Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro
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
What do jazz and innovation have in common?Quite a bit.Many years ago, in 24/7 Innovation, I wrote…”Most businesses are run like classical symphonies – long, with elaborate compositions (detailed workflows) that leave little room for interpretation. Employees are expected to follow these compositions rote.Unfortunately, by the time they learn the score, the music would have to be changed. This organizational symphony no longer works in today’s age of change.Instead we need jazz-like organizations. Innovation is not random. In fact, it emerges best when there is a structure to nurture it, much like jazz in the world of music. Jazz is heavy on innovation (‘improvisation’ in musical terms). Just as innovation is not random, neither is improvisation. Jazz has a simple structure, like 12-bar, B-flat blues. It has a rhythm, chord progression, and tempo.Businesses need much the same to succeed: Simple structures that allow innovation to emerge, in the moment, when … Continue reading
The President of a $1 billion company once asked me to describe his organization in one word. My response?”Anorexic.”The Vice Presidents who sat around the table nodded in agreement. They assumed that I meant there was no fat left to cut. That is not what I meant.Anorexics often have relatively “high” body fat percentages because their lean body mass erodes along with the fat.This is what many organizations have done. An an effort to cut costs, in addition to cutting fat, they also cut large amounts of lean body mass.Are you thinking of further cost cutting? If so, what are you eliminating? Fat? Bone? Muscle? Vital organs? No company in history has ever “cut” its way to long-term success.Exercise grows muscle while burning fat.Innovation is exercise for businesses. It helps grows the organization while also enabling cost efficiencies.During the depression, Henry Ford said, “A man who stops advertising to save … Continue reading
by Stephen ShapiroDuring dinner the other night, I compared crowdsourcing to the lifelines on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”Imagine you are sitting in the hot seat. The show’s host asks you a question. You are nervous and can’t think straight. You believe you know the answer to the question, but $64,000 is on the line. You are no longer that sure of yourself. You have all of your lifelines. What do you do?A. Answer the question on your own.B. Phone a FriendC. Use the Fifty-FiftyD. Ask the AudienceLet’s explore each option…You could of course answer the question on your own (A). You answered the previous 10 questions correctly doing it this way. But the stakes are higher now. Maybe it’s time to get some help.You could “Phone-A-Friend” (B). Based on the few times I watched the show (admittedly the last time I watched WWTBAM was back in 2001 when … Continue reading
The other night I had an enlightening conversation with Alph Bingham, the co-founder of InnoCentive from Eli Lilly. This guy is fascinating!Alph suggested that many people do not like open innovation (external crowd sourcing) because it runs counter to a widely held belief of the R&D community. Researchers often throw around the Edison quote, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”Researchers use this quote because it “validates” the iterative development innovation process; the cornerstone of most R&D departments. They have convinced themselves that they learn as much from their failures as they do from their successes. Call it what you want, the 700 attempts were failures.When some R&D people look at open innovation, they see it … Continue reading