ALERT there is an epidemic of OLD AGE Disease!

BACKSTORY on this BLOG POST - This blog post was inspired by three conversations last week.  During one day I was asked by three friends if I'm retired or retiring.  My first feeling was of surprise as the thought has not entered my mind.   My second feeling was of sympathy.  Each of the people asking was clearly hurting.   

As i reflected on it later I realized that each had caught OLD AGE disease and were unsettled by it.  I could see it on their faces and In their voices. With their questions they were looking for confirmation that others were feeling the same feelings of despair.  

Click below to learn my irreverent and hopefully somewhat inspiring Diagnosis and Treatments for OLD AGE Disease!

Is it ever time to stop?

Is it ever time to stop?

Welcome to the first Friday post of the Innovation Engineering blog, where will be offering you tips and ideas for acting on innovation each Friday.

A great question to start with for innovation is, “Where are you on the curve?” Think about your division, your department, your product, your company…your career.  Are you just starting out? Have you hit your peak of highest profits and greatest returns? Are you on the downside?  Honestly, wherever you are on the curve doesn't matter. Innovation can restart your profitability no matter where you are.

Jump Start Your Brain - Spark Deck 5.24.17

Each Wednesday the Innovation Engineering Institute team publishes three to six Spark Deck® slides designed to ignite fresh ideas.  This weeks slides include: 

  1. Future Mining: On a mega shift in demographics that is bigger then you could ever imagine. 
  2. Wisdom Mining:  Hard data on a strategy that is 380% More impactful than the classic approach
  3. Market Mining: On how Health Care is reinventing itself and you could use the same approach to help your organization.

What part of never ending do you not understand?

Grow or die.  It’s the truth.   Your body replaces old cells with new ones at the rate of millions per second.  The same is true of our careers, organizations and relationships. 

I was reminded of this when my systems thinking mentor Walter Werner, Deming Master wrote me recently. 

 “I have expressed my frustration when people say: We already did Deming. If you understand the Deming Wheel then PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) must be repeated over and over until you die or at least retire. 

We used to say continuous improvement but almost in defense we started saying never ending continuous improvement.  Even then we continued to hear: but when will we be done? (Repeat to yourself: WHAT PART OF NEVER ENDING DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?)

The most important innovation session is not for creating ideas

This week I had the honor of sitting in as a participant at an Innovation Engineering RECREATE session.  It was lead by a team of very passionate and intelligent people whose company is fully engaged with Innovation Engineering. Quick background on the steps that lead to this session.

1. The leadership set a very brave and highly focused Blue Card.

2. The team delivered a collection of WOW! innovations that each included patentable technologies.  (FYI - the Blue Card required 70% or greater odds of patentability.)

3. They quickly found a way to build small quantities and to get them to market - being sold to real customers in a Learning Lab.

4. From the Learning Lab they took the top idea and did a RECREATE session to “kick it up a notch” - and get it ready for national expansion.

5. The did the work to get the innovation ready to go to market next month.

6. Today we took the next best idea and did a RECREATE on it - to create the next generation of products.

RECREATE sessions are an Amazing experience.   They involve taking everything that's been learned and doing a deep rethink, reinvent, recreation of the idea.  They’re about playing “king of the hill” with yourself.  They're about "future proofing" your idea.    They involve pushing yourself to go beyond good to GREAT.

They are also about getting everyone who will be needed to make the idea that has just gotten approval for development together - to talk about the whole idea - so to optimize the appeal, profitability, regulatory, etc. etc. etc.

The RECREATE session today blew me away. 

The people blew me away.  I've been doing innovation sessions for 40 years (UGH) - and today one of the team members presented a spark deck in a way I'd never seen before.  She presented what could have been "normal" in a unique step by step manner that made me think in a totally new way.  It rocked!

Frankly, when we first started doing RECREATE sessions I thought they would be difficult as people's egos would prevent them from letting go of their “baby”   I’ve been totally wrong.   Yes there are a few “speed bumps” and bruised egos here and there - however overall the MISSION to do as we say  “Cool Shit that Matters”  - overwhelms ego.

A the end of the day a Customer InterACT session -was held.  The people who had invented new ideas presented raw and rough prototypes of products / visuals / etc…to dozens of customers.   There was open excitement - spontaneous “fist bumps” as ideas were being presented.

