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. 

When I took the stage I was SHOCKED by the reaction


I was in Denver last week, speaking to senior business leaders who are on the board of directors of various public and private companies. 

My job that night was to teach them the latest methods for leading innovation. However as I spoke to people during the cocktail hour before the event I became VERY UNSURE how it would go. 

I was unsure because I perceived a very low level of understanding on innovation best practices among the board of director members. 

Entering the stage - I thought of Dr. Deming - my opening words were delivered with empathy… “How could you know. “How could you know how much faster and less risky Innovation is today. Tonight myself, the host and my fellow speaker will seek to begin your education process.” 

Write your book - do it - start tomorrow


In the strongest possible way I recommend that you sit down and write the book that is within you.   

This is my thought this morning as I e-mail off the final text for my next book, out this fall on how how to create a meaningful difference with your career, team, company and community using the Innovation Engineering system.  

I’m blessed beyond blessed with incredible life experiences however NOTHING MATCHES the reward and joy I realize from writing books.   Writing books is the best way I’ve found to think deeply - really deeply about something that I care about.  

This recent book has been the most difficult and most rewarding book I’ve ever written.  It took me just over five years to complete it.  Finding words to type onto the screen is easy.    The really hard part of writing is the thinking process.   This book stubbornly resisted completion until I invested the mental effort to think it through. 

Writing a book is hard mental work - just as working out your body is hard work.  But the pain in both cases is worth the gain.  That my friends is the benefit I can promise you from writing your book.  You will come out of the process much smarter then you went in.  



I bring you good news… there are some amazing things happening.   

Research finds that changing the world takes just 10%


Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

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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