The definition of innovation is simple. It is to change your world for the better.
Innovation: (n) the action of changing your world for the better
Allow me to explain. Let’s start with “your world”. Your world could be the entire planet and everyone on it. But it could also be more localised. Your world might be your family or your business (including everyone affected by it, such as customers, suppliers and shareholders) or your community or your country or any world that is meaningful to you.
Broader Concept of Innovation
Thus, innovation could be changing the way you raise your children in order to encourage them to think more creatively and seek knowledge better. That would be a truly noble innovation and one that would profoundly change the world of your family, your children and their future. Frankly, to my mind, it is also a far greater innovation than 99% of the corporate innovation I read about.
Innovation could also be developing a mechanism that allows a small charity to deliver food aid more efficiently so that the same budget can feed more people in need. It’s no iPhone, but there can be no doubt that this innovation would profoundly change the world of a group of people – very possibly saving lives. It is an innovation whose change for the better might well last generations.
Innovation could be eradicating corruption in the education ministry in an emerging economy, ensuring that education budget goes to schools, teachers and supplies rather than corrupt politicians. Such a change would surely positively affect the entire population of the country and make a huge difference to future generations and the country’s resulting economy and global standing.
And, of course, innovation could be improving the packaging of your food product, so that it stays fresh longer and can stay on supermarket shelves longer before going bad. Such a change would result in less wastage from expired products being thrown away and increase income to your company. It would enrich shareholders slightly and might lead to additional jobs, thus providing incomes to people and likely supporting families. Moreover, with more income, those people can purchase more from other businesses in the local community and thus even this business innovation would have a small but notable knock-on effect locally.
How About You?
Enough of my examples. If you are working on innovation in your company, ask yourself and your team: how will our innovation change your world? If you cannot answer that, even for a very small, local world, the chances are that your idea does not have the potential to become an innovation.
And what about you, as a person, an employee, a part of a family and a member of your community: how will you change your world?
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