Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro

About Stephen Shapiro

After a 15-year tenure leading a 20,000-person innovation practice at Accenture, in 2001 Stephen Shapiro launched his professional speaking career. He has presented his counterintuitive perspectives on innovation to audiences in 50 countries. His latest book, “Best Practices Are Stupid," was named the best innovation book of 2011. In 2015 he was inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame. You can learn more about him at
Are you asking the right question?

This simple exercise makes an incredibly important point. The way you phrase a problem will lead you down the path of a particular thought process. This, in turn will lead to a particular solution. How you ask the question will impact the manner in which you innovate. Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Psychology, Strategy | 3 Comments
Creating the Apple Macintosh Mouse

Malcolm Gladwell has an excellent piece on how Apple created its first computer after visiting Xerox parc. In particular, he discusses how the mouse was developed. Continue reading

Posted in Apple, Consumer Innovation, Design, Innovation, Technology | 1 Comment
A Challenge to Find Challenges

Most organizations focus their energies on ideas, suggestions, and opinions. But for innovation to be efficient and focused, you need to ask better questions. What do you do when you don’t even know what questions to ask? Run a challenge to find challenges. Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Management, Strategy | 1 Comment
Freedom Can Limit Innovation

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the identical conversation with several different clients. Apparently, there is an existing belief that if you want to instill a mindset of creativity, you need to have less “structure.” To some degree that is true. But unfortunately, most companies, when undergoing this kind of change, swing too radically to the other side. Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Management | 1 Comment
Innovation, Invention, Creativity, and Artistry are not the same

Last night I was at an event where I woman said, “I want to get in touch with my creativity. I used to paint and play music, but no longer do that.” This got me thinking about how we throw around a lot of terms with no real clarity around what they mean. Here are four terms that people use interchangeably. Invention, from my perspective, invention is the creation of something that previously was not in existence. The focus is not on commercial value but rather on novelty. Innovation, on the other hand, is an end-to-end process that starts with a specific problem, challenge or opportunity and results in commercial value (however that is defined for the organization). Creativity is one step in the innovation process. When you have a defined problem/opportunity, creativity is the act of finding a solution. Artistic endeavors are things like music, painting, and photography. There … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation | 5 Comments
Path of Least Resistance a Threat to Innovation

It Creates Mirages and Kills Innovation by Stephen Shapiro While at a skeptics convention last week in Vegas, one of the speakers talked about why mirages are the result of light taking the path of least resistance. Instead of light from the sky going straight to our eyes, it is actually easier for it to first go to the ground and then to our eyes. (here’s an article I just found on this concept in case you are interested) This got me thinking… What is the path of least resistance in an organization? And does this create mirages? Does this give us false information? Does this ultimately destroy innovation? I was recently speaking with a client who has for quite some time been running an idea platform within their organization. Think of it as an electronic suggestion box where employees can contribute ideas they have that will help improve the … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Psychology | 3 Comments
New School is Old School

I just finished reading a mindless crime novel* – my favorite genre of book. The victim was the producer of an old television series who recently sold the rights to do a remake of the show. Fans were outraged. Most were purists who liked the original version and would do anything to prevent the new show…including kill the producer. The producer of the remake defended the decision to do a new version of an old show. He said… “New school is old school. It’s too risky for the networks and for the audiences. People are much more comfortable with the familiar. Re-imagination is the new new.” Basically he is suggesting that “re-imagining” something old is the latest way to innovate. But is it? Is “re-imagining” the same as innovation? Is remaking a classic television show innovative? “The Twilight Zone” remake, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” or “America’s Got Talent” (a … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation | 3 Comments