Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Today is the final video in the “Ask” part of the FAST Innovation Model (Focus, Ask, Shift, Test).

With this, we sum up with WHY asking questions is so important. We discuss why you should not “think outside the box.” And we talk about the upsides of challenge-centered innovation over idea-driven innovation.

The next installment will most us to the Shift part of the model.

Be sure to watch the previous videos!


I’m going to wrap up the “ASK” part of our FAST model with a perspective.

In the world of innovation, we keep on hearing this expression, “Think outside the box.” But if you reflect on everything that I’ve talked about, this might actually be bad advice.

In fact, what I suggest is that you don’t think outside the box, you find a better box.

The issue is not the expansiveness of your thinking. Going back to the Goldilocks principle, thinking out of the box actually reduces the level of creativity, increases the level of noise, and actually increases the amount of wasted energy involved. The issue isn’t expansiveness. The issue is you’re looking into the wrong place.

If you spend your time trying to speed up bags, you’ll never think to slow down passengers. If you spend your time trying to get clothes clean, you’ll never try to think of ways to keep clothes clean.

Changing the question changes the solution. Don’t think outside the box, find a better box.

Here is the bottom line in all of these. In studies that we’ve done, we found that when we move from an idea-driven innovation process where we ask people for their ideas through a suggestion box or an idea management system, we move from that to a challenge-centered innovation process where we invite people to provide solutions to well-framed challenges, we improve innovation ROI a minimum of tenfold. The reason for this is that well-framed challenges can focus on a differentiator. We can reframe them multiple times, but also, and here is the really important part, ideas don’t have a home. They’re in a suggestion box. You need to get somebody to fund them.

Challenges, before you even get started working on them, they have owners, sponsors, funding, resources, evaluators, and clear evaluation criteria. So when you objectively find a good solution, you have everything in place to start implementation.

So don’t think outside the box, find a better box, move away from idea-driven innovation to challenge-centered innovation, and you will start to see a massive return on your innovation efforts.

In the next segment, we will move to the shift part of the FAST innovation model.

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