Why Bother do the Hard Work of Innovation? (And some new news)

Hello Pioneers, “94% of the problem is the system, 6% is the worker.”

That quote from Dr. W. Edwards Deming is one that’s used often.

As a leader of innovation, you could look at it in one of two ways:

“Ugh.  Look how much I have to ‘fix.’  Isn’t there an easier way?”


“Wow.  Look at how much latent potential we have that I can unleash.”

Regardless of how you look at it, one thing’s for sure - reflecting on the results of actually fixing the system are a great way to stay motivated to push on.

For motivation, I’d like to share the story of The Cleaning Technologies Group with you.

Barney Bosse, from the Cleaning Technologies Group, shared their journey earlier this year at a public forum event, and here’s my best version of capturing his responses.  (I wish I had a video camera because there’s no way I’ll do it justice.)

Q:  How is the IE process changing the culture of your business? Barney:  Everyone is now responsible for innovation - no matter what their level or position.  They all feel empowered and have a way to make their ideas real.  And we really embrace the idea that you can work on any idea you love - as long as you love it.  A great example is Mary.  We’re a heavy engineering company.  Mary works for us as a part time receptionist and part time accountant.  However, Mary had an idea for improving our core offering - which was an extremely technical challenge and very “outside her wheelhouse.”  But at night Mary took home engineering drawing, worked with the team inside and the invention she discovered is going to make a transformational difference to our company.  Hers is just one tiny example of the power that this is having in our organization to enable each one of our employees. Q:  What is the most important factor contributing to the success of the innovation process? Barney:  You have to prioritize innovation or it will never happen.  You have to make time for it - even though the fires keep burning to be put out.  You have to make it a ritual.  If you don’t make time for it, it simply won’t happen.  We have our weekly project meetings.  We meet monthly to discuss what we've learned and quarterly to look at the pipeline and decide what's next.

Q:  What has been the impact of innovation on your business? Barney:  It’s been huge.  And we continue to invest time, energy and people into it.  Since we’ve been applying it we’ve added Innovation Managers at 2 technical centers.  They aren’t there to outsource innovation to...they’re actually our Black Belt Process Coaches in training to continue to enable everyone to innovate.

(On a side note, just a few months ago the then CEO of the Cleaning Technology Group wrote a blog post on a presentation they gave at the AMT Global Forecasting & Marketing Conference.  The post, entitled “How do we break this cycle of boom and bust?” talks about their experience with Innovation Engineering.

"...what is very evident is that there is a growing sense that the company is becoming deeply engaged in the IEMS process. The cultural change toward a customer and product/market focus is very exciting to watch. It is very rewarding to see team members step forward to take on additional responsibility and to do it with a sense of pride and willingness."

The “then CEO” has since moved on to another position.  And who’s the new CEO you might ask?  That would be Barney.)

------------------------ New News from the InnovationEngineeringLabs.com Team

For groups like Barney’s - and yours - I have some new news from the InnovationEngineeringLabs.com team:  Innovation Engineering Tools gets a facelift to help you increase speed and reduce risk with innovation.

As you work to apply Innovation Engineering to your business, sometimes it can be difficult to remember what tools can be most useful to you and when.

In the newly updated tools section it's easier than every to select the right tool and exactly how to use it.

Here's how it works:

  1.  Just scan down the images in each of the sections to see a snapshot of each tool.   They're all organized by section titles like:  Stimulus Mining, Create, Communicate, Commercialize.tools_preview_notloggedin
  2. Click on the snapshot to get a description of the tool and, in some cases, a cheat sheet to tell you step-by-step how to use it.  The cheat sheet summarizes the exercise, gives you tips, describes how the exercise works and even gives you simple directions to run the exercise.learn_more_preview2
  3. Download and print the exercise or use one of the interactive tools right there on the site to create ideas or problem solve instantly.

When we improve a tool or add a new one, you'll see a "new" icon right there - so you always know you've got the latest and greatest at your fingertips.

Check out the updated Innovation Engineering Tools Section, and stay tuned for more new news from the InnovationEngineeringLabs.com team.

* If you don't have access to InnovationEngineeringLabs.com or the Innovation Engineering Tools Section and would like to learn more, drop us a line or give us a call at +1.513.271.9911.


Enrollment open for Innovation College Interested in becoming an Innovation Engineering Black Belt?   We still have a few spaces remaining in our October (21-25), November (11-15) and December (9-13) courses.  Email us or call +1.513.271.9911 to learn more.