5 Reasons Organizations Don't Pursue Big Ideas


Following the financial crises of 2008, organizations pulled back from “thinking big” and embracedsmall, incremental ideas.  The problem with this is these ideas still require investment of time, energy and money but with very little financial and emotional return.  The result is a lot of “talk but no action” on the ideas.

To IGNITE Innovation we have to return to THINKING BIG!   

In my new roll as Chief Inventor / Chairman of the Eureka! Ranch my focus is 100% on igniting fresh ideas, bold ideas, crazy ideas that stretch thinking.  It’s not my job to be reasonable, prudent or politically correct :).   As I’ve gotten into the new roll of being a pure idea catalyst - I’ve been having a ton fo fun.   The new systems we have with spark decks, 6 types of stimulus mining, artificial intelligence “instant” concept feedback, etc. - make it easier then ever to THINK BIG.

As I’m having fun cranking ideas - I’ve had opportunities to talk with executives about what holds them back.  Here are the five top reasons I’m hearing.

Craft Cocktail Recipe: The Gold Rush


The Gold Rush is my go-to cocktail in the summertime. It was invented by T.J. Siegal at the original Milk & Honey in New York's Lower East Side. It’s a modern, complex twist on a Whiskey Sour.

One of the BIGGEST False Cures for Innovation Challenges


An excerpt from my 7th book, Driving Eureka!...

When a leader is ready to confront the reality that they need to innovate to compete they frequently seek out one or more of what the Innovation Engineering Pioneers call the five “False Cures.” These are simplistic management fixes that sound promising, but that in the long term often cause more damage than good.

False Cure #1: More Inspection, Metrics, and Bigger Rewards. The hypothesis is: If management reviews the development of innovations more frequently and diligently, then innovation success will be realized. The truth is inspection of quality doesn’t work. Just as in the factory, innovation quality must be built into the organization’s work systems and tools.

Five Truths About Innovation Learned over 40 Years


After helping create and test over 25,000 innovations with a commercialization valuation of $17 Billion I’ve learned the following 5 things are critical to innovation success:

  1. Alignment on what is an INNOVATION is the Start: Successful innovation begins with alignment on a precise and measurable definition of WHAT is an innovation.  We define an idea as an innovation if it is “Meaningfully Unique.”  We measure it by asking customers how likely they are to purchase (meaningfulness) and how new and different (unique) they perceive the idea to be. With Meaningful Uniqueness as the definition innovation is no longer a debate. Rather, it’s grounded in factual evidence. And it works. Ideas with greater Meaningful Uniqueness create word of mouth, awareness, distribution trial purchase/usage, and repeat purchase/usage.

  2. Failure is Fundamental:  Meaningfully Unique innovations have never been done before. To make them real you need to test, try, and experiment. You must embrace failure as just the normal process required to turn big ideas into reality. Rapid cycles of experimentation are run because we don’t know the answer before we begin. Importantly, these cycles of learning

Reflections from London


Hi from London,

It’s been a week of mind opening ideas. I’ve had 5 meetings a day. It’s been an interesting mix of serious corporate types plus craft whiskey / beer company owners.

What I’m learning is that understanding of what it really takes to as we say “Find, Filter and Fast Track” big ideas is very low.

I’ve talked to corporate people who are living in denial that the world is changing.

I’ve talked to entrepreneurs who are not confronting the reality of their “math.”

FORTUNATELY - I’ve also talked to…

Very wise retired corporate leaders who have a real sense or urgency.

Young entrepreneurs who are profitably commercializing products that blow away the “big guys.”

I met the owner of the Speakeasy under Milroy;s (You have to push on a bookcase to find the hidden staircase). He blew me away with his understanding of the art and science of cocktails. I He tasted our whiskey - and we riffed on ideas for new cocktails.

Time for Change - A New Journey Awaits!


(Spoiler alert:  Read all the way to the bottom of this post to learn how to come along on the next adventure.)

My good friend Graeme Crombie of Scotland teaches executives to focus their energy on the “highest and best” use of their time and energy.

