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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

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Today’s episode is about a topic that is one of my favorites.

During the pandemic, everyone keeps asking me, “How are you going to pivot your business?”

My response is, “I’m not. I’m going to DIVOT.”

What does it mean to divot? It means to go deeper into what you already do. Instead of changing direction, give customers a more substantial version of what you already offer.

I think you will find this to be a fascinating and thought-provoking episode.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Here is the rough transcription for Episode 14 of the Invisible Solutions podcast. It’s not perfect, but if you prefer reading vs listening, this is the way to go. Enjoy!

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Don’t Pivot; Divot!

What if pivoting is the wrong strategy for your organization right now?

Welcome to Invisible Solutions. I’m your host, Stephen Shapiro.

Each week, we tackle your most complex problems using the lenses from my book, Invisible Solutions®. If you need the lenses, go to getthelenses.com.

With that let’s get started with today’s episode.

Today, we’re going to talk about why pivoting isn’t always the right strategy, especially right now when the world is going a little crazy.

Pivoting is basically saying we’re going to go in a different direction. We were doing this, and now we’re going to do that. We were focused on one set of activities. Now, we’re going to do a different set of activities. We were offering one product. Now, we’re going to offer a different product. We had one service and we’re going to offer a different service.

Pivoting is used as a way of getting people to think about shifting direction.

In some respects, it might be somewhat synonymous with adapting. And if you’ve followed my work, you know I’m a big believer in adapting. I think that being adaptable/being nimble is actually one of the most important things that we can do. Because it’s one of the ultimate goals of innovation.

The reason why we want to innovate is not for novelty. It’s not for changing direction. It’s not for new ideas. It is to be adaptable so that we can stay relevant.

What we want to do is be relevant. And being adaptable is part of that. But there are times when actually we can adapt too much or we can change too much. We can change without purpose.

All of our changes should be very purposeful. One of the things I want you to consider is that although we need to shift some parts of our business given the pandemic, maybe there are other parts of a business which should stay the same.

We talk about pivoting and about changing direction.

But I want you to just bear with me for a moment as I describe a different concept.

One of the things which I enjoy doing, although I don’t get to do it very often, is golfing.

I’m not a great golfer. I’m a pretty bad golfer. I have a pretty good drive, but when it came to being on the fairway, well those chip shots, I’m not very good.

And one of the things that would happen if you’re a golfer and you’re not very good, is sometimes you go a little too deep. You go a little too deep. Instead of hitting the ball, you actually go deep and you hit the grass. And a big chunk of grass goes flying.

They call that a divot. That big clump of grass is a divot. Continue reading >>

What if a great way to find better solutions is to look for terrible ideas? This is lens #20 from Invisible Solutions.

In this episode, I share several examples of how seemingly bad ideas become great ideas. For example, you will learn how firing all of the safety inspectors led to higher safety levels.

Also, I use the lenses to solve the problem: How can we provide 24/7 support globally to our customers without being available 24/7?

To address this problem, we use three lenses:

  • #11: Resequence
  • #12: Reassign
  • #24: Variations

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Everyone loves brainstorming. Right? Unfortunately, the way most teams run their sessions is ineffective and inefficient.

But what if there is a better way?

In todays’ episode, I explore the 5 problems associated with traditional brainstorming. For each, I give you a better way that will help improve every session. Doing this will move them stupid to stupendous.

The 5 problems with brainstorming:

  • Poorly defined challenge
  • Lack of diversity
  • Group think
  • Single threading
  • Event-based

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Learn more about Best Practices are Stupid

Learn more about Personality Poker

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Here is the transcription for Episode 11 of the Invisible Solutions podcast. It’s not perfect, but if you prefer reading vs listening, this is the way to go. Enjoy!

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What if all problems are equal yet, some are more equal than others?

Welcome to Invisible Solutions. I’m your host, Stephen Shapiro. Each week, we tackle your most complex problems using the lenses from my book, Invisible Solutions. If you need the lenses, go to getthelenses.com. And with that, let’s get started with today’s episode.

Today, we’re going to explore why we need to prioritize our innovation investments.

We’re going to need to determine what are our most important problems. What are our biggest opportunities? In his book, Animal Farm, George Orwell wrote “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This is an important mantra to remember when creating an innovation program. All problems are equal, but some are more equal than others.

