The Art of Innovation

Why do some companies consistently outperform everyone else—and stay at the forefront as the competition struggles to keep up? At The 2017 NAMM Show, marketing legend Guy Kawasaki revealed the answer in "The Art of Innovation," a NAMM U Breakfast Session. In 60 minutes, Kawasaki offered practical, surprising and even counterintuitive ideas to trigger innovation in your own music business.

Here are his 10 lessons on the art of innovation. (Watch the video for the full session.)

1. Set out to make meaning, as opposed to money.
Companies that change the world somehow make the world a better place. How does your company improve people’s lives? That’s at the core of great innovation.

2. Make a mantra.
Mantras are not mission statements. Mantras are two or three words that explain why you exist. Wendy’s for instance has “Healthy Fast Food.” 

3. Jump to the next curve.
This is the most important step. An example would be going from the ice-harvesting business to the ice-factory business to the refrigerator business. Define yourself by the benefits you provide, not by what you do. “The very interesting fact is that none of the ice harvesters became factories, and none of the factories became refrigerator companies because most people define themselves in terms of what they already do,” Kawasaki said.

4. Don’t worry, be crappy.
This doesn't mean produce bad product; it means produce revolutionary products on the next curve that might have imperfect elements. “The first laser printer, $7,000, single-sided, 8 1/2 by 11 only, slow network, limited fonts—a piece of crap,” Kawasaki said. “But the first laser printer was already better than the best daisy wheel printer.”

5. Roll the DICEE.
DICEE is Kawasaki’s acronym for the five qualities of great products and stands for: depth, intelligence, complete, empowering and elegant. Watch his explanation of these qualities at 19:41 in the video.

6. Become a baker, not an eater.
A baker sees the world as a non-zero-sum game; an eater sees the world as a zero-sum game. A baker believes that a rising tide floats all boats in innovation. Bottom line: Bakers are more innovative than eaters.

7. Let 100 flowers blossom.
People who weren't your intended audience may buy your product and use it in unintended ways. Embrace this. For example the Apple Macintosh was intended to be a spreadsheet, database and word processing machine, but it became popular as a desktop publishing machine, which was unintended. This saved Apple, according to Kawasaki.

8. Churn, baby, churn.
One of the hardest things as an innovator is to keep improving a product. Innovators are hardwired to ignore people who say, “It can’t be done, and it shouldn’t be done.” Yet once you ship a product, you have to flip that switch and start listening to feedback. This way, you can go from version 1.0 to 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so forth.

9. Niche thyself.
The most innovative products are not only unique but also valuable.

10. Perfect your pitch.
Life, for an innovator, is an ongoing pitch. A few tips:

• Customize the introduction to your pitch. Use photos, and always check LinkedIn pages for common connections.

• Follow the 10, 20, 30 rule. Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation. Give your presentation in 20 minutes. And 30 is the optimal-sized font for a PowerPoint.

• Make the background of your slides black. It’s looks sophisticated.

11. Bonus lesson: Don’t let the bozos grind you down.
They’re going to tell you it can’t be done, shouldn't be done and isn’t necessary.

For more from Kawasaki, check out his show, Wise Guy.