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Iowa State University Extension

CIRAS coaches Iowa manufacturers to ‘winning ways’

Eureka! Winning Ways session

The right coach can lead a team to winning ways — “Eureka! Winning Ways” that is, a program that brings manufacturing employees together to generate ideas for business growth. With coaches from ISU Extension’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), teams from small and medium sized Iowa manufacturers are developing winning game plans that can lead to increased sales and market share.

According to CIRAS specialist Paul Gormley, Eureka! Winning Ways is part of CIRAS’ arsenal of programs to help Iowa manufacturers. With help from a “growth coach” like Gormley, companies generate, develop and test their own ideas for growing their top line sales.

Gormley, a certified Eureka! Winning Ways growth coach, said, “Eureka! Winning Ways has both the creativity and discipline to drive companies forward.”

A participating company forms a team of eight to 16 people, from line workers to upper management, including the company leader. They spend a full day with their growth coach, fleshing out ideas. Over the next 30 days, the coach meets with the team for two more days, and works closely with two key individuals who devote up to full time to the project for at least a month. After careful analysis, they identify the ideas with the best probability of success.

Tom Wenstrand, president of Hawkeye Steel, said, “It allowed us to communicate internally in a way that we wouldn’t have otherwise because we brought key people together.”

Added Bill Van Lent, president and owner of Veridian Limited in Spencer, “Through the Eureka process, things are well mapped out so you don’t have to explore territory on your own. It adds a level of discipline and follow-through lacking in most organizations.”

The key is in the coach being a coach, Gormley continued. “A consultant would say, ‘this is what you should do.’ A coach asks, ‘what do you think your options are?’ The coach’s job is to help companies become capable of doing things themselves.”

Gormley even offers a guarantee: “You’ll generate two ideas worth working on, or at no additional cost, we will work with you until you do.”

Added Winnebago Industries director of marketing Chad Reece, “In the end, you’re going to come out as a much better, stronger company.”

For more information, see CIRAS News or contact Gormley,

This article appeared in February 2009 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter