Stop with the innovations, because they’re not.
From all my travels and speaking gigs in 2007, I’m most confident about the following advice: Stop using the word innovation in 2008. Just stop. Right now. Commit to never saying the word again. Einstein, Ford, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and Edison rarely said the word and neither should you. Every crowd I’ve said this to laughed and agreed. The I-word is killing us.
So, so, so true. This word has been beaten to death and sometimes by people who are in every other respect very intelligent. I came across two posts recently who are guilty:
DesignADay: Four Approaches to Innovative Solutions – A great post, just a bad title. The class Moffett is teaching should be called Solving Problems, because that’s what design is.
asymco: NYT blames yet another culprit: Nokia’s Culture of Complacency – First off, Horace Dediu is a super-sharp guy. Where his post needs adjusting is in his noting of Nokia’s ‘innovation firsts’. Innovations can be firsts but they aren’t always.
I quoted Professor Jan Fagerberg in July of 2009, and I’ll quote him again:
Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process. Innovation is the first commercialization of the idea.
To not make this distinction between invention and innovation is to completely dilute any power and meaning behind innovation. Thomas Edison has hundreds of patents on his inventions, a fraction of which became innovations within the the marketplace.
As Berkun advised, our best bet is to stop using the word entirely.