Dana is a graduate of Northeastern University and ITT Technical Institute. He has approximately 30 years of experience in the field of medical devices, working for such companies as Medtronic, Genzyme, SIMS Level 1, Kirwan Surgical, and Strichman Medical. He has applied for over 30 patent applications and has been granted over 20 US patents till date.
He first appeared on 3 Questions series in September 2016 where he shared his views on Innovation and Strategy (Read here, Dana A Oliver @ The 3 Questions on Innovation and Strategy). We thank Mr.Oliver for taking time out to participate in our 3 questions interview series and sharing his thoughts.
Product Mantra: How can one nurture a culture of innovation and profit thinking among the members of technical staff?
Dana A. Oliver: First, if you aspire to be an innovation company, then it’s essential to have an innovation identity, if not, innovation will be lack luster at best. Every company has to have an identity such as innovative or customer focused or operational excellent and while you can accommodate any of the aforementioned types, you can only be truly committed to one! Therefore, if you desire to be a product break through company, you need to create the proper infrastructure, staff and perhaps most importantly, put in place proven innovation leadership to emphasize and perpetuate this unique identify and business culture. There are lots of innovation processes, but true innovation leadership is the magical pixie dust essential for a robust innovation culture. It must be understood that; Culture Is a By-product of Leadership! And, leadership gets exactly what they want, whether they realize it or not. Therefore, if the goal is product innovation, it must be identified as being the single most important strategic aspect of the company through research and development investments and business priority.
Product Mantra: One of the common challenges that individuals experience with respect to the Patent filing is that the Patent often gets awarded to the organization and not to them. This becomes a major concern as individual’s cannot claim any royalty and are often rewarded with cash rewards that are too feeble. What would be your advice in such cases, how can organizations motivate employees to file patents?
Dana A. Oliver: A patent is a true honor whether ultimately owned by an individual or not. Any true design engineer or entrepreneur loves to be identified as a patent holder. Patents identify innovation and creativeness, not a mechanism for wealth. While they can help protect a business interest, in and by themselves without a committed financial business strategy they are nothing more than a unique invention. As far as motivating employees, frankly, employees can’t have it both ways. Meaning, if you desire security such as benefits and a paycheck, and are not willing to make financial payments out of your own pocket and into a personal business endeavor, then their efforts and ideas are owned by the larger institution. No risk, no reward per se. Everyone worth noting of greatness created it out of nothing and by taking a chance. Frankly, given the proper innovation leadership and culture, creating intellectual property is no problem. By example, my team regularly generated between 24 and 36 patents per year, and they were excited to do so. It goes back to the proper company culture and innovation leadership in place.
Product Mantra: What would be your advice for young managers thriving to become leaders? Any specific areas you would like to suggest for them to work upon?
Dana A. Oliver: Leadership is about people, and not about you as an individual or a mechanism for your continued personal advancement. I strongly suggest learning about emotional intelligence (EI), and employing it into your leadership style. EI is representative for establishing 90% of the characteristics that separate average leaders from excellent ones. Further, emotionally intelligent leadership can increase your team’s productivity by as much as 30% or more. Leadership is no different than being a great mathematician or golfer, it takes practice and dedication and not a title or specific degree. Lastly, understand your personal strengths and improve upon them and identify your blind spot and guard against it. Everyone has a blind spot and by example, if you cannot control your emotions, learn to identify it and be conscious to correct it. Employees will follow and work hard for someone who inspires them and who they believe in. Whereas, an employee working for a boss or someone who simply assigns work will have a reporting structure putting their 40 hours in while searching for a better opportunity.
Dana A. Oliver is the Senior Director of Research & Development at Medtronic.
About ‘Mantra Design – Innovate, Buy or Die!’ – The Book
Mr. Dana has helped grow Medtronic’s Surgical Technologies ENT / NT division from $100 million to approximately $2 billion in annual revenues over fourteen years. With 30 years of experience and an impressive track record of revenue generation, Dana’s latest book Mantra Design is a must-read for every new product development professional aspiring to introduce premium priced, patent protected, market share leading products.
In Mantra Design, Dana reveals the secrets for profitable and lasting innovation, including how to identify your customer’s unmet needs and how to expedite new product development. He provides an easy to understand methodology in the form of 14 quick, digestible mantras that highlight the power of true innovation.
“Innovation is the lifeblood of any company’s continued growth and future survival,” says Dana A. Oliver. “To this day, I continue to read, learn, and evolve my leadership and innovation philosophies; and I hope that this book is beneficial to the next generation of innovation professionals.”
Mantra Design emphasizes the importance of continued innovation to keep sales teams and customers excited about the products and loyal to the business where they invest their time and money, creating the cash flow vital to a company’s success.
To learn more about Mr. Dana A. Oliver follow this linkhttp://www.mantraleadership.com/author/
To learn more about Abhay Mathur follow this link
List of interviews published at Product Mantra: https://productmantra.net/interviews/