3 Steps For Taking Your Idea from Mediocre to WOW! | Driving Eureka! #3



This week I’m sharing some ideas on how to transform ideas from Mediocre to WOW from Ordinary to Extraordinary - from Meaningless to Meaningful. 

The Driving Eureka! Book excerpt this week is titled Bureaucracy—the Easiest Way to Kill Innovation

The Craft whiskey cocktail is a fresh and light twist on the classic Manhattan.  It’s a clean yet complex taste for enjoying when it’s 5:00 somewhere!




take 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."

I DON’T BUY IT - let’s be honest - craft companies don’t have a fraction of the money big companies have.  The issue is not money it’s MINDSET.   They have accepted that “mediocre” is ok.

I KNOW it can happen in a MEGA SIZED Organization because I did it.  At Procter & Gamble Eric Schulz and I lead the P&G Invention Team. Together we shipped 9 WOW innovations in 12 months.

The secret to our success was we had a CRAFT MINDSET - compromise was not an option.  When we ran into executional barriers we would reinvent the idea to eliminate the problem while maintaining or growing the idea’s WOW factor.

When you have a CRAFT MINDSET you see your work the way an artist does.  Your innovations are an expression of your heart and soul.  And your innovations are about more than profitability - they’re about making a difference for customers.

Three Steps For Taking Your Idea from Mediocre to WOW!

Step 1: Confront Reality: Run a paired comparison test of your product or service offering versus the best in the world. Use sensation transfer testing to identify your strengths and weaknesses. NOTE; If you don’t know what that means - learn about it from a research expert or have the Eureka! Ranch research team teach you.

Step 2: Reinvent To Win: Adopt the mindset of a craft whiskey, beer, or bike company. You have no money and time. Out spending your competition on marketing is not an option. The only way you can win is to make a better product or service. So stop, think, and DO IT NOW. If you don’t know what to do - hold a quick Create Session and do a Problem Survey. The entire process can be done in a morning - with test results in about an hour at a cost of around $300. Again, if you don’t know how talk to a research expert or the Eureka! Ranch.

Step 3: Prototype, Rapid Research, & Repeat:  Reinvent your product or service - juggling product, positioning, pricing, profitability, etc. - then run another paired comparison test.  Use the learnings to guide your next cycle of learning. With our whiskey company we do a complete cycle of idea creation, product creation, and product testing every 24 hours. No we are not super human - rather we’ve built our innovation systems for maximum speed. Keep doing cycles till your mediocre idea is transformed into a craft WOW that you are proud of.

To read about Phil’s remarkable story order the book To Make Riders Faster by Anna Dopico. It’s the best business book I’ve read this year.  It’s the behind the scenes story of how big ideas really happen.



Driving Eureka

Bureaucracy -
the Easiest Way to Kill Innovation 
Driving Eureka! Book Excerpt

My 7th book, Driving Eureka!, will be published next month.  Sneak preview...

Innovation equals change. Change means uncertainty. Uncertainty means fear. The best way to prevent innovation or change is through the implementation of bureaucratic systems. Bureaucratic systems, such as excessive rules, regulations, or reporting, create barriers to change, and these barriers protect the status quo.

Bureaucracy multiplies when organizations grow to a size where loyalty to department is greater than loyalty to the organization. Tom Peters once said something along the lines of, “After you get to a dozen people, you have a hopeless bureaucracy.”

Recall, systems are defined as two or more independent parts working toward a common aim. In business and nonprofit organizations, this means divisions, departments, and/or teams focused on achieving the overall aim of the organization.

If a GOOD SYSTEM is “two or more independent parts working toward a common aim” then a BAD SYSTEM is “two or more independent parts working toward separate aims.” Bad systems are created for one of three reasons:

  1. PROTECTIONISM: One department seeks to optimize their results/metrics, without thinking through what the impact is on interconnected departments. With innovation, this is often sparked by departments seeking to push work onto other departments. They do this because cost-cutting has reduced their staff such that they can’t handle their existing workload.

  2. OVERREACTION: A random, special cause mistake has happened and we over do our rules and regulations. With innovation this is often the result of a new product, service, or system failure. When a failure occurs, instead of focusing on fixing the root cause, excessive rules, regulations, and inspection is implemented.

  3. SUBVERSION: Someone wants to prevent change from happening. They use a passive aggressive approach of installing “rules, regulations and inspection” to slow down or kill the change. Ego, jealousy, and/or fear are often the root motivation. With innovation this can be caused by “not invented here” syndrome or the feeling that “I’ve got 3 years to retirement and don’t want to mess up.”

Sadly, once created, bureaucratic systems self-multiply. One act of protectionism, overreaction, or subversion creates equal and opposite acts of protectionism, overreaction, or subversion from other departments. Fortunately there is an antidote.  We call it Bureaucracy Busting—A Four-Step Antidote For Ending Your Suffering.  It’s detailed on pages 74 to 84 of my new book.

To PREORDER Driving Eureka! Click HERE!



craft cocktail Italian Manhattan

A Clean Yet Complex Taste for When it's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

Craft Cocktail Recipe: Italian Manhattan

This bourbon cocktail is a twist on the classic Manhattan normally made with Sweet Vermouth. This is a lighter, cleaner version using Limoncello. The best is my wife Debbie’s Limoncello she makes over the holidays - but we’re out for the season - so I went store bought.

To see where you buy Noble Oak CLICK HERE.


2 oz. Noble Oak Bourbon
1 oz. Limoncello

I make it by taking a rocks glass full of ice and adding to it - A) 2 oz Noble Oak Bourbon, B) 1 oz. Limoncello. Stir 13 times - serve and enjoy.


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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