Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

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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

Marketers will tell you the importance of growing your network. But what if the key to long-term success is about nurturing your network? In today’s episode we explore some power of creating deep relationships versus a large number of transactions.

A question I am often asked is, “How can we market our business to attract new customers?” This implies the goal is to get more customers.

But what if (assuming you have an established business) you already have all of the customers you need? Maybe marketing is not the answer (or more accurately, the question).

I explore a number of different ways to improve your business using the lenses. The ones I focus on this week are:

  • #4: ELIMINATE – What if we stopped all marketing efforts?
  • #18: PERFORMANCE PARADOX – What if instead of selling to customers, you serve them instead?
  • #24: VARIATIONS – Focus your efforts on the clients where you can create the greatest value.

How can you build a deeper relationship with the past customers where you can make the greatest impact? This is quite different than focusing on marketing.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

In 2020 I made a strategic decision to hybrid publish Invisible Solutions (vs a traditional publisher, such as Penguin who published my two previous books).

This gave me complete control over every aspect of the book: the content, the title, the cover design, the interior layout, the book  quality, etc.

I doubt a traditional publisher would let me have a purple cover with high quality glossy paper, two color interior with a centerfold.

But this is what I wanted. And fortunately, it seems to resonate with many readers

Therefore, I am honored to announce that Invisible Solutions was recently, the book was named one of twelve finalists for the best indie business books by Foreword Reviews

Thank you for everyone’s support!

P.S. The purple in their logo is not doctored. This is the actual color they use in some places.

Scaling a service-based business isn’t easy. Especially if you are a solopreneur who doesn’t want to hire employees or have expensive overhead. Short of cloning yourself or working 24 hours a day, what’s the solution?

A question I am often asked by my professional speaker, consultant, and training colleagues is, “How can we scale my service-based business without hiring a lot of employees?”

In this episode, we will address this questions by using six lenses from Invisible Solutions that will provide a half-dozen different ways to grow your business – without hiring anyone.

The lenses are:

  • #4 Eliminate – what can you stop doing?
  • #11 Resequence –how can you change the timing?
  • #12 Reassign – who can help you scale – and how?
  • #13 Access – how can you create a subscription?
  • #6 Analogy –who else has solved a similar problem?
  • #34 Variations – how can you treat different customers/clients differently?

Although this might seem like a lot of lenses, this question is so rich with opportunity that I didn’t want to shortchange listeners.

I think you’ll enjoy this one, especially if you have a service-based business.

The Problem-Solving Institute

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Be skeptical any time someone tells you they have a best practice…

While speaking at a conference several years ago, I tried an experiment.

I told the audience that I had discovered the five best practices that nearly all successful people have in common. I printed these practices on a sheet of paper and invited 10 successful people in the audience to join me on stage.

I asked each of these individuals how many of these practices they used in their personal life or business. Turns out, all five practices were used by all ten of these successful entrepreneurs.

The audience gasped. They were on the edge of their seats waiting to hear the keys to the kingdom. Then I read off the five practices:

  • Read your email (at least) once a day
  • Smile (at least) once a day
  • Brush your teeth (nearly) every day
    Shower (at least) twice a week
  • Wear clothes to work

Although the successful entrepreneurs all laughed, the audience was disappointed.

But it made an important point. Any time you hear about a best practice, make sure you consider if it was the true cause of success, and not a coincidence or correlation.

The Under-sampling of Failure

For my experiment, I found five successful people knowing they would have used these silly practices. But had I taken the time to look, I would certainly have found people in the audience who used those exact practices yet weren’t nearly as successful.

This is the under-sampling of failure. We tend to focus on the winners and successes, but we don’t take time to track down the times when advice or a best practice didn’t work.

Companies that were successful in implementing a particular practice are at conferences talking about their experiences. They write books about their approaches. But what about the hundreds or thousands of companies that did exactly the same practice and failed? We don’t hear about them. They’re not being invited to speak at conferences or to write books.

We focus on those who did well, but we don’t spend any time investigating all the people who tried that same practice and weren’t successful. Why can a practice have both successes and failures? To answer this, we need to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence.

Causation, Correlation, and Coincidence

Causation means that the given practice was the actual cause of a company’s success. If they didn’t apply this practice, they would not have achieved the results they did.

But in many cases, the relationship between a practice and success is not causation but rather correlation or coincidence.
Coincidence means there is no relationship. The silly practices I shared had little or no relationship to someone’s success. Of course, if you never brush your teeth, never smile, and never read your email, it might prevent you from being successful. But doing these things will certainly not create success.

Correlation is best explained with a simple example.

Let’s assume that the following statement is true: “Individuals with greater wealth are happier.”

Most people reading this will jump to the conclusion that money makes people happy. In doing so, they assume that money is the cause of happiness. If we make money, we become happy.

But we know that this is not the case at all. Money does not cause happiness; happiness creates wealth. The happier someone is, the more they are eager to work and the more people want to work with them.

Wealth and happiness are correlated. But money doesn’t cause happiness; happiness causes wealth. The wrong causation leads people to chase wealth in the belief that they’ll be happy, and they’re never happy.

Understanding the distinction between causation, correlation, and coincidence is critical for innovation. If you’re going to apply a supposed best practice, you had better understand that the work that you’re doing and the money you’re investing will cause the success you want.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com 

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