainty. What I learned is just how much that uncertainty grows from year to year. Good news is that while year 5 had a lot of variance, there is plenty of time to fine tune the inputs and reduce that variance.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, strategy, Math

Is It Time To Kill My Innovation Project?

Posted by Maggie Slovonic Pfeifer on Nov 24, 2015 10:00:00 AM

So, I’m coaching an innovation project team right now and I can’t decide if I should recommend that they kill it, or if I should suggest they try to reinvent it. The decision will ultimately be up to the team, specifically the leader of the project, but I know I can help frame their options.

The team was really energized at the start. But over the last few weeks, they’ve discovered information that has proven their original hypothesis wrong. So, we are left with an idea that doesn’t look like it could be unique in the market or profitable for their company.

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Topics: innovation, Leading Innovation, strategy

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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