Innovation in Compliance - Innovation as a Process with Stephen Shapiro

Thomas Fox - Compliance Evangelist
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I ask Stephen Shapiro what makes him so passionate about innovation. He replies, “It is the key to economic growth for companies, individuals, and society.” Twenty-five years ago, Stephen launched a successful innovation practice at Accenture that focused on value creation and growth. He left Accenture in 2001, but his ongoing work is still about innovation. I welcome him to this week’s show to discuss his patented FAST innovation process.

FAST Innovation

I ask Stephen to See more +

I ask Stephen Shapiro what makes him so passionate about innovation. He replies, “It is the key to economic growth for companies, individuals, and society.” Twenty-five years ago, Stephen launched a successful innovation practice at Accenture that focused on value creation and growth. He left Accenture in 2001, but his ongoing work is still about innovation. I welcome him to this week’s show to discuss his patented FAST innovation process.

FAST Innovation

I ask Stephen to describe his FAST innovation approach. Processes need to be repeatable and predictable, Stephen says. FAST stands for Focus, Ask, Shift and Test. People usually think of the mass production of ideas and suggestions when they think about innovation. However, true innovation requires determining where to focus your limited energy and resources on what is most important. Then, ask more goal-specific questions that would enable you to deliver better solutions. Finally, test these solutions to bring them to market. I remark that every CCO needs to learn this approach because it’s exactly what must be done in a compliance innovation process. “A good process should help you do something important more efficiently and be able to scale that throughout the organization,” he comments.

Culture of Innovation

How do you build a culture of innovation? I ask Stephen. How did you build it in a massive company like Accenture? Culture is important because that becomes the norms, beliefs, and behaviors people take on, Stephen replies. Most companies are on one of three levels: they see innovation as an event, a process, or a system. A culture of innovation allows employees to work more flexibly as they know the rules and how to execute them seamlessly.

This is how they built a culture of innovation at Accenture. Stephen states that innovation is about relevance and ensuring that the right products and services are offered to the right consumers. He sees this as the senior leaders’ mandate. Stephen and I discuss the role of the board of directors in creating a culture of innovation.

Asking Better Questions

“Innovation isn’t about the idea, and it’s not about the solution; it’s actually about the value it ultimately creates,” Stephen tells listeners. He is passionate about creating something of value and then selling it in a way that people become excited about it. He tells me about the books he authored and highlights key takeaways from his recent book Invisible Solutions. The book is based on a tool that Stephen developed; “its purpose is to help people stop looking for answers and looking for better questions,” he remarks. The process of reframing allows you to look at the problem from a different angle. Better questions lead to better solutions. I ask why framing the question correctly is so important in the innovation process. Stephen says that our past decisions and experiences influence how we approach innovation. We have to overcome these biases because they limit our ability to see a new and better future. Reframing questions allows us to access new answers.

Talent Acquisition and Retention

Stephen’s white paper, How We Created a 20,000-Person Culture of Innovation at Accenture… and You Can Do It Too, advocates training masters and having them push the innovation message throughout the organization. Stephen and I agree that innovation and compliance have to be for people by people. Hiring strategy is part and parcel of this. Hire for divergent thinking, Stephen advises. “People have different perspectives, experiences, personalities, and when we embrace that and appreciate what each person brings to the table, we can create a powerful culture of innovation.” If your company creates a culture of innovation with strong values, you’ll attract and keep top-level talent. People prefer to work at companies where it feels like their work matters and their individual, unique talents are recognized and appreciated. They want to work for companies that are evaluated based on their skill set and rewarded appropriately. See less -

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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