Good Morning Innovation Change Agents, Sorry in advance for the long post. However, important issues like this one - have require more depth of thought.
Earlier this year I sat down for breakfast with Clare Crawford-Mason and her husband Bob. Clare is the visionary who produced the NBC White Paper - If Japan Can Why Can't We? That documentary introduced Dr. Deming to the leaders of USA Companies and set off the quality movement in the 80's.
Transformation in Thinking Example #1: Friday morning I was briefing 15 or so faculty who teach Innovation Engineering at 7 Colleges about our new Cycles to Mastery teaching system that we will be rolling out next year. I related my breakfast meeting with Clare and explained that instead of teaching "tools" we were moving to teaching students how to achieve mastery of SKILLS. The collective purpose being a TRANSFORMATION of mindset. Yes - Clare changed how we approach how we teach on campus - and starting in January how we teach Innovation Engineering College (the Executive Education Black Belt course) and Innovation Engineering Workshops (the Green Belt courses for front line workers)
The U Maine IE Curriculum Team then explained that we had transformed the assignments to be more life relevant. In the past we spent 90% of the time doing small business case studies. In the new Cycles to Mastery version the assignments are much broader - including everything from life challenges to interpersonal challenges to problems that they care about in their everyday lives. Our goal is to get them to have a transformation of mindset in how they approach their lives.
If you have made the Transformation of Mindset (proactive innovator) - the Freedom provided is spectacular
If you still have the old mindset (reactive & cost focused) - then the freedom is a nightmare.
The tools are "deconstructed" so that you can use them in what ever way is right for the situation.
The IE Jump Start and IE Management System are "packagings" designed to be customized in what ever way is right for the situation.
What we are learning is that the real purpose of the Innovation Engineering Black Belt program is to help students of all ages - achieve Transformation to an Innovation mindset.
p.s. You can probably guess - because of this transformation of mindset you will also start seeing cool changes to IELabs that allow even more customization - especially in the enterprise version - to make it easier to adapt to the multitude of situations that exist.
Here's Jesse's post in it's entirety -- in classic fashion he gives a little story with his post.
We should use the Innovation Engineering Management System the same way. A collection of cool tools and techniques. We first learn how to assemble these tools into a simple Jump Start. By adding more sticks, wheels, pulleys, caps and couplings we can have an IEMS Implementation.
Why stop there? Reconfigure the tools a little differently and we can have a Sustainability Jump Start or maybe a Stimulus Mining Workshop. One of my clients wants to do a "Create Rodeo", I have never heard of such a thing, but I said "Sure!". We disassemble a typical create session and pull together some tools and methods that will let us work on four concepts with four teams in a four hour session. It will work but not because I am forcing their request into our standard create session. It will work because we are using our tools to reconfigure the create session around their needs.
I have used IEMS to facilitate a joint venture discussion between two companies. They focused their discussions on how their joint venture can better define customer, problem, promise and proof. We confronted the death threats and teams comprised of members from each company did rapid cycles, learning how to work together to overcome problems. It was not a standard jump start, but we used the same tools and methods, simply reconfigured for a different purpose. (They could not overcome a death threat around customer definition and the joint venture was "killed"-an amicable, and inexpensive, breakup)
Let's get beyond thinking of Innovation Engineering as the standard jump starts and "IEMS" implementations. Expand your thinking, how can you use these new tools and methodologies to enhance your sustainability projects, six sigma projects, lean transformations, etc.?
Tinker Toys are great because they are what our imagination says they are. Innovation Engineering tools and methods are great because they, too, are anything we need them to be. Go ahead, take them apart, reconfigure them and see what you can create.
(A tip of the hat to Mark Chalfant for the Tinker Toy analogy!)