What innovation isn’t

Innovation, in my opinion is an overused term. People often seem to bung innovation in a sentence if they want to make something sound good but are too lazy to think properly about what they actually mean. A bit of a catch-all term that is so overused it loses its’ meaning.

My best example of innovation overuse was on a cheese, ham and pickle sandwich – an innovation from National Rail catering. Apparently.

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts” Larry Ellison

Last week I was explaining innovation to some friends. Turns out it was much easier to explain what innovation isn’t than what innovation is. Here is the list.

Innovation isn’t

1. A lone genius. Einstein practically had a fail factory, with teams testing different ideas. Innovation is about a series of previously unconnected connections and collaboration.

2. A cyber city of geeks ‘doing’ techy stuff we’ve never heard of.  Technology is an enabler of innovation, but not all innovation is about new technology.

3. About lime green bean bags or slides to the coffee machine. I say no more.

4. About being crazy or wearing wacky glasses.  All humans are creative. It makes us human. You don’t have to be wacky glasses to have breakthrough ideas.

5. Group hugs. If you just want a group hug, don’t disguise it as innovation. Just check out these guys.

6. Brand new stuff. Innovation can be a new approach, adaptions or a combination of existing stuff to produce something new. Think about the invention of the printing press, combining type setting and wine pressing.

7. All glamour. The world-wide web was invented to share scientific documents. Absolutely nothing glamorous about that.

8. Just for organisations with big budgets.  It costs nothing to take a creative approach to life. Yes you need to practice and there are lots of free resources to help you.

10. Power.  It’s not battle of the egos, it’s about leadership. It’s about encouraging individuals and organisations to think and work differently.

11.  Irrelevant.  If organisations do not adapt to changing markets and customers needs they will die. Innovation is essential.

12. About stupid silly names, iteration or misspelling to be ‘cool’.

13. Google. Lets get this clear, Google are a great example of an innovation culture, fuelled by great leadership and the opportunity to develop new products in an emerging market. Innovation is not just about Google per say.

14. Instant success.  Back to point one and Einstein in his failure factory.  You got to try and fail and learn and try and fail and learn. Pack for a long journey.

15. A blueprint in a box. You can’t just follow the instructions and it will work. You have to find the best way to innovate for you and your organisation.

What else isn’t innovation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tune in next time for more on what innovation is…

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3 responses to “What innovation isn’t

  1. Great list- just reverse these and you have much of what innovation is

  2. Good piece, Lucy. Innovation is easier said than done and it’s very much en vogue to claim you value it. Of course, everyone would say this. Doing it is different, though. And very few people seem to know how to instigate it.

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