Innovation Engineering

Innovation Engineering

Big Ideas

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August 30 2019
Big Ideas
Author: Michael McCaffrey

What is Innovation Engineering?

Innovation Engineering is a systems-based approach to innovation (from ideation to rapid testing to execution).

How can Innovation Engineering help my business?

Have you ever felt like your business was coasting or stagnant? Perhaps you have settled in and become comfortable doing what you’re doing. Have you stopped to ask yourself what REALLY separates you from your competition?  Hint: it is not simply “better customer service”.

Coming up with something that is truly meaningfully unique to your customers is the only way out of the business lifecycle curve that ultimately and inevitably ends in the “death” of your business. Are you selling commodities? Are your prices being ground lower and lower because other companies are doing it cheaper? 

Now imagine you were offering something new and different that your customers REALLY wanted that none of your competitors were offering.

Innovation Engineering is a system to take you all the way through multiple cycles of innovation (whether the goal is a very important opportunity (VIO) or a very important system (VIS). 

In order to give you a taste, take a few minutes and think about some of the following questions and how they apply to your business. As you read them and think about your business... do any opportunities or pain points come to mind that you would love to be able to solve?

  • How could we get more customers to “supersize” (buy more when they are buying)?
  • What would it take to get 100% share of our customers’ purchases?
  • What trends are going to hit our customers that they are ignoring?
  • What technology if we bought it or partnered into it could help us grow the most?
  • What would employees say is a waste of their time?

Do you think that there is ample opportunity to innovate and improve your business when you contemplate some of these questions? Do you think if you spent some time in the right ‘war room’ with the right people you’d be able to come up with something game changing? 

Half the battle is simply making the time for innovation. Believe me, I understand that it is hard to get the right people in a room at the same time to do this. And with a bit of luck, you might come up with something great. Innovation Engineering takes the ‘luck’ out of it. It is a proven system utilizing diversity and the introduction of stimulus that all but guarantees meaningfully unique ideas that are actionable and provide ROI. 


The process will take you through cycles of innovation: 
  1. Create - get the right idea
  2. Communicate - refine it into something that makes sense
  3. Commercialize - address death threats and reduce deployment risk through ‘fail fast, fail cheap’ cycles. 

What are the next steps?

If you believe in the need for continual and successful innovation, great! There are many ways your company could go about doing it… but I am willing to bet that you’ve never seen anything like Innovation Engineering. A 1.5-hour demonstration with your management team is a risk-free way to get your hands dirty and see what you think of the system. Sherpa’s resident Innovation Engineering blue belt (yours truly) would be happy to meet with you at no cost to explore the concept and the fit for your organization.

 When asked about IE, Sherpa President Marty Fisher had the following to say: 

“​O​ne of our digital marketing consultants, Michael McCaffrey, approached me with the idea that Sherpa support him in his quest to bring structure and purpose to our need for constant innovation. To this end, he undertook the process of becoming an Innovation Engineer.

I am the first to admit that I was skeptical. I thought, here we go…. Another Six Sigma or Kanban system. After Michael completed his training, I challenged him to “prove it”. After our first short session, I was convinced. Innovation Engineering introduced me to new and different ways and approaches to solving all kinds of business challenges.

The true test of any system is my willingness to offer that service to our clients and to that end, I am believer and have participated in offering IE to Sherpa’s clients.” 

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