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In this CFUN-04 interview, Michael Smith talks with Stephen Shapiro of 24/7 Innovation about his keynote talk at CFUN-04, "SpeedInnovating(TM): Breakthrough Solutions at Breakneck Speed".

Michael Smith: Why should programmers care about SpeedInnovating?

Stephen Shapiro: As with many industries, website development has become a bit of a commodity. The challenge is to de-commoditize yourself and your work; differentiate yourself from the competition. If you only try what has worked in the past (for you or for others), you will only develop incrementally better solutions over time. To stand out from the crowd, you need to look at problems a fundamentally different way. And that is what SpeedInnovating is all about.

MS: With all the talk about outsourcing going on that sounds like a very important thing to do now. Is this really something that we can learn in 45 minutes?

SS: Absolutely, because you don't need to learn anything. You are already creative. You just need to undo bad habits that prevent it from emerging. It's about changing perspective rather than learning technique. Of course, you won't be an expert in 45 minutes. But over time, with practice, you can make these concepts a habit.

MS: I have never found my "undo" button - that sounds useful! How did you learn how to do this?

SS: I have always been a curious person and love new experiences. And my passion is connecting the dots between a number of diverse perspectives. During 20 years in management consulting, I observed thousands of people with different creativity styles. And this past summer I drove 12,000 miles across the United States and interviewed over 150 people, ranging from a voodoo priest and the CIO of Intel to a Hollywood producer and a professional gambler. My goal was to find the secrets of creativity and creative living from ordinary people with extraordinary lives.

MS: Hmm, If I could increase my creativity on programming projects even 10% then I would be writing much smarter code...

SS: I know other programmers who used this approach and were able to conceive solutions they hadn't previously considered. And, as an added bonus, these approaches can help you get better buy in from your key customers.

MS: Learning about creativity from a lecture is fine but what about people who don't learn until they practice the new skill themselves?

SS: Even though this is a keynote speech, everyone will have an opportunity to practice these approaches during the session. This will be highly interactive, so be prepared to work!

MS: Wow with 400 people in the room that sounds fun!

SS: If nothing else, it will wake you up and get you ready for the day.

MS: I better drink extra coffee Saturday morning then and come early to get a good seat!

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