Last week the Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute was in Maine. It wasn't just in Maine – it was in THE ROOM. It was in the Casco Bay Room at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport Maine.
This is THE ROOM where Innovation Engineering took on a new urgency. The scene was a dinner where I was the keynote speaker. I was at a table with a number of company owners discussing innovation. Suddenly, one owner said, "Doug, I don't get it. I don't get innovation. I don't do it. I don't know how to innovate. My people don't know how to innovate. And honestly I don't think my customers are interested in innovation."
I was speechless.
In the car on the way back to Orono with Renee Kelley – I was frustrated beyond belief. How can it be so to see? Why isn't it obvious that cheap and cheaper is the path to destruction it's non-sustainable? Why don't they see what's coming? Why aren't they taking charge of their destiny?
The next morning – I was even more frustrated. From the Foster Innovation Center at U Maine I lead a conference call with Renee, Maggie Nichols and Scott Dunkle of the Ranch.
I told the story of the night before and explained that we needed to develop a more comprehensive solution. We can't "assume" that organizations will "get it" if we just give them cool tools for Creating, Communicating and Commercializing.
From the conversation the scope of Innovation Engineering moved from tools to a Management System. A system for leading organizations.
In practical terms – it would be about defining an Innovation Pipeline. The Innovation Pipeline would be a compliment to a company's balance sheet.
Balance Sheet shows the past. Innovation Pipeline shows the future.
At that meeting was laid the plans for what we have today. The InnovationEngineeringLabs portal with Project Acceleration, Idea Requests and Tools.
HOMEWORK: Your homework this week is to spend time thinking about the Very Important Problems and Opportunities for your organization.
Send the following e-mail to 5 people.
To: One of Five people from Inside and/or outside the organization
Subject: 10 Minutes of your time would really help my thinking
Innovation Engineering teaches that we need to stop from time to time to look at the bigger picture issues facing us.
I'd like your help thinking about where we are as an organization and where we should be going. Please take ten minutes to answer two questions based on your opinion.
1. What are the 3 most Important Problems we face as an organization?
2. What are the 3 biggest Opportunities we have as an organization?
There is no need to justify your answers. I'm interested in your gut instincts.
Print out the responses and read them as a set. Then THINK! Mindmap the responses looking for agreements and disagreements.
Finally, gather the team that responded together to share, discuss and learn from one another. From the conversation pick one problem or opportunity to take action on. Create Ideas – and get started driving out fear of action through Fail FAST Fail CHEAP experiments.
WICKED COOL: We’ve set a new record for Idea Requests this week. If you’ve not visited in a while log into InnovationEngineeringLabs.com and post some ideas or post a request of your own. Importantly, our tracking research one year later indicates that those who participate in posting and responding to requests develop greater confidence in their Innovation Engineering skills.
BOTHERED BY ALL THE REQUESTS? In IELabs preferences you can set to get requests instantly – once a day – once a week, etc.