The Innovation Engineering Movement


Good Morning Innovation Pioneers, 
Here's a post to share with others - it provides a simple overview on the new field of study known by the trademark Innovation Engineering.


Innovation Engineering is a Scientific System for Growing a Culture of Never Ending Innovation with Increased Innovation Speed (up to 6x) and Decreased Risk (30 to 80%).

This is accomplished by:  1) applying the systems mindset of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, 2) an engineering mindset of data driven discipline and 3) never ending improvement of tools and training driven by front line practitioners in industry, academics and government.

Innovation Engineering is both a new field of academic study and a disciplined management system for leading innovation driven growth.

Unlike academic or industry “guru” based innovation programs - Innovation Engineering is grounded in real world data on over 26,000 raw innovations and over $125 Billion worth of quantified innovations.

The Innovation Engineering movement includes:

• Universities that teach Innovation Engineering degree programs.

• Companies that use Innovation Engineering to accelerate profitable growth.

• Governments that use Innovation Engineering to grow jobs & wealth.

The Innovation Engineering community openly embraces new ideas.  At the same time, an academic accreditation program and partitioner certification and licensing program ensures quality and reliability.  This is in contrast to 6 Sigma that has no centralized body resulting in high variance from one training and one practitioner to the next.

The Innovation Engineering Institute sets the standards, provides academic and industry certification and the support portal for the benefit of the movement.

The higher order  of the Innovation Engineering movement is to Change the World by transforming innovation from a random art to a reliable system.

STOP and think...

 Change the World by transforming innovation 

from a random art to a reliable system. 

Arguably, Innovation is the last major business discipline to resist a system focus. A system mindset has a long history in finance, legal and accounting.  Over the past 35 years a system mindset has been embraced by manufacturing, product supply and even, with the advent of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with sales.

The field of innovation has resisted a system focus.  ‘Innovators” protect their special status as experts.  “Non Innovators” are intimidated by the thought of it - and frankly have never been taught how to do it effectively and efficiently.

Innovation System Definition: A system of innovation embraces the entire process from Creating, to Communicating to Commercializing of new or improved ideas for products, services and work processes.  Looking at innovation as a system means simultaneously engineering of all disciplines: product development, marketing,  finance, legal, manufacturing, product supply, sales and regulatory.   A complete system provides an integrated and complete mindset, training and tools.  Most importantly - the system is so reliable that anyone who is willing to learn - can  create, communicate and commercialize big ideas.

What is NOT an innovation system:  Stage Gate® is not a system for innovation.  It doesn’t show you “how” to innovate.  Rather, it’s a valuable system of decision gates for managing the release of people and financial resources.  This is a good thing.  However it doesn’t provide a method for “how” to to the work in the stages of work that are set up by Stage Gate.

A specific, clear and focused definition of innovation

The Innovation Engineering definition of innovation is engineering precise.  Innovation means ideas that are:

 meaningfully unique. 

MEANINGFUL in that it is valuable, important and relevant

UNIQUE in that it is new, original and it or something with essentially the same end benefit is available elsewhere.

For companies, the simple metric to determine if a product or service offering is an innovation is “are customers willing to pay more money for the offering”.

If they are willing to pay a premium - then it is meaningful and unique.

Conversely, if they are not willing to pay a premium - because they can achieve essentially the same benefit or effect elsewhere then it’s a commodity.

It’s not a requirement to charge a higher price for an innovation.  It’s also possible to charge the same amount and use the greater appeal to drive sales volume.

THINK:  Are your offerings commercially innovative?

What percentage of your business is represented by products or services that your customers are willing to pay more money for?   

 For non-profit organizations (companies, governments, education institutions), the metric is the same for product or service offerings that are sold.  In the case of non-profits “more” might simply be a matter of paying something versus paying nothing.

For process improvements or non-profit programs that are not “sold” - the metric is translated into: “Does this program offer a meaningful advantage that is measurably superior in effectiveness versus other alternatives?”

Measurably superior means a difference that is real - measurable - and reliable. In the world of Dr. Deming this means the improvement can be documented on control chart.  It means a systemic change that is both effective, reliable and sustainable.

The Chain Reaction of Benefits from Meaningful Uniqueness

When innovations are meaningfully unique a chain reaction of positives occur.    A new energy is released as suppliers, employees, managers, owners, customers have a sense that they are creating something that makes a difference - a real difference in the world.   The “world” can be transformed through a better way to bend steel, a new way to teach a child to read or a new electronics gadget that transforms lives.

Everyone involved in the innovation have a sense that they are doing something that matters - something that makes a meaningful difference.   The Poet David Whyte in his book The Three Marriages , Reimagining Work, Self and Relationships defines good work this way.

Good work like a good marriage needs a dedication to something larger than our own detailed, everyday needs; good work asks for promises to something intuited or imagined that is larger than our present understanding of it.  We may not have an arranged ceremony at the alter to ritualize our dedication to work, but many of us can for a certain work, a certain career or a certain future: a moment when we held our hand in a fist and made unspoken vows to what we had just glimpsed. 

A common reflection from those who have embraced the Innovation Engineering Mindset is “For the first time - I am doing the kind of meaningful and creative work that I imagined I’d be doing when I started my career.”



Doug Hall

The Driving Eureka! Newsletter is a compilation of case studies, new techniques, thought provoking insights, an occasional rant, and excerpts from my books 



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