Stephen Shapiro, Innovation Keynote Speaker

Stephen Shapiro

Stephen Shapiro helps organizations drive tenfold improvements on their innovation ROI over traditional methods. To do this, he gets everyone focused on the most critical opportunities for avoiding disruption and staying relevant.
Stephen is a business author, consultant, and speaker on the topics of innovation and collaboration.
He started his innovation work over 20 years ago while leading a 20,000-person innovation practice at the consulting firm, Accenture.
Since then he has written five books, including “Best Practices Are Stupid,” which was named the best innovation and creativity book of 2011 by 800-CEO-READ and is an international #1 business best seller.
His Personality Poker® card game has been used in 25 countries to create high-performing innovation teams.
Stephen has presented at conferences in 50 countries and in 2015 he was inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame.
He was recently a regular judge and mentor on the TLC innovation reality television show, “Girl Starter.”

What does organizational culture mean to you?

Culture is made up of the conversations people say inside of an organization. The conversations can be external (conversations with others) or internal (conversations with oneself). In some respects, you can say that the culture is reflected in what is valued by the organization.

What are the major determinants of organizational culture?

Culture is primarily determined by the past. If a company has been around for many years, it most likely has a lot of deep-seated conversations. These conversations become concealed assumptions that everyone has about the company. Leadership can shift those conversations.

What is the role of employees in organizational culture?

Typically, an employee’s role in culture is to abide by the culture. There’s a reason the word culture and the word cult are related. When you have an organization that only has people who think the same way, you end up with a cult. Cults are not necessarily bad. However, they are difficult to change. As a result, a culture that worked in the past could become a liability in the future.

What are the common problems associated with managing organizational culture?

I don’t think the culture needs to be managed. Organizations have two challenges when it comes to maintaining a culture. 1) Anything that directly conflicts with the values needs to be rejected or corrected. 2) Having said that, cultures need to shift over time so that the organization can remain relevant. A strong culture is difficult to shift, and often the shift happens too late.

What are the ways to innovate company culture? Any best practices to share.

I don’t think in terms of innovating a company’s culture. I think in terms of creating a culture of innovation. When you create a culture of innovation, everyone in the organization is looking at ways to improve and shift the business. And as a result, the overarching culture can shift.

As far as tactics, look at what you value. What gets recognized? What gets rewarded? What attributes get promoted? Look at your performance reviews. Do you over-emphasize certain qualities over others? Production rather than creativity? Logic rather than human connection? If so, you will reinforce your existing culture because your recruiting process will only allow you to hire people who fit the mold. Unfortunately, if you do this, eventually your organization will grow mold. When people are too much the same, true innovation is hindered.

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