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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

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Goal-Free Living High Resolution Cover

In 2005, I wrote a book about living a life without goals. Sort of. I’m not anti-goal by any stretch. But there are times that an obsession with goals can negatively impact your performance and happiness. In the book, I talk about setting themes rather than resolutions for the new year. Here’s an article I wrote on that specific topic. The article was so popular the Wall Street Journal reprinted it on a full page (yes, on paper). In it, I share some interesting statistics from some research I commissioned.

Soon after, I received an email from a researcher at a major national TV talk show.  They were doing a episode on New Year’s Resolutions and saw my article. They wanted to know if I had more details on the statistics referenced in the article.

I went back to the research we did with the help of Opinion Corporation of Princeton, NJ, and found the following interesting tid bits.  The survey has a margin of error of 3%. Continue reading >>

Happy New Year!

For 2022, I am working on a new book – and I would love your input.

The general topic is the first step of my FAST Innovation Model.

FAST stands for Focus, Ask, Shift, Test.

Invisible Solutions® covered the “Ask” topic in depth.

This next book is a prequel to Invisible Solutions and addresses the “Focus” portion of the model.  One of the key principles is “Innovate Where You Differentiate.”

The book will go into depth on the topic of differentiation and how to use this to drive investment prioritization. I will drip more content about the book in the near future.

But for now, here’s what I need from you: Continue reading >>

I’m locked away in a hotel this week working on my next book. Today I want to share one small section which gets at the heart of the premise. It’s a story you may have heard, with a twist…
Although you may have heard the story of the optimist and pessimist who look at a half-filled glass of water, you probably only know half the story. There are two other individuals who are part of the conversation: an engineer and an innovator.
The optimist looks at the glass and says, “The glass is half full.”
The pessimist looks at the same glass and replies, “No, the glass is half empty.”
The engineer analyzes the situation and says, “There’s too much glass. Cut off the top.”
The innovator steps back and asks, “Why do we even need a glass? What do they really need? Hydration? Is there a better way to quench someone’s thirst?”
Although simple, this example highlights the power of innovative thinking. By asking better questions about the wants and needs of our customers, we can deliver more valuable solutions. Unlike the engineer who looks at the current solution and tries to improve it (and no, I’m not dissing engineers as I am one by education), the innovator steps back to the beginning and rethinks the “why.” Why are we developing this product or service? What’s the real problem we are trying to solve?

To celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, I decided to share a segment from my book, Goal-Free Living. Chapter 4 is entitled, “Want What You Have.” Instead of looking for more and creating a different future, appreciate what you have now.

Before we get to the podcast, I want to share two items:

  • My “Purple Monday” sale – $50 off the Personality Poker® Starter Kit and a free copy of Best Practices are Stupid if you buy a copy of Invisible Solutions. Sale ends December 3rd. Learn more here
  • The launch of my new yearlong peer-to-peer mastermind as just announced. Learn more here

In the podcast I share a number of stories that will hopefully inspire you to have a deeper appreciate for where you are in life, even if things are challenging at the moment.

Happy Holidays!

Happy belated Thanksgiving to my friends here in the United States.

Although the Black Friday sales might be over, I’ve decided to throw in a little color into the mix with two special offers as part of my Purple Monday.

This week only (through December 3rd), I am offering my Personality Poker® Starter Kit for $50 off – a more than 25% discount. It’s a great chance to try it out with your team. It is the most fun and fastest way to determine if you are “playing with a full deck” (i.e., you have all of the right innovation styles in the right roles on your team).

Get started with the Starter Kit now. No coupon codes needed.

And, if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on Invisible Solutions®, now is the time to get it. If you buy a copy (hardcover, Kindle, or Audible) on Amazon between now and December 3rd, you will get a copy of Best Practices are Stupid at no extra cost.

Just order your copy of Invisible Solutions on Amazon and then email the receipt here: bookoffer@invisiblesolutionsbook.com.

Once we confirm the order, we will email you back a link to a password protected PDF copy of Best Practices are Stupid.

I hope you will take advantage of these offers. Both expire December 3rd.

It is finally here – my Invisible Solutions® Mastermind.

As a reader of this blog, you know how passionate I am about innovation. I truly believe that it is the key to solving your most complex challenges and revealing hidden opportunities.

Over the past 25 years, I have worked with hundreds of organizations to support their innovation efforts. And I am on a mission to help many more.

Therefore, I have decided to launch a new innovation mastermind to help my clients make innovation a reality. It is designed to give innovation leaders greater access to me (and other innovation leaders) at a fraction the cost of my typical programs. In fact, the investment is just a little more than the cost of an hour keynote.

To be clear, this isn’t just education; it is a “get things done” program where you and a team member produce real results over the course of 12 months.

Because I want to give personal support to all that participate, we are limiting the first cohort to 15 non-competitive organizations.

This isn’t for everyone. This is only for innovation or strategy leaders from larger organizations. We only want the best of the best in this group.

We are scheduled to start Q1 2022.

Given you’re here, this might be a fit for you or for someone on your team.

If you want to learn more, please contact me directly and I will send you more information.

Thanks in advance for your consideration!

This podcast celebrates 20 years since the launch of my first book, 24/7 Innovation. It also marked the time when I left Accenture and started my own innovation business. In honor of this special period in my life, I read the Prologue to that book and share some thoughts on where we have come in the last two decades.

In this episode, we explore:

  • how innovation and management theory have followed the times of the day (from Taylor to today)
  • why past innovation strategies have focused on “boxes” (activities) while newer models focus on “lines” (interconnections)
  • why jazz is a good metaphor for innovation in that it is a collaborate and improvisational approach that adapts to new realities
  • the recent progress innovation has made to move towards “lines” rather than boxes
  • why relevance and adaptability is more important than ideas or novelty

Thank you to everyone who has made the past 20 years possible!


What if instead of thinking outside the box, you want to find a better box?

This is Chapter 4 from Best Practices are Stupid.

We explore the power of Challenge-Centered Innovation (CCI)and why it leads to higher ROI than idea-driven innovation.

In this episode, we explore

  • Einstein’s perspective on innovation (hint: the problem is more important than the solution)
  • Hollywood’s point of view on thinking outside the box (hint: don’t)
  • The advantages of Challenge-Centered Innovation
  • The key things you do up-front with CCI: assign owners, sponsor, resources, funding, evaluators and evaluation criteria
  • How ideas are like fishing with a net in the middle of the ocean while CCI is like targeted fishing with the right lure.

The content in this episode is crucial to my overall work and sets the stage for future chapters.

Get the Invisible Solutions® Lenses

What if asking for ideas is a bad idea?

In this episode, I share Chapter 3 from Best Practices are Stupid. In it, we explore why looking for a quantity of ideas can be the downfall of your innovation efforts.

You will hear:

  • How several companies started with idea-driven innovation programs that led to the demise of their innovation efforts
  • Why the signal-to-noise ratio might be one of the most important measures to consider for innovation
  • The three categories of ideas, and why suggestion boxes lead to a lot of duds
  • Why idea programs can be useful for PR or for getting people on-board with innovation, but not for ROI
  • The behind-the-scenes story of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill innovation efforts

This episode provides one of the cornerstones of my work. In the next Best Practices are Stupid episode, we will go even deeper when we explore why you don’t want to think outside the box.

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