Category Archives: Doug Hall

The secret to success is system leadership by the LEADERSHIP

The Innovation Engineering movement defines a system as Dr. Deming did, “two or more independent parts with a common aim.”  In the case of an organization this means two or more departments that are working together towards the common aim of the organization as a whole.ThinkstockPhotos-456110931

Sadly, the average organization realizes “less than the sum of their parts” – together they realize less than what each department delivers independently.  This is because the departments first priority is on delivering their departmental metrics no matter what the consequences are to other departments or the organization as a whole.

Good organizations are the “sum of their parts” – they realize an additive impact from the interactions of their departments.   There is cooperation and collaboration between departments.  The management of each department reacts to issues rapidly.  They are willing to sacrifice short term department results for the accomplishment of the overall aim of the organization.

Great organizations are the “product of their parts” – they realize a multiplicative impact from the interactions of their departments.  This is because they have a proactive innovation culture.   Employees anticipate customer needs and the needs of other departments.   Good organizations innovate to problem solve challenges when they arise.   Great organizations anticipate issues and proactively innovate to take advantage of opportunities, lead market change and prevent problems from developing.

To move from an average or good organization to a great organization requires the full engagement of company leadership.   This is because only the leadership of the organization has the view of the overall organization as they are above the departments.  

Great leadership sets the strategic direction and enrolls departmental leaders in the pursuit of their aim for the organization.

Dr. Deming wrote of the need to replace management with leadership.   To paraphrase Dr. Deming, “The job of management is one of prediction.  It’s about finding out what will help the customer in the future. It’s about finding how to get ahead of the customer.” 

Leadership is about leading the organization into the future.  It’s about making strategic choices on what products, services and markets to invest the organization’s resources in.  It’s also about investing in internal capability building such as employee education, tools and systems to enable employees to innovate faster and with greater success.

In 1954 Peter Drucker wrote in his management classic The Practice of Management, “It is not enough for the business to provide just any economic goods and services; it must provide better and more economic ones. It is not necessary for a business to grow bigger; but it is necessary that it constantly grow better…… Every managerial unit of a business should have clear responsibility and definite goals for innovation.  It should be responsible for its contribution to innovation in the company’s product or service; and it should in addition strike consciously and with direction toward advancement of the art in the particular area in which it is engaged: selling or accounting, quality control of personal management.” 

More recently, Kouzes and Posner wrote in their leadership classic The Leadership Challenge:  “Innovation and leadership are nearly synonymous. Leaders are innovators; innovators are leaders.  The focus of a leader’s attention is less on the routine operations and much more on the untested and untried. leaders are always asking “What’s new? What’s next? what’s better?”

The good news is change is possible.   You can move your organization from average or good to great.

You can realize an “order of magnitude” improvement in the effectiveness of your existing culture.   To learn how visit

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the USA.

Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends in Paris.

Doug Hall


Life is short – do something that matters today!

Late last night I read this quote

“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 odes in the world – or not. But you an’t fake it.  You have to say, screw business as usual and just do it.”
This from Richard Branson founder and CEO of Virgin
What this means is…..
….we need to trust the value of the truth.
… we need to trust the value of doing cool SH#t that matters!
We need to stop the marketing, the hype, the games and focus on making a meaningful difference in the world.
So what are you waiting for?
Get up, get out, do something that matters today!

Jeff Bezos – on being bold

“One of my jobs is to encourage people to be bold.  It’s incredibly hard.  Experiments are, by their very nature, prone to failure. A few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.  Bold Bets – Amazon Web Services, Kindle, Amazon Prime, our third-party seller business – all of those things are examples of bold bets that did work, and they pay for a lot of experiments.  

I’ve made billions of dollars of failures.  You might remember or  It was like getting a root canal with no anesthesia.  None of this things are fun.  But they also don’t matter.  

What really matters is, companies that don’t continue to experiment, companies that don’t embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the end of their corporate existence.  Whereas companies that are making bets all along, even big bets, but not bet-the-company bets, prevail. ”

Jeff Bezos – Founder/CEO

from an interview for the web site Business Insider

INNOVATION – Whose Job is It?


When you start in a new job you quickly learn the boundaries.  You learn them from fellow employees and your boss.

The boundaries are set based on the beliefs of the functional department you work in.   In most cases the foundation for these boundaries were first established when you were studying at college – finance – engineering – management departments.

