This blog post was inspired by a question from a senior leader.   He asked “What should I focus on to make Innovation Engineering successful?”   When I reflected on the question I realized that I should ask myself the same question.

After a week of thinking deeply.

My focus for 2017 is to embrace a Learning Mindset. 

A Learning Mindset – is contagious.  The more I embrace and openness to learning the more those who work for or with me embrace learning.

Never ending learning is at the heart of the Innovation Engineering movement… exploring stimulus, embracing collaboration, engaging in experimentation to drive out fear are ALL ABOUT LEARNING.

To embrace Learning I will…

In 2017 I will start by reigniting my curiosity gene.  Curiosity is the doorway to being a learner.

In 2017 I will use my curiosity to fuel a deeper engagement in stimulus mining.   The simple truth is that ideas come from combining old ideas in new ways.   The more I fill my brain with new learning (stimulus) the more ideas available to me to build fresh ideas from.

In 2017 I’m going to focus extra energy on three stimulus mining areas….

  • Patent Mining – Patents are idea “blue prints.”  Millions are in the public domain.  The new whiskey the Brain Brew Distilling team created was inspired by reading patents from Russia and the USA using the Innovation Engineering PATENT ROI database.  There is no more powerful tool for innovating than patents.  To be honest, reading patents is hard so I tend to avoid them.  However, it’s not impossible, it just takes energy and curiosity :).
  • Wisdom Mining – Academic research journals are priceless.  With the decline of real R&D at corporations – universities are the primary source for original research discoveries.  Like patents, academic research can be hard to read. The Innovation Engineering Labs Wisdom Mining database in partnership with EBSCO makes it much easy to do wisdom mining.  On every challenge I face in 2017, I’m going to commit to investing time and energy on wisdom mining.
  • Unrelated Mining – This is exploring the unexpected.  It’s about breaking the same old same old habits I’ve gotten into.  Looking back I’ve developed a tendency to watch the same type of movies, the same TV shows, read the same type of books, eat the same foods. It’s only in Cocktails & Whiskey that I’m still experimental.  And that’s only because we have the new company crafting new whiskies, rums and gins.  Last night I started this.  I watched 4 half hour comedies on TV that I’d never seen before.  While watching the second of the shows, out of nowhere, an idea came to me for the new Innovation Engineering Quick Start program we are developing.   In 2017, I intend to be more experimental 🙂

To maximize the value of this stimulus mining I will be aggressive in sharing my new learnings with others so to spark new ideas through the exponential power of diversity.  (Yes diversity is not additive or multiplicative – it’s impact is exponential).   Then, I will use PLAN, DO, STUDY, ACT (PDSA) to ignite even bolder ideas.   PDSA is a mindset of rapid experimentation, learning, adapting, experimenting again.

Lastly, I will focus my energy in 2017 on learning better ways to activate business strategy.  In the case of the Eureka! Ranch this involves what we call Blue Cards.  For those new to Innovation Engineering – Blue Cards are a system for creating alignment on strategy.  They are a commercial version of the “Commanders Intent” system that NATO, Canadian and US Military forces use in place of Command and Control.

I’m very interested to learn how they can be used to create  alignment, ownership and momentum.  I will start with the Eureka! Ranch itself.  Maggie Nichols (Ranch President) and I met yesterday to update our Blue Cards.  We will now leverage employee diversity to make them smarter.  We also added to the schedule a day every 3 months to STOP, THINK and REVISE our Blue Cards.  During 2017 my goal is to learn how to use strategy to motivate and ignite action within the Eureka! Ranch and the Innovation Engineering movement.

In the end – learning is about being proactive instead of reactive.  it’s about anticipating what’s around the corner.   It’s about taking responsibility for how the future.

Happy New Years to All

What did you learn?

Doug