"Only reading tells how much can be left un-read"
Wilhelm Raabe (1831-1910)

These often freely available publications provide an overview over the methods I have (further) developed and applied.

Towards an expansion of TRIZ methods into the strategy creation space

Michael Ohler, Phil Samuel, Naresh Shahani and Derek Bennington. Presented at the ETRIA Conference 2016 in Wroclav and published 2017 with the Journal of the European TRIZ Association, INNOVATOR 01-2017 Volume 03, 100-104.

Systematic methods are available for improvement and innovation. The question asked here is what systematic methods are available for the creation of strategy and how systematic methods for innovation, coming from the TRIZ body of knowledge, can be applied in strategy work.

Developing Growth Portfolios with TRIZ Structures

Phil Samuel, Michael Ohler, Naresh Shahani and Derek Bennington. Presented at the ETRIA Conference 2016 in Wroclav and published 2017 with the Journal of the European TRIZ Association, INNOVATOR 01-2017 Volume 03, 19-24.

An important challenge of companies is to develop a balanced portfolio of growth projects. The article provides insights how systematic innovation methods of the TRIZ framework can be used for that purpose.

Welcome the coming age of autonomous driving

Michael Ohler. Published on October 27th 2016 on LinkedIn.

Already once before, the car has been "the machine that changed the world". And it's bound to play that role yet again. Given the importance of transportation, both in terms of goods and of people, and given the huge inefficiencies and dangers associated with the current system, the world is indeed ripe for something completely new. All capabilities are on the table and "just" need to be stitched together. Manufacturers, consumers and regulators may still be reluctant and there are also ethical issues in need of fixing. But we can expect a tipping point in this steady evoluation and much faster than we may think today things can indeed look quite different.

What is the value of a fast service?

Michael Ohler. Published on July 8th 2016 on LinkedIn.

Fast, faster, fastest. To achieve that, waste in processes must be eliminated. Yet, how do you assess the value created by doing that? Surprisingly many organizations do that by looking at the resources they were able to take out of the process: what we did before with five people can now be done by three.
This approach is not only wrong: the value of a fast service is mainly created on the customer side, not on the provider side. It also leads organizations to set the wrong priorities and stands in their way of seeing the potential in the first place. This article looks at a typical case study and shows a solution to this problem.

Data mastery: to get the complete picture, you need the right data

Michael Ohler. Published on April 11 2016 with LinkedIn.

We are living in the age of massive data collection. Data are all over the place and easy to get. What is scarce and hence valuable is the ability to make the data tell their story. This article has three basic recommendations for dealing with data: 1) Make sure you have data on a healthy balance of lead and lag measures, 2) Analyse the measured raw data and 3) Make sure you can trust the data.

Man vs. machine – it matters for more than the game of Go

Michael Ohler. Published March 8th 2016 by LinkedIn.

In 1997 man lost against machine in the game of Chess. Almost 20 years later the next domino falls with the game of Go. If for Chess it wasn't a big deal, for Go it is: machines start being "more intuitive".

Classification of TRIZ Techniques Using a Cognition-Based Design Framework

Phil Samuel & Michael Ohler. Published on December 17th 2015 by Procedia Engineering (2015) pp. 984-992.

The role of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) techniques within engineering design is examined through the lens of Cognition- based Design (CBD). The paper aims to answer some of the questions sought by the design community at large and to provide some directions for scholars and practitioners on how TRIZ techniques can be applied during various stages of the design process. The CBD framework is based on a systems-view that integrates core principles coming from traditional engineering design with fundamental concepts as they are used in cognitive psychology and other fields related to cognition (e.g., problem solving, creativity, and learning theory). The paper provides the details of the proposed cognition-based classification scheme for TRIZ techniques. This is illustrated with the help of the CBD framework. The classification scheme is based on three components:
(1) the stage of the design process in which TRIZ techniques are applied and the primary cognitive function supported by the technique;
(2) the cognitive level required for mastery of the technique; and
(3) the cognitive style simulated through the technique. The aim of this classification scheme is to help design practitioners and TRIZ students make better choices about the techniques they will use, based on the challenges of the given design opportunity, rather than choosing only those techniques they are familiar with. Recommendations are given for making use of the new classification scheme and guidelines for future research. That research can also identify potential loopholes in the problem solving process and techniques, as they are currently available to the designer.

