Mantra Design by Dana Oliver


mantraDana A. Oliver, the Senior Director of Research & Development at Medtronic’s Surgical Technologies ENT/NT division, begins Mantra Design: Innovate, Buy, or Die! by introducing himself and providing some of his personal and professional backgrounds. He then explains that this book is a follow-up to his first book: Mantra Leadership: Don’t Become the Emperor with No Clothes! While his first book was about emotionally intelligent leadership skills and creating a transparent culture, for his second book, he shifts the focus from leadership to innovation leadership. First, he introduces himself and innovation leadership and explains his thesis that “truly successful innovation requires influential leadership.” Oliver then explains each of the following fourteen “mantras,” which include Innovate, Buy, or Die!; Learn Your Customer’s World; Innovation Begins with an Eye; It Takes a Long Time to Get to Simple; Fall Forward Fast with a Balanced Approach; Build to Learn; Go Slow, to Go Fast; Verification Is Not a Discovery Process; Hope Is Not a Strategy; Become the Product; Spend 15% of Your Time on Innovation; Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should; Product Champions Make the Difference; and Beware of Magical Metrics.

One of this book’s greatest merits is its simple structure and easy to remember mantras, each of which is supported by anecdotes and evidence from Oliver’s own career. Throughout the book, Oliver regularly refers to several other business books, so it is clear that he is familiar with and knowledgeable about the genre. He is also an expert on the subject of innovation with 30 years of experience and documented success. Although the writing is at times a bit verbose and might lose the reader–especially one not well versed in business terminology–one can always refer back to the mantras for clarification. Oliver also could have more clearly explained his definition of innovation leadership at the beginning of the book.

To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.