Codemash Thursday 1:00p – Engineering innovation


Engineering Innovation

Dustin Updyke

Played Steven Johnson’s talk from RSA Animate.

We don’t typically get into the squishy bits. Humans don’t have binary inputs and outputs.

We don’t much to make sure ideas are captured and possibly acted upon.

“Without Ideas, mankind has nothing”- Charlotte Lang

Ideas are the currency for the future.

Product Owners are important because they lay the tracks for where we are going to go.

Get the ideas out on the table, vet them quickly, and let them go somewhere

What are the ideas we should chase? Ideas that don’t make sense at central headquarters might make a lot of sense out in the field.

Without new ideas, companies die (example – Kodak)

You can’t have an “A” team that gets to do all of the prototyping and proof of concepts – that doesn’t scale and discourages others from staying engaged in the company.

Core – what we do today
Adjacent – expanding what we do (new markets, incremental features, etc.)
Transformational – creating product spaces or entire markets

Incremental —–>—–>—– Innovation
It is a continuum. Thinking of it as a line makes it easier to see how much you are shifting. Too much change will be resisted, but sometimes you need to have aspirational goals to move you along the path.

“Innovation is about perspective shift. If it were obvious, we’d already be doing it” – Astro Teller, Google

Shaving costs has limits – you will lose in the end of that path.

Invention has fallen in to disuse – we use Innovation to mean invention.

Someone has to have the job to track and monitor innovation. Facilitate ideas via events, sessions, etc.
You can invite in vendors to work with you and see what could be possible.
Every X (quarterly) review – report out the progress

Build a case – Why? Stakeholders? Benefit? Use?
Stakeholders is often skipped, but it is actually one of the more important things to consider.

Tell the story of why, how it works, impact, market, costs, etc.

Apple started asking “why” you would want an iPod in a market full of mp3 players. Asking why allowed them to start with the benefit and how they were going to make a better mp3 player.

Idea -> ??? -> Profit: doesn’t work. You need to know why.

Impact and value often need to be researched. It can’t just be guessed at. Sometimes this might require enlisting a third party.

4 Quadrants:
Why/Value | Risks/Steps/Approach
How it works | Market Opp/Biz Value

Build a one page slide that shows the answers to these questions

Where do ideas come from
People need structure to get started – limits are beneficial because they help focus
Doesn’t have to be heavy

Guide – bring ideas out and get them moving (top down AND bottom up)
Top down innovation is difficult to maintain a flow, and only let’s some people innovate
You should always have ideas in the hopper so that you can start moving on the next idea.
Negative feedback is useful because it helps you find out the problems with the idea that need to be mitigated, and gives you the opportunity to make a convert when you figure out how to work around the problem
Need to have a constant flow of ideas. What do we do once we ship the idea? How do we handle feedback?

Doing is important and where we focus, but the story is important so that people can get behind the idea. It helps connect them to the idea.

We need a habit of creating ideas – habits become self-perpetuating.

Sometimes throwing out a dumb idea can get people thinking, if you can handle looking a little bit dumb.

Sometimes good, unrelated ideas come out of crazy impractical ideas

Don’t kill ideas – just let them sink down the list. They may just not be ready yet – wrong time, supporting tech or biz isn’t ready, etc.

Tracking enables – it lets you connect the dots and see where you could go

The unknown know – things we walk past ever day but don’t think about. Opportunities to make things we do all the time better.

Need a place for good ideas to go: need to do further research, prototyping, etc. and allow budget for doing so

Taguchi Score is how they rank ideas.

Build to think – allow the person who came up with the idea to lead the work on it. Encourages them to have more ideas (and others as well).

There is no bad idea – it just may not be that idea’s time yet

Coach others

Last year they had 2000 ideas in their tracking system, but only worked on 2. That’s not a bad thing. You can only focus on so much. “Conveyor belt that is a roulette wheel” – bets constantly coming past and you have to decide which ones to take.