It is with that wise sentiment that I announce, effective immediately, Maggie Nichols will be the new CEO of Eureka! Ranch International, Ltd. Her leadership skills, brains, heart, and soul make her ready to become her next “highest and best” as she assumes this new role at the Ranch.

My job will be to support Maggie as she leads the Eureka! Ranch.   I will continue as Eureka! Ranch Chairman and in the new role as Chief Inventor. 

It’s time for a Courageous Conversation with ourselves


David Whyte writes in his book Crossing the Unknown Sea:

All good work should have an edge of life and death to it, if not immediately apparent, then to be found by ardently exploring its greater context.  Absent the edge, we drown in numbness.

To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task.  

All of our great artistic and religious traditions take equally great pains to inform us that we must never mistake a good career for good work.   Life is a creative, intimate and unpredictable conversation if it is nothing else, spoken or unspoken, and our life and our work are both the result of the particular way we hold that passionate conversation. 

Individuals need a sense of belonging in their work, a conversation with something larger than themselves, a felt participation, and a touch of spiritual fulfillment and the mysterious generative nature of that fulfillment. 

The BEST BOOK I’ve read this year! 


I LOVE this book.  Having “been there / done that” - it speaks of truth like few books do.

TO MAKE RIDERS FASTER by Anna Dopico, tells the amazing and inspiring story of how two young engineers,  Phil White and Gerard Vroomen, against all odds, took their bike company, Cervelo, on a 16 year roller-coaster ride from a basement workshop in Montreal to the pinnacle of triathlon and road racing.

In about a dozen years - two guys who were not “bike experts” created the top bicycles for the world’s top riders! - winning the Tour De France and the Men and Women’s Ironman. 

I sat down with Phil White, recently in Toronto.   This is a guy who “gets” innovation.  As we started to talk he said quite simply…

“Why would you waste your time commercializing a mediocre product.” 

I love how Anna tells their story with authenticity.  This is not a story that “rewrites history.”  When they are preparing to introduce their P3 bike at the InterBike show in Las Vegas she tells the story of how in a vacant lot in Vegas they are painting their bike, using matt black barbecue paint from Home Depot. They used a roll of toilet paper for the bottom bracket and did a series of crazed work around to make the bike seem like it was “real.”  As Anna writes,  Phil slapped a “prototype” label to make it obvious that it was not a finished design.  When visitors stopped to admire the bike, they told visitors to not touch it in case it fell apart.  

To their relief, the P3 drew crowds of admirers, who not only liked the bike but also told them to keep the matte black finish. 



This morning I was speaking to the Innovation Engineering Fundamentals class at the Eureka! Ranch.  I explained that if you can't describe your system with words then it wasn't a system.  I went on to explain that in 40 years of innovation work I'm yet to find a company that has a system for creating, communicating, or developing ideas.  They have Stage Gate standards - but these don't define WHAT, WHY, and HOW to innovate. 

Why are so many people against CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT?


SIX TIMES last week I was challenged…. “Why do you keep changing?”   In each case it was said with a sense of humor laced with anxiety.   The confrontations occurred following advanced “peek” discussions of “beta versions” of upgrades to our Innovation Engineering software tools and Brain Brew Whiskey(e)y bourbons.   The tools offer a 10X increase in innovation speed - the whiskey’s offer 2 to 1 consumer preference.   Despite these benefits - passive aggressive resistance remains to both. 

In today’s fast based world grow or die is a simple slogan and truth.   In theory everyone agrees.  However in practice as one company leader told me recently, “I’m in favor of change for everyone other than me!”  She smiled when she said it - acknowledging the ridiculousness of her feelings. 

Thinking on it over the weekend I’ve identified three theories as to the root cause of resistance

  1. LACK OF ALIGNMENT on The Bigger Picture Mission:  The biggest source of resistance may well be a lack of alignment on the greater purpose for the change.  Most adults have a very narrow field of view.  They are focused on their work, team or department.  To make change happen we need to help folks understand the bigger picture - the mission that is greater then their personal work.  In our world - they need to understand the Blue Card Narrative… the what and why this improvement is important. 
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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