Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

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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.

Get the Invisible Solutions® Lenses

Back in June, I posted here that Invisible Solutions® was given the bronze medal across all business and economics books (not just innovation) for the 2020 INDIES Awards. Here is the certificate which now hangs in my office. I love that their official color is purple!

What if the best solutions to your internal business problems can be found by looking externally?

In this episode, I have a conversation (using the Invisible Solutions® lenses) with my friend and colleague Jon Fredrickson. He is the Chief Innovation Officer for InnoCentive (a Wazoku company) and has 15 years of deep open innovation experience.

The conversation covered a wide range of topics including:

  • According to a study conducted by Harvard, over 80% of solvers of InnoCentive challenges would not fit the hiring profile of the client
  • One company replicated 15 years of R&D history with one problem with a 60 day challenge – and they got a better answer
  • If you start looking externally, you can find a kernel of a solution which can be brought back to the organization and adapted
  • Open innovation enables parallel processing of problem-solvingwhich can speed time to solution

There were so many stories, such as how a radiologist solved a problem on how to identify fractures and fissures in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico to find natural gas or oil deposits.

I think you’ll really find this conversation fascinating.

Learn more about InnoCentive

Learn more about Wazoku

Read about my strategic partnership with Wazoku/InnoCentive

Get the Invisible Solutions® Lenses

This week I share Chapter 2 from Best Practices are Stupid: How Can You Avoid Becoming a One-Hit Wonder?

Last week in Chapter 1, I explained the three levels of innovation (event, capability, system). In this week’s episode I share more details on what it takes to create level 2 – an innovation capability.

When you think about innovation as a repeatable and predictable process/capability like any other part of the business (e.g., finance), it opens up some new perspectives.

An innovation capability contains 5 components:

  • Strategy
  • Measures
  • Process
  • People
  • Technology

We explore all 5 components briefly – which sets the stage for the rest of the book. The remainder of Best Practices are Stupid is organized around these pieces.

NOTE: Although it is not made clear in this chapter, one key difference between an innovation capability and (for example) a finance capability is involvement. Finance is a department with a limited number of people. Innovation is not. Innovation needs to involve the entire organization whenever possible. The role of the innovation team is to set standards and processes that the rest of the organization can use. More on that in later chapters.

To download the lenses, go to www.GetTheLenses.com


In this episode, we explore why speed and power do not lead to long-term innovation. It’s not survival of the fittest; it’s survival of the adaptable. The content in this episode is from Chapter 1 of my Best Practices are Stupid book.

We explore why the ability to repeatedly and predictable evolve your organization is the key to long-term success. I share the three levels of innovation:

  1. Innovation as an event
  2. Innovation as a capability
  3. Innovation as a system

This is the first episode where I share content from my Best Practices are Stupid book.

Moving forward, every other week, I will share a chapter from the book. And then alternating with that content will be my problem-solving episodes.

As this is a different format, I would love your feedback.

To download the lenses, go to www.GetTheLenses.com


I am pleased to announce that I recently inked a Strategic Partnership deal with Wazoku/InnoCentive.

I have been involved with InnoCentive, the premier external crowdsourcing platform, since 2005. Their approach to innovation has solved some of the world’s most complex problems.

One year ago, Wazoku, a UK-based idea management software and services company acquired InnoCentive. This brought together the best of internal and external innovation.

As part of our partnership agreement, I will work with Wazoku’s clients to help make innovation repeatable and predictable. In addition Wazoku will make my Invisible Solutions® content available to their clients.

Here’s the press release:

Continue reading >>

We assume randomness lacks a pattern. But there are inherent patterns in randomness. Unfortunately, our brain is wired to find patterns even when they don’t exist in order to create shortcuts that speed decision-making. But what if this very process can lead us down the wrong path?

In this episode, I start with a fun experiment where I show my (pseudo) psychic abilities. I think you’ll like this, so be sure to give it a try.

We then explore how pattern seeking can lead us to focus on the wrong problem.

I share a client example where they made assumptions about a problem when in fact the real problem was something completely different – caused by a different department. This is an illustration on Lens #21: REAL PROBLEM.

Finally, we tackle the topic of confirmation bias where I share a fascinating study that was conducted by the US Army to see how analysts make good (and not so good) decisions.

To download the lenses, go to www.GetTheLenses.com

To download the US Army study on confirmation bias, go here

Be sure to scroll down (or click here) to see the zoomed in image of the book’s cover. Notice the words (pattern) hidden in plain sight!

Bring Stephen’s innovation insights to your next event!