Thinking and Acting on the Future

This week we had another Innovation Engineering Black Belt 200 class at the Eureka! Ranch.  This is the advanced class – it's conducted with those with the most experience applying the Innovation Engineering Management System.  The actual class design is a closely guarded secret.  What I can say is that it's extremely challenging.  That said, the students had an 88% success rate with their innovations – which is far above the large company benchmark of 5 to 15% or the small business benchmark of 50%. A key to their success was their future orientation.  Rather than “simply rearranging” the existing reality – they proactively pursued new technologies that offered future focused growth potential.

It was energizing seeing the Eureka! Ranch filled with proactive, forward thinking people.  At the Bar, in the front of the Ranch – we shared a few Highland Parks late at night and the question of the night was “what's happened to American industry.”  The data indicates the we've become a reactive culture – focused on complaining and making excuses – instead of proactively anticipating the future.

I know from personal experience that there are few real surprises in business.  I've had executives tell me their company was going to die because of credit challenges (big bank executives), foreign competition (Detroit with it's lack of investment in fuel efficient cars years ago), internet competition (phone companies, retailers, distributors, etc.).

The challenge is to stop, think about the future – and take action on it.

Innovation Engineering HOMEWORK for this week


Future Mining Your homework this week is to confront the future.


Step 1:  Make a list of Megashifts that could impact your organization.

Write the initial list yourself.  Then either in person – or via e-mail ask 5 people what their gut instincts are about changes, trends, events that could occur and may have a very positive or negative impact on your organization.

Step 2: Think of the Market Consequences & Innovation Possibilities

With 2 to 4 other people review the list of Megashifts and pick the two that have the greatest potential to create a negative impact (Potential Very Important Problem) and the two with the greatest potential to create a positive impact (Potential Very Important Opportunity.).

Mind Map a future scenario.  Take the Megashift and identify the Market Consequences to your organization if the change, trend or event occurred.  Then think of the Innovation Possibilities that change could offer.

Step 3:  Take Action

Do something, anything – to further explore, learn or take action on one of the Innovation Possibilities – THIS WEEK.   Once you get started – the odds are you will keep going because as Newton found “A body in motion stays in motion.”