Congratulations to the team for having the courage to let they “baby” be made better and better. It is that spirit of never ending innovation -  that guarantees this will be a huge success….

Innovation by the common woman / man

What is innovation?

Webster's dictionary defines innovation as "a new idea, method or device."

It's interesting the order that they chose to explain the output of innovation.  Ideas and methods come before the classical device/product/service.

In our work we are finding that 75 to 90% of the application of Innovation Engineering eduction is on  improvements to ideas and methods of working.   Yes there are new products, services and devices but it is by far the smallest use of the education.

With Innovation Engineering we go further to define an innovation as an idea, method, product or service improvement that is Meaningfully Unique.   It is a change that makes a difference.  It's meaningful and it is unique versus what is done today.  It's a change that matters.  It's a change that makes an improvement in your work - your life - your career - your business success.

Why innovation by the common woman / man ?

Because everyone has ideas.

Because everyone has a right to make their life better.

Because everyone has a right to help contribute to an organization they are part of.

Because everyone had a right to have hope.

Because as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said   “True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” 

And that is why the Innovation Engineering Movement exists. 

Our mission is to change the world through systems that

enable innovation by everyone, everywhere, every day

resulting in increased innovation speed and decreased risk

We enable innovation through training individuals on how to create, communicate and commercialize their ideas.

We enable innovation through tools that enable anyone to be able to work faster, smarter and more creatively..

It's a bit embarrassing...

Today, a certified Innovation Engineering Black Belt - working with InnovationEngineeringLabs tools - is at least 5 times more inventive and innovative then I was  when the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Inc Magazine and others proclaimed me to be  an "Innovation Guru."

Best of all - now everyone...everywhere ... can can become an "Innovation Guru" in the eyes of the media and the masses.   The training to begin the path towards certification is called Innovation College.  It's taught using a patent pending system known as Cycles to Mastery.   It uses cycles of learning - featuring different methods of learning - digital, hands on labs, experiences, feedback cycles, group and individual to ensure that everyone, everywhere can become an Innovation Master.

I'm teaching Innovation College - the Black Belt mastery course the first week of May.  If you'd like to join me - click here to learn more and to register.     Or call 513 271 9911 in the USA.   Thanks to the support of corporations around the world - a range of scholarships are available to help defray the cost for individuals, very small companies and non-profits.

Survey Results - What is the biggest problem you face RIGHT NOW?

I just asked a room full of executives from a range of industries what is the biggest problem staring at them right now.     I then coded their responses into groups. The percent is the number of people writing down something in each area.

  1. NO ALIGNMENT ON PRIORITIES (34%):  This included having too many priorities, not making choices, not making decisions on focusing on growth versus cost savings.
  2. POOR SYSTEMS (24%):  This included not having a system, unclear roles and expectations, poor methods.
  3. LACK OF COOPERATION (21%):  This included challenges with internal silos as well as poor levels of cooperation with supply chain and customers.
  4. DECISION MAKING (7%): Can't make decisions, make the wrong decisions, no system for making smart decisions.
  5. TECHNICAL PROBLEMS (7%):  Can't solve a technical challenge.
  6. NEED NEW PRODUCT (3%): 

Importantly, I asked what is  the biggest problem facing THEM - RIGHT NOW.  Not the biggest problem facing their company.

It's an imperfect survey but the results align with other data we've gathered from  larger samples.   Over and over we find that the real problems of today - are Alignment, Systems & Cooperation. The biggest problems of today are primarily internal issues.    They are not external problems with competition, markets, regulations , etc.

Bottom Line - ALIGNMENT - SYSTEMS - COOPERATION are the root causes of most stress and frustration in the workplace. 

We can do better with these.  We can fix these.   With Innovation Engineering our education, tools and system efforts are focused primarily on addressing these top three issues. We find that when you get those right - the others take care of themselves.

It's time for all of us to stand up and confront the REAL ISSUES ... to confront the true ROOT CAUSES of our frustration.

Friends, life is short - let's confront the real issues - let's fix the system and make work fun again.



WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT - Igniting Innovation Becomes Easy

 Join Doug Hall, Founder & CEO of Eureka! Ranch and Innovation Engineering on Friday, January 20, 2017 at 1:30pm Eastern for a 1 hour webinar announcing the biggest innovation in innovation systems in a live webinar.

Use this link to register:

It's called 3.0. It's an integrated system that turbo charges existing Stage Gate systems so that you realize increased innovation speed (up to 6X) and decreased risk (30 - 80%).

As the name suggests it's a third generation system built on the learning and experiences of over 13 Billion dollars worth of innovations by thousands of innovators...

The HEART of the System is...

  • Innovation Pipeline 3.0 - Project Management Software you will LOVE TO USE! The new 3.0 project management software enables easy alignment - no matter how complex your organization is. There is are upgrades to Blue Card Levels, Tasks, Punch Lists, and new categories of Check Lists.

The System is TURBO CHARGED - with a suite of tools that are fully integrated with Innovation Pipeline.

  • Collaboration Cafe 3.0 - Now it's even easier to painlessly give and get ideas. The third generation system is a 100% rebuild. We started from scratch, using the learning from previous versions and competitive offerings to invent what looks to be the most advanced system on Earth.
  • Merwyn Rapid Research 3.0 - Finally, it's easy for everyone to make smarter decisions on innovations. The third generation system is arguably the most intelligent research platform on Earth. Questionnaire design and fielding in 1 minute or less with real time results and statistical cross tabs.
  • Patent ROI 3.0 - Finding technology to enable breakthrough ideas - from free and low cost Flea Market patents has never been easier. The third generation provides deeper databases, smarter search and an upgraded Idea to Patent platform that enables you to write a provisional patent faster than ever before.

New Things are Brewing

As we enter 2017...everyone starts the year with resolutions and goals for the year.  This year No Guru Needed has exciting new things in the works Innovation and Eureka Ranch new in 2017stay tuned!

In the meantime if you haven't checked out the new Eureka! Ranch website you should ( and if you haven't read up on the new Innovation Engineering Quick Start Course go check it out ( or better yet reach out to learn more about any of the upcoming ones.

We hope everyone had a great Holiday and a Happy New Year!

The Team at Eureka! Ranch International, Ltd.

What I will LEARN in 2017

This blog post was inspired by a question from a senior leader.   He asked “What should I focus on to make Innovation Engineering successful?”   When I reflected on the question I realized that I should ask myself the same question. After a week of thinking deeply.

My focus for 2017 is to embrace a Learning Mindset. 

A Learning Mindset - is contagious.  The more I embrace and openness to learning the more those who work for or with me embrace learning.

Never ending learning is at the heart of the Innovation Engineering movement… exploring stimulus, embracing collaboration, engaging in experimentation to drive out fear are ALL ABOUT LEARNING.

To embrace Learning I will…

In 2017 I will start by reigniting my curiosity gene.  Curiosity is the doorway to being a learner.

In 2017 I will use my curiosity to fuel a deeper engagement in stimulus mining.   The simple truth is that ideas come from combining old ideas in new ways.   The more I fill my brain with new learning (stimulus) the more ideas available to me to build fresh ideas from.

In 2017 I’m going to focus extra energy on three stimulus mining areas….

  • Patent Mining - Patents are idea “blue prints.”  Millions are in the public domain.  The new whiskey the Brain Brew Distilling team created was inspired by reading patents from Russia and the USA using the Innovation Engineering PATENT ROI database.  There is no more powerful tool for innovating than patents.  To be honest, reading patents is hard so I tend to avoid them.  However, it’s not impossible, it just takes energy and curiosity :).
  • Wisdom Mining - Academic research journals are priceless.  With the decline of real R&D at corporations - universities are the primary source for original research discoveries.  Like patents, academic research can be hard to read. The Innovation Engineering Labs Wisdom Mining database in partnership with EBSCO makes it much easy to do wisdom mining.  On every challenge I face in 2017, I’m going to commit to investing time and energy on wisdom mining.
  • Unrelated Mining - This is exploring the unexpected.  It’s about breaking the same old same old habits I’ve gotten into.  Looking back I’ve developed a tendency to watch the same type of movies, the same TV shows, read the same type of books, eat the same foods. It’s only in Cocktails & Whiskey that I’m still experimental.  And that’s only because we have the new company crafting new whiskies, rums and gins.  Last night I started this.  I watched 4 half hour comedies on TV that I’d never seen before.  While watching the second of the shows, out of nowhere, an idea came to me for the new Innovation Engineering Quick Start program we are developing.   In 2017, I intend to be more experimental :)

