No Guru Required

3 Signs Your Project is DOA

3 Signs Your Project is DOA

1. Lack of Project Clarity

Clearly if no one else understands the project being worked on, it is going to be hard to get everyone moving in the right direction.  And yet, this is a top reason why projects get killed or slowly disappear.

How can you overcome this?  As a start, write down a definition of what the project is, an ideal customer for the project, and what the project solves for that ideal customer's problem.  

Once it is written down, it becomes less ethereal and a sort of first vetting of the project.  It also tests how others understand the project from the perspective of both the project team as well as for the potential customer. 

Balancing Speed and Discipline

Balancing Speed and Discipline

One thing people love about Innovation Engineering to the constant cycles of learning. There is always something new to discover or an idea to test and improve. When you embrace the mindset, failing fast and cheap becomes fun. Plus the tools give you methods to move even faster and learn more. What people don’t always love is the documentation.

Let the Ideas Fly

Let the Ideas Fly

Just like Ricky Bobby said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last!” If someone else beats you to the punch, you’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity.

So, how can we push for speed while innovating? The answer, PDSA cycles. During an innovation project, we push to run these cycles as quickly as possible to keep things moving forward and so that good ideas can become a reality.


Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

The Lemmon household is getting ready to move. While packing I was reminded of all the things in my house. Opening some closets and cabinets felt like Christmas morning, because I had no idea what treasures I might find. Books, games, calculators, and musical instruments all got boxed up as I look forward to using them in the new house. I noticed how some of things I’m packing were getting worn out. This made me think about replacing them with a better version. I also found plenty of junk that I haven’t used in years. It felt good to donate it or throw it away to make space for new things. I could have just boxed everything up and moved it to the new house, but there is value in spending the time to go through it all.

Being Ok with Looking Dumb

Being Ok with Looking Dumb

In today’s information age with anything you could possibly want to know just a search away it’s easy to feel like we know everything. We’ve become experts in every field as no information is out of our reach and we never have to say “I don’t know”. But the truth is there’s still plenty we don’t know and there are things even Google can’t teach us. When we reach these moments of uncertainty it’s important to be able to admit that you don’t know to turn a moment of ignorance into a moment of learning.

An Easy Brainstorming Tool

An Easy Brainstorming Tool

We've all been invited to brainstorming sessions where you walk into a board room with white walls a big conference table and probably a chart pad or white board on the wall.  The host then says we need BIG ideas  - okay, go...crickets...crickets.  Someone finally speaks up - throws out an idea and it is immediately shot down for a million different reasons. A few more ideas might be tossed around, but it all ends the same - everyone is bored and frustrated and no one feels like the problem was actually solved.  If you are lucky the host tried to be "creative" and might of brought a few Nerf guns and possibly some other toys to make everyone feel even more "creative." No matter what it ended in the same way a few ideas, nothing anyone is that excited about and everyone goes back to their daily lives thinking I hate brainstorming.

Why you should know about the Global IP Index

Why you should know about the Global IP Index

It is getting to be award time around the entertainment world.  And there are awards also being handed out in the intellectual property world.  (Ok, maybe not the BEST bridge in subjects, but most of that entertainment stuff is protected by intellectual property.)

The US Chamber of Commerce recently released its annual Global IP Index for 2018.  

The Chamber provides this index as "a blueprint for countries seeking to become true knowledge-based economies through an effective intellectual property (IP) architecture. Every individual economy represents a blank canvas, with policymakers using broad strokes in the form of IP policy to paint their country’s innovative and creative futures."

It's Time to Let your Idea Mature & Achieve Greatness

It's Time to Let your Idea Mature & Achieve Greatness

We all do it. We are faced with a challenge and we come up with an idea to solve that challenge and from the moment the idea is born we fall in love with it…just like a baby or a puppy.  We all think our idea is perfect, beautiful, and is THE idea, the one that will solve the challenge and make the world a better place. I'm personally guilty of this.

But, like Jobs said that is wrong...

Innovating in a Fearful Culture

Innovating in a Fearful Culture

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late”

Some of us hear this quote by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and totally agree. You have no trouble putting your ego aside, because you know that you will learn from this version and the next version will be even better.  However, you are in the minority. 

