Driving Eureka!: Problem-Solving with Data-Driven Methods & the Innovation Engineering System

Driving Eureka!: Problem-Solving with Data-Driven Methods & the Innovation Engineering System

by Doug Hall


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Transform the art of innovation into a reliable system!

System Driven Innovation enables you and everyone on your team to use innovation to work smarter, faster, and more creatively. It transforms innovation from a random act to a reliable science. This new mindset ignites confidence in the future. It enables the creation of bigger and bolder ideas—and turns them into reality faster, smarter, and more successfully. With this new mindset, innovation by everyone, everywhere, every day becomes the norm. The rapidly changing world becomes a tremendous opportunity to achieve greatness.

Innovation Engineering defines innovation in two words: Meaningfully Unique. When a product, service, or job candidate is Meaningfully Unique customers are willing to pay more money for it. This links to the two simple truths in today’s marketplace:

If you’re Meaningfully Unique life is great! If you’re NOT Meaningfully Unique you’d better be cheap.

Innovation Engineering is a new field of academic study and leadership science. It teaches how to apply the science of system thinking to strategy, innovation, and cooperation. Research finds that it helps to increase innovation speed (up to 6x) and decrease risk (by 30 to 80%). Innovation Engineering accelerates the creation and development of more profitable products and services. However, the bigger benefit may well lie in its ability to transform organizational cultures by enabling everyone to work smarter every day.

What makes Innovation Engineering unique is that it’s grounded in data, backed by academic theory, and validated in real-world practice. Collectively, it’s the number one documented innovation system on earth. Over 35,000 people have been educated in Innovation Engineering classes, and more than $15 billion in innovations are in active development.

In his book Driving Eureka!, best-selling business author Doug Hall presents the System Driven Innovation scientific method for enabling innovation by everyone, everywhere, every day. It’s the essential resource you need to enable yourself—and your team—to innovate, succeed, and do amazing things that matter, on a daily basis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578605811
Publisher: Clerisy Press
Publication date: 11/13/2018
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Doug Hall is an inventor, author, and whiskey maker. He’s a chemical engineer who rose to the rank of Master Marketing Inventor at Procter & Gamble. At P&G, using the principles that would become Innovation Engineering, his team invented and shipped a record 9 innovations in just 12 months.

He has been named one of America’s top innovation experts by A&E Top 10, Inc. magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Dateline NBC, CNBC, CIO magazine, and the CBC. 

In 1986 he founded the Eureka! Ranch, focused on a singular mission to find, filter, and fast-track big ideas. Today, the mission is the same; however, through the application of Innovation Engineering system-thinking to innovation, Eureka! Inventing projects (by the Ranch team and Planet Eureka! Network partners) invent 10 times more “big ideas” and make them real up to 6 times faster than existing innovation systems.

In 2009 he founded the Innovation Engineering Institute, focused on changing the world through systems that enable innovation by everyone, everywhere, every day. It’s a new field of academic study and leadership science that is taught as an undergraduate minor and graduate certificate on college campuses and off campus through Innovation Engineering Blue Belt and Black Belt courses, coaching, and certifications.

In 2016 he founded Brain Brew Custom Whisk(e)y on the belief that the world doesn’t need another whiskey, but everyone needs their own whiskey. The Brain Brew team is powered by the Eureka! Ranch culture and the Innovation Engineering systems. They collaborate with craft whiskey companies to accelerate the development of luxury smoothness through application of Brain Brew’s time-compression technology. 

Doug is the best-selling author of seven books. He has starred in two network television series (ABC’s American Inventor and Backyard Inventors) and a nationally syndicated radio program (Brain Brew Radio). Doug authored and performed a one-man play, North Pole Tenderfoot, on his adventure re-creating Admiral Peary’s last dash to the North Pole. 

For his pioneering work on system-driven innovation he was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Maine and a doctor of laws from the University of Prince Edward Island. 

Doug is a citizen of Canada and the USA. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and they have three children. They divide their time between Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, and Springbrook, Prince Edward Island, Canada. He is passionate about sailing, craft pizza, craft whisk(e)y, cross-country skiing, and bagpiping.

Read an Excerpt

3. Innovation Agreement

Innovation is the ability of an organization to change as its outside world changes. You’ve got to have that in an organization.

—Sir Terry Leahy, retired CEO of Tesco

A Major Mistake

As we embarked on bringing system thinking to the world of innovation, we made a major mistake. We assumed that everyone understood what innovation was and why it was important.

The mistake was discovered and quantified during a quarterly review of data from our Innovation Culture survey. The survey measures employee and management perceptions and their mindsets toward innovation. We have fielded this survey before every innovation project the Ranch and the Innovation Engineering community have run since 1995. What we learned was shocking.

7 out of 10 managers DON’T AGREE that there is a need for their organization to innovate!

8 out of 10 managers see NO URGENCY for their organization to innovate!

It was an embarrassing moment for me. For years, I had mistakenly thought that everyone saw innovation as I did. The reality is that the majority of managers and business leaders don’t see innovation as needed or urgent.

