Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro

Cathederal or Chaos?


The other day I gave a speech on open innovation at a conference primarily focused on open source software. One of the presenters at the event suggested that instead of trying to create a cathedral by controlling software development, we should instead be comfortable with a mess. The point of open source is to let creativity emerge from the mess. ...

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One Simple Action Can Change Your Life

Recently, a number of people have asked me how I became an author and professional speaker. I reflected upon it and realized that it all started with one simple action. And maybe, to make major change happen, that’s all you need: one small move. The year was 1993. I was a relatively junior person at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). I ...

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Everything Has a Personality


While developing Personality Poker, one thing I discovered is that lots of things have personalities: People, Political Parties, Products, Places, and Organizations (I could not find a “p” for this last one). When you look at everything through the lens of a personality, you begin to see why individuals gravitate towards (or away from) certain people, companies, political affiliations, products, ...

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How Can Goals Enhance Creativity?


Over the years, I have written numerous articles on “The Performance Paradox” that show how an obsession with the future reduces performance in the present. And typically, creativity is significantly diminished in the process. But given that businesses are driven by goals, how can we leverage them as a tool for enhancing creativity? One way is to use stretch targets. ...

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Doing Nothing to Enhance Creativity


We are in such a fast paced society that we are always focused on achieving our goals. In business, these goals might be hitting quarterly earnings targets, sales quotas, or operating budgets. Even innovation initiatives are goal-driven. We measure ideas generated, time-to-market, and percent of revenue from new products. We are indeed a goal-driven society. And there is nothing wrong ...

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Are You Smarter than a PhD?


“Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” is an entertaining show. In the world of innovation, the biggest question is, “Are you smarter than a PhD?” Here’s what I mean… In Personality Poker we address four primary innovation styles. The spades are the ones who are, as we would say in Boston, “wicked smaht.” We find that spades are analytical, ...

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You Failed! Now What?

Last week, I had three conversations with three different companies. And each had a complaint about the same group of people: lawyers. If you think about it, innovators and lawyers have completely opposite objectives. Innovators want to grow the business. They believe that risk and failure are a natural part of the innovation process. Their mantra is “expansion.” Lawyers, on ...

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Redefining Failure


I view life as a series of experiments. When you look at it through this lens, failure means something completely different. One definition of an experiment is: “A test or investigation, especially one planned to provide evidence for or against a hypothesis.” The only way an experiment can fail is if you don’t get the evidence. Even if the evidence ...

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