Innovation: What is It?

Innovate?  What does innovate really mean and entail?  When is it useful, even necessary?  In media and in the pubic realm, Innovation has become a devalued buzz-word for anything that you want to do that someone else has already done…even you, with little success or a lot of failure.   We are a stubborn and prideful lot!

In truth you are merely using a different jargon, a different title and proclaiming it a brand as if that really makes it an innovation and you an innovator.  After all,…

“There is nothing new under the sun”. 

There is such a thing as innovation.  The leading student and teacher of “branding” today (no, not cattle, and not the buzzword) is Tom Asacker.  Just the other day he posted an excellent article about the proper perception of, distinction between and applications for branding and innovation on his site A Clear Eye, “Innovate on Purpose” (linked at ).  Whatever your pursuits in life, I strongly urge you to read that article, learn and apply.

Are you affronted, insulted by such a proclamation that you are confused about the meaning and purpose of innovation?  Perhaps the Cinderella Theory applies,…

“If the shoe fits, wear it”!  

Architect, urbanist and futurist Leon Krier proclaimed that…

“Innovation = Confusion of Genre”

That interesting definition was discussed in my post of a similar name, “Innovation: A Confusion of Genre” in 2010, and is still worth your time to read (linked at ).  Leon Krier continued, “Pluralism marks the moment in history when despair and private obsession replace culture.”  Among other affects, that is one outcome of the hijacking of innovation.

Too much talk about “Innovation” seems to have as its goal, whether intentional or not, to turn innovation into something it is not, to convert its use and understanding into a synonym for…what?  Creativity?  Fail Fast?  Just another job title on the “org chart” and a task on the “To Do” check list?  That is the illusion used to promote special purpose, self-centered agendas that have failed on their own merits.

The result is a mutation of our understanding of innovation, a skewed view  that has reclassified it to become “Anything before today that I didn’t think of first”.

Innovating!                        (c)2012 Randy D. Bosch

Innovating! (c)2012 Randy D. Bosch

How is “innovation” best defined?  Tom Asacker did a great job in his article.  My “low brow” (non-innovative) research had churned up quite a few definitions.  A summation may provide a global definition of innovation that you can sink your teeth into, or too much more than a mouthful to digest!


The generating of an idea and subsequent creation of something never done, experienced or created before, a device, product, process or new way of doing something that is advanced, perhaps ahead of the times…

— at best even forward-looking (strive for that!)

…resulting from study and experimentation and accomplished through either incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations that translate knowledge into economic growth and social well-being encompassing a range of scientific, technological, organizational, financial and commercial activities implemented by social influence through clear and confident exposition.

Now, if only I can innovate a shorter sentence for that!

Do Something About It!

As I have written before (and probably will again and again), an extremely good start can be found by studying Roger von Oech‘s two eminently readable (and fun!), timeless and forward-looking books about how to innovate (even just how to think and do!), “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants” and “A Whack on the Side of the Head”, listed on the “RenaissanceRules” Bibliography page.

Of course, one final little lesson bears repeating (it is proclaimed at the top of this page)…

Action is the New Competence!

About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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