The New York Times recently featured an interesting article on innovation; specifically, on the need to innovate innovation. In it, author Alice Rawsthorn discusses how misuse and overuse of the word innovation are threatening it’s survival.
Once hailed as a panacea, [innovation] has been so diminished by hyperbole that it risks seeming irrelevant. (“Transformation” is the fashionable favorite to replace it.) Yet just like “design” and “contemporary,” “innovation” is losing credibility as a word at the very time when it is needed most urgently.
To combat innovation’s extinction, Rawsthorn outlines the different shapes innovation takes today. Specifically, she mentions:
- Old-school innovation (the creation and design of completely new products)
- Green innovation (innovations that focus on the ‘greening’ of existing products)
- New-school innovation (creation of new products, services, and technologies facilitated by technologies that have only become available in recent years)
- Social innovation (innovation that focuses on improving various social conditions)
While we agree that innovation is certainly one of those words that’s abused and misunderstood to the point that people have become generally disenchanted with it; we think it’s about a lot more than just the four categories above. Yes, Green is certainly a powerful platform upon which many companies are discovering their ability to create new things. And yes, new technologies definitely allow us to ‘innovate’ differently than we ever have before. But the four buckets outlined in the article fail to really capture the spectrum of innovation in which real organizations tend to play.
We try to constantly drive home the message that innovation doesn’t always have to be big, risky, and breakthrough. Innovation isn’t just about design. It’s not just about new products and services. Smart companies today innovate as much internally as they do externally. They focus as much on innovating the way they innovate as they do on innovating the things they sell to customers. They innovate how their customers purchase and experience their offerings. They innovate the channels by which customers learn about their offerings. They do a lot more than just sit around and be creative. They focus on their businesses, from end to end, and try to uncover ways to do things a little differently—to make things a little better.
Read more at the New York Times.