A lot of companies throw the word “innovation” around, but very few actually know how to do it — or do it well. In his book, Driving Eureka! Problem Solving with Data Driven Methods and the Innovation Engineering System (Clerisy Press, Oct. 16, 2018), Doug Hall shares a way to not only operationalize innovation throughout an organization, but how to do it in a way that results in 50 percent or more higher profit margins.
Hall’s system, termed Innovation Engineering, gives workplace leaders a reliable, data-driven way to execute a process that promotes creative new ideas and quickly and effectively applies them. Innovation Engineering is recognized as a new field of academic study and is now responsible for over $16 billion in projects now actively in development.
The concepts have been incubated within Eureka! Ranch, Hall’s company that works with clients such as Toyota Manufacturing, Trek and Proctor & Gamble. In the book, he uses clients’ on-the-ground examples to show Innovation Engineering in action.
To begin, organizations need to search for “meaningfully unique” ideas. These are the kinds of ideas that, in customers’ minds, have obvious value and would lead them to give up their current behavior in favor of the new innovation.
Often, they’re disruptive and have extraordinary opportunity for profit growth. Meaningfully unique innovations can also apply to working smarter internally. In either case, when a meaningfully unique innovation arises, the creators can’t get it out of their heads and can’t wait to get started on it.
Innovation Engineering offers a method for sparking meaningfully unique ideas that entails feeding the mind with stimuli and then reacting to it. Hall uses analogies that describe this stimuli-response method, such as when we look in the pantry to decide what to eat, or wander the mall in search of a gift.
Given the possibilities, the brain naturally searches to find patterns. The point is to spur a flood of ideas, because the more ideas created, the more chance of uncovering one that’s meaningfully unique. In other words, Hall points out, teams have to come up with lots of bad ideas in order to come up with a great idea.
The Innovation Engineering process then moves into how a team clearly communicates the problem that the innovative idea addresses, and how the innovation applies to customers’ needs. This concept paper is a concise description of the vision of what the organization plans to develop.
The system employed in moving from idea to reality is a formula that encompasses Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA). It’s meant to increase the speed of development while decreasing risk. In effect, each innovative idea may require several PDSA cycles during the development process.
For example, within the Plan phase, the feasibility of the idea is taken into account and immediately addressed. This may lead to reworking an idea. Or, if a true problem arises that can’t be overcome, the team will know upfront before development is undertaken, which reduces wasted time and effort.
Because he firmly believes that innovation shouldn’t be relegated to a few “gurus” within an organization, but should be integrated organization-wide, Hall shares how to implement both vertical and horizontal alignment for creating and moving innovative ideas forward.
In short, Hall shows how infusing a culture of innovative throughout an organization will not only engage and empower employees, but allow organizations to become industry leaders in a world where change is accelerating at a breakneck pace.
Learn more at Doug Hall’s website.