In most cases the “Aim” of the boundaries is to reduce chaos and mistakes.  “Smart Management” means no drama.   This can create challenges when it comes to innovations that are Meaningfully Unique.

I do believe that 99% of managers understand that the company needs to innovate.  However,  also believe they feel it’s not their job – it’s not within their boundaries.  It is the job of specialists.

The consequence of this view is that when the innovation team comes to a department with a NEW IDEA that requires the department to change, adapt or adjust – the innovation is rejected as it conflicts with the boundaries that the department has grown to accept.

The net result is innovation stagnation – rework, redo and the slow death of innovations from bold innovations into incremental nothingness.

To vaporize this stagnation the leadership must redefine the boundaries of every division, department, work group and employee to include innovation.

What ever you want to call it – Innovation – working smarter – continuous improvement – or never ending change – must become core to everyone, everywhere, every day.

That is the message of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, that is the dirty little secret of the Toyota Production System – that is the mission of the Innovation Engineering Movement.







The Facts of Enabling Versus Controlling

Research reported by Forrester Research finds that Project Portfolio Management Software increases innovation cycle time by 10%. This is for the industry standard project management software that is designed to improve innovation ROI and to manage projects.

Innovation Operating System Software that sets ENABLING teams as the priority over Controlling such as Innovation Engineering increases innovation cycle times by up to 600%.  And, the lowest increase in speed we’ve seen is 40% – and that from a company that only uses it on the front end – not during development and delivery where 90% of the cost and time is.

Control software and work systems are designed to prevent failure – however what they really do is demoralize and destroy value.   Enabling software is different it details:

1. It defines What to do plus WHY each milestone is important and HOW to do them.

2. It makes it possible to collaborate with one click.

3. It makes it possible to do research on ideas with one click.

4. It automatically does patent searches instantly.

5. It makes sales forecasting 100% painless

6. It provides a different operating system for different types of projects – incremental core versus disruptive leap innovations – internal system projects versus sales building customer opportunities.

Basically – it enables teams to easily create, refine, reinvent and improve WICKED COOL Innovations that generate excitement within the company,  with customers and with employees.

Sadly, this type of culture is a rare event.  The Chief Technology Officer of a Fortune 50 company told me last month that innovations lose over half their forecast sales potential from when they enter development to when they exit.   This research confirms an independent survey we did of business executives.   Interestingly the Forrester Research didn’t report on innovation value improvement :).

The root cause of  the slow development speed and decay in value is an old world management mindset.    Instead of a mindset of Never Ending Innovation the corporate focus is on prevention of failure.  Instead of a mindset of never ending learning and improvement the project mindset is focused on “declare and defend” the idea.  Changes in the core idea or sales forecast are seen as a sign of weakness and managerial incompetence.

As it turns out this is not the first time the business world has faced this type of mindset shift.   It was taught to Japanese companies in 1950 and to the Western World in the early 1980’s.   The teacher both times of what has been come to be known as System Driven Leadership was  Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

The good news is that companies around the world have adopted to varying degrees the “enabling” ideas of Dr. Deming in their factories.  I say varying degrees because most have kept the mindset as a specialty department instead of training everyone,  everywhere in the organization.

Sadly, Dr. Deming  explained that only 3% of the opportunity for company improvement from System Driven Leadership lay in the factory.  97% was in applying it to strategy, innovation and how we work together.

That my friends is the aim of Innovation Engineering… to enable innovation by everyone, everywhere, everyday resulting in increased speed to market and decreased risk.

You can learn more at


Doug Hall

How Wall Street Chaos Killed Innovation Courage Last Week

Good Morning Pioneers,

For 30 years we’ve measured the mindset of business leaders as they prepared to innovate in Eureka! Inventing or Innovation Engineering CREATE sessions.

Each time the stock market took a big dive – 1990, 2000, 2008 the data showed significant declines in “courage to take action” on innovations.  I fully expect that based on last week’s stock market gyrations we will see a similar reduction in courage as we track data this fall.

My theory on the reason for the decline in courage is that it ignites a fear reaction.   Most  business leaders have their retirement invested in the stock market. When the market goes into chaos it causes them to become unreasonably conservative.    This theory is supported by psychology studies that teach  us that “prevention of a negative” is often more motivating than the “promise of a positive.”  What the leaders don’t understand is that by not innovating they are actually increasing their odds of failure.

