Test the Untestable | Driving Eureka! #15


Test the Untestable:
3 Principles for Smarter Innovation Decisions

The feature story this week is about how to dramatically improve your innovation decision making by applying 3 simple principles.

The book excerpt discusses how data can help you drive out fear of innovation.

The Brain Brew Whiskey Academy story is about some new learnings on whiskey cocktails because of data from a recent research study.

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


Make Smarter Innovation Decisions

Test the Untestable: 
3 Principles for Smarter Innovation Decisions

Company leaders pride themselves on their ability to make key decisions to drive their business. Yet, sadly, most companies don’t use hard data to make innovation decisions. The result is a 85% to 95% failure rate in innovation. 

Why don’t leaders use data to make more decisions? They don’t know that they can! I believe that leaders are not stupid. They would use data to aid their decision making if they had it. The reason they don’t is because they believe they can’t gather data to help them make most decisions. Ten to twenty years ago they were right. It was not cost effective to use data to make smarter decisions. 

Fortunately, new discoveries and technologies now make it possible to cost effectively gather data to support 100% of key decisions. For example: a long term marketplace tracking study by the Eureka! Ranch’s - MERWYN Decision Support group found that the Truth Teller research methodology was 7 times smarter at making go/no go decisions than company leaders.

Test the Untestable™ is our slogan when talking about the new mindset, methods and tools for helping leaders make smarter decisions. We need to be this BLUNT with our messaging to breakthrough the old world mindset.   

The new generation of Data Driven Decision Support are based on 3 principles that have been proven to work for industrial, business to business, consumer, services, non profit and even government innovations.

  1. Testing at the Speed of Decision Making:  Old world research methods were practical, prudent and pondered. Leaders often relied on judgment because it was not possible to get data in the time available to make a decision. In the new world research timing and cost is down by up to 90% (One multinational found that the new methods helped them cut costs by some 93%). Speed and cost savings are a result of utilizing 100% digital systems for design, fielding and analysis of research. The result is statistically reliable single product and paired comparison tests in 60 to 90 minutes. 

  2. “Measure Twice or Three Times - Decide Once”:  When faced challenging decisions there is often no “magic test” that can be run.  In these situations, the new speed mentioned above makes it possible to use two or three distinct methods to triangulate on Decision Support data.   A few of the methods that can be utilized include: a) Rapid Research with key stakeholders, customers, etc, b) Digital Delphi calibrated quantification of those with domain expertise, c) Idea Coach artificial intelligence idea evaluation and d) Truth Teller benchmarking of new ideas versus 50 validated success factors. 

  3. Confront Reality with Risk Adjusted Forecasting:  Multiple measures and the inherent uncertainty of forecasting assumptions introduce risk that is often minimized or ignored. The new mindset is to embrace the uncertainty / variance in assumptions and to model them. Tools like Monte Carlo simulations and 5 year Trial, Repeat and Diffusion Models quantify the uncertainty enabling leaders to know the high risk issues with implementation and their potential impact.  Importantly - risk adjusted forecasting can be applied to 100% of key decisions.

Over the years, the application of these principles - singularly and in combination have enabled 1) Procter & Gamble, American Express, Reckitt Benckiser, J&J, Kraft, Nestle and many others to make smarter decisions on true New to The World Innovations, 2) Over 100 Industrial Equipment Companies to quantify odds of success for various investment options, 3) The US Department of Commerce to evaluate the market potential for technologies in development at Federal Labs and 4) Enabled our Brain Brew Whisk(e)y company to win 2 out of 8 double gold medals at the North American Bourbon and Whiskey championship. 

You can build your own systems to do it.  Or you can get expert help.  The Merwyn Decision Support Group, at the Eureka! Ranch, specializes in these methods.  Contact them at 513.271.9911, email them at vicki@eurekaranch.com or use the button below to reach out. 

