Hello Innovation Pioneers, Innovation Engineering is about a transformation of mindset.
It's about moving from a mindset of reactive behavior to a mindset of proactive leadership.
It's about moving from a mindset of cost and commodity to a mindset of innovation and profitability.
It's about moving from innovation as an "event" to innovation as a 24/7 mindset.
Adopting the new mindset takes time - takes repetitions - takes coaching.
However, when you embrace the three key principles of Innovation Engineering a chain reaction of positives occur.
Pasted below are 61 ways that Innovation Engineering Black Belts have used the new Innovation Mindset - tools and training - to make a difference for their organization or their clients. The events listed are responses to an Innovation Engineering Black Belt Blog post (a private blog for Black Belts).
- A company had a production problem - there were multiple options to consider. They created a 666 on a board listing the options and solved the problem
- A team has a pricing problem - they used Market Mining and Fermi estimating to help them understand why they were off price versus competition.
- A team had a problem with their web site - they used the Ideas to Paper Free Writing system to help them think deeper about what they were really promising.
- A group couldn't agree on their purpose - they used the Island of Innocence Truth and Wisdom - Guided Meditation to spark conversation among the team.
- An R&D person couldn't sell his management on his new idea - he used Fail FAST Fail CHEAP to build a video "looks like" prototype and get customer reaction
- A company doubted their ideas's persuasiveness. They ran a Merwyn concept test to gauge meaningful uniqueness and odds of success.
- A company needed to go deeper on their new ideas. They ran 8 Merwyn Truth Teller reports overnight to get actionable feedback on how to improve my ideas the next day.
- A company needed to bring in new technologies to their product offerings. They searched the National Innovation Marketplace while Tech Mining to get stimulus for new ideas.
- A team had a problem communicated their ideas to each other and deciding which ideas to enter into Labs. They used the Concept pitch sheet to rewrite ideas so they can be understood faster by the group.
- Team needed more stimulus to create ideas. They fielded a survey to collect current customer's insights on products and usage.
- A company was trying to increase the amount of Word of Mouth diffusion for their brand. They fielded cycles of surveys to measure meaningful uniqueness and potential word of mouth for several idea variations.
- Use the sales forecast simulation to quickly estimate the most profitable market from an idea with multiple potential end users.
- Team had a problem focusing their thoughts while watching a spark deck presentation. They used yellow cards to capture all the ideas quickly and completed the yellow cards later.
- Use IELabs Requests for Advice to help build your supply chain. If it is not clear your company and current suppliers can help solve a problem you have, post a public Request for Advice. You might find a new supplier. Successes have been awesome.
- A company had a challenge with a current project. They posted a private Requests for Advice to encourage others to help by posting what they know, but also specifically with mining help.
- A company had a project at a stand still. They invited a team of folks to do just 30 minutes of mining and then getting together to do some mind-mapping.
- A company needed to problem solve an existing idea. They wanted the offering to do one thing but not give up another. They reinvented how the product worked using TRIZ.
- A company needed to engage many people’s views into an idea to increase the chances that everyone would support it. Rather than using a big group discussion they used Gauntlet to quickly capture everyone’s views in an actionable form.
- Countless companies tell us employees use Mind Mapping to organize their thoughts - especially when the answer isn’t immediately evident. It helps them organize their thoughts on paper.
- A company took too long to get materials. Supply Chain groups use Process Improvement Checklist to improve the process.
- Team needed a supplier for specific kind of biodegradable packaging and used the Request for Advice system in Labs to make connections
- Team had an idea but didn't know if it was unique, so we used Market Mining to examine the competition.
- A company had a piece of equipment with lots of excess capacity and no ideas for filling it. We did Market Mining to find out what this type of equipment was being used for all over the world - used it as stimulus and invented ideas.
- Customer calls up a company with what seems like an impossible request. Team pulls out TRIZ to see if they could get stimulus and create a win-win solution for the customer. (I've heard this one multiple times)
- A team does not know what types of ideas to pursue for growth. So, we plot any existing projects on the Growth Model and identify a need to focus on New Customers since all ideas were focused on existing customers.
- A team was absolutely stuck with inventing ideas after vetting and killing a whole stack. We pulled out Visual Analogy and started free associating on random images for fresh thinking - it got us past our roadblock.
- A team has a bank of existing resources (skills and equipment) inside that they want to take advantage of for new streams of revenue. The internal Black Belt made a 666 matrix with one column of Existing Resources, one of Customers, and one of less related stimulus like trends and insights.