How to define the nature of your challenge or opportunity

Michael Ohler. Published on November 17th 2015 by Industry Week and on January 7th 2016 with BMGI.com.

A simple decision tree and the consistent use of language can drive the required shared understanding of a strategic initiative.

Embrace ethics as a key driver for innovation

Michael Ohler. Published October 29th 2015 on Chief Innovator Online and on October 7th 2015 on LinkedIn.

Ethical principles seem not only to transcend different cultures. They are also a guideline when designing an innovation.

Don't force improvement and innovation into corporate domestication

Michael Ohler. Published April 20th 2015 on LinkedIn.

There are ways to deploy methods for lasting continuous improvement and also for reliable innovation to an organization. That sounds appealing - and it is appealing. Yet, please don't force these methods into corporate domestication. That wouldn't work.

Four ingredients for creating good strategic insights

Michael Ohler. Published May 26th on LinkedIn.

Good strategy bases on surprising insights that your competition either does not have or doesn't take serious. How do we get these insights? - Take four key ingredients and get started...

Reach for the starts - but first fix the basics

Michael Ohler. Published on May 5th 2015 on LinkedIn.

We are told to spell out a bold and appealing vision of the future. That is only half of the. Without an equally detailed - and often painful - description of the current reality, there is no way to craft a realistic strategy for how to get from here to there.

"Celebrate Failure" - Please don't

Michael Ohler. Published on April 7th 2015 on LinkedIn, on June 16th 2015 with Chief Innovator Online and on August 3rd 2015 with Jeffrey Baumgartner's Blog.

It sounds right - but is misleading at best: "celebrate failure", "fail fast", "embrace failure". Winning or losing, trial and error - these are rudimentary approaches where science has since long found far better ones. The key statement is: if you need to celebrate failure, chances are you didn't formulate right the task you wanted to get done.

A myriad ways of being creative

Michael Ohler. Published on February 12 2015 with Innovation Management and on BMGI resources.

People's creativity is one of the most important assets of an organization. Yet, there is a lot of confusion around how creative people are and how they are creative. The article looks at the topic by using Dr. Michael Kirton's Adaption-Innovation theory. Three relevant case studies provide further insights.

Three Common Ways Organizations Trip When It Comes to Innovation

Michael Ohler. Published on December 22nd 2014 on Innovation Management.

Innovation is mostly thought to be hard, often talked to be easy - all of which creates a "land of confusion". This article summarizes three things to get right prior to deploying systematic innovation to your organization:
- Acknowledge problems at their face value
- Don't fall into the trap of "innovative = creative = good"
- Known when and how to deploy teams.

Adaptors and Innovators at Mindful Play

Michael Ohler and Phil Samuel. Published on November 25th 2014 on Chief Innovation Officer.

Play and flow are important ingredients for innovation to be successful. We look at the science and some fields of practice around that. The full article is also available on the BMGI homepage.

Here comes the Drone

Michael Ohler. Published October 16th 2014 with Chief Innovation Officer.

Everyone talks about drones these days - most consider them a threat. Even the titans Google and Amazon have been counting with a few years of clarification. This makes it even more surprising that breakthrough comes from unsuspicious Germany. The technology is ready. It's all about getting "green light". Thanks to a clever choice, DHL have succeeded in getting approval for first commercial test flights. This triggers thoughts on the "ecosystem" required around a technical novelty so that innovation "truly flies".

Build a Tangible Vision to Direct Your Innovation Initiative

Michael Ohler. Published October 1st 2014 with Chief Innovation Officer.

How do you build a good vision? Over and over again, that is a delicate question. In this blog I am looking at what it takes to build a good vision - by starting out: do you really want a "vision"? What is that in the first place?

Don’t Lament – Celebrate Your Competitor’s Most Recent Innovations

Michael Ohler and Phil Samuel. Published on August 21 2014 with Innovation Excellence.

