Introducing and maintaining a culture of innovation is a lofty and ambitious goal. What exactly does it mean to be innovative? The “I” word has become so ubiquitous, is it starting to lose its impact?
As an organization with innovation as its middle name, I hope not. But it is not difficult to see or hear rumblings from some quarters that through overuse the term is losing its cache. Certainly, I would not argue with any one challenging an organizations’ use of the word versus their actual practice of innovating. Simply including it in company literature does not make it so. In fact, a recent HBR article calls this phenomenon “innoganda” and cautions organization to be prepared to back up their claims with facts and examples.
Let’s be clear that innovation as a concept could never be out of style. Creativity and synthesis are responsible for the big cosmic shifts in the way we do things, distinguished from the inevitable evolution of incremental improvements. (Refillable butane fire starters versus longer matches…). This is the stuff of dreams not just development.
I think that brainstorming and ideation are getting tangled up in the definition of innovation. Traditional brainstorming is not even a particularly effective method for innovation and is merely a technique, a means to an end. Perhaps innovation has morphed into meaning a stunning new product or service with Google, Apple or Zappos-esque panache. There may even be the perception that it has a kind of age requirement or even geographic component; 22-43 years old, from one of the coasts…
True innovation seems to me to be the successful realization of a game changing idea; not simply a great idea. I am sure we’ve all worked with organizations that are not short on ideas. Innovation is a result, not a method or discipline. It is the vetting, management, timely implementation and undeniable resonance of these ideas with their audience that is innovation.
Likewise, design thinking is not innovation; it is a tool used in the process of innovation (as well as solving complex problems) to work from the point of view of a user. The advantage in using design thinking is that it focuses on discovering an issue or need before developing the solution as opposed to developing a need for a solution. Then, using the discipline to create a set of visual thinking methods to quickly explore and iterate on solutions designed to delight not just satisfy.
So we will not be changing the name of our organization and although I might agree that innovation has been buzzed it is not the end of the world. We simply need to continue providing disruptive, pivoting, leveraged, guru driven, level setting, bandwidth broadening service that opens the Kimono. After all, it is what it is.
To innovate means to make something new. Maverick Innovation Lab moves businesses forward through facilitated ideation workshops using proven design-thinking principles to produce fast, actionable and innovative results.