As an aside, we missed this data insight because of the way we had been reporting the data. For 20 years we reported results relative to a world-class standard. During this analysis we looked at the data in the absolute, not on a relative basis. The result was an entirely new insight. 

A New Beginning

To address the lack of agreement and urgency that we had discovered from our analysis, we implemented a program of beginning all of our conversations and classes with a discussion on:

WHAT is an innovation? How do you know one when you see one?

WHY innovate? Explain in a way that would motivate workers and leaders.

If you can’t agree on WHAT an innovation is or WHY it’s important to innovate, then the rest of the conversation on HOW to innovate is irrelevant.

WHAT Is an Innovation?

If you want to be entertained, ask five people in your organization how they define an innovation. More specifically, how would they know one when they saw one? The word innovation has been used and abused to the point where there is little agreement on its definition.

Our Definition of Innovation

The Innovation Engineering community’s definition of innovation is precise. 

Meaningfully Unique

MEANINGFUL in that it has an obvious value to the customer. That is, the idea is so meaningful that customers would willingly give up their existing behaviors for it. Importantly, it is also instantly understandable as to “Why should I, the customer, care?”

UNIQUE in that it is a genuine original. It’s a nonobvious leap that doesn’t exist in the world. Often it offers a quantifiable advantage such that you can put a number on how much better it is versus the existing alternative, if there is one.

How to Evaluate if Your Innovation Is Meaningfully Unique

The simple way to identify if your new or improved product or service is innovative is to ask the question: “Are customers willing to pay more money for it?” No customer wants to pay more money for anything. If they are willing to pay a premium, then the offering must be both meaningful and unique.

Conversely, if they are not willing to pay a premium—because they can achieve essentially the same benefit or effect elsewhere—then it’s a commodity. It’s not a requirement to charge a higher price for an innovation. It’s also possible to charge the same as competing offerings and use the increased demand to drive increased sales volume.

For system improvements or nonprofit causes, the equivalent question is: “Does the innovation offer a value that is so meaningful and unique that other stakeholders (departments, employees, partners) are willing to invest their time, energy, and/or money into changing from what they are doing now to the new approach?”

You can quantitatively assess your Meaningful Uniqueness by asking potential users, customers, and stakeholders for their ratings of Purchase Intent (Meaningfulness) and New and Different (Uniqueness) each on a 0–10 scale. Then you weight the average ratings 60/40 (60% Purchase + 40% New and Different). Our research has found this is the single most predictive measure of marketplace success with an innovation. Details on the data behind this can be found in the academic research article, “The real-time response survey in new product research: it’s about time,” published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing. I wrote it with Lynn Kahle of the University of Oregon and with Mike Kosinski. 

Other qualitative ways to identify if an idea is meaningfully unique include:

Is the idea so surprising, so original, so newsworthy that it will generate word-of-mouth? Ideas that offer real news spread by word of mouth. Is your idea so original that customers would share it with others and on the internet via their social media outlets? A common question I ask is: “Would a customer post this innovation on Facebook, and, if so, what would they write?”

Does the idea instantly spark additional ideas? Great innovations set off a chain reaction of ideas because they open our minds to seeing the world in a new and different way.

Is the idea patentable? This is my personal favorite. Patentability is arguably the most clear and specific definition that exists for what is a true innovation. To be patentable, the innovation has to be a “nonobvious leap” for someone who has ordinary skill in the field. And, frankly, an idea that is obvious to someone like your competition would be hard to defend as a real innovation, wouldn’t it?

An innovation is also genuinely Meaningfully Unique when you just can’t stop thinking about it. When an idea is a real innovation, you have an urgency to get started on making the idea real as soon as possible. This is especially important with today’s Millennial generation. They rightly give an even greater importance to working on things that matter. Richard Branson of Virgin put it this way in Screw Business as Usual:

These days I think you’ve got to talk about your value proposition—why are you so proud of your product? And you’ve got to communicate that pride in ways that add up to a young generation that’s very well informed and very idealistic. The young care about where products come from. They care about what the company that makes the product actually does in the world—or not. But you can’t fake it. You have to say, screw business as usual and just do it.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1 PROBLEM: Innovation Is No Longer Optional

CHAPTER 2 SOLUTION: Innovation Engineering Pedigree

CHAPTER 3 Innovation Agreement

CHAPTER 4 Innovation System

CHAPTER 5 LEARNING MINDSET: The Three Innovation Principles



CHAPTER 8 LEARNING MINDSET: Commercialize System

CHAPTER 9 Alignment Subsystem

CHAPTER 10 Collaboration Cafe Subsystem

CHAPTER 11 Merwyn Rapid Research Subsystem

CHAPTER 12 Patent ROI Subsystem

CHAPTER 13 How to Create an Innovation Culture

BACKSTORY: Who Is Dr. W. Edwards Deming?

INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN CAHILL, Executive Director of the Deming Institute



EXCERPT FROM North Pole Tenderfoot

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