March 14, 2011
I recently had the great pleasure of welcoming Chris Taylor into my condo. He came with his video camera, an in depth understanding of my work, and an amazing interview style. The result? One of my favorite video interviews…ever. Be sure to check it out and learn more about Chris at Actionable Books.
March 6, 2011
Vern Burkhardt is one of the best interviewers in the innovation space. I am pleased to have spent time with him for a two-part interview. Here are the first two questions/answers for the first interview. At the end you can follow the link to the IdeaConnection website for the other 38 questions.
Vern Burkhardt (VB): In Personality Poker you focus on “challenge-driven” Innovation. Why?
Stephen Shapiro: I love to quote Albert Einstein when talking about this topic. He said if I had an hour to save the world, I’d spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions. From my experience, most organizations are spending 60 minutes finding solutions to problems that don’t matter.
When you focus on challenges you’re able to create solutions that are relevant to the needs of the organization. By contrast, when you focus on broad ideas you don’t know which ones are going to be useful. This creates a lot of noise in the system and makes innovation much less efficient.
VB: In your article “how to Create a Culture of Innovation” you say, ‘The “meta-challenge” for all organizations is to find which challenges, if solved and implemented, will create the greatest value.’ Would you talk about this?
Stephen Shapiro: An organization’s ability to figure out which problems if solved would have the greatest impact is probably the single greatest measure of whether an organization will be successful. A lot of times companies spend so much time on things that aren’t relevant.
You’re not looking for solutions. You’re looking for problems and opportunities. It is about relevancy.
If you use the mind-set of focusing on challenges it raises the question of where do you find the key challenges? Obviously you’ll find them in the marketplace, from customers, and also from employees. You don’t ask, “What’s your idea for the next big product?” You ask, “What problems, if solved, would help our customers?” It puts you in the mind-set of challenge-driven innovation, which ultimately becomes customer-driven innovation. It links back to challenges that will help your customers and help you grow your market.
March 5, 2011
[This article originally appeared on the American Express Open Forum]
Contrary to “conventional wisdom,” opposites don’t do NOT attract. While individuals who are different than you might initially seem intriguing, in the long run these differences will invariably push you apart. This fact has been scientifically proven. Science aside, consider your personal relationships. If you prefer to be organized, do you praise your messy partner for his clutter? Probably not. And if you have a propensity for disorganization, don’t you cringe at your partner’s earnest pleas for orderliness?
The fact is, opposites don’t attract. They repel.
What implications does this have on business success?
Think about the people you surround yourself with at work. Are they like you? Do they think the same way? Do they have similar interests, skills and strengths? Probably.
In fact, if you look at any group of people who work effortlessly together, odds are the individuals share a lot in common with one another. They might have similar backgrounds, expertise, hobbies or personalities. This is natural. As a result, teams that lack diversity are the norm.
This desire for similarity has inherent advantages. When people think the same way, act the same way, speak the same way, and use the same language, things get done more quickly.
But is this ultimately good for business?
To answer this question, consider research done by Clint Bowers and two of his colleagues at the University of Central Florida. They studied how the homogeneity of personalities within work groups affected performance by combining the results of thirteen studies involving five hundred teams.
At first glance, there wasn’t much difference in the performance of diverse teams compared to homogeneous teams. But that wasn’t the whole story. The types of tasks the teams had to perform had a significant impact on performance.
Bowers and his colleagues went further and distinguished “low-difficulty” tasks from “high-difficulty” tasks based on how much the tasks activities involved uncertainty, complexity and demand for high-level processing.
December 6, 2010
The Personality Poker book is now available. Be sure to buy your copy today. Each book comes with a deck of the specially designed poker cards. And no, you do not need to know anything about poker to play! The only way you can lose is if you don’t have a personality.
This is the fifth in a series of videos about Personality Poker. Today I discuss something known as the Pygmalion effect: how others perceive you impacts your behaviors.
October 30, 2010
On Thursday, the Personality Poker book started rolling into stores everywhere.
People have been telling me about sightings in airport books stores and Barnes & Noble stores.
Yesterday, I walked into my first bookstore – the MIT COOP – and there it was, face out. Check out the picture.
Today I will be traveling around Boston looking for the book in stores.
If YOU see the book in a store, please take a picture of it – ideally with you – and send it to us at email@example.com.
We would love to see your smiling face holding a copy of the book.
We will be running a competition in the near future to encourage people to go exploring for the book.
If you haven’t done so, please check out our new Personality Poker book website.
Ok, off to check out some stores!