Innovation has been on my mind for months, while researching innovative approaches in business, I found Gary Shapiro’s Book, “Ninja Innovation, the Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses”. Gary Shapiro is Leader of the United States Consumer Electronics Association. Shapiro is passionate about innovation and technology and feels that today’s most successful businesses are “ninja innovators”.
When we hear the word “ninja” there are immediate images of Power Rangers, mutant turtles or extremely fast people wearing black suits. As in the case of the ancient Japanese warriors, Shapiro views ninja characteristics as being smart, flexible, adaptable, and always out of box. These traits are necessary for innovation. One finds the way to scale brick walls and/or work around them. “Cannot be done” is never an answer. Succeeding in business requires discipline, mission oriented strategy, adaptability, decisiveness and a will for victory.
At a 2013 Web Conference, Shapiro talks about innovation in successful businesses large or small and across sectors. (http://thenextweb.com/video/2013/05/04/ninja-innovation-in-the-21st-century-with-gary-shapiro-of-the-consumer-electronics-association-at-tnw2013-video/)
1.) Failure is important for Innovation
Failure should be thought of as a learning experience. It is an education of what can be done better. Input from a wide cross section of people is important. Time should be invested into brainstorming and testing ideas.
2.) Diversity of Team
It is important to remember that great businesses are started by great leaders however there are always a team of people behind them. There is a tendency to hire folks just like the leader however, Shapiro advises need to hire to people that are different than you with differing strengths and skills. Focus on complementary strengths.
3.) Embrace change
There is a temptation to view the world and believe it is not going to change. Looking to the future is very important to be successful in business. Referring to a famous quote from one of the world’s greatest hockey players, Wayne Gretzy “ A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” We need to anticipate where the puck will be.
4.) Be Customer Focused
New ideas often come from staff on the front line with customers. Brainstorming meetings often provide innovative ideas. An advantage for smaller companies in that many ideas are lost in the translation within large organizations hence having difficulties to truly innovate.
5.) Focused Execution
Often it is necessary to set up special and separate groups to execute new ideas. Team focus is necessary for innovation.
Shapiro’s is inspirational in that uses the analogy of the medieval warriors known as “ninjas” to tell successful stories of entrepreneurship that address risk, passion, failure and most importantly innovation. At GB, we recognize that innovation is the key to breakthrough success as such strive each and every day to make the small changes that create value for our clients.
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