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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

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Invisible Solutions

One week from today, my 6th book, Invisible Solutions, will be released.

I’ve been asked, “How long did it take to write the book?”

The answer is, “It depends.” It depends on how you look at it.

December 2 – 10, 2018, I locked myself in a hotel room and started working on the book. Although I left the hotel with the first version of the manuscript, it took a lot longer to write than just one week. In fact, upon reflection, the book took nine years to write and publish. Hopefully this article will serve as inspiration (and education) to others who want to publish a book. Enjoy!

March 2011: I submitted the final manuscript to Penguin for Best Practices are Stupid. It covered a wide range of topics related to innovation: strategy, organization structures, measures, technology, and more. One  particularly important topic was the need to ask better questions. Although I addressed why this was critical, I realized I never give readers specific tools on how to do this.

April 2011: Almost immediately after submitting the manuscript, I conceived the concept of a “Challenge Toolkit.” The idea was to create a database of “lenses” that would help people reframe their challenge statements. The database would be supported by flashcards, videos, and an expert system. The intention was to create a product that would enable users to master the process of asking better questions, taking what I did naturally and systematize it.

May 2011: I created a spreadsheet cataloging a number of lenses. Over time I added to it, collecting dozens of them. The list grew over time. Admittedly, some were better than others. Continue reading >>

Language is important.

Although I’ve spent 25 years focused on innovation, not everyone likes that word.

In this 1:56 video, I share why I often use the term problem-solving instead – and how that perspective can accelerate change in any organization.

Learn more about my latest innovation book at www.InvisibleSolutionsBook.com.

 

I come from a consulting background having spent 15 years with Accenture. The work we did (and they still do) is incredibly valuable. But not all companies can afford Accenture or McKinsey.

So when I was asked, what problem did I hope to solve with Invisible Solutions, I revealed that I wanted to help people solve their own problems.

Watch this 1 minute 32 second video for more insights. And visit www.InvisibleSolutionsBook.com to learn more about my book.

When you buy a book, you have options: print book, e-book, or audio book.

But did you know that soon you will have the opportunity to buy video books?

I’m working with Primeau Productions to create this new product for Invisible Solutions. It is like an audio book that includes elements for visual learners such as b-roll, graphics, animations, and highlighted words. Music and sound effects enhance the experience.

I am pleased to share the first 3:30 of the video book for Invisible Solutions. For those who know me, you’ll get a kick seeing me in nerd glasses and a bowtie.

The print book is available for pre-order. Buy your copy here: Invisible Solutions.

Enjoy!

I was recently asked, “What’s an example of a problem/question people ask that doesn’t yield the desired results.”

My response was the default question associated with most suggestion boxes.

Here’s my full response (1 minute 46 seconds)

To find better solutions, the key is to stop looking for solutions. Instead, you want to look for better problems/opportunities. Only when you identify the “right” problem can you consider potential solutions.

In this 1 minute 42 second video, I explain the power of the reframe.

Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not a right-brained creative endeavor. It is a left-brained analytic process. In this 2 minute 36 second video, I provide background on why I believe this to be true.

This is discussed further in my upcoming book, Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems.

P.S. The left-/right-brained concept has been debunked. We all have whole functioning brains. I uses these terms as short-hand to describe the way certain people think. 

grow your business without investment

Sometimes the best strategy is to give someone a slice of your business….

Do you ever feel as though you never have enough time, money, or resources to make your business as successful as you know it could be? As a small-business owner myself, I struggle with this dilemma frequently.

Although I could take out business loans and hire employees or contractors, I would rather not take on the extra burden of having people to manage and additional bills to pay. A solution to this conundrum comes from an expression I heard many years back while speaking in Malaysia:

Before you can multiply, you must first learn to divide.

This simple expression has become a mantra of mine when it comes to scaling my business.
The idea is that if you want to grow (multiply) your business, you must learn to partner with others and give them a slice (divide). This means you take a smaller slice of a bigger pie. The added advantage is this philosophy allows you, the business owner, to focus on what matters most and what you do best. Partner with others for nearly everything else.

In my role as a professional speaker, “dividing” is a standard arrangement with speakers bureaus. They take a percentage of my speaking fee in exchange for handling everything from negotiating, contracting, logistics, travel, and invoicing. In the long run, I make more money through this arrangement while working less. They do what they do best (selling and client relationship) and I do what I do best (speaking).

I’ve used this model several times to develop products and services that I otherwise would not have created.

Continue reading >>

Three level of product

Three level of productSometimes the best way to grow your business is to stop telling customers what to do…

No matter what business you’re in, you want leverage. Leverage simply means getting the greatest returns with the least amount of energy.

I’ve spent my entire career running service businesses, as either a business consultant or keynote speaker. There is not a lot of leverage in these, as they are time-intensive endeavors that are difficult to repeat and don’t always guarantee returns. However, service businesses can still gain leverage.

When thinking about the products your business can offer to customers, I find it helpful to categorize them into three buckets: “tell me,” “enable me,” and “do it for me.” The second of these –”enable me”–is the best source of leverage.

Let’s explore these further.

1. Tell me.

These products/services tell others how to do something. My speeches are “tell me” services. Books, CDs/MP3, DVDs/videos, training seminars, e-learning courses, and most membership sites are “tell me” products. Often when people talk about products (especially in the world of professional speaking), these are typically the types of products they are referring to. Although these products are valuable, they are also the easiest to replicate or copy, and they require the client to do all the work.

For example, if you were an expert in public relations (PR), you could write a book on the topic of “targeting and reaching out to media contacts.” The concepts of any book are easy enough for an unscrupulous competitor to copy. And more important, your client needs to do a lot of work: actually taking the time to research and call journalists.

2. Enable me.

Continue reading >>

One of my favorite speech stories is also featured in my next book, Invisible Solutions

If you’ve flown recently, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of dealing with luggage. There’s not enough overhead space for carry-on luggage – and now you pay a premium to have the right bring your bags on. Even worse, if you check your luggage, it seems like you wait forever for your bags to arrive at baggage claim.

Is there a better way? Watch this entertaining video to learn possible solutions – and how this thought process can be used to help you solve any problem you might have

 

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