Innovation Engineering Black Belt® 
Masters In The Application Of 48 Innovation Engineering Skills

What:  A program to develop employees and future leaders in the mastery of the 48 skills of Innovation Engineering and their application.

Why:  The growth of an Innovation Mindset within any organization is a challenge as it requires change.  An Innovation Engineering (IE) Black Belt works as a Change Agent within an organization to create a culture of never ending innovation.  Studies show IE Black Belts run 26 times more projects with 28 times more top line value than someone trained in just the fundamentals.

How:  IE Black Belts master the 48 skills of IE that center around the topics of Create, Communicate, Commercialize, and Systems.  The method of teaching and certifying Black Belts, Cycles to Mastery™ (patent pending), is as innovative as the content itself.

These video classes are accessible on the web, iPads, and smart phones.  The classes are short – 5 to 15 minutes – and highly focused.  The digital classes are also available after the course to provide helpful refreshers when needed.

This 5 day interactive experience is 100% hands on and lecture-free.  During the first 3 days of Innovation College, students complete group and individual Lab Class assignments to make the learning real.  During the next 2 days, they complete real world Application Classes where they define and discover real innovations for real companies.   In total there are over 200 assignments that they will complete, with live coaching and grading from IE Ranch Master Black Belts.

Candidates Lead an innovation project for their company for a minimum of 8 weeks – through the Define and Discovery stages.  During the project, they lead at least 1 Create and 1 Problem Solving session.  A Eureka! Ranch IE Black Belt provides on-call coaching support and participates in the Weekly Project Update meetings to build confidence and to ensure process success.  Next, the candidate plays the role of Coach on another project, with the Ranch IE Black Belt providing shadow coaching.

The ultimate goal of IE Black Belt Certification is a transformation to a systemic and scientific innovation mindset.  This transformation, or  “FLIP” as it’s called, occurs for Innovation Engineering Black Belt candidates at different times.  For most, it occurs during the Innovation Engineering Application Classes.  For others, it occurs during the Leading or Coaching of projects.  Finally, the written Reflection assignment brings clarity and depth of understanding to the transformation that has occurred.

This is the list of the 48 skills that make up the Innovation Engineering body of knowledge and the four Innovation Engineering college courses.  Each of these skills has 2 to 4 sub-skills that make up the skill.  This list is being continuously optimized based on feedback from the Innovation Engineering community of users and academics.



  1. Meaningful Uniqueness
  2. Stimulus & Diversity
  3. Drive Out Fear 1.0
  4. Insight & Market Mining
  5. Patent 1.0 – Tech Mining
  6. Future Mining
  7. Create Sessions – Spark Decks
  8. Check Lists, Matrices & I Engineering
  9. Create Sessions – Leadership
  10. Lateral Thinking Techniques
  11. Triz
  12. Problem Solving Sessions



  1. Customer & Problem
  2. Benefit Promise
  3. True Proof
  4. Complete Ideas – Synergy
  5. Ideas to Paper Free Writing
  6. Clarity – Name and Headline
  7. Advanced Benefit Promise
  8. Secondary Proof
  9. Patent 2.0  – Tech Translation & ®
  10. Communication Translations
  11. Proactive Selling
  12. Meaningful vs. Mindless Marketing



  1. Drive Out Fear 2.0
  2. Fermi Estimating
  3. Cost & Price Estimating
  4. Sales Forecasting
  5. Business Models
  6. The Development Process
  7. Plan, Do, Study, Act
  8. Death Threat – ID & First Steps
  9. Fail FAST Fail CHEAP  1.0  – Experimentation
  10. Fail FAST Fail CHEAP  2.0  – Wisdom Mining/Problem Solving
  11. Patent 3.0  –  Freedom to Practice Threats
  12. Simultaneous


Engineering SYSTEMS

  1. Systems Thinking
  2. Teaching the New Mindset
  3. Strategy Activation
  4. Create and Creativity Session Design & Facilitation
  5. Coaching the Project Leader
  6. Patent 4.0  – Provisional Patent Writing
  7. Culture Change Processes
  8. Innovation Management System
  9. Fail FAST Fail CHEAP Research Systems
  10. Collaboration Systems
  11. Patent 4.0 – Patent ROI
  12. Proactive Leadership & Learning

The patent-pending Cycles to Mastery approach blends the work of Bloom, Formative Assessment, Deming’s Quality System principles and an internet based digital hub. The result is both an increase in the number of students achieving mastery and a process for never ending increases in the mastery standard. In effect, Cycles to Mastery delivers “Learning Inflation” instead of “grade inflation.”

Cycles to Mastery is a “feed forward” instruction-by-practice system of learning cycles that include a combination of:

  • Digital Class – web videos on the core curriculum of Innovation Engineering skills and sub-skills plus interactive quizzes that feed forward what students have learned and not learned to the instructor so that adaptations can be made in the next class.
  • Lab Class – hands on group and individual assignments in class where students learn the skills and sub-skills taught in the Digital class through highly focused labs experiences.  Fast “Plan, Do, Study, Act” feedback loops provide rapid grading of each sub-skill assignment.  Each student is then given the opportunity to resubmit till they achieve success.  The % correct on each sub-skill is fed forward to the instructor so that the next class can be modified appropriately.
  • Application Class – hands on group and individual assignments in class where students apply the skill taught and combination of skills to realistic scenarios or challenges.  Again, the % correct on each sub-skill is fed forward to the instructor so that the next class can be modified appropriately.
  • Reflection Class – Students write a reflection on what they have learned.  The academic literature is clear on the value of reflection.
  • Experience Class – These are real world, real life challenges.  They are used to bring the learning to life and are used in particular with Innovation Engineering Green and Black Belt certifications.  They are also used as the final two classes of the Innovation Engineering Minor where students lead a project and coach a project.


An important component of the Cycles to Mastery system is never ending increases in what we define as mastery.  We use Deming Control Charts to quantify student learning in each course.  When the “% correct” on first try in Digital, Lab or Application classes goes above the upper control limit  – on a continuing basis – we increase the depth and difficulty of what we teach.  The result is in effect “mastery inflation” as we continuously increase the standard of what we define as mastery.

Early indications from the first round of classes taught using the Cycles to Mastery technology, at the University of Maine, are finding a 4X increase in the number of students achieving mastery versus classes taught the classic way.

For those who are students of the quality movement, it’s interesting to remember that Phillip Crosby’s success with teaching and implementing a quality mindset during the 80’s was driven in large part by his investment in a then new and more effective method of teaching, i.e. the use of video cassette case studies and scenarios to make the teaching “real.”

The Innovation Engineering Executive Experience provides an immersion in what’s it like to lead and manage innovation as a “system” focused on delivering increased speed to market and decreased risk.

It’s a 1.5 day experiential event that will challenge your thinking – open your mind to new ways of leading and inventing- and give you new hope that with education, tools and mentoring your employees can create, communicate and commercialize LEAP (game changing) innovations.