- The team has a product that already exists but need to find fresh ways of Marketing its benefits. They do a Benchmarking Matrix to find out where they are unique versus the competition so they can craft a meaningfully unique claim that points out where they beat the competition.
- A team was scanning the Requests for Invention and found one that they responded to resulting in a new European customer. (first time exporting)
- A company has a technology but no market for it. They define the project in Labs with one customer, then Fail Fast Fail Cheap to see if there is interest and if the math works. The answer is no - so they change the customer and try again. The answer is no - so they change the customer and try again. And so on until they seem to find the right balance of Customer Appeal, Product Reality and Profit Formula
- The project leader is stuck on how to communicate his idea. We pull out the Marketing Message checklist and get the prompt that says to communicate the WOW of the idea in 5 words or less. This proves to be an effective tool when boiling down an idea for clarity.
- A company needs to double production on 5 parts. The whole production team gets together for an hour in small groups to mind map and write ideas on yellow cards. The team talks through ideas and selects a few to try. They assign a leader for each and post the yellow cards on the wall on a sticky pad marker board. The project leader writes down what they learned as they try to implement their solution.
- In one company I know, the sales rep worked from home. The Manager and the sales rep decided to use Labs to stay connected with the sales rep's work each week. They did an update call every single week to catch up on the learning and events from the week as well as look forward to the events coming up. It became a tool stay connected.
- A company’s ideas were unfocused and “average.” The CEO made the people put numbers in all ideas- for new products or process improvements. If they could not make them specific and numeric - the effort was killed.
- Morning meetings would often spin out of control, when a topic came up people would mangle it to get their 2 cents in but no progress was made. Using Mind Dump and splitting into small groups transformed a group grope into an actionable session with real solutions being offered - rather than more complaints.
- A team didn't know if it would be worth it for them to launch a new and innovative product with their limited marketing budget, so they used the sales forecast tool to see what their forecast was with medium and high marketing support - and determined whether it was worth it on Medium support.
- A team didn't know if consumers would be interested in their new product idea, so they went to the local mall and surveyed 50 people to see what they liked, didn't like, ideal price points, etc. ...
- In countless sessions where I have had companies attempt to express a "new" technology or product idea, completely out of the context of Innovation Engineering, I have had them re-focus on the pitch: Customer, Problem, Promise, Proof, with great results.
- A company has a product that isn't selling, so they used the Customer Concept card to re-think the product from the customer's perspective.
- A tech client had a "gut feeling" about the best market for their product, used Math game plan to find more profitable opening markets.
- A company we are working with is trying to increase throughput through their machine shop. We had a discussion on waste and then used a mind map. It engaged the team in helping to identify where they are experiencing it. The map made it clear where they need to start focusing some improvement activities.
- A company created a Holding Hopper for yellow cards that have potential but there is no current room in the pipeline due to limited resources. As ideas move out of the Define stage, Holding Hopper ideas are released as projects.
- A university held a morning symposium with about a hundred faculty involved and interested in online and hybrid courses. The leader was looking for the issues faculty had in several areas and new approaches to solve them, but I only had about 90 minutes. I started with large group brainwriting - We set up 6 flip charts, each with a topic heading (see the attachment). The participants were given about 15 minutes to visit each flip chart and write down issues associated with each topic. We then used multivoting to narrow the identified issues down to the top ones in each topic area. (I've used brainwriting in corporate strategic planning sessions with over 200 participants, works GREAT and very fast!) We broke the participants into 6 groups, each focusing on a topic area. I then ran a Takeover Time session to generate outside-the-box solutions to the threats and issues. Each participant then did a yellow card. We concluded with a quick presentation about death threats, and each participant getting input from others and documenting the death threats on the yellow card. The head of the University's adult & distance learning, was thrilled with the results, and took all the yellow cards to his advisory committee meeting immediately after the session...
- Do the Math. I was doing a JumpStart with a client and as often happens, people resoundingly voted for one particular idea (a "buddy system") that just FELT good to everyone. The CEO was even ecstatic because in the week prior he had already decided that that was his go-to idea. However, we put it in IELabs and did Fermi estimates on retained revenue and cost/time to implement. $20K was not a compelling number to go forward with the idea and they killed it and moved onto to something else everyone loves.
