Innovation. There I’ve said it. Innovation is quite the tiring statement these days and people are getting sick of it. It’s one of those terms that often gets used abrasively by a lot of companies that try to practice and use it to label their efforts on projects. It’s because of its powerful status and meaning that ‘innovation’ unlike most other words that describe something that is new and original, is to the point but misused and diluted due to its popular usage. In this technology age that we’re all developing in, we are all inventors, artists and always chasing the big ideas. This multiplies the ‘innovational’ message hence the crowded use.
So we know that the big problem is that we are all using a message that is drowned out, over used and the definition of ‘innovation’ is becoming less clear. How do we restore the definition of innovation and become more vigilant when it comes to understanding what actually is innovative?
We compare innovation
Because of its power and popularity, the term can actually be meaningless for many people. Some would also overlook and ‘tut’ at its usage because of the variety of proclaimed innovations out there do not live up to expectations or definition of a ‘true innovation’. That’s reasonable as I would argue we all want to see big ideas come to life and make influential changes to all our lives! What’s apparent is that by comparison to historical innovations the impact of innovations naturally give us a benchmark of which we are compelled to beat. That’s why we build these expectations to a term that has no measurable definition.
The real issue behind the immeasurable term is that the art of innovation is to produce something that is new and of great quality and use. In addition, an idea or product that boasts originality and success will always be perceived as innovative because it is by comparison, something really new and different from everything else. More often or not innovation is a simple equation where one product meets another to form a more powerful alliance. You’ve only got to look at Mr Bell’s discovery of the phone and how that’s taken a journey to a smartphone. Every iteration of the communication device is simply an adaptation that accommodates and utilises other technologies.
Setting the tone
First, is there a level of which can be set to determine the greatness of an innovation? The qualification is unheard of so setting the bar or standard is left to individual perceptions. As well as ‘the bar’ the way we talk about innovation needs to change or be shaped. We can’t go back and simply restore the level of quality that is hoped for, we need to set the tone.
If we take ‘the bar’ and measure it as the depth of Innovation, the flip side of setting the tone is understanding its breadth. What is considered innovative as opposed to how much do we think it is. Innovation can be found even the incremental elements that even contribute to a larger piece. You look at the everyday car for example. Its full of mechanical engineering that at some point would have been considered hugely innovative independently.
So, looking closer to home with my digital hat on, the elements could be the design, a functional process, a data inspired interface. The list goes on. Either one that challenges and raises the questions ‘does this make a difference or could this be different?’, then it’s possibly truly innovative.
Keep innovating and believe you are innovative is nothing to be sick of hearing. Its an attitude to to deliver and invent.