Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro

Is Crowdsourcing Disruptive?

There was an excellent post by Hutch Carpenter on this website. In the article, he asked the question – “Is Crowdsourcing Disrupting the Design Industry?” He makes an excellent case for the value (and pitfalls) of crowdsourcing design work. As loyal readers know, I have used design crowdsourcing on several occasions.In response to the article, I wrote:I use crowdsourcing for some of my designs. And I have to admit, I do sometimes feel a little bad. It’s clear some people put a fair amount of thought into their designs. Sadly, there is typically only one winner.Having said that, as a consultant, no one feels bad for me when I spend days or weeks developing a proposal that does not get awarded to me. We recognize that it is the cost of doing business.Let’s face it… for some design work, it might be just as fast to develop a rough concept … Continue reading

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The Performance Paradox

Every leader dreams of finding the magic bullet that will increase creativity, boost productivity, and improve morale. Surprisingly, one of the most effective solutions may be the most counterintuitive: sometimes less effort, not more, yields optimal results.Keep Your Eye on the PresentA few years ago, I worked with a Formula One racing team. Pit crews, consisting of 19 people, serviced the ultrafast, high-tech race – refueling cars, changing tires, and performing required maintenance in a matter of seconds. The crew members continually shifted positions to find the best combination for the optimal configuration of the team. As they practiced, they used a stopwatch to measure their time to milliseconds. Yet, ultimately, no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t work any faster. They had hit their performance plateau.Then, they tried a new approach. They decided not to concentrate on their time, but on their style instead. Now, their movements became … Continue reading

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Reverse Knowledge Management

Last night I went to a seminar. On the whiteboard, the seminar leader drew an oft-used framework:There are things you “know.” – For example, I know I can speak English.There are things you “know you don’t know.” – I know I can’t speak Chinese.And there are things you “don’t know you don’t know.” – Obviously I don’t have any examples of this.But it got me thinking. There is one dimension that is never mentioned…There are things you “don’t know you know.”Inside of organizations, there is so much untapped knowledge. To combat this, over the past two decades, companies have invested millions of dollars in knowledge management systems. The objective has been to capture the company’s knowledge.The problem is, the knowledge management databases usually become so large and unwieldy that they are unusable. I can attest from experience that these systems often end up becoming digital piles of untapped information. Finding … Continue reading

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Is Open Innovation a Tournament?

A magazine asked me to write a book review of “Innovation Tournaments” by Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich. The book arrived in the mail yesterday and I immediately turned to the index to see if InnoCentive was listed. Sure enough, we are mentioned in several places in the book.This got me thinking: Is InnoCentive a tournament?The word tournament is derived from the French word for “medieval sport” and is now used to describe a wide variety of competitions.Most competitions/tournaments are quite entertaining. And by their very nature, there is always a winner. One could argue that tournaments are “spectacles designed to find a champion.”Given this widely held point-of-view, using the word tournament as a descriptor of InnoCentive seems to be inaccurate.The NCAA basketball championships are a tournament. The “World Series of Poker” is a tournament. American Idol is a tournament. With each of these, there is always a winner. The … Continue reading

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Part 3 - Three Innovation Distinctions

This is the third of my “Innovation Distinctions” entries.In the first part of this series, I wrote why you should focus on “Challenges, not Ideas.” Next, I addressed the distinction of “Process, not Events.”In this final entry, I discuss why innovation requires “Diversity not Homogeneity.” Be sure to read the previous two articles before reading this one.As mentioned in the other blog entries, I first shared these distinctions with a group of speakers and authors who were brainstorming ways to improve the learning experience for other speakers and authors who attend their conferences. Here’s the Catch 22: Having only speakers and authors speaking to other speakers and authors does not lead to much creativity. Most of the “ideas” presented are well-worn and don’t address the “real world” outside of the industry.Therefore, my last suggestion to the group was to increase the level of diversity at these learning experiences. This would … Continue reading

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Innovation Process - Three Innovation Distinctions

In the first part of this series, I wrote why you should focus on challenges, not ideas. You should read that article before proceeding.In this second entry, I will focus on “Process, not Events.”I first shared these three distinctions with a bunch of speakers and authors. In the speaking industry, conferences/conventions are the primary model for professional development. That is, a bunch of people get together for a few days. The days are comprised of presenters on the stage who share their “wisdom” with attendees. When the event is over, the learning ends. And for most individuals, progress ends.People who attend these events leave with a laundry list of ideas. Most people never implement any of the ideas. They just sit on the shelf in a binder.This, in a nutshell, is what happens in the innovation programs of many businesses. They hold ad hoc brainstorming sessions. Or maybe they run … Continue reading

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Predicting the Next Innovation

Recently I returned from over two weeks on the road. I was in and out of five airports. As you go through security, the routine is always the same…Take off your shoesTake out your liquidsTake out your computerWhy are we put through these security gymnastics?On December 22, 2001, Richard Reid was caught with plastic explosives in the soles of his shoes. That’s why we now have to walk barefoot through airports.On August 9, 2006, two dozen people were arrested in the UK because they were plotting to bring liquid explosives on planes leaving Heathrow airport. Now we have to travel with miniature shampoos, shave creams and toothpastes.Computers are scanned because, well, that’s the obvious place to look. I guess.What do these have in common? For the most part, the security scans we now endure were due to cleverness on the part of terrorists. Rarely are we subjected to scans that … Continue reading

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