Innovations open the door to far more opportunities than they can claim for themselves. Companies can make huge advantage of that - in a systematic and repeatable way even.

The humble shipping container: is there a second revolution on its way?

Michael Ohler and Ismail Ataman. Published in June 5th 2014 with Beyond Jugaad.

When it comes to creating a vision, in the end, most often people "dream it up". Yet: HOW TO dream it up? We think that innovation thinking helps a lot. One of us (Michael) has done such work with numerous client teams. We can't share company-confidential materials. This case study uses publicly available information and to make the point.

A new way to read

Michael Ohler. Published on May 7th 2014 with Chief Innovator Online.

An interesting question to ask is: what hasn't changed for long and is overdue for innovation?
The door certainly is one example. Since thousands of years it is pivoting in the hinge. Well, and also reading: right to left, left to right, top to bottom, perhaps also from bottom upwards. That's how we read.
"Pure waste", says Boston-based startup Spritz: "the eye has to jump from one word to the next and is losing time along the way". Maybe the "Spritz way" to read won't turn universal but there are certainly interesting applications - on smart watches perhaps?
How can one analyze the potentials of such an invention - or even identify the opportunity in the first place? Best you use innovation methods.

Applying Contradictions to Solve the Problems of Overhead in Non-profits

Michael Ohler. Published December 6th 2013 with Chief Innovator Online.

Running a charity isn't easy. These organizations are faced with a number of contradictions that are mostly unknown to businesses. Charities are supposed not to run large overhead - by controlling the pay-check for their directors, for example. Yet, they also want to attract talent - and can't really compete with more generous businesses. While such problems need to be fixed at a higher level, there is a lot that charities can do by clearly describing their contradictions and by using TRIZ tools to solve them. This short article shows how to do that. Of course, the method is applicable to areas other than charity.

Five Successful Ideation Session Essentials

Michael Ohler and Phil Samuel. Published on October 28th 2013 with Innovation Excellence.

How do you do brainstorming? - Or better still: which are the success recipes for "ideation"? We have summarized our experiences of the past years in this article.

Ethnography: Is Your Company Missing the Train?

Phil Samuel, Michael Ohler & Mark McMurray on Oct 15th 2013. Published with Industry Week.

Ethnography is increasingly being recognized as a strong methodology for companies to develop a deep understanding of their customers - and non-customers.

How to Pick the Right Innovation and Set It on a Road toward Success

Phil Samuel, Michael Ohler & Mark McMurray on July 13th 2013. Published with Industry Week.

Over the past years, we have been developing the "Rapid Innovation Cycle" as a proven, reliable and predictable method for systematic innovation. Here we present the foundations.

Get a taxi - anatomy of a process innovation

Michael Ohler on December 13th 2012. Published with Innovation Management.

The drosophila fly allowed making some breakthrough discoveries. Important mechanisms in the context of innovation can also be made by observing smaller industries. "Learning to see" this way allows you transfer the lessons to your company and your industry.

Ethnography – is your company missing the boat?

Michael Ohler on Nov 28th 2012. Published on Chief Innovator Online.

Ethnography is an established science. Do not mistake it for the "study of tribes somewhere in the jungle", though. It is highly relevant for your business and helps you understand what your clients and non-clients alike may truly need.

Processes: Time to Improve or Time to Innovate?

Phil Samuel and Michael Ohler on 15th of October 2012. Published with Industry Week and on the BMGI homepage.

When innovation thinking meets lean thinking, new horizons arise.

How manufacturing managers can tap into the unlimited creative potential of their employees

Phil Samuel and Michael Ohler on 4th of October 2012. Published with Industry Week and on the BMGI homepage.

Companies are missing out on a significant opportunity for innovative solutions if they don't also look within their own walls.

Driving Acceptance of Change

M. Ohler, 2th September 2012 (Public Workshop in German language). Slides are available on Slideshare.

The fallacy of the Voice of the Customer

Phil Samuel and Michael Ohler on 28th of August 2012. Published with Industry Week and on the BMGI homepage.