Contact Merwyn Decision Support Group



Driving Eureka! Book Excerpt 

Data Driven Decision Making 

The subtitle of my new book, Driving Eureka! is “Problem-Solving with Data-Driven Methods & The Innovation Engineering System.  Data is used to reduce fear and increase success rates.  This except outlines the importance of data as a tool to reduce fear.

There are two fundamental ways to reduce fear.

Method 1 is to make the unknown known. We do this by defining the whole idea from a customer and company perspective. For the customer, this means defining: Customer, Problem, Promise, Proof, and Price. For the organization this means defining the Math Game Plan (sales forecast or savings), Death Threats, and why we are Passionate about the idea.

At an early stage, all of these definitions are more hypotheses than certainties. Thus the need for the second method of driving out fear.

Method 2 involves adopting the Deming Cycle, also known as “Plan, Do, Study, Act” as the method we use to manage our projects.

“Plan, Do, Study, Act” (PDSA) is a mindset where rapid experimentation is used to enable data-aided decision-making. Politics and opinions are replaced with facts and data. Importantly, PDSA is done quickly, with cycle times of one hour to a maximum of seven days. It’s used to both resolve early-stage project Death Threats and to provide structure to project management and the innovation development process. It’s used for Very Important Opportunities and Very Important Systems. With VIOs the quantitative research is with current or new customers. With VISs the quantitative research is with internal stakeholders. With “Plan, Do, Study, Act,” the egocentric “declare and defend” is replaced with a curiosity to discover, experiment, and learn.

The data shows that as we drive down fear, the number of Meaningfully Unique ideas created goes up. And this data is only at the start. Continued tracking of ideas through the development process finds that driving out fear is critical if teams are to have the courage to problem solve instead of compromise when they come face to face with inevitable development challenges.


# of Meaningfully Unique Ideas Invented

Low Fear Groups 42
Medium Fear Groups 34
High Fear Groups 31

A system mindset, exploring stimulus, leveraging diversity, and driving out fear are simple principles. Their application is anything but. To develop them as a new mindset across a culture, to build confidence in them, takes education and repetition.

When we really live these principles, problems become opportunities to improve your innovation.



Temporary sign on our new Time Compression™ facility. 
When final paperwork comes through we will be moving from Kentucky to our Newtown facility.

Brain Brew Whisk(e)y Academy:


Last week we ran research on our whiskies and whiskey cocktails.   The data confirmed some beliefs and challenged others.

CONFIRMED:  Our four core whiskey offerings appeal to different groups of consumers as we expected.   

CONFIRMED: While only 18% of those in the USA who drink drink whiskey…. 90%+ have a whiskey cocktail that they will LOVE.   

SURPRISE:  Whiskey forward cocktails like Sazarac have a much broader appeal than expected.  Appeal depends more on “balance” than on alcohol level.

SURPRISE: It’s possible to build a Whiskey Wizard that guides people to the right whiskey and or cocktail for them.    Among the questions that we are finding statistically significance with are things you’d expect like: frequency of drinking whiskey, preference for scotch versus bourbon.  There were also things you would not expect:   Drink Red versus White Wine,  Cocktail Trend Setter and Likes Hot & Spicy Food.

SURPRISE: Our twist on a Whisk(e)y Sour was the Top Cocktail with whiskey drinkers.  And Our take on a Bourbon Milk Punch was the favorite with non-whiskey drinkers.

BRAIN BREW Bourbon Milk Punch

This is an AMAZING drink. It’s a twist on the famous Brennan’s Brandy Milk Punch of New Orleans. Bourbon replaces brandy. Cream of coconut replaces simple syrup and vanilla extract.


1.5 oz Noble Oak Bourbon
2.5 oz Half & Half
1 oz Cream of Coconut
Shaved Chocolate

Step 1: Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shaking till frothy.
Step 2: Strain into a chilled glass with no ice.
Step 3: Garnish with shaved chocolate and serve.


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 



2007 Eureka Ranch logo_sm
Messages Image(1918687528)
Innovation Engineering