- A project leader got lots of negative feedback from her team on her idea which she loved and they basically dictated what it should be. They all had more authority than her. So we did an A/B fail fast fail cheap test of both concepts to the final decision maker and found that actually a combination of the two ideas was the most preferable. Testing eliminated lots of debate.
- We needed new marketing ideas for our organization, which has a new focus. I used Lawbreaker and Do One Thing Great and was able to jolt us out of our normal in ways that exceeded my expectations! The energy in the room was great!
- I used Mind Mapping with another unit of our organization to help them define a marketing message for their eCAR project. The unexpected result was that the group leader realized that the things that were on their Web site currently were incorrect.
- I recently used Gauntlet, Osborne Checklist and Lawbreaker on a home project (and homeWORK project) where I needed to find ideas on what I called "new old furniture" - basically my family is growing so quickly that I cannot keep up, but I don't want to spend a ton of money on storage and seating, so I needed ways to repurpose things or build things inexpensively. I got some great ideas.
- An endless parade of companies/inventors/entrepreneurs come to our New Product Development Lab at Boise State with the next great idea. Our NPD Team has begun to use IE tools to "Filter, Focus & Verify". 1. Filter - Use Concept Card as a "hurdle" to see if client is willing to put some work into capturing idea essentials. 2. Focus - Concept Card helps client and our team focus on idea essentials. Is idea meaningfully unique, is there a market....? 3. Verify - Working through the concept card helps client and our team verify that it is worth moving forward.
- An organization was facing a move to a new facility, but deciding on the right choice was linked to a strategy decision about the future direction of the company. We used a CREATE session with staff and the Board of Directors to make a decision. The option that all loved did not pencil out from a math point of view, but gave us the inspiration to make a move that accomplished the goal, but in a different way.
- Am currently in second session of our ExporTech 2012 program and it struck me that we could use Pitch Packet to give companies & coaches a standard methodology for doing their product/market work. Companies had homework assignment to perfect product pitch and select market(s). Results were a bit loose. Didn't hear much about the math.
- Working with a client to understand if customers understood and liked the idea. Instead of debating, they went to the shop and made an FFFC looks-like prototype and took it to a local Lion's Club meeting (many of their target FDM types) to get feedback. And while the feedback was good - the process of making the prototype also helped them recognize a manufacturability death threat. So the archived the original idea, but the death threat created a new idea to work on - which launched 9 months later and is now one of their fastest growing products.
- SKU proliferation was a problem for a client (think jam...). We did a variant on "do one thing great" - culled the product line by almost 50%, and then they raised the price on what was left. Total sales - and profitability - went up.
- Helping clients "Run a Research Test" can help them and us get a better feel for the actual feasibility of an idea. This is similar to the Black Belt Commercialize homeowrk assignement where we have to select either the (1) Idea Starter or (2) Problem Survey Question Template to solicit feedback from survey respondents. I believe this helps our clients gain CLARITY along with is the idea selected feasible for the target market(s) selected!
- CEO used pitch sheet to clarify & focus thinking around a pitch to his bank for a loan (to grow a new product line).
- Two state agencies were considering merging some of their services. We facilitated a full day meeting of the two agencies and used the Innovation Assessment (for each group), VIO/VIP and create exercises to begin a dialogue and capture ideas.
- This is a decision making tool. A business owner used to have to make every decision in the business. His folks looked to him on where and when to buy toilet paper. As they got invovled in IE, they felt empowered, and he felt the relief, of them starting to make the decisions. They now either 'just do it', or come to him with the options thought out, and what the death threats are. His life is now much easier- and he can focus on the big stuff.
- A small company ran a Merwyn test, wanting to use the numbers to validate his product, message, etc. and use this information as part of the information for his bank. An unexpected benefit of the process was contact with several overseas individuals and companies that were interested in learning more about his product for their use.
- I often use the Fleish-Kincaid grade level calculator when working with teams as we try to simplify and clarify the message. The idea is not so much to get frustrated by not being at a 5th grade level, but rather to get excited when we can make changes that move us toward that goal. It's a fast and cheap way to do a cycle of learning and improvement.
- For strategic planning... start with SWOT and then use a mind map. Also during a strategic planning session, take over time is especially helpful to open thinking for current plan organization. I find myself formalizing a lot of the innovation that goes into everyday work by using the tools at the right time.
- A two-step marketing client wants to develop and grow a dealer network. We ran a jumpstart with them and setup a project in Labs. We found that the mind map tool was very useful in capturing the diverse thinking of 9 attendees and focusing a direction.