To maximize the value of this stimulus mining I will be aggressive in sharing my new learnings with others so to spark new ideas through the exponential power of diversity.  (Yes diversity is not additive or multiplicative - it’s impact is exponential).   Then, I will use PLAN, DO, STUDY, ACT (PDSA) to ignite even bolder ideas.   PDSA is a mindset of rapid experimentation, learning, adapting, experimenting again.

Lastly, I will focus my energy in 2017 on learning better ways to activate business strategy.  In the case of the Eureka! Ranch this involves what we call Blue Cards.  For those new to Innovation Engineering - Blue Cards are a system for creating alignment on strategy.  They are a commercial version of the “Commanders Intent” system that NATO, Canadian and US Military forces use in place of Command and Control.

I’m very interested to learn how they can be used to create  alignment, ownership and momentum.  I will start with the Eureka! Ranch itself.  Maggie Nichols (Ranch President) and I met yesterday to update our Blue Cards.  We will now leverage employee diversity to make them smarter.  We also added to the schedule a day every 3 months to STOP, THINK and REVISE our Blue Cards.  During 2017 my goal is to learn how to use strategy to motivate and ignite action within the Eureka! Ranch and the Innovation Engineering movement.

In the end - learning is about being proactive instead of reactive.  it’s about anticipating what’s around the corner.   It’s about taking responsibility for how the future.

Happy New Years to All

What did you learn?


What Will You Innovate & Build?

In 1947, Ole Kirk Christiansen purchased a plastic injection-molding machine.  Some questioned why he did so, because for the previous 17 years he had been a carpenter and made primarily wooden toys, including traditional stackable wooden blocks.

By 1951, more than half of the outputs from ChristiansenÕs toy company were plastic.  This despite his native countryÕs trade magazine, Toy-Times, believing that plastic would never be able to replace traditional wooden toys.

The plastic toys that ChristiansenÕs toy company became known for wereLego and Innovation interlocking bricks, which we all know of as the familiar Lego bricks.

Those simple interlocking plastic bricks have developed into a subculture, six theme parks, video and board games, movies, and clothing.  By July 2015, it is estimated that 600 billion Lego parts have been produced, and Lego was named one of the worldÕs most powerful brands.

Is It Time To Try Something Weird?

The following post is reprinted with permission from David Moskal at InVision Edge in Winnipeg.

WeÕve all seen entrepreneurs on DragonÕs Den or Shark Tank pitching their idea and pouring their heart out because they are so passionate about it. Some say theyÕve even remortgaged their home or spent their retirement innovation presentation to investorsmoney to fund their idea, only to hit a death threat that puts the idea in jeopardy. The Dragons or Sharks beg them to stop investing in their idea and kill it before itÕs too late.

What a defeating feeling. Imagine investing a bunch of time and money into an idea, only to find a roadblock that is immovable. All those hours and dollars become a sunk cost and leave you wishing you had seen this coming earlier. This happens more often than youÕd think Ð and even multi-million dollar companies experience it.

How Good Is Your Guru?

Lets Get right to it...

1. Write It Down.  Sounds simple, and writing down what your innovation is serves two purposes. 

First it forces you to focus on what the innovation truly is and what its Increasing Innovation Speedbenefits are.  Think about how different it is when you read a description of something versus having someone tell you about it.  The written version, if done properly, is going to be more focused and to the point.  And that's important when you consider that eventually your consumers may only see a written description of your innovation - usually in the form of the product package.

Writing down your invention also helps get your invention out of your head so others can help you improve upon it.  Which brings us to our next tipÉ

Is Innovation a Skill to Be Learned?

 I was recently interviewed by my friend, Justin Zawaly, COO  of TalMetrix about innovation & employee Justin states, "One of the outcomes of an engaged culture is innovation. Innovation doesnÕt just happen, or at least it cannot be sustained, unless both the employer and employee are thriving. Innovation becomes part of organizations culture and must be measured and monitored like anything else to ensure the creative vision is being nurtured."

