Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro
In an earlier blog entry on content, readers provided a number of interesting comments. If you haven’t already read that article (and the comments), you may want to do so in order to understand this new article.Many did not agree with my point of view. And that is great. I only wanted to stimulate some conversation.Let me first address some of the comments (and I appreciate the time that everyone took in writing comments). The comment is in italics with my response following.”I wonder if the Kindle model requires a subsidy to offset the upfront cost of technology development and/or design manufacturing.” Two thoughts come to mind. 1) No one has an issue paying $150 for an iPod even though the cost of the music is pretty much the same. 2) As new generations of eBook readers hit the market, prices will drop. Several are now on the market for … Continue reading
Sometimes the question you ask is more important than the actions you take.During President Obama’s inauguration speech, he said:”The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”This is brilliant in its simplicity. The same thought applies to innovation.The question you need to ask is not whether you are developing creative products, processes or business ideas, but whether your innovation efforts work – whether they serve your customers, serve your employees, and ultimately serve your shareholders.Innovation is not about change for change sake. It is about purposeful change that creates value that reduces costs, increases sales, or improves cash flow.In these troubling times, asking the right question is more important than ever. Do your innovation efforts work?Stephen …
Some time ago I received a newsletter that had 10 wacky patents. Here’s my favorite:Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force: With this invention, the mother-to-be is strapped down to a table that is then is spun to allow centrifugal force to take its course and aid in childbirth. This invention by a husband and wife team was patented in 1965, but surprisingly hasn’t caught on in maternity wards around the country.This raises an interesting question. Do patents help or hinder innovation?The intent of patents was to protect those who make large investments in innovation. For example, a pharmaceutical company that spends billions of dollars on drug development and testing needs protection. Clearly these patents help innovation. No one would invest that much money if someone could come in and replicate their idea.But what about patents that protect ideas; concepts where no real investment has …
We often hear that content is king. But I wonder if this is still true.Let’s take some very simple examples.I am sure most of you know that the iPod was not a revolutionary invention. It was merely a new spin on the already existing MP3 player. The real innovation was the integration of the iPod with iTunes. This changed the game. Using this model, the distribution of content became as important as the creators (the musicians) and the publishers (the record labels). Apple is now one of the most powerful and profitable players in the music industry.I now own an Amazon Kindle. I have to admit, I love it (I’ll blog about that another time). But what strikes me is that we are seeing the same ‘content distributor as king’ dynamics unfold again. In the book business, the author’s royalty is a pretty small slice of the pie. I should … Continue reading
While in Asia, I heard a great expression, “Before You Can Multiply, You Must First Learn to Divide.” I now find myself using this saying nearly every day.The idea is that if you want to grow your business, you must learn to partner with others – and give them a slice. This means you take a smaller slice of a bigger pie.I have been doing this for a while now with my agent. He takes a percentage of my business in exchange for handling everything from negotiating, contracting, logistics, travel, invoicing, etc. I am convinced I make more money through this arrangement…and work less.I recently had a conversation with a guy who runs a seminar business. When big name American speakers come to his country, he hosts a public seminar. His biggest challenge is getting butts in seats. When I looked at his business model, it was flawed. He has … Continue reading
A friend of mine has a very cool T-shirt business. To promote their products, they developed a set of interesting bumper stickers, including the one below. I like the design because it involves emblems from playing cards, reminding me of my Personality Poker product.So, what does this say?To answer the question, you have to stand on your head and read the image. Or maybe turn your computer screen upside down. Or, easiest of all, visit their website. The URL is the answer.Stephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.
Last week I had a fantastic meeting with the CEO of a mid-sized energy company. We had a number of fascinating conversations ranging from Personality Poker, Open Innovation, and alternative energy.In the meeting, I was drinking my “caffeine in a can” – a diet cola.The CEO pointed at my soft drink and said that it was one of the worst energy hogs.He pointed out that years ago, Coke was sold as syrup (in fact, it was originally sold for medicinal purposes). The carbonated water was added at the point of sale (e.g., the pharmacy or soda shop). Less energy was expended in the packaging process. Less material was used for the packaging itself. But more importantly, less energy was used in shipping.After doing some digging, I found that, according to one website, 500ml of syrup makes the equivalent of 12 liters. That means that a can of cola contains