The Voice of the Customer is sometimes considered as the only reliable guideline. While there is a lot of truth in it, avoid certain traps, mistakes and shortcomings of the most common approaches.

This seminar builds on the previous webinar. The many challenges of change are elucidated in detail and reflected upon the participants' experiences. Solutions and approaches are discussed in detail and then tested in the ChangePro-Simulation. A focus on "professional communication" and the exchange of experiences among participants around complimentary drinks round up a successful event.
See here the participants' feedback.

Driving the Acceptance of Change

M. Ohler 22nd of June 2012 (Workshop) http://www.slideshare.net.

The objectives of this workshop were to
- explore the challenges of big and small change programs
- get to know tools how these can be tackled effectively and
- to practice their application in conjunction with one's own style of leading in a safe environment of a simulation.

The four mantras of problem solving

M. Ohler on March 16, 2012 www.ezinearticles.com.

"Human Life is problem solving" (Dr. M. Kirton). This is why it is important to think about it. There are four aspects to bear in mind.

Lessons learnt from a near-failure in fuel-efficient air-transportation

M. Ohler, J.-M. Urbani 29th of November 2011 auf www.qualitydigest.com.

Our project’s objective was to contribute to more fuel-efficient air-transportation. As the article explains, this is an area with strong regulatory constraints and a need for careful stakeholder management. We almost failed: all the efforts we had people make were invisible in the primary metric we first utilized in our improvement project. The breakthrough was only achieved – together with careful stakeholder management - when we reduced “noise” signals in that primary metric in order to be able to “listen to the voice of the process”. That is a learning we want to share with a wider community. We also think the underlying process improvement is interesting for the airline industry at large.

Using lead time data from discontinuous processes

M. Ohler, D. Babic, Chr. Heine on November 23rd 2011 on www.qualitydigest.com.

We present a simple set of tools that help in the study of discontinuous processes and discuss their application in process improvement. Standard Lean tools suppose processes are continuous. Especially in a transactional environment this is often not given.

Make it a team effort: involving employees can lead to lasting solutions

M. Ohler, Hartmut Schul, Uwe Schwantes; published on 13th of December 2010 on www.isixsigma.com.

Namely in a transactional (office) environment, problem solving teams are often confronted with what is commonly described as “resistance to change”: thoroughly identified improvements are not embraced by employees. While the underlying reasons can be manifold, solving problems together with people, instead of providing expert solutions for them helps assure that employees not only “buy into” but rather fully own the outcome of an improvement project. While such insight is not new, all too often it appears not to be respected because practitioners don’t fully know how to do that. This article provides hands-on experience collected in one critical project.

Timeless wisdom can keep today’s belts on track

M. Ohler, Chloé Moreale; published the 15th of November 2010 on www.isixsigma.com.

To solve problems, and besides mastering a sound methodology, practitioners need to keep an eye on people-related aspects all along their projects. For that, we propose the “wisdom of the right time”, Sheherazade’s art of story-telling and keeping “the end in mind” as simple, practical and powerful guidelines. We use these concepts every day when coaching Green and Black Belts in their projects.

Selecting Project Metrics

M. Ohler, published on November 1st 2010 in the iSixSigma Magazine.

Using project metrics consistently can bring clarity to the impact and benefit of a Six Sigma project. This is the refined version of an earlier online contribution, also to iSixSigma: Be consistent in Six Sigma project metric Selection.

Experiential Learning of Lean Six Sigma with Marbles and Toy Cars

M. Ohler, V. Müller & U. Schwantes; published the 16th of August 2010 on www.isixsigma.com.

Experiments with marbles and toy-cars are simple to set up and help deliver key messages in Lean Six Sigma trainings. Through hands-on experience, students learn data-collection and analysis, regression and other Six Sigma concepts and methods.

Use Innovation Tools to Make Transactional Lean Improvements

M. Ohler, L. Bloch, V. Müller; published the 22nd of June 2010 on www.qualitydigest.com.

Improvement projects using Lean tools in a transactional (office) environment are often confronted with the following problem: Value Stream or other Lean analysis helps identify the main obstacles for flow in a process. To remove such obstacles, a solution must be invented - and Lean teams often lack a methodology to do that consistently. Solution finding remains erratic. Especially for the transactional arena, the recommendation of this article is to teach and coach teams employ tools known from Innovation.

