Ninjas then go out into their everyday work life and apply those principles to help improve their work. For example, teams working to help rheumatoid arthritis patients started implementing patient empathy exercises which included putting on gloves that mimicked the difficulty RA patients had in opening a jar or stirring food. This allows a team to truly understand pain points and have a better understanding of the goals they’re trying to reach.
Prototyping is another key takeaway from the innovation program. Sage Wodarz is a director on the immunology customer experience team. She’s moved solutions forward more quickly because of her ninja training. “Having a prototype of your idea to present early in the ideation process has helped build stronger solutions because my teammates have something solid to react to and provide more constructive feedback,” says Wodarz.
Some lessons are very simple. Amelia Brause, an immunology marketing manager, learned about the importance of perseverance. “Because of my training, I’m testing and learning from my customers and then repeating the cycle all over. Testing and learning should never stop,” says Brause.
Ninjas also apply the behavior of “greenhousing,” where you don’t kill ideas too quickly. Instead, the team builds upon the starter idea presented to make it better. “We like to think about what that idea could turn into, and sometimes you need to give early ideas space to grow, before judging too soon. Some of the best ideas are when two or three early ideas collide to form an amazing idea, that’s greenhousing in action.” says Maliekal.
“Innovation can be applied anywhere and by anybody. For our ninjas, we’re laser focused on ideas and insights that lead to more engaging and impactful use of our time and resources so we’re helping to improve patient lives.”