Ninja Innovation | Gary Shapiro

Summary of: Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses
By: Gary Shapiro


Embark on a journey to discover the secrets of the world’s most successful businesses through the lens of ancient Japan’s ninja warriors and their principles of innovation. In ‘Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses’ by Gary Shapiro, you will learn the importance of progress, growth, and adapting to new approaches in today’s fast-paced business environment. This book summary delves into the three forms of business innovation – evolutionary, revolutionary, and disruptive – and provides insights into the ’10 characteristics of ninja innovation’. Get ready to redefine your idea of victory, assemble the right team, take risks, and maintain focus on your long-term goals, inspired by the innovative and resilient spirit of the legendary ninja warriors.

Unleashing the Ninja within You

The book advocates for emulating the ninja approach to innovation to achieve success in today’s business world.

In ancient Japan, samurai were highborn warriors who lived by a code of honor called Bushidō, but they did not prioritize effectiveness or goal attainment. In contrast, ninja warriors, who worked for the samurai, were from poor families and focused on results. They judged themselves solely on their achievements and did not place much importance on their image. Ninjas were imaginative masters of surprise and innovation who accomplished their stealth missions against incredible odds and impenetrable fortifications.

The book argues that modern-day businesspeople must become masters of innovation and emphasizes the importance of progress, growth, and new approaches to succeed in today’s competitive environment. The author identifies three forms of business innovation: evolutionary, revolutionary, and disruptive.

Evolutionary innovation involves expected market improvements, such as more powerful computer chips. Revolutionary innovation refers to advances that people do not anticipate, such as smartphones. Disruptive innovation refers to unexpected improvements that change everything, such as mobile phones upending the landline market.

The book also highlights the importance of entrepreneurship combined with technological innovation to mend the global economy and lead us out of the economic doldrums. Companies cannot thrive without change and, therefore, must embrace innovation to achieve success.

To attain goals, the book recommends emulating the “10 characteristics of ninja innovation.” These characteristics include cultivating a strategic vision, being open to new ideas, embracing change, and fostering a culture of innovation within an organization.

In conclusion, the book advocates for a ninja-like approach to innovation to achieve success in today’s business world. It advocates for embracing change and fostering a culture of innovation, much like the ninja warriors did in ancient Japan, to stay competitive and achieve the desired outcome.

Edison’s Ultimate Goal

Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street power station in New York City was his most significant development, revolutionizing life for the public. Edison’s goal was not just to invent, but to make his inventions practical and bring them to the market. On September 4, 1882, Edison’s victory came when he turned on the Pearl Street station, supplying electric power to downtown Manhattan and lighting up many businesses thanks to his incandescent bulb. Edison’s ultimate message was about defining your victory and pursuing it relentlessly, realizing that delivering the same products with the same marketing and margins is not sustainable in the free market.

Edison’s Collaborative Genius

Despite the common belief that Edison worked alone, he actually had a team of over 200 scientists and technicians helping him in his large-scale research and development laboratory. By the time of his death, Edison owned over a thousand patents, proving that he had a collaborative genius mindset. As the saying goes, “Show me an accomplished student of martial arts, and I’ll show you someone who knows all about delayed gratification.” Edison’s success reinforces the idea that every “ninja innovator” needs a strong team to support their work.

Intel Inside: Taking Risks for Success

In the early 1990s, computer buyers relied on recommendations and built-in software to determine their purchase. Intel marketers saw an opportunity to make their chip the ultimate differentiator, creating the unforgettable “Intel Inside” message. This bold move paid off as the chip became a coveted brand, resulting in billions of dollars in new computer sales. This success highlights the importance of taking risks in innovation, as it can lead to further success.

Learning from Microsoft’s Tablet Failure

In 2000, Microsoft introduced the first Tablet PC with special handwriting recognition software, but it failed to capture the market. The company spent a decade marketing a product with features that nobody wanted. Meanwhile, Apple released the iPad and sold over three million units on the first day. The lesson to learn from Microsoft’s failure is to make strategic plans that focus on long-term goals rather than being the first in the market. A successful strategy must be adaptive and allow for changes in tactics.

The Art of Winning in Business

The tablet market was once crowded with over 50 companies at the 2011 CES, but only a handful remain today. The reason? Many companies failed to identify unique opportunities and lacked the courage to pursue them. Marketing a product is akin to warfare, and successful leaders must line up all their resources and execute flawlessly. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, for instance, embodies the traits of a ninja warrior. He prioritizes the customer and handles the basics properly. The Kindle Fire is a notable competitor to Apple’s iPad because of Bezos’s leadership.

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