3 Reasons to Set Deadlines and Stick to Them

3 Reasons to Set Deadlines and Stick to Them

When we’re in school deadlines are all over the place: tests, projects due, homework due, get to class on time, midterms, finals; everywhere you look you find deadlines. But once we get out into the business world deadlines can start to disappear and become a lot more fluid. This is especially true when it comes to innovation and we approach the unknown. Even when we lack the structure and venture into the unknown deadlines are still important and here’s three reasons you should use them, even with innovation.

  1. Deadlines force you to make decisions. When you have a deadline coming up be it anything from a trade show to a review meeting with your board of directors deadlines force you to a conclusion. They force you to make decisions and help prevent you from arguing over something that doesn’t matter for weeks on end.

Embracing the "X" as you Learn to Innovate

Embracing the "X" as you Learn to Innovate

This week's No Guru Required post comes from Innovation Specialist, David Moskal of inVision Edge our good friends and partner in Canada:

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

You’ve been taught that there’s only one right answer to a given problem. Think back to elementary school. Recess. Games. Learning. Early on, we learn that many of our text books have the answers in the back pages. If your answer doesn’t match up with what’s in the back of the book, you’re wrong. Pretty quickly, we catch on that there’s only one right answer.

As adults, this mentality sticks with us. We don’t like being wrong. We want our idea to be perfect before we ever show anyone or submit anything. We strive for perfect data before making any decisions, and we get stuck in “paralysis by analysis” while we search for that perfect data. Months pass without any decision being made as to what direction to take regarding a business problem. Resources, like time and money, are wasted in the process. Sound familiar?

The First Step to Innovation that Many Skip (and Shouldn't)

The First Step to Innovation that Many Skip (and Shouldn't)

Now that you or your team have developed what you think is a great idea, what is your next step?

  • Do you go talk with more customers to test the market?
  • Do you build a "Gold Standard" prototype to test against the competition?
  • Do you start working with your supply chain in order to start ordering parts/ingredients?
  • Do you build the mock packaging?
  • Do you file for a patent application?
  • Do you bring your organization's stakeholders together to enroll everyone on the idea?

Whether it is a core, step-change innovation or a leap, multi-year innovation, I have seen projects go faster, with less organizational friction and with greater success, when project leads first enroll the stakeholders.

Using Innovation to Buy Better Gifts

Using Innovation to Buy Better Gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and if you’re anything like me, you are no where near finished buying holiday gifts for your list of loved ones, colleagues, and/or customers. 

The reason I didn’t take advantage of all the deals was that I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to buy for people yet. I did try to browse and be struck by inspiration, scrolling through pages and pages of products. But then I became paralyzed by the options and just couldn’t make decisions.

Two Innovation Tools to Disrupt Your Team's Thinking

Two Innovation Tools to Disrupt Your Team's Thinking

Our passion at the Innovation Engineering Institute and Eureka! Ranch is innovation and more specifically educating and teaching people how to be more innovative at work and in their every day lives. This week I'm going to borrow some brilliance from my colleague, Maggie Pfiefer, Director of Education as she shares 2 different tools that can help you and your team innovate faster.

Are You Innovating on How You Innovate?

Are You Innovating on How You Innovate?

It’s no secret that companies must innovate today to remain relevant, especially with the rapid pace of technological change.  But even with this knowledge, most are just addressing todays challenges and obvious opportunities instead of doing what really needs to be done to create or even just deal with disruption

A story I read recently on Forbes.com resonated with me on this issue.  In it Chunka Mui commented that “too few [companies] are being innovative in how they innovate.”  He referenced Douglas Englebart’s framework for the “ABCs of Organizational Improvement,” which supports his assertion that “the key to long-term viability of an organization is to get better and better at improving itself.”

The Top 3 Innovation System Insights from 2017

Asking yourself to go up on the mountain to review all you’ve learned from a year of innovation systems work and boil it down to 3 things is no small feat.  But without it, how can you know where to go next?

From our 2017 Innovation Engineering Annual Conference I am providing you my 3 learnings distilled from 1,000 distinct moments from the past year.

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.