The New Innovation Standard | Driving Eureka! #18


The feature story this week is about a new innovation standard.  Instead of simply reacting to customer requests - go BEYOND REASONABLE.

The Driving Eureka! Book excerpt lays out the two rules for creating BIG IDEAS in a brainstorming session.

The Brain Brew Whiskey Academy discusses how the Brain Brew Crew goes BEYOND REASONABLE.

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



The New Innovation Standard Beyond Unreasonable

The New Innovation Standard = Beyond Reasonable 

Innovations can be meaningful, wonderful, better than expected. 

However my new standard is BEYOND REASONABLE! 

I experienced BEYOND REASONABLE during the opening night of the new James Taylor and His All-Star Band with Bonnie Raitt tour.

It was not just good - it was overwhelmingly BEYOND REASONABLY AWESOME.   I can’t believe I’m saying this but on a pure entertainment basis it ranked close to Bruce Springsteen - and for fun with Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville circus.

The show did the little stuff great - started on time - delivered 3 hours of great music.

But that was just the start - it then went…

BEYOND REASONABLE - Bonnie Raitt gave a headliner show not a “warm up.”

BEYOND REASONABLE - James Taylor’s band was filled with incredible recording artists.

BEYOND REASONABLE - A Disney grade video set - was a 3 dimensional wow

BEYOND REASONABLE - The video directing and script was surprising and engaging not “window dressing.”

BEYOND REASONABLE - Despite a packed arena of over 14,000 people - James and Bonnie were unscripted and fully present in the moment - you felt like you were sitting at a coffee house with them.   

The joy across the audience was infectious. It was a truly magical experience. As we walked back to our car - I thought about how THIS FEELING - that I’m feeling is what I want every customer in companies, on campus, and in our whisk(e)y tasting room to feel.

This is a feeling that makes you write newsletters and do podcasts about it.

So what’s stopping us. Sadly, I think we have an epidemic of prudence, properness, and reasonableness.  We need to say NO to reasonable and embrace BEYOND REASONABLE.  We need to do this in our professional AND our personal lives.

So what are you waiting for?

Get up, get out, get going!



Driving Eureka Data Driven Methods and the Innovation Engineering Method

Driving Eureka! Book Excerpt

Two Rules for CREATE Sessions

This week’s book excerpt details the two fundamental rules of brainstorming.  And, while much has changed these two rules are as true today as they were in 1942 when Alex Osborn first defined them.

Alex Osborn invented the word and concept known as brainstorming. He identified two rules of brainstorming that are as true today as when he first identified them in 1942 in his book How to Think Up

  1. Suspend Judgment: The psychology of idea creation is very simple. Negative feedback loops stop creation. Positive feedback loops ignite creative momentum. To create fresh ideas, we need to suspend judgment on the value of each initial idea.

    Suspending judgment separates the creation from the evaluation of early ideas. When you create and evaluate in one pass, a mindset of negativity develops. If every time you say an idea it is shot down, soon you don’t say ideas. Soon fresh Ideas are withheld for fear of being shut down. If instead you simply create, create, and create then a chain reaction of positives are evoked. All ideas, good or bad, serve as stimulus for even more ideas.

    Over the years we’ve discovered many techniques for building positive momentum. For example, we offer as we call it “thunderous applause” when people share an idea with the broader group. We also encourage senior leaders to set the standard. We encourage them to offer to the group a crazed or even “stupid” idea early in a Create session. When senior leaders do this it frees up others to do the same, as it stretches the psychological safety zone for others. The thinking goes like this: “I hesitated to speak an idea for fear that it was too crazy. However, after the CEO said that stupid idea, I figured at least my idea wasn’t as dumb as what he had said.”

  2. Quantity Creates Quality: Research I did with Dr. Andy VanGundy, of the University of Oklahoma, confirmed what other researchers have found—that the more ideas you create, the more big ideas you end up with. It’s believed that this is because initial ideas act as stimulus for more ideas. The more ideas you have, the more connections to bigger ideas that can be made.

    Contrast this with the approach of focusing on finding just the one big idea. In our classes it’s common for some teams to follow the advice and create a lot of ideas before picking their best idea. Other teams attempt to simply create the answer thinking it will be the shorter, easier path. Every time that I remember, the best ideas come from the team that took the time to create many ideas first. 

    Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California confirmed that quantity does indeed create quality. Simonton studied 2,036 scientists throughout history, and he found that the most respected scientists produced not only more great works, but also more “bad” ones. They produced. Period.

    If I were helping lead your team in a problem-solving session I would challenge you to create 20, 50 or 100 possible solutions, depending on how very important the problem is. My goal would be to ask for more than is reasonable. The team may well complain when I challenge them, saying it’s unreasonable. However, when we are done, they will thank me. Osborn’s research confirms what will happen. He found that the second half of brainstorming sessions generate 78% of the big ideas. In addition to generating more stimuli, the initial ideas that are generated are usually the obvious ones. When the obvious ideas are exhausted, then original ideas are developed.



Just a few of the products that the Brain Brew Crew has created with our collaboration partners along with our experimental brands.

Brain Brew Whisk(e)y Academy:

Beyond Reasonable Whisk(e)y Products

Like all craft companies - “beyond reasonable” is not a slogan it is embedded in our DNA. In fact, if anything the debate is often how much MORE unreasonable should we go. This mindset is driven from deep within each person. It comes from a desire to delight, excite, and amaze our customers. 

Examples of us going BEYOND REASONABLE:

  • We have run over 400 quantitative - statistically significant - taste tests with consumers to define and refine our skills.
  • We hand sort every piece of wood three times before we use it in our Time Compression™ system.
  • We only use “air dried” wood - never “kiln dried.”  It costs more but the difference in flavor is well worth it.

To those from a more classical business background - these “beyond reasonable” elements are not “craft craziness.”  Rather, they are strategically aligned with what makes us Meaningfully Unique - that is - our ability to manage where 70% of the flavor in any whiskey comes from - the interaction of wood and spirit.

Algonquin Cocktail: A 1919 Cocktail with a Brain Brew Twist 

This starts with the Classic from the Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC and substitutes grapefruit juice for pineapple juice and adjusts the quantities a little. The result is an elegant cocktail that to my tastes…Is honestly Beyond Reasonable.


1.5 oz Paddle Wheel Bourbon
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Grape Fruit Juice 


Step 1: Add ice to a Boston Shaker along with all of the ingredients.
Step 2: Shake vigorously.
Step 3: Strain into a martini glass.



The Driving Eureka! PodcastDriving_Eureka_podcast_image

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