Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro

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

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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

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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

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Should You Fish for Innovations or Catch Them?

On talk radio the other day, they were discussing the fishing industry. The conversation centered on how certain types of much more popular than others. I not sure of the specifics, but I think salmon, tuna, and sea bass are the hot fish. Most consumers, when they go to the supermarket, ask for those specific fish. They have a recipe in mind and want to cook that. It was suggested that it would be better if people asked the “freshest” catch instead. From their perspective, there are two reasons why requesting the freshest catch is good idea. The obvious reason is that the fish will most likely be tastier. But there was a bigger reason; one that is critical to the industry. If people stop asking for specific fish, it would allow fishermen to “catch” rather than “fish.” The distinction might seem subtle, but it is important. Fishing means you … Continue reading

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Insider's View on Microwork and a Sample Output

As readers of this blog know, I am always interested in exploring different forms of open innovation, collaboration, and outsourcing. Personally, I have used a number of sites including 99designs.com and elance.com. I have used these for the development of logos, graphics, websites, and research. In most cases I would pay several hundred dollars for the work. An interesting trend has emerged: microwork outsourcing. This is work that can be completed in a matter of minutes and costs only a few dollars. My favorite microwork website is fiverr.com. Here you can hire people to do lots of things for only $5. I saw that someone offered to write an article for only $5, so I hired her to write an article on innovation. I was impressed with how she could pull together something of high quality so quickly. This got me wondering: Can …

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