Innovation is one of those words—like “quality” and “value”—that can be overused and the power of the term can become diluted.
It has been used to speak to major advances like the calculator or the computer. Simply defined it is a new idea, method or product. I like to think of innovation in terms of creativity as well.
And I also wholeheartedly believe creativity can be used in every aspect of what we do, as long as there is an outcome that delivers a result. Agility, forward thinking and proactive problem solving requires creativity and innovation and is oh-so-necessary in today’s fast-paced world.
So, what does innovation mean, and who are innovators?
Technology delivers innovation every day. New apps are created constantly— so many its hard to keep up with!. And then there are new products. How about the Amazon Echo? Alexa has become more than a music library. I’m hearing statements like “She is my personal assistant“; “She keeps me company”; and “I can’t function without her”. Innovation delivered the result (Amazon Echo) but the user is creating the demand for more capability and also driving more innovation- the user through their ideas (creative) becomes the TRUE innovator – I love it!
Back in the 1960s, author and media scholar Marshall McLuhan explained that innovation has four attributes:
Innovation has to enhance something.
Creativity for the sake of being creative isn’t innovation. It’s exercise. The Internet and World Wide Web were innovations. Then Google made it better. Electronic book readers, like Kindle and Nook®, made it easier to fill unexpected free time with a good book. Audible then provided a convenient resource for hands-free reading.
Innovation often eliminates something.
Blockbuster was innovative when it eliminated the need to buy video games and movies. Then Netflix eliminated the inconvenience of going back and forth to a brick-and-mortar store with online rental ordering and fulfillment. Redbox® eliminated the monthly fee and made movies readily available with convenient rental pick up and drop off. While Blockbuster had been an innovator, the company failed to live up to the changing needs of its marketplace. Staying in front of innovation is critical in today’s world; forward thinking is a must to stay relevant.
Innovation can also mean to move forward you should look back.
Southwest Airlines and JetBlue enhanced their customer service and now delivers us the friendly service we used to experience with all airlines. In order to be visionary moving forward, they looked back. How do you move forward by looking back? History and the experiences of the past are valuable and at the heart of who we are today. Use it!
Over time, innovation becomes anti-innovation.
We love our technology, but what starts as a convenience frequently can also contribute to inefficiencies. Remember when “You’ve got mail!” was exciting? Now most of us are flooded with email; managing it creates an opportunity to innovate.
When you talk about innovation, think beneath the surface of the word’s connotation. Innovation in our company comes from our entire team–every day– as we problem solve; create technology solutions; enhance our service model, improve process, and challenge the status quo. Everyone has a voice-everyone is heard-the team’s ideas are implemented. We are all innovators — if we are open to new ideas and if we take a moment to–listen. I hear innovation–everywhere!
- Ask yourself what this “innovation” does for you or the intended market?
- Does it satisfy any of Marshall McLuhan’s four principles for defining an innovation?
What does innovation mean to you? Share with us on Twitter @LTronCorp