It's Time to RESIST the Tyranny of Convenience | Driving Eureka! #14


It's Time to RESIST
the Tyranny of Convenience


The feature story this week is about the challenge of balancing modern conveniences versus old fashioned commitment to digging deep into things that are difficult, challenging and meaningful.

The book excerpt takes you behind the scenes on how we are reinventing how students learn innovation.

The Brain Brew Whiskey Academy story is about how we decided to go deep on custom whiskey.

To go DEEPER on any of the articles - listen to the companion DRIVING EUREKA! Podcast.





It's Time to RESIST
the Tyranny of Convenience 


Recently I found a newspaper article, “The Tyranny of Convenience” by Tim Wu in the NY Times International Edition. I’d read and saved it when on a trip to London.

The closing paragraph summarized the article well: 

“So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity.”

Wu challenges us to invest the time and energy to do something, learn something, be something meaningful. He suggests that culturally we are becoming addicted to the path of least resistance. The result is a lack of depth and transformative impact.

The digital world makes reading snippets easy - so we don’t read the full book.

YouTube enables us to learn a little thing - so we don’t develop true skill and understanding.

Artificial Intelligence apps enable our decisions but with the consequence of us not learning the why those decisions are correct.

What’s happened to learning - trying - failing - learning more - trying again.  What’s happened to making a dedicated commitment to something that matters.   

ENOUGH ALREADY - it’s time to pick at least ONE THING to GO DEEP ON during 2019. It’s time to make a commitment to learning something, mastering something, becoming immersed in something.  

We tell our children to not give up when they are frustrated with learning something.  However, as adults we accept what we can do and can’t do. We don’t commit ourselves to something unless we believe we will be successful before we start. 

So how about you? 

On the companion Driving Eureka! Podcast I’m publicly telling the story of how I’m working with the Brain Brew Crew to reinvent the world of whiskey.   

So get up, get out, get going with something that matters!




Driving Eureka! Book Excerpt 

A New Way of Learning - Cycles to Mastery


Adults commonly have a self conception that they either can or can’t innovate successfully.  When we started teaching innovation Engineering on college campuses we quickly learned that college faculty and students have preconceptions about their ability to innovate.   To address this we had innovate on how we taught Innovation.  This was not a convenient decision.  It was a significant investment of time, energy and money.  This book except gives an overview on what we are doing.

Jake Ward of the University of Maine first identified that we needed to develop both a great curriculum and a new way of learning. Creating a new way of teaching was especially important because, as a new field of study, there is not a base of faculty who have the breadth and depth of experience with System Driven Innovation.

Two years of R&D later, a new system of teaching was born and branded as Cycles to Mastery. Its purpose is to enable all who are willing to achieve mastery of Innovation Engineering. It’s based on iterative cycles of learning. It blends: 1) the work of Benjamin Bloom on the 2 Sigma Problem, 2) formative assessment, 3) Deming PDSA cycles, 4) quality control charting, 5) flipped classroom, and 6) competency-based learning. It involves five different types of classes: 

  1. Digital Class - These classes involve short, five- to seven-minute videos that cover the core content of each of the Innovation Engineering sub-skills. Interactive quizzes feed forward what students have learned and not learned to the instructor so that adaptations can be made in the next class.

  2. Lab Class - The digital content is made real through group and individual assignments in which students get hands-on understanding of the content. Feedback loops provide grading of each assignment. Each student is given the opportunity to resubmit till they achieve success.

  3. Application Class - Students are challenged to put the sub-skill learning into a broader context. Students apply the new learning plus prior learning on realistic scenarios or challenges.

  4. Reflection Class - Students write a reflection on what they have learned and how they can apply it in their lives. This solidifies the learning at a deeper level.

  5. Experience Class - These are real-world challenges. They are used to bring the learning to life. Off campus, the experience class involves coaching the student in applying the learning to their daily work. On campus the experience is flexible. It can be part of an internship. It can be creating a new invention, starting a company, or leading an innovation project for the university that the student attends.

Cycles to Mastery has been shown to generate 200 to 400% increases in the number of students achieving mastery levels versus the classic teaching approach. Multiple learning experiences take the student from intellectually knowing to deeply understanding the skills.

When we teach Innovation Engineering on college campuses, the students get rich repetition. Off campus we accomplish repetitions by coaching the student as they apply the learning to their projects. Ken Grier, creative director for the Macallan, and an Innovation Engineering Black Belt, feels that applying to his work was the most valuable part of his learning: “The forced rigor of actually doing it, practicing it, getting coaching feedback was 70% of my learning.” Ken’s observation of the importance of hands-on application was confirmed by Deming Master Walter Werner: “Education begins when you leave school, not while you are there. The classroom is not the hard part, not even close.” 

The most exciting aspect of Cycles to Mastery is that it includes a system for never-ending increases in the mastery standard. Control charts identify when the classes are so effective that student learning has risen above control limits. This signifies that it’s time to increase the difficulty of assignments and therefore raise the mastery standards. In effect, Cycles to Mastery delivers “Learning Inflation” instead of “grade inflation.”

In retrospect, the decision to invest the time, energy, and money to invent a new system of teaching is probably the most important decision we have made. It’s enabled us to have a scalable system for truly democratizing innovation across entire companies, countries, and cultures.

Quite simply, if you are willing, you will be made able to master the Innovation Engineering body of knowledge. We have successfully taught artists, scientists, engineers, economists, politicians, lawyers, accountants, musicians, and poets. We are so confident in the teaching system that we offer an ironclad guarantee—IF YOU ARE WILLING YOU WILL BE MADE ABLE. You are guaranteed achieving mastery if you put in the time and follow the Cycles to Mastery methodology.



Applying the Driving Eureka! Systems and Tools to Create Craft Distillery Success


Brain Brew Whisk(e)y Academy:
Great Companies, Great DISTILLERIES - GO DEEP


To have a great company you need to go deep on something.  You have to have something that you do that no one else does.   This something is what makes you MEANINGFULLY UNIQUE.  It’s the reason that

With Brain Brew Custom Whisk(e)y it’s our depth and breadth of understanding how wood interacts with raw spirit to create great whiskey.   We have run over 2,000 experiments with different ages of oak as well as other woods.  We’ve run over 500 consumer taste tests to deepen our learning.  

We’ve basically gone all in on the wonder of wood.

Note - in doing this it meant that we made a decision to NOT go deep on other things such as distilling (we buy the raw spirit versus destining it ourselves) or on national distribution (we collaborate with Edrington instead of going to market broadly ourselves).

Classic Rocks Serve 

While I love cocktails.  This week it seems that I should celebrate the magic of the double oak aging we do with our Noble Oak Bourbon.  It features both American Oak and European Sherry Oak.  The result is a bourbon with an amazing depth of flavor.  Noble Oak has flavor so good it’s been awarded Double Gold at the North American Bourbon & Whiskey Championship and Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  But don’t take our word for it - it’s available in about half the country with more states coming soon.

NOTE: Don’t listen to those who preach that whiskey should be drank neat.  Truth is only 22% of whiskey drinkers drink it neat, 34% have it with ice and the balance prefer it in cocktails or as a highball with something carbonated.

The recipe is simple.   Fill a rocks glass half full of ice - add 2 ounces of our Noble Oak Bourbon, stir 13 times and enjoy.


The Driving Eureka! Podcast

Our goal is to help you, "find, filter and fast track BIG IDEAS."Driving_Eureka_podcast_image

Come and join us. We will teach how to build a business or innovate in an existing organization using the Driving Eureka! book and a whole series of education programs.


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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