Everywhere I go “innovation” seems to be all present and omniscient. Visit Linkedin for any amount of time and you will see most every company touts how innovative it is in its business sector. I’ve started to get the feeling that “innovation” is the new bandwagon, that if you don’t call yourself innovative then no one should look at you. Bullshit.
First let’s get an idea of what is the official definition of innovation as given by the Merriam Webster dictionary:
: a new idea, device, or method
: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods
The strict definition doesn’t give us the complete feeling. My experience tells me that innovation is introducing new ideas, devices or methods that are different and create value. Usually we call innovation things that make our lives better and improve old processes. In this sense, Apple could be one of the most easily recognizable companies introducing innovation. The iPhone revolutionized phones primarily due to ease of use, tight integration, responsiveness, and a few other factors. Many of the technologies already existed, but they made it better. This in turn created value.
But, for a company to be innovative, it must constantly introduce new forms of doing things. Innovation is in a sense a spectrum, and many abuse it by calling what they’re doing innovation.
We can’t all be innovative. The reality is that most companies fall on a bell curve or a similar distribution. Some companies fall behind and stick to their old methods for decades, rarely improving or innovating. Most companies introduce some innovation,but very few introduce constant innovation and change the rules. My feeling is that it comes to getting too comfortable with what you’re doing to break everything again. After all, most people were probably very happy with their horse and buggy until ford showed up. A car was innovation, small incremental improvements are minimally innovative.
Innovation feels like it is the new bandwagon, years after the Six Sigma craze swept companies (which is the antithesis of innovation, basically perfecting doing the same thing the same way again and again), it looks like companies are getting on the Innovation bandwagon to try and look good.
Innovation doesn’t come from simply saying “we’re innovative”. You can readily tell when something is innovative and when something isn’t. So please, use this term with care, and practice it rather than . As always, innovation for the sake of innovation is pointless. Simply changing things and introducing new devices without any value doesn’t count as innovation.