No Guru Required

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.

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.

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.

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.

5 Tips for Clarity in Writing

5 Tips for Clarity in Writing

One of the best ways to test a new idea is to write it down.  First, it is inexpensive.  Second, it starts to give you a way to start owning it.  And third, it helps clarify the idea.

Clarity is vital when trying to convey a new idea.  Think about it.  New ideas require more understanding than old ones.  For example, a "run-flat wheel" is quick understood.  But, "a car tire that doesn't require to be inflated because of a polycarbonate crosshatch network that is contralateral to an interior ribbing system" requires the reader to struggle more.  And the more a reader struggles to learn, the more that the reader will not understand what you want to convey.

4 Ways To Use The Summer Reset To Your Advantage

With the dog days of summer still upon us and kids starting to head back to school (finally!), what are the ways that we can take advantage of the “summer reset” that seems to happen in many companies these days due to the expanse of employees on vacations at any one point during the summer?

Stop the Insanity of Brain-Draining Sessions

Stop the Insanity of Brain-Draining Sessions

My husband is in charge of a sales division. There are 5 sales managers and about 25 sales people.

He and his team live by the numbers each month. At the close of the month, they either hit a goal or they do not. It is both an exhilarating and exhausting way to work.  

About half way through last month, the numbers didn’t look good. The goal felt out of reach. 

He said to me, “I’m gathering my managers today so we can brainstorm how to reach the goal.” 

Awesome! this is what I do for a living. So I asked how he was going to approach the meeting. “What do you mean? We aren’t leaving that room until we figure it out.” 

Oh… sounds… fun.

6 Pieces of Advice I Would Give to The Majority of Ideas Written

6 Pieces of Advice I Would Give to The Majority of Ideas Written

I like to do some fun data analysis when writing blog posts like my last post about what percent of projects die due to each type of risk. This week is no different as I have once again dive into the deep end of Innovation Engineering’s database to see what I can learn. My goal was to figure out where we are going wrong with writing our ideas. We teach people how to communicate their innovations, but I know not all that information gets applied to real life projects. Now I couldn’t possible read over 30,000 ideas and track the advice I’d give each one, but I can program Idea Coach to do it for me. 

Before I break down the top 5 let me start with the advice that you should finish writing your ideas before trying to improve them. That means giving your idea a name, a headline, stating the customer, what their problem is, promise to solve that problem and then say how you’re going to deliver on that promise and prove you can do it. Then bonus points for having a price and saying why that is a good value. 

The Problem with Problems

The Problem with Problems

 

Problems, we all have them.  Everyone everywhere around the world from the largest organization to the hungry toddler has problems.  You can’t get away from them and everyone’s problems are different.  But don’t fret, this is great news!  Where there’s a problem there’s a solution; and when the solution doesn’t exist or is inadequate there’s room for a breakthrough innovation.

Where we trip over ourselves and hamper our ability to innovate is when we assume we know what our customer’s problem is...

3 Overlooked Sources for Game Changing Innovation

3 Overlooked Sources for Game Changing Innovation

It is time to innovate, it is time to make changes to your current offerings, but you are just flat tired and out of ideas. If your company is like over 90% of all organizations out there when it is time to to talk new products & services you call R&D, marketing, and at some companies you call on the internal innovation group.  Every one sits around the table and you start throwing out ideas, but nothing ever feels truly new or different.

Let me challenge you to try something new. When it comes to creating new ideas diversity is key.  When I say diversity I mean diversity of thinking and experience. Instead of calling a meeting of the regular suspects take a walk through the building and the factory searching out new and different perspectives.  

Innovation in the Office in 3 steps

Innovation in the Office in 3 steps

Everyone knows how important innovation is for new product development.  But how often are your biggest frustrations at work related to just getting the job done day-to-day?  You’re not alone.

A company shared one of their favorite innovation projects of all time because its quick and significant impact to improve employee engagement in one department, which was at a company-wide, all-time low according to a recent employee survey.

Here are the highlights on the fast and cheap steps they took to go from identifying a problem to having the solution implemented in less than 4 months:

Be Responsible for the Energy you Bring

Be Responsible for the Energy you Bring

Her recount of the experience is extraordinary and her recovery, a miracle.  

But what spoke to me most was the message that she and Oprah locked into during one particular segment.  BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENERGY YOU BRING.  

You may be asking yourself by now, “What does this have to do with business, or innovation or leadership?”  I’d advocate that it has everything to do with it.

It is this sentiment and sense of self awareness that I’ve observed to be the key in making potentially charged situations productive versus destructive.  And in innovation, there are 1,001 opportunities for charged situations. Innovation regularly creates change, chaos, fear equaling charged situations.

Do the Do!

Do the Do!

The lightbulb is the quintessential symbol of an innovation.  It is an innovation credited to Thomas Edison, one of America's most renowned inventors.

The lightbulb was not an instantaneous idea that came to Edison.  Unlike the many cartoons I have watched over the years where lightbulbs appear over a character's when an idea comes to them, Edison and his team spent years working on creating a lightbulb that was real and not just an idea.

And those years were not spent sitting around thinking about variables, parts, materials, etc.  Instead, they theorized on different parts and materials, and then they tested them.

The Missing Link

The Missing Link

When working on a project or issue that needs fixed - eventually we get to a point where we’ve tried something, got results, and now need to make a decision.  How can you leverage your curiosity and some continuous learning to help with the decision making process between the easy path and the right path?  Read on to find out!

The Why Behind the How

The Why Behind the How

I am an educator by trade, not by schooling. So, I learn a lot about learning every time I teach a class. 

This week, while teaching a Fundamentals of Innovation class, a participant taught me something I will never forget. 

Each morning of our training, we ask the class to reflect on the previous day. We ask participants to share what they learned, big picture, from the previous day.  

One gentleman in class shared a story. He said that a while back he had been taught one of the same methods that we taught in class. However, it was taught differently that time. The method was taught at face value, in other words, he was taught to follow the method step by step to get the desired results. 

He said he didn’t think that it would work for him in his job- so he never tried the method after that class. He had no confidence in the method

Innovation’s Biggest Risk

Innovation’s Biggest Risk

There are a lot of different reasons to stop an innovation project, but Innovation Engineering Labs categorizes risk into 3 categories: Technology, Organization, and Market Risk.

1. Technology Risks kill 40% of innovation projects. 

These risks are all about whether you can actually build the innovation and make it work. While there are plenty of projects that start without a clear path of how to make it work, more often teams discover that it works, but just not well enough to deliver on the promise they want to make customers. If your organization struggles with high technology risk, I recommend creating ideas that stem from new technologies and patents.

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.

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 (www.eurekaranch.com) and if you haven't read up on the new Innovation Engineering Quick Start Course go check it out (https://eurekaranch.com/quick-start/) 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!

Cheers!
The Team at Eureka! Ranch International, Ltd.

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.