Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

We continue with the “Shift” part of the FAST Innovation Model (Focus, Ask, Shift, Test).

In today’s video I share why expertise is the enemy of innovation. Yes, it really is!

Be sure to watch the previous videos!


In the last video, I talked about toothpaste solution coming from a laundry detergent solution. We talked about, how do you ask who else has solved a similar problem?

This is a great tool for kick-starting any of your innovation efforts when you are looking for solutions.

Now, the reason why this is important is because I strongly believe that expertise is the enemy of innovation. Expertise is the enemy of innovation. The reason why is, the more you’ve thought about a topic, the harder it is for you to think differently about that topic.

So, if you’re an expert in a function, like HR, finance or sales, it’s going to be hard for you to think differently about that. If you’re an expert in an industry, like hospitality, financial services or manufacturing, it will be difficult for you to think differently about that.

Therefore, because expertise is the enemy of innovation, we need to recognize that connecting the dots to other disciplines is the key, and I’m going to talk about this more in the next video.

  1. That phenomenon is also called “Functional Fixedness”.

    Against this background, it is very interesting that nevertheless companies try to solve innovation challenges with many professionals with similar backgrounds. One solution, which is already used by many companies, is open innovation for the exploration of new ideas and impulses.

    • Stephen Shapiro says:

      Agreed on the open innovation comment. If you go through my blog entries, you will see I am a big fan of open innovation. I have been actively involved in the crowdsourcing world, along with other forms of open innovation. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Chuck Noland says:

    I guess that means we should never listen to experts on innovation, because they obviously have thought about it too much. 🙂

    • Stephen Shapiro says:

      Funny you say that. I always joke that if expertise is the enemy of innovation, then an innovation expert can’t innovate. This is why I spend a lot of my time NOT studying innovation but rather neuroscience, psychology, sports performance and magic. These help me break free of the traditional ways of thinking about innovation. Thanks!

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