The End of Big Bang Innovation | Driving Eureka! #8


In this week’s newsletter I do a rant about why the “Big Bang Theory of Innovation” is just not reality. The book excerpt does a dive into the importance of patents. Lastly, the cocktail is my personal, and very compulsive Martini recipe to celebrate the end of prohibition. 





It's time to end the BIG BANG theory of innovation

There is a misperception that big ideas are created through a magical "Big Bang." In 40 years of corporate innovation I have NEVER EVER seen this happen in the real world. Now, I have stood in the back of the room and listened as executives “rewrote history” and claimed that it had occurred that way even though it hadn’t. 

The truth of the matter is that BIG ideas are built through hundreds and often thousands of cycles of learning, problem solving and reinventing. Big ideas are created by people who care deeply about building something that matters.    

To put numbers on it - your starting idea is responsible for at best 10% of your final bottom line business result. 90% of your success lies in the hard work you put in during the journey from idea to reality.  

Consultants, speakers and authors who “preach but have never practiced innovation” perpetuate the Big Bang misperception. They advise that the secret to success is investing in the front end of innovation - in expensive insight research, market modeling, design excursions and strategic summits. Their theory is that from that work a Big Bang miracle insight will occur that you can simply execute. They then claim victory, take their high fee - and you struggle to make the idea real. To be quantitative about it - two very high quality studies found that the key to innovation success is in the “get your hands dirty, hard work of turning the ideas into reality.”   Done right and good ideas become AWESOME. Done the average corporate way and two high quality surveys find your idea loses 50% of its’ value during the development process. 

The “fancy consultants” consider the development process to be beneath them.  And besides, getting their hands dirty is not something they have experience with. 

What sets our Eureka! Ranch and the Innovation Engineering Movement apart from other innovation systems is a never ending commitment to the journey from idea to reality. At the Ranch we ALWAYS have multiple internal and external development projects underway. We’ve done “idea to shipping projects” for the likes of Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney and hundreds of other companies that are less well known.     

This connection between idea and reality is built into our DNA. We ship our ideas - be they innovation software, training courses or recently craft bourbon and whiskey.  The process of going from ideas to reality keeps our teaching and software “real” and “grounded in reality.” It’s also a TON OF FUN. In fact I don’t think there is anything in business more exciting than the journey from idea to reality. The feeling you get when the idea ships (product, service, new work system) is indescribable.    

So what are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves and take an idea - actually any idea - and begin the journey to make it GREAT!




Driving Eureka! Book Excerpt:
Why Do Patents Matter?

Patents are the way to wealth in the new world. In the old world of business, physical capital, and assets, the defining measure of wealth was land, buildings, machines, and inventory.

In the new world, intellectual capital—patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets—are the defining measure of wealth. Estimates of the value of these non-tangible assets range from 70 to 80% of the valuation of the average company. 

Every product, service, or individual exists on a continuum from total Commodity to Total Monopoly. 

The mere word Monopoly brings with it visions of illegal activity. A Monopoly can wield its incredible power improperly. It can flex its power unfairly to destroy potential competitors through artificially low pricing or other strong-arm tactics. For that reason governments monitor the actions of monopolies very closely.  

A patent is a legal monopoly that is supported by governments. Governments around the world support patents because innovation has proven to be the most effective way to build jobs and wealth. And patents are the best way—even if imperfect—to ensure that courageous inventors are able to receive financial benefit from their inventions.

When you have a monopoly on a meaningfully unique invention, you realize increased sales and profitability. Patents are also an “insurance policy” for realizing a financial return on your investment in research and development. Without a patent, it’s perfectly legal for others to reverse engineer your trade secrets and in the process cash in on your inventiveness. 

To give you a sense of the importance of patents, Google has over 20,000 patents and applications in progress. 

An academic study by Andries and Faems, published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management found that over a three-year period 17% of small companies (SMEs) and 43% of large companies filed for at least one patent. The study also found that for both small and large companies, those that filed more patents realized a higher profit margin. 

A separate study by the Innovation Engineering Institute team found that one of the best indicators of a proactive culture within small and mid-sized companies was if they had filed two or more patents. The conclusion is simple—patents matter.

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Brain Brew Whisk(e)y Academy: 
A Martini Worthy of Celebrating 85 Years Since Prohibition

85 years ago on December 5th, 1933 Prohibition ended in the USA. In honor of President  F.D. Roosevelt who helped end prohibition and who was a lover of Martini’s I’m sharing my personal Martini recipe. FDR preferred a Dirty Martini (added olive juice).  

As readers know I’m bit of a fanatic when it comes to cocktails. The Chemical Engineer and the rapid research cycles mindset of Innovation Engineering takes over. 

There is no cocktail that my fellow drink scientists and I (Tim, John & Sheldon I’m talking about you here 😀) have done more learning cycles on than the martini. I have made this drink with at least 30 different Gin’s, a dozen different vermouths, and at least 100 different ratios and craft recipe options.

Bottom line - I’ve spent way too many hours crafting this drink. It’s a work in progress - just last week I did another paired comparison test of my best versus a martini with a new gin. Sadly - it wasn’t any better. I say sadly, because I get really excited when I find a way to make it better!

BEWARE - this is a very, very precise drink. DO NOT substitute other ingredients. 

Ingredients for Martini:

Beefeater Gin
Dolin Dry Vermouth (Green Bottle)

Directions for Martini

Step 1:  Fill a martini glass with water and ice to chill it while you make the drink.  This is critical as you don’t want to lose the chill to the glass.

Step 2:  Fill a classic Boston Shaker with ice to create your martini. (the type with a glass and silver cup). Using this type of shaker versus Cobbler Type (cup with lid) allows for a longer throw of the ice creating the perfect dilution.

While I prefer my whiskey cocktails stirred I am a shaken not stirred martini drinker - I like the cold and the ice crystals - it adds a zing versus the clear, practical and prudent stirred version.

Step 3: To your glass of ice - add 2 ounces of Beefeater Gin. Don’t argue with me.  Do it.  Beefeater is in my mind the world standard for a classic gin. Most importantly, unlike most of the modern gins it’s really dry. Sadly, there is a trend today to add sugar to most gins. 

Step 4: One capful of Dolin Dry (Green bottle) Vermouth that you’ve taken out of your refrigerator. PLEASE - Vermouth goes bad if you don’t take care of it. I always buy small bottles and store them in the refrigerator.

Step 5:  Shake the Martini for 12 seconds - counting or watching your watch. Yes 12 seconds - this gets you to maximum cold and the perfect dilution.

Step 6: Dump the ice water from your martini glass and strain the martini into it using a Hawthorne strainer.

Step 7: Now you have three choices:  1) Add two olives, 2) Add a thin piece of lemon peel - wiping it on the rim or 3) go crazy and do both 1 and 2.   I switch it up - but usually I add two olives.

Step 8: 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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