You don’t innovate the same way for every opportunity in your business.

In Episode 9, I talked about why you want to innovate where you differentiate. What’s most important to your business? Why do customers do business with you and not someone else?

When I asked this question of CEOs, top executives, employees, and others, there’s typically a very long, uncomfortable silence.

Clearly defining your focus will help you allocate your innovation investments much more effectively, but most people don’t think of their business in these terms.

Let’s talk about how you prioritize your investments in time and money.

Once you identify your differentiator — the reason why people do business with you and not someone else — you can then use this information to develop your operating strategy. This is the way you run your business. This is how you prioritize your investments. Continue reading >>

In Episode 9, I briefly talked about differentiation and why it is an important part of innovation.

In this episode we do an even deeper dive into the topic. And in particular I share my Innovation Targeting Matrix. The premise is that there are three levels of activities/opportunities – and they aren’t all equal. When you better understand how to prioritize your innovation investments, you will get the biggest bang for your buck.

The three levels are:

  • Support – creates internal value
  • Core – Table stakes/customer expectations
  • Differentiating – The reason someone does business with you

By determining which level your challenges focus on, you can best determine your innovation strategy.

Although the Innovation Targeting Matrix was not in the Invisible Solutions book (it was in Best Practices are Stupid), I felt it was a useful tool to include here for listeners.

Download a copy of the Innovation Targeting Matrix

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Learn more about Best Practices are Stupid

Submit any problems you want me to solve on the show

Episode #10 of the Invisible Solutions podcast is now live.

In today’s episode we explore one of the lenses from Invisible Solutions: #19 PAIN VS GAIN.

We often hear the expression “Build it and they will come.” With innovation, a more accurate statement is “Eliminate a pain and they will come.”

2020 was a year of crises and innovation. Challenges and opportunities. Last year we saw the rapid adoption of new virtual technologies during the pandemic. We saw a similar adoption of new technology during another crisis 40 years ago. This is the story of technological adoption, adaptation, and innovation.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit a problem to be solved on a future episode

Happy New Year!

I was recently interviewed for an article for Investor’s Business Daily.

The topic of conversation was how reframing a problem can lead to better solutions.

Here is the very start of the article:

Racing to stay a step ahead of rivals, leaders often rush to find new innovations. They state a problem and tell their team to solve it. Yet jumping right into brainstorming can backfire if you don’t set the proper backdrop first.

It’s better to invest more time in framing the issue before trying to fix it with new innovations.

Defining what’s at stake, why it matters and how an innovative solution will help consumers’ lives enhances your team’s understanding of the task at hand. Putting a narrow problem in a broader context generates more buy-in.

“Sometimes, the way we frame a problem can open up new possibilities,” said Stephen Shapiro, author of “Invisible Solutions.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Episode #9 of the Invisible Solutions podcast is now live.

Today we start by answering the question, “What if trying to innovate everywhere can negatively impact your innovation effort?” The key is to innovate where you differentiate. Not all opportunities are equal. Therefore you want to invest in the areas that help you stand out from the competition.

And then we tackle a “listener” submitted question: “How can Santa more effectively deliver all of his packages in one night?” Yes, the North Pole is a listener of the podcast. 🙂

Santa is getting older and his elves are worried about his health. They would like to find a more efficient way to deliver the gifts each year.

To reframe this problem, we use three of the lenses from Invisible Solutions:

  • #11: RESEQUENCE
  • #12: REASSIGN
  • #15: SUBSTITUTE

Hopefully the ideas in this episode can help any organization who has to deliver packages or services.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Submit a problem to be solved on a future episode

Happy Holidays!

Episode #8 of the Invisible Solutions podcast is now live.

In this episode, I explore why some people are luckier than others – and how you can create luck.

Contrary to what some experts say, luck is not just about hard work. It requires something else.

I share a probabilistic model that explains why focusing on specific outcomes reduces the  likelihood of success.

I then explore how you can increase your creativity and luck through a very simple technique that can be done immediately and does not take any extra time.

Download the lenses from Invisible Solutions

Learn more about Goal-Free Living

Submit a problem to be solved on a future episode

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and lucky 2021.

Bring Stephen’s innovation insights to your next event!