Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Latest Posts

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!

On today’s episode, we look into ways of “cloning” someone digitally. In particular, we discuss how to take the knowledge from someone’s brain and convert it into workable tools.

The problem statement we start with is, “How can we create software that is so great that customers will be mad if we take it away?”

My guest problem solver is Adam Leffert, a freelance, C#, .Net Software Architect and Developer based in the Boston area. And he is the creator of the Invisible Solutions® Tools.

We use the Invisible Solutions® Lenses Chatbot as an example. This conversational tool asks you questions that walk you through the process of finding the best lenses to apply to your problem. We discuss the design principles behind the tool and then we use the lenses to identify ways to enhance the software.

The lenses we primarily used are:

  • #14: EMOTION – What emotion do we want people to feel? In this case, anger if the software is taken away.
  • #6: ANALOGY – Who else has solved a similar problem? How do medical chat bots help diagnose illnesses?
  • #3: REDUCE – What if we reduced the size of the problem set? What if instead of focusing on all 25 lenses, how can we go deeper into the 10 lenses that are used most often and have the widest applicability? This is related to lens #1: LEVERAGE.
  • #11: RESEQUENCE – How can we change the timing of the work? How can we get input earlier in the process of developing the software? How can we communicate asynchronously?
  • #24: VARIATIONS – Instead of designing for the exception, how can we design to handle the exception?
  • #4: ELIMINATE – What can we remove from the software to make it easier to use and/or easier to develop?

Learn more about the Invisible Solutions® Tools and take advantage of trial access to the Lens Browser. The Chat Bot that we discussed during this episode is still under development.

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

Back in 2010, Penguin published my Personality Poker® book. It was selected as one of the top five innovation books of the year by 800-CEO-READ (now Porchlight). The next year, when Penguin published Best Practices are Stupid, it was chosen as the best innovation book of the year by 800-CEO-READ.

When I published Invisible Solutions®, I decided I would not use a traditional publisher, but instead would hybrid publish. Because of this, it is considered an independently published book.

Each year, Foreword Reviews magazine chooses the best independently published books as part of their INDIES awards. I’m honored that Invisible Solutions® was given the bronze medal across all business and economics books (not just innovation).

I am incredibly proud of this book. I truly believe it contains some of my most valuable content. I have seen it help transform the way organizations do business and generate new innovations that were not thought possible.

If you want to learn how to solve nearly any difficult business problem or how to tap into unseen opportunities, please consider purchasing a copy of Invisible Solutions®. And if you read the book, I would appreciate it if you would write an honest review on Amazon.

Even if you don’t get the book, please be sure to download the free material we offer everyone.

Thanks for your support!!

In order to sell your ideas, you need to be better at using data. But what if leading with data might be the very thing that prevents you from selling your ideas?

On this episode, I am joined by my friend and colleague, Brad Kolar. He and I worked closely together at Accenture. He was also the Chief Learning Officer for the University of Chicago Medical Center. Now he helps overwhelmed leaders make better decisions by reducing complexity and increasing clarity.

The problem we tackle: “How can we drive data-driven decision-making forward without having to rehash the analysis and background each time we start a conversation?”

During the conversation, we used three of the lens from Invisible Solutions:

  • #11: RESEQUENCE – What can we do earlier in the process to increase the speed of buy-in later in the process?
  • #14: EMOTION – Instead of focusing on facts and data, how we can leverage stories and emotion to increase acceptance?
  • #4: ELIMINATE – What if we eliminated the use of charts and statistics in our sales pitch? How could that help improve buy-in?

It was a fast-paced and engaging conversation! This is one you won’t want to miss!

To connect with Brad, go to www.availadvisors.com or LinkedIn

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

In this week’s episode, I am joined by my guest Dan Kaus. Together we tackle the problem: “How can we find time for innovation?”

Dan has innovation experience with a wide range of companies and industries, including Accenture, BP, Campbell’s Soup, and many others.

Dan shared some of this thoughts on this, including:

  • Try to integrate innovation into daily work rather than keeping is separate
  • Simplify innovation so there is less confusion
  • Ensure implementation of high-value ideas

We also explored how using the Invisible Solutions lenses can provide some new insights into this problem. In particular, we used:

  • #1: LEVERAGE – What is the part of the innovation process that will have the greater impact? Where is there currently the biggest bottleneck?
  • #2: DECONSTRUCT – What are the steps of the innovation process and where should we focus?
  • #3: REDUCE – How can we simply the innovation process by reducing steps, ambiguity, or ideas to implement?
  • #7: RESULT – Why do we care about innovation? What’s the ultimate goal?
  • #12: REASSIGN – How can we leverage outside resources to help us make innovation a reality?

It was a fascinating conversation that I know you will find valuable!

You can connect with Dan on LinkedIn at www.DanKaus.com

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

In this episode, we explore the power of adventure and new experiences as a means for improving luck, increasing creativity, and enhancing problem-solving skills. This episode is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Dr. Jeff Salz, the quintessential adventurer, who passed away last month.

This week we cover:

  • Luck: How being open to ANY outcome (vs looking for a specific outcome) increases the probability of luck
  • Creativity: Why collecting and connecting new experiences is a key to enhanced creativity.
  • Adventure: We learn from Jeff Salz and his thoughts on why adventure helps you overcome fear and take on new opportunities.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Thought leaders for years have told people what to do. They write books, shoot videos, and create online training programs. Consultants on the other hand do all of the heavy lifting for their clients, implementing the solutions. But what if the key to creating more value for your customers/clients – and for your business – requires a different type of solution?

In this episode, I share three categories of support you can provide your clients:

  1. Tell me – tell people what to do
  2. Enable me – give them the tools so that they can do it on their own
  3. Do it for me – implement the solution for your client

As you will hear, the “enable me” category might be the one with the greatest value to your clients and to your business.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Bring Stephen’s innovation insights to your next event!