Check out our interview below:

What does the term 'innovation'really mean?

Something thatÕs meaningfully unique. Unique in that itÕs uncommon, unexpected, a wow or dramatically different than any other option. Meaningful in that it makes sense in your customerÕs life. It improves something. It adds value.

Interestingly, so many of us over complicate this term. Others oversimplify. But in every case thereÕs something that holds true in everyoneÕs definition in a company - and thatÕs that theyÕre all different! One of the most common sources of misalignment on innovation is a common definition of innovation. And if I donÕt know what we "count" as innovation, then how can I hope to know when IÕm working towards it.

Why donÕt more companies innovate?

Cintas Shares 3 Lessons Learned on Innovating in a commodity Market

One hobby I enjoy in my free time is brewing my own beer. The obvious benefit is a fridge consistently full of beer, but what really makes it fun is experimentation. When I first started home brewing I would get kits from the local brewery supply store and follow the recipe. The results were good beer, but nothing truly unique. Once I gained a little experience I started to experiment more. The results became mixed. Some beers tasted great while others were great learning opportunities. Currently I have two kegs in the fridge. One is the best beer IÕve ever made and is based off a recipe from a local brewery. The other keg contains the weirdest beer IÕve ever made. IÕm personally not a fan of it and it has been described by others as "not bad" and "very interesting".   

Innovation & Employee Engagement: Lessons from a Chief Innovator

Who among us has not smiled at the "Netflix Event" story?  The little upstart bringing a behemoth to its knees by defying the odds, reinventing the business model and disrupting an entire industry.  As well as we know the story, these events are hard to see while in progress.  These are easiest observed after the fact.

Disruption has been happening for a long time, considerÉ

  • railroads destroyed the innovative "Pony Express" systemÉ
  • electric lights disrupted the candle makers and gas lampsÉGettyImages-503130240.jpg
  • digital cameras disrupting film photographyÉ
  • personal computers disrupting business (and weekends!)É
  • online shopping disrupting retailingÉand so on.

All along the way there were gurus who knew everything there was to know about trends in the care and feeding of ponies, candle making, film processing, stenography and box store floor plans. 

Developing a new idea? Now‰'s the time to be critical

Our friends at Innovation Leader reached out to us last year and asked if we would answer a question from one of their readers.   Below is an excerpt from Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education, response to the question:

Q&A: How to start training on innovation?

This member question was answered by Maggie Pfeifer, Director of Education at Eureka! Ranch, which is a nearly 30-year-old firm that has developed a method for increasing innovation speed and decreasing risk. A partner of Innovation Leader, Eureka! developed a field of study known as "Innovation Engineering" with the University of Maine. Because of EurekaÕs extensive experience educating executives at many of our members'companies, we thought Maggie was uniquely positioned to answer this member questionÉ

Question: Was fascinated by the educational / training data in your 2015 Innovation Benchmarking Report. WeÕre in the process of starting an educational / training initiative around innovation, and could use some guidance on where to start. Is there a typical starting point for these programs? WeÕre a relatively big company (15,000+ employees) and are struggling with whether we begin in marketing, product management, product development, executive management, etc. Any thoughts or best practices or the progression / trajectory of such programs???

Top 3 Things that Can Silently Ruin Your Innovation Program

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 telephone evolution and innovationhave 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?"

2 Significant Impacts from Innovation Checklists

If your best friend called you today and asked you to go scale El Capitan tomorrow morning, would you be able to do it?

For most of us, the answer would be an absolute no, as it would truly end in a cliff hanger. 

Most of us are not experts at scaling mountains, and if you have interest inInnovation Training scaling mountains, you likely would start by taking some classes and starting on practice rock-climbing walls before slowly graduating to longer and steeper cliffs.

In other words, you would practice and learn from those who know more and have gone before us.

So, why would you treat innovation any differently? 

Are You Out of Touch With Your Innovation Boundaries?

Whether you know the Cintas name or not, odds are youÕve used their products nearly every day in one capacity or another. Thanks to their uniforms and apparel products and facility services everything from momCintas and Innovation 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 itÕs 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.