3 Steps for Taking Your Idea from Mediocre to WOW!


“Why would you waste your time commercializing a mediocre product?”   This was said to me by Phil White, co-founder of the performance bike company Cervelo.  He and his team made history making bikes that are faster than any others.

As we talked in Toronto, I agreed with him, “I won’t ship a whiskey if it doesn’t win by at least 60/40 in paired comparison testing versus a product costing 50 to 100% more than us.“  (Recall our Brain Brew Custom Whisk(e)y company is powered by and located at the Eureka! Ranch.)

Sadly - when I talk to corporate clients they don’t understand Phil and the Brain Brew Crew’s relentless pursuit of excellence. They usually will say something along the lines of “you craft guys can do that. In the corporate world that’s just not the way it is. we don’t have the MONEY to make our products great.

Craft Cocktail Recipe: Crazy Viking


A Complex & Creative Concoction that will Stir Your Soul!

This bourbon cocktail is an original by the Brain Brew Distilling Team at the Eureka! Ranch. It’s the perfect drink for sipping by a fire, inside, or at the lake behind our distillery.

The Crazy Viking is a variation of the classic Negroni - instead of Gin we use Noble Oak Bourbon and instead of Campari we use the Nordic Spirit Aquavite. We use the Linie Brand as it is aged in Spanish Sherry casks - just as our Noble Oak is - making for a magical combination.

How to Know a Big Idea When You See it!


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

The Innovation Engineering community’s definition of innovation is precise.

Meaningfully Unique

MEANINGFUL in that it has an obvious value to the customer. That is, the idea is so meaningful customers would willingly give up their existing behaviors for it. Importantly, it is also instantly understandable as to “Why should I, the customer, care?”

UNIQUE in that it is a genuine original. It’s a non-obvious leap that doesn’t exist in the world. Often it offers a quantifiable advantage such that you can put a number on how much better it is versus the existing alternative, if there is one.

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. 

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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