Use pairwise questioning to collect more useful Voice of the Customer data

M. Ohler; published on May 3rd 2010 on www.iSixSigma.com.

The Kano model to assess the impact of attributes on customer satisfaction is widely known. Less known is a simple methodology to classify attributes into the "exciter", "more is better" and "must be" groups.

Spreading the word with Yellow Belt trainings

M. Ohler & B. Weber; published in the May/June 2010 edition of the iSixSigma Magazine.

The experience of a Lean Six Sigma deplyoment in a global high tech company demonstrates the strong and supportive role of a systematic Yellow Belt training program to help the deployment get successfully started.

How a company responds to crisis should be part of its Business Excellence approach

M. Ohler, published the 14th of Januar 2010 on www.ImprovementAndInnovation.com.

"For sure the next crisis will come" - and still companies often react ad-hoc whenever Murphy strikes. Crisis-management should be an integral part of a company's business-excellence approach to increase the chances of success. The article provides important hints, collected from experience.

Proper data granularity allows for stronger analysis

M. Ohler & W. Wasiuk; published January 8th 2010 on www.iSixSigma.com.

Data granularity is often overlooked. This has an impact namely on projects aiming to reduce the lead or cycle time of a process.

How to improve processes of a low maturity

M. Ohler, S. Sink & A. Teich; published December 14th 2009 on www.iSixSigma.com.

Namely in the frame of Six Sigma, expectations towards an improvement project can be overly ambitious. Often times, in the early phases of an improvement initiative, processes of low maturity are encountered. In such cases, an approach used in software-development is helpful.

Be consistent in Six Sigma project metric selection

M. Ohler; published on August 31st 2009 on www.iSixSigma.com.

To steer individual projects and project portfolios, the Six Sigma methodology suggests a number of project metrics. These allow to avoid common pitfalls of improvement projects.

How can I use the analytical hierarchy process?

M. Ohler; published in the July/August 2009 edition of the iSixSigma Magazine.

It is no easy task to determine the priorities among a set of goals. Often times, simply the most eloquent or recognized protagonists get their preferences approved. A simple procedure allows the determination of priorities to be transparent and traceable.

Assessing forecast accuracy reveals room for improvement

M. Ohler; published in the May/June 2009 edition of the iSixSigma Magazine. Online version.

Irrespective of the way forecasts are produced their accuracy can be assessed using control charting and ANOVA techniques.

Cost-reduction in a global manufacturing company

M. Ohler, Hiu VC, Tai KT; published on May 12th 2009 on www.ImprovementAndInnovation.com.

We share our lessons learnt about the setup of a global cost-reduction initiative and compare that setup to a Lean Six Sigma deployment.

Teamwork and creativity help to identify root causes

M. Ohler; published on February 2nd 2009 on www.iSixSigma.com and re-published with the TRIZ Journal.

In problem-solving methodologies, the identification of potential causes is a crucial though often under-appreciated step between process mapping and data-collection and -analysis. It involves intuition and the best available process knowledge. Creativity and team management tools, more often employed for solution than for root cause identification, can generate a deep understanding of the process mechanics and prepare for the distilling and data-based validation of the “essential few” relevant causes to a problem.

Use Taguchi's loss-function to estimate benefits

M. Ohler; published on November 8th 2009 on www.iSixSigma.com.

The Taguchi’s loss function allows making relative estimates on the financial impact of process improvements. If the cost of poor quality is known, then also absolute saving statements can be made.

Download here the Excel sheet (zip, 40 kB).

Give trainees DOE experience with simulated experiments

M. Ohler; published on September 15th 2009 on www.iSixSigma.com.

Simulated Designed Experiments can become a key learning tool to understand DOE methodologies before applying them to costly real-world experiments. A simple tool generates data so that strengths and traps of DOE strategies can be experienced hands-on.

Download here the Excel-sheet (zip, 30 kB).

Make change happen“!

Because the art is to achieve
lasting change and sustainable improvement!