In my daily filtering of news and intelligence, I usually find one or more quotes on innovation that blatantly abuses the term for some other agenda. While such efforts are obvious to me, they are obviously not obvious to many or presumably such attempts would not receive so much digital ink. It’s an issue that has bothered me for many years, with almost daily reminders so this morning I am taking a bit of time to clear the air.

What innovation is, but is rarely reported to be

  • A highly complex system when functioning well

  • An essential foundation for economic security and job creation

  • Reflected by a substantially new  improvement, method, or function

  • Rarely revolutionary, although often disruptive & threatening to some/many

  • Can also be defined as invention and/or V/V, but often is not

  • Individually can range from extremely simple to extremely complex

  • Can be sourced either from individuals or within group (s)

  • A creative process usually requiring discipline and inspiration

  • Often described by great innovators as a spiritual experience

  • Substantially dependent upon cultures and tools

  • Affected by incentives and disincentives; macro and micro

  • Driven by motivational factors, which must be tailored

  • Increasingly dominated by digital workplace architecture

  • Substantially a bottom up process, not top down

  • Impacted by CEO leadership within and across organizations

  • Copied every day by predators worldwide

  • Harmed by unstructured/open systems in the long-term (exploitation)

  • Often killed internally by combination of apathy, dysfunction, and fear

  • Usually dependent upon wisdom of customers and distributors for adoption

  • Often requiring salesmanship for adoption

  • Normally requires substantial investment to market in sustainable manner

  • Highly susceptible to distractions, noise, and multi-tasking

  • Negatively impacted by organizational layers

  • Damaged by large administrative budgets (5% good – 40% fatal)

  • Often killed by industry eco-systems due to protectionism

What innovation is not, but is quite often spun to be

  • Related to R&D budget size, unless a super collider, space shuttle, etc.

  • Related to politics, with rare exception

  • Nearly as impacted by physical location as many claim

  • Necessarily related to degrees and formal education

  • Protected by society, justice system, or organizations

  • Better in large organizations—quite the opposite is usually true

  • Necessarily recognized by customers, particularly until tested

  • Helped by bureaucracy in any way, shape, or form

  • Usually assisted by ubiquitous IT, unless theft is factored as beneficial

  • Necessarily of higher quality in academia, gov, or corp labs

  • Easy, durable, or normally of a short duration

  • Helped by exploiting the most creative

  • Necessarily adopted even if badly needed or invaluable

  • Impossible to measure, track, visualize, and incentivize

  • Well served by current IT systems and/or most organizations

One thought on “Myths and Truths about Innovation

  1. Good post. Yes, innovation is and has been a big buzz word for quite some time. In a challenging economy people in organizations tend to want to take a safe approach. So companies need to make it safe for everyone to think outside the box to make the business run better, or to create new & useful technology. I have found it odd that the word has continued to gain strength throughout this down economic cycle.

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