Stock Crashes are the best time to innovate.   When the stock market is in chaos is actually the best time to innovate.  In my career the best years for growth have been…. 1990, 2000 and 2008.  Each time I doubled down with our investment in new technologies and systems.  Each time the rewards were significant.    Similarly, I fully expect this recent chaos should make for a great fall and 2016!

As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his poem IF…

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

The simple fact is “If you’re not unique you better be cheap.”  Innovation is no longer optional.   The real choice is not to innovate or not innovate.  The real choice is will you innovate randomly or will you apply system driven leadership to innovation.

Have a good one!

Doug Hall


The Edge of Uncertainty

Good Morning Innovation Pioneers,

This summer I’ve been deep into writing my 6th book.  This one is focused on Innovation Engineering.   Taking inspiration from Hemingway I write each morning.   In the afternoon and evening I do something not connected with the book to give my mind time to process my thinking.

This has included working on some client projects, some sailing and cooking.  My latest adventure in cooking is wood fired cooking as is done in Argentina.   This new passion was fueled by Argentinian Chef Francis Mallmann.   His book Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way opened up a whole new way of cooking for me.

I’ve become so fanatic — I invented and had welded at a local job shop a new type of wood grill.  And yes – before you ask I’m preparing a patent application on it :)

And here’s a photo of some local Canadian Lobsters being cooked on my grill last month. LobsyterFire

This type of cooking is not for the faint of heart.  It involves high heat and lots of courage.  Last night we had friends over and I tossed the tomatoes and cheese in a cast iron grill pan over the fire – they quickly “charred” the look of shock on my guests face was priceless.   When I served they hesitated – after one taste they were back for more.   Here’s a link to the recipe.    The key to success is to have courage… when you think it’s time to flip it’s not… wait longer.

I was first inspired with Mallmann’s approach by a video on Netflix as part of their Chef’s Table series.   You can find it with a quick search of Netflix.

The complete video tells an inspiring story of how he was taught in France and then went against French Cooking to blaze a path of his own.   Like all of us he’s not a perfect human.  He has flaws. However there is much that can be learned from his creative approach.

Here’s how Francis summed it up near the end of the show.

My life has been a path at the edge of uncertainty. Today I think we educate kids to be settled in a comfortable chair. You have your job, you have your little car, you have a place to sleep, and the dreams are dead. You don’t grow on a secure path. All of us should conquer something in life. And it needs a lot of work. In order to grow and to improve you have to be there at the edge of uncertainty. “

You can see and here him saying this on YouTube – here’s a link.

I’ve watched this video 4 times this summer.  It’s given me new ideas for cooking and inspiration for telling the story of Innovation Engineering in new ways.   It’s inspired me to challenge myself to push my boundaries – to be there at the edge of uncertainty.

Today my challenge to you is to – go for it…. be there at the edge of uncertainty in your life somehow, somewhere.

From Springbrook,  Prince Edward Island








Drucker on Why Managing for Today is FICTITIOUS

Hello Innovation Pioneers

I continue to get struck by the distance between today and tomorrow.

I just read this in Peter Drucker’s classic — The Practice of Management

“There is one more major factor in every management problem, every decision, every action.  Management always has to consider both the present and the long-range future.  A management problem is not solved if immediate profits are purchased by endangering the long-range profitability, perhaps even the survival, of the company.  A management decision is irresponsible if it risks disaster this year for the sake of a grandiose future.  The all too common case of the management that produces great economic results as long as it runs the company but leaves behind nothing but a burned-out and rapidly sinking hulk is an example of irresponsible managerial action through failure to balance present and future.  The immediate “economic” results are actually fictitious and are achieve by paying out capital. In every case where present and future are NOT BOTH SATISFIED, where their requirements are not harmonized or at least balanced, capital, that is, wealth-producing resources, is endangered, damaged or destroyed.  The time dimension is inherent in management because management is concerned with decisions for action.  And action is always aimed at results in the future.”

If there is no tomorrow in our thinking there is no change….there is no need to innovate… and there is no hope.

Investment in educating workers is a sign of an organization with a concern for the future.  We invest in education today to make for a better tomorrow.    A culture of learning creates an organization that works smarter.

