Expertise is the Enemy of Innovation – Innovation Leader Stephen Shapiro

Companies struggling to innovate may be suffering from an inadequate range of knowledge and perspectives. Just like individuals, companies have personalities. Unfortunately, a company’s personality might be repelling the potential and existing employee-base that can lend a divergent, and often critical, point of view to business. This is killing innovation.

Boston, MA – April 18, 2011 (via — Our society has placed a premium on expertise and knowledge. But this expertise may, in fact, be the very thing inhibiting creativity and innovation from thriving within organizations. Schools teach the regurgitation of facts rather than independent thinking and creativity so individuals work tirelessly toward becoming masterful at their specific discipline. This attempt at mastery might be the very thing closing off companies from generation more creative solutions to their most daunting problems.

“I often say that expertise is the enemy of creativity. The more we know, the harder it is to see things differently because we get locked into old ways of thinking,” explains Stephen Shapiro, Innovation Leader and author of Personality Poker. “Consider this. When you lose your keys, you look everywhere. After 15 minutes you finally find them. What do you inevitably say? ‘Figures, it was in the last place I looked.’ Well of course it is. Who finds something and keeps looking? The brain works the same way with solutions. Once the brain finds a solution, it stops looking. And as an expert, you will probably find a solution rather quickly, stopping you from seeking alternative and more impactful resolutions.”

Stephen Shapiro’s recent book and personality tool, Personality Poker ( ), highlights areas where organizations are expert and those where they may be lacking. This awareness allows for the creation of a more balanced portfolio of skills and abilities enabling a full range of creativity to emerge.

“When we are expert, we may generate solutions at a rapid pace; however the level of innovation exhibited in solving those issues decreases exponentially. How do you combat your own expertise? Diversify. Work with others outside of your discipline,” says Shapiro. “If NASA is trying to solve a complex issue and gathers the top 100 aerospace engineers together to resolve, will adding one more aerospace engineer really make a difference? However if they add a biologist, nanotechnologist or musician to the mix, they may create enough of a divergent perspective to circumvent the most challenging problems.”

Watch Shapiro speak more on why expertise is the enemy of innvation at

About Stephen Shapiro:
Stephen Shapiro is one of the foremost authorities on innovation and collaboration, and has personally touched hundreds of thousands of lives in over 40 countries. While Stephen’s insights apply to virtually any organization, big or small, he has contributed to shifting the innovation culture for such Fortune 500 organization as Staples, GE, BP, Johnson & Johnson, Fidelity Investments, Pearson Education, Nestlé, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. As the founder and creator of a 20,000 person internal innovation practice within Accenture, and advisor to hundreds of organizations worldwide, Stephen possesses a rare and extensive arsenal of tools allowing him to arm any organization with the knowledge they need to shift their most threatening challenges. His most recent project, Personality Poker ( ), released by Penguin Portfolio in October 2010, is a card game that has been played by over 25,000 people in boardrooms and living rooms around the world.

Stephen can be reached at 617-379-1177 or online at

Press Contact:
Stephen Shapiro
24/7 Innovation
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Quincy, MA


Deborah Shapiro
24/7 Innovation

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