Back to Basics

Back to Basics

I am old enough that when I went to school, our school supplies included purely analog tools: pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.

If I wanted to connect with friends, we did so by talking face to face, ran around at recess, and passed notes.  We interacted directly with one another.  

Seemingly overnight, but in truth slowly over the past couple decades, technology has become pervasive in our personal and professional lives.

Most everyone has a "smart" phone.  Having home Internet access is an expected monthly utility cost.  Businesses allow and encourage telecommuting rather than physically coming into the office.  People now meet potential spouses via a computer before ever meeting in person.

It is becoming more difficult to find places where we cannot digitally communicate with others, than where we can. 

Technology is great.  I'm a technology geek.  But it is a tool, like a hammer, that can be used to build or to hurt.

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 10.18.2017

This week's Jump Start Your Brain Slides include:

Wisdom Mining: Don't Cut Your Price :: Customer expectations of value received and cost paid are set when they make a purchase. 

Insight Mining: Hipsters :: A subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture...what rules do you always follow, but maybe should break?

Unrelated Mining: The Internet of Things :: The network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

The TRUE ROOT CAUSE of the lack of innovative thinking

The TRUE ROOT CAUSE of the lack of innovative thinking

Over the past week I had one of those shattering insights that made me stop and think long into the night.  The insight occurred during a conversation with Dr. Leann Mischel, Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina who teaches Innovation Engineering.  

The root cause of people not embracing innovative thinking or being entrepreneurial (either inside a company or in their own business) is simply “THEY DON’T KNOW HOW”

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 10.11.2017

This week brings us our first guest Spark Deck from Innovation Engineering Black Belt and Creative Director of the Macallan, Ken Grier:

Future Mining: The At Home Experience: How can you get consumers engaged with your product at home? Is there a way to customize?

Market Mining: Burberry teamed with Google for the Burberry Booth: Is it possible to combine off-line and on-line experiences?

Unrelated Mining: Heritage and Vintage Retailing: What's old is new again. How could you offer defunct or old recipes or offerings?

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold’em

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold’em

As Kenny Rogers sings in The Gambler:  You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em….Know when to fold ‘em….Know when to walk away…. Know when to run.……….Every gambler knows,….That the secret to survivin’,….Is knowin' what to throw away….And knowin' what to keep.”

Over the past two weeks I’ve learned that as CEO making the decision to “fold/kill” your flagship offering is not as easy as it looks. 

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 10.4.2017

This week's Jump Start Your Brain Slides include:

Market Mining: Google Glass is back with hardware focused on the enterprise. What are some smaller markets with bigger problems?

Future Mining: Blackberry is making a comeback, but it's not what you think. Could you do a total reinvention?

Unrelated Mining: A shift occurred several decades ago: we stared doing knowledge work with our brains, rather than assembly line work with our bodies. Should productivity be measured the same?

When I stopped talking it was amazing what I learned :)

This past week at the annual Innovation Engineering conference I spent more time listening and learning than talking (I know that may sound hard to believe.) From this I learned a lot…

I learned about how deeply people care about their organizations. I found that many are not just “doing a job” - they are committed to making their organization a better place to work and a more successful and yes more profitable company. 

I learned how important attendees felt learning was.  The passion for learning more, teaching more, developing more was contagious.  The mindset among the Innovation Engineering change agents attending the conference is towards - continuous, never ending learning.  The presentations this year dealt with some very challenging and advanced concepts on human psychology, advanced teamwork and world class strategy activation.  Despite the more advanced nature of the presentations those attending didn’t even blink - they dove in to learn more, more, more.   

I learned how important and respected great leadership was.  When leadership is engaged in the innovation journey - the impact is exponentially bigger on the business and the culture.   As Barry Bruns says, “Leadership enables a culture of innovation by inspiring and teaching their people to do more than they ever expected or believed they could.”   There was very little “leadership bashing” at the conference.  Rather, I observed a faith in the leaders as people.  The overwhelming consensus was that leaders needed education.   The famous Deming quote, “How could they know?” was brought up often.   It was agreed that in most cases what the leaders need is education in the new, more advanced System Driven Innovation mindset. 

Overall - I was and am humbled by the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the Innovation Engineering pioneers who attended the conference.  

At the conference the Innovation Engineering Institute announced a number of powerful upgrades.  

  1. Innovation Engineering Workshops: By far the most excitement at the conference was the announcement that we will be releasing 48 “How to in 2 Hours” Innovation Engineering workshops over the next year.  The workshops will be very functional and focused on helping employees - front line to executives work smarter immediately. 
  2. Innovation Engineering Leadership Course: This is a course designed specifically for leadership to help them understand their role in helping enable increased innovation speed and decreased risk. 
  3. IE Labs Upgrades:  The IE Labs portal upgrades announced range from one click Gantt charts to data capture to advanced rapid research tools.
  4. Advanced Strategic Activation:  Ten methods for improving strategic alignment were released.
  5. Advanced Employee Engagement:  Five methods for improving employee engagement were released.

The conference was video taped and will be shared in full through upcoming webinars. 

Top 3 Most Common Problem Solving Principles.

Top 3 Most Common Problem Solving Principles.