What are you doing to learn more?

My friend  and mentor – Walter recently sent me the following.

Deming and education are not really goal oriented. They are both more journeys and not destinations. We used to ask Deming: “When will we catch the Japanese?” He would smile and say: “What makes you think they are standing still waiting for you?”

Progress is taking one step in the right direction and following it with another in that same direction. Speed is important only if you don’t lose direction. All the speed in the world in the wrong direction is a total waste. Once you know how to walk you can learn to run but it’s hard to do that in the reverse order.

 We can never know all we need to know… it’s a never ending journey.   Constancy of Purpose is about focusing the learning journey in the right direction.
Everyone agrees that tomorrow will be different than today.  Everyone agrees that today’s skills and systems won’t work tomorrow.
Everyone agrees that today’s products and services won’t work tomorrow.
The question then is – are you leading yourself and your organization on the journey to prepare yourself for tomorrow – while also managing today.
From the shore of New London Bay
Prince Edward Island


Thank You & Two Gifts to You!

What a difference a year makes.

Today we wind up the Innovation Engineering Conference.    It’s exceeded my expectations by an order of magnitude.    Thank you to everyone who made it possible – everyone at the Innovation Engineering Institute – the Eureka! Ranch, University of Maine and most importantly to the community of Innovation Engineering pioneers.  YOU made this possible.  The future is bright!

In celebration I’ve attached links to DropBox of two gifts.

Gift 1. Is the Innovation Engineering song by Donnalou Stevens – Everybody’s Got Wings!   It’s a celebration of our mission to Change the World through systems that ENABLE innovation by everyone everywhere everyday… resulting in increased speed to market and decreased risk.   The download is an MP4 Movie (in two sizes) that includes images of the pioneers who have helped us get to where we are.  There will be more photos added – as we get them and as the community grows!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Everybody’s Got Wings in video or audio only format.

As we talked at the conference – the key to success is to blend scientific management with participatory leadership – to blend analytical thinking with system thinking – to blend the mindsets of the “east” and the “west”


Gift 2. Is a digital copy of my book North Pole Tenderfoot - thanks to my publisher – for a limited time we’re making it available as a free download by clicking here.   You can add it to your tablet, etc.   It’s a great way to “chill out” when the summer heat hits you!   It’s a story about courage, passion and mission – with more than a few laughs along the way.

Here are the lyrics to the song.


Everybody’s Got Wings

A voice unspoken is a voice unheard

A song not sung deserves your words.

A vision unseen might pass you by.

and Wings won’t grow til you choose to fly.


Everybody’s Got Wings. Everybody can fly.

Everybody’s got a song to sing inside.

Everybody can dance, if given a chance.

Everybody’s got a gift to bring.

Everybody’s got wings.

A past forgotten is freedom’s friend

Can you let your self  be born again

and can you give your dreams your new found wings

and let the world hear your voice ring


lada die die die, spread your wings and fly

lada die die die, and fly

Together we’ll fly across the sky

bringing light to the darkest night

We’ll fly to the moon and then beyond

and the dreams we’ve dreamed will carry on.



After a quick trip to Europe – I’m on my way to Prince Edward Island to go sailing!






ENABLING Patents by Everyone, Everywhere

Yesterday I had the chance to review the presentation that David Laftkas will be giving at the Innovation Engineering conference next Monday.


It will be summarized during the opening Key Note at 8:00 EST

David’s full presentation will be at about 4:00 EST.

My feeling in reviewing it was that I was being a look into the future.

David’s data on patent literacy (horrible) and patent importance (incredible) is impressive.

However, what most excited me about the presentation was how simple and easy it was to understand.  Classically patents have been something that were difficult and painful.

David working with Greg, Jeremy and Scott who built the digital tools – have created a system that ENABLES everyone to be able to take advantage of the power of patents.

Using patents for inspiration for Ideas.

Using patents for Competitive Advantage.

Using patents to Make More Money through licensing.

The systems they’ve crafted are amazing.  The most powerful set of tools that the Eureka! Ranch team have ever created.  Even Greg who architected the amazing Merwyn Rapid Research suite said yesterday “this is the coolest thing we’ve created – it’s even better than the research stuff.”

If you can’t make the conference on-line – sign up anyways as it will get you a link to see the video after the conference.

Rock & Roll

Doug Hall