Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro

Innovation, Jazz, and Improvisation


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 ...

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Is Your Organization Anorexic?


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 ...

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Building Innovation Networks


According to David Strom, a web/tech expert… “Burger King ran a promotion not too long ago where they asked people to defriend 10 Facebook friends in order to get a coupon for a free burger. They were swamped with thousands of requests, thereby establishing the value of a friend at somewhere around a quarter. That is pretty depressing. I always ...

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What's Your Lifeline for Innovation?

by Stephen Shapiro During 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 ...

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Why Edison Was Wrong

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 ...

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Discovering Innovation Around the House


Last night I was hungry and decided to make some tuna fish. I opened my refrigerator and found an 18 ounce squeeze bottle of mayonnaise. As I started to make my meal, I realized that the mayo had expired 6 months ago. I guess I don’t use it very often because the bottle was still 90% full. After throwing out ...

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Creating a Culture of Innovation


I define innovation as an “organization’s ability to adapt and evolve repeatedly and rapidly to stay one step ahead of the competition.” A culture of innovation, when done right, gives you a competitive edge because it makes you more nimble with an increased ability to sense and respond to change. A culture of innovation has less to do specifically with ...

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