TRIZ is a problem solving and idea generation tool that resulted from finding patterns ofinvention in millions of patents. The inventor of the tool, Genrich Altshuller, compiled the findings so that anyone who was stuck during the creative process could reference a database of possible solutions to their dilemma based on what has worked historically in that exact same scenario. 

Here are the most common principles used over the past 7 years to problem solve and create new ideas.

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 9.27.2017

This week's Jump Start Your Brain Slides include:

Market Mining: A drone lead virtual tour. How can you take something normal and standard and turn it into something exciting?

Wisdom Mining: Drama and the Arts improves self-concept as well as math scores. How can you used drama and the arts to enhance how you do things?

Unrelated Mining: The Baseball World Series had it's highest viewership in 25 years.  How can you create tension and excitement to get attention?

5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Research Skills

5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Research Skills

Research, we all do it at some point or another.  Whether we’re doing it for a project at work, a paper for school, or just trying to find the best place to go for vacation we all do research and the internet has made it faster and easier than ever.  But with all that information out there it can be overwhelming to look through and disheartening when you can’t find what you need so here’s 5 quick tips to improve your research skills.

1. Multiple Sources

The internet is awash with sources upon sources at your finger tips ready to be used.  Each source will have some information you want but it will also be missing other information.  As you start to look at more and more places you start to see the whole picture and learn things you never would have imagined if you just stopped at one.  If you’re looking for a place to go for vacation don’t just look at Yelp and stop there, try places like Facebook, Google, Expedia, just find as many sources for as much information as possible.

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 9.20.2017

This week's Jump Start Your Brain Slides include:

Future Mining: Grocerant :: Combination Grocery and eatery. What kind of convenience can you offer customers that adds value to their experience?

Market Mining: Is it even possible that Apple isn't cool anymore? What do future generations think of your brand? Are you viewed as the brand of my parents?

Unrelated Mining: How important are patents? Can you create a future for yourself or your company?

Are you among the 70% who are BORED?

Are you among the 70% who are BORED?

A Gallop survey found that 70% of employees are bored at work.  The data appears to be solid as separate studies find that only about 30% of adults are “engaged” with their work.   

It’s not much better for the managers who are supposed to be inspiring employees - only 35% of managers are engaged!

If you’re among this group that bored then it’s time to do something about it.  

4 Key Innovation Thoughts from Dr. Deming

4 Key Innovation Thoughts from Dr. Deming

When I came to Eureka! Ranch over 14 years ago with my 2 years in government and my liberal arts degree in Communications (from DePauw University - go Tigers!) I had never heard of Dr. W. Edwards Deming - honestly, I'd taken only one class in the Science and Math building so it wasn't surprising.  But, as an innovator it is important to understand who Dr. Deming was and what he means to quality and innovation not only in the United States, but across the globe. He was a visionary, whose tireless quest for the “truth” and unwavering belief in "continual improvement" led to a set of transformational theories and teachings that changed the way we think about quality, management and leadership.

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 9.13.2017

This week's Jump Start Your Brain Slides include:

Technology Mining: The Pirelli Connesso system with a sensor and mobile app automatically tracks and displays tire data. How can you use technology to ease any burden of using your products and services?

Future Mining: Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods Market, but predominantly brick-and-mortar grocers should not be concerned, right? What competitor(s) might you be underestimating due to projections from the past that just might not apply in the future?

Unrelated Mining: Customer Journey: Shortened - What unexpected service could you provide to make your customers’ lives easier?

Starting Idea Doesn’t Determine Innovation Success

Starting Idea Doesn’t Determine Innovation Success

Over the past week I set out to quantify the relative impact of three factors: 1) Starting Idea, 2) Innovation Capability and 3) Leadership Engagement when it comes to financial success with innovation.   I reviewed hard data and interviewed expert innovators within complex organizations.  There was near universal agreement on the relative importance of the three factors.

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 9.6.2017

This week's Jump Start Your Brain Slides include:

Wisdom Mining: Cisco predicts 90% of all internet traffic will soon be video. How can video take us to another level?

Patent Mining: Follow the Leader: Companies Benchmark vs Competition - when others push for technology they do to. How can we disrupt technology even when other are not? How can we be the leader?

Market Mining: Sales have been flat for the biggest consumer product brands. Small is big how to we embrace the spirit of small? If we were a craft company what would we do? 

How to Get Off the Treadmill and Go Somewhere Meaningful

How to Get Off the Treadmill and Go Somewhere Meaningful

challenges that life puts before us consumes our energy.   We tell ourselves “when I get this done - then I’ll work on bigger, longer term goals.”    However,  it appears short term challenges are in unlimited supply.  Before we know it - 5, 10 tor 20 years go by and we find nothing changes - we are running on a treadmill - going nowhere.  

The Top 7 Ways to Screw up Innovation

The Top 7 Ways to Screw up Innovation

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. 

That said, there are certainly some common mis-steps that can undermine your progress that you might not know (unless you’ve been practicing innovation for 20+ years.)

#7 Screw Up:  Doing a big training and hoping a miracle will occur.

Without structures, systems, processes and support - the training simply doesn’t stick...no matter how clever the content.  At best, your audience will remember 10% of the content and apply even less of it.