24/7 Innovation: A Blueprint For Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Change by Stephen Shapiro is a practical field guide on how to manage innovation in the 21st-century organization. The author focuses on innovation in its widest sense, including product, process, structure, relationships and the development of customer-focused capabilities throughout the organization. This excellent book should be required reading for every corporate leader and entrepreneur.
24/7 Innovation is not just another theoretical book about innovation. Shapiro explains what today’s most innovative companies are doing today to develop a culture of pervasive innovation. He presents practical, actionable principles, backed by dozens of real-world examples, that you can adapt to the needs of your organization.
How the book is structured
24/7 Innovation is divided into three main sections:
Part One: Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Change — In this opening section, Shapiro makes the case for innovation, and answers questions such as: Why is pervasive innovation important? How can organizations use innovation to create a sustainable competitive advantage and enhance their ability to anticipate and meet customer needs?
One of the key themes of this section of 24/7 Innovation is something that Shapiro calls “lines, not boxes.” What does this mean? Typically, most companies focus on the “boxes,” the functional elements that make up the company, while ignoring the opportunities for innovation that lie within its relationships — the “lines” that connect these operations. According to Shapiro, lines include the organization’s relationships between its employees, teams and departments, between an organization and its outside partners, and between the organization and its customers. This is a simple but powerful metaphor that drives home the point that an organization’s innovation efforts ought to be focused primarily on processes and strategic relationships (lines), not just the new product pipeline (boxes).
Part Two: The Blueprint, includes sections on process-enabled innovation, creating a culture of innovation, customer strategies and the relationship between technology and innovation. One of the core concepts of this part of the book is organizing new capabilities and improving upon existing ones. Shapiro defines a capability as something that enables “an organization to perform optimally in activities that typically require processes, people and technology. Capabilities derive from an explicit strategy, and they deliver measurable results.” The author strongly recommends that managers and leaders focus on capabilities that are customer focused, and emphasizes that this may be the only source of sustainable competitive advantage available to companies today.
Part Three: Making it Happen includes advice on setting priorities when implementing an innovation initiative, using simulations to experiment with new business models prior to implementing them, and how to implement innovation in stages or phases for best results. One of the most valuable tools in this section of the book is what Shapiro calls the Innovation Targeting Matrix — which is designed to help companies determine those capabilities from which they gain their competitive advantage.
24/7 Innovation is a remarkable book that should be on every leader’s and entrepreneur’s must-read list. It is filled with valuable real-world insights and advice that you can use to establish and nurture pervasive innovation as a core capability of your organization.
Stephen Shapiro draws upon many years of real-world consulting experience to formulate a set of powerful guidelines for supporting and fostering innovation in all its forms. Refreshingly, he places a particular emphasis on process innovation, which is still poorly understood by many executives. His “lines, not boxes” metaphor is both simple and valuable, and helps to illuminate the many opportunities for innovation that exist within the typical organization.
This thought-provoking book is a must-read for anyone who is serious about corporate innovation. It is a valuable how-to manual that you will find yourself referring back to again and again to refresh your thinking about innovation.