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10 Secrets To Driving Innovation


By Buzz Knight

When you are trying to get your organization inside and out to improve the creative process, there’s a great new book out called “Ninja Innovation” by Gary Shapiro that I recommend to help you. Shapiro is the head of the Consumer Electronics Association and his keen observations on what it takes to drive innovation are applicable in our fast-paced world of content delivery. He discusses the key elements that drive innovation: Discipline, Mission-oriented Strategy, Adaptability, and Decisiveness. But most importantly, he addresses the 10 secrets of “Ninja Innovators” like Google, Apple, and Amazon, among others.

Here are the 10 secrets, and as you think of innovating to help your brand or organization I’m sure you can find applications for what you do:

Now more than ever the stakes are high for us all to succeed. Shapiro outlines everyone from Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison to highlight the relentless pursuit of victory. Their ability to adapt, adjust, and dominate was second to none. Failure or second best are not options and if failure does occur the lesson will guide victory in the future. Is your organization nimble enough to adapt and adjust before you dominate? Some organizations don’t even dream big enough to obtain victory.

Surrounding yourself with the brightest minds around you is the key to your success in striving for “Ninja Innovation.” Once again Shapiro highlights the legendary Thomas Edison and addresses the notion of him being a one man show. In fact Edison had a 40-person team of scientists and technicians that made up his “Strike Force.” Gary also highlights the case study of Meg Whitman and eBAY along with how she built the team and the brand into what it is today. Have your really looked around you to determine whether your “Strike Force” meets your standards for excellence?

Shapiro talks in this chapter about Intel and what they did not only in presenting at CES but also to build the company into a great success. The Intel booth and the show became known as “the Intel Experience” and literally made you feel like you were touching the future. The message they conveyed was that the Intel brand was way ahead of everyone else. The ability to go to war and take risks has to start with a passionate internal core belief from the top.

“Entrepreneurial Optimism” is how he describes it when also talking about successful leaders like Jeff Bezos from Amazon. These leaders aren’t likely to abandon their dreams quickly. All important attributes for “Ninja Innovators” percolating in your radio station.

For “Ninja Innovation” to succeed it has to be clearly understood that there is no quick and easy path. Shapiro highlights the challenge of “delayed gratification” and the role it plays in becoming a “Ninja.” Practice and self-disciplines are key components for battle preparedness. Patience, listening, information gathering, and education are vital for your battle armor. Are you prepared for your battle so you come out victorious?

By emulating the great companies and setting the standards for “brilliance at the basics” you are arming yourself for the “Art of War.” Ninjas truly have a passion for getting the basics right in the manner by which they serve the customer. Knowing the customer (once again using Jeff Bezos as an example) is a critical piece of how Shapiro outlines mastering “The Art of War.” Are you ready to master “The Art of War.”?

A code of conduct, according to Shapiro, is critical to “Ninja Innovation.” By having a commitment to your craft and self-discipline in your pursuit of excellence you become more poised as a company seeking innovation. Included in the “Ninja Code” is a culture of honesty that should exist within one’s team. By wanting your team to tell you hard truths you increase team loyalty and “ninja precision.”

By having a rigid adherence to your traditional methods you are creating a detour away from innovation and problem solving. As Shapiro puts it, “Once the way it’s always been done stops working, a ninja innovator doesn’t hesitate to try new things."

In “Ninja Innovation” Shapiro talks about the Ford Motor Company led by Allan Mulally and his passion for innovation. Mulally transformed the company from an automotive company to a technology company and in turn saved the Ford Motor Company with the “Innovate or Die” spirit. How can you instill that same passion in your organization?

Although “Ninja Innovation” highlights the talents of individuals, the success of great teams or armies isn’t lost on Shapiro. By sparking the “Innovation Movement,” our country is better suited to weather any economic challenges we face.

Once again Shapiro uses Amazon as a great example of the stealth view of innovation. By steadily expanding its US warehouse network to put product inventories close enough to large markets, they are getting closer to same-day delivery. Incremental growth in the innovation process can yield great success even at your own radio station or cluster.

The Consumer Electronics Show always instills a great spirit of innovation when I attend and “Ninja Innovation” by Gary Shapiro is a great companion piece to spark your creative process.

Buzz Knight is the Vice President of Program Development for Greater Media and he can be reached at Knight was named among “Best Programmers” by Radio Ink Magazine in 2007 and 2010. He has served on the programming subcommittee of the National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) and is currently a member of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) COLRAM Committee.

(3/18/2013 11:32:15 PM)
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- NY
(2/6/2013 7:33:42 PM)
Buzz has gathered significant credibility and respect in these parts. Plus, I have no idea if he shares similar experiences and frustrations of other teachers/trainers/coaches in radio.

With that in mind, and as I consider the 10 provided examples, I have to wonder which radio organization, if any, are putting those concepts into practice.

Even as managers nod (knowingly) and may even be paying some form of lip-service to the edicts, one continues to search for an organization that is putting the strategies into play. Beyond "lip-service", I mean.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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