Has innovation lost its meaning?



Has Innovation Lost Its Meaning?

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

I fear business innovation has moved from being (first) a business process seriously practised by a few businesses to (second) being an understood need in the world of business to (finally and currently) being a buzz-word that is in great danger of becoming a ridiculous and meaningless word.

A few days ago, I read an article that was supposedly about innovation – but seemed to me to be about market research. While I appreciate that the implementation of ideas that result from learnings from market research might be innovation. The market research is not – unless it is successfully done in a creative new way that generates value to the business. For instance, plugging people’s brains into computers in order to determine what they truly desire, as opposed to what they claim they desire, might be innovative (if it works). But traditional market research is not innovation. It is market research.

Innovation This Manager, Innovation That Manager

Today, I plugged the word “innovation” into a couple of Job Search web sites. I found jobs like “Innovation Engineer”, “Innovation Sales Executive”, “Innovation Technologist”, “Director Marketing Innovation” and so on. However, on looking at the prerequisites for these positions, the demands were typical of anyone holding the same position, but without the word “Innovation” in the title. For instance, the Director Marketing Innovation is required to have an MBA and marketing experience. Frankly, if I was looking for an innovative marketing person, I’d be looking for someone without an MBA and with diversified experience, at least half of which had nothing to do with marketing.

But let us face it, these positions have little to do with actual innovation and a lot to do with putting a buzz-word in the job title and claiming the hiring company is innovative. “By golly, we’ve got a Director Marketing Innovation, so we must be innovative!” and, indeed, putting a buzzword in a job title is far easier than actually changing the corporate culture to embrace innovation – an action which few companies have done, in spite of their excessive use of the word innovation.

Too Many Innovation Blogs

Likewise, some years ago Report 103 was one of the scant few web resources on innovation (it is often called ‘a blog’ but it’s not really). Today, there are gazillions of blogs, newsletters and twitterers writing about innovation. The result is an awful lot of noise and little of practical value. Indeed, few of these writers seem to have read much of the current research related to innovation and instead put forth a lot of assumptions about innovation.

A search on the word “innovation” in Amazon.com results in over 50,000 titles!

Innovation No Longer About Innovation?

That’s all wonderful. But the result is that innovation has stopped being innovative and has become little more than a meaningless buzzword. Indeed, it has reached the point that if you truly want your company to be innovative, the first thing you probably need to do is to ban the word “innovation”!

Then focus on things like striving the achieve your strategic vision through creativity; outdoing the competition by being uniquely better than them; aiming for as much diversity in your thinking, people and actions as possible; and change your world to make it a better place.

Then you can happily succeed (through true innovation) while your competitors wallow in their verbal innovation.


Recent Articles

Leading Diverse Teams
Filed under: Business Innovation
Diverse teams are more innovative and smarter than homogeneous ones. But, they are also harder to manager. Here are some tips. By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Questions you should ask when an innovative project fails
Filed under: Business Innovation
You can learn a lot from the failure of an innovative project, but you need to ask the right questions. Here are those questions. By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Unmarketing the Competition
Filed under: Business Innovation
A look at creative, but unethical dirty trick marketing campaigns designed to damage the competition By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Imaginativefulness and the Fisherman
Filed under: Creativity
What does a fisherman wearing a cycling helmet have to do with imaginativefulness? Quite a lot, it seems. By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Actually, Criticising Ideas Is Good for Creativity
Filed under: Creativity
People have long assumed criticising ideas in a brainstorm inhibits creativity. Research and experience shows that is wrong By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Filed under: Creativity
Imaginativefulness is a state of heightened imagination in which your mind allows thoughts, memories and ideas to play with each other freely. By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Why and How to Exploit Alternative Uses for Your Products
Filed under: Business Innovation
Discovering new ways customers use, misuse and could use your products can inspire innovation. Jeffrey Baumgartner explains. By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


The Cost of Not Innovating
Filed under: Business Innovation
If your company fails to innovate, you pay a steep price in terms of loss of leadershop, tight margins, missed opportunities and more. By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Don't Trust the Status Quo
Filed under: Creativity
Jeffrey Baumgartner has never trusted the status quo. He explains why this is so and why you should also not trust the status quo By Jeffrey Baumgartner -- Read the article...


Index of all creative articles...


Return to top of page


Creative Jeffrey logo

Jeffrey Baumgartner
Bwiti bvba

Erps-Kwerps (near Leuven & Brussels) Belgium




My other web projects

My other web projects

CreativeJeffrey.com: 100s of articles, videos and cartoons on creativity   Jeffosophy.com - possibly useful things I have learned over the years.   Kwerps.com: reflections on international living and travel.   Ungodly.com - paintings, drawings, photographs and cartoons by Jeffrey