Innovation is About Thinking Different, Not Copying Different
By Andy Marken
“You don't know anything about space.” – Skipper, Gilligan’s Island, CBS, 1964-1967
When I grow up, I want to be one.
The CIO (Chief Innovation Officer).
Obviously, he or she is smart, a tastemaker, a visionary. After all, the CIO understands innovation when it comes to or is presented to him/her.
If you’re not quite sure about the job, Wikipedia describes innovation – “a new idea, more effective device or process.Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas effective that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that "breaks into" the market or society.”
Do you really have a clue as to what that says?
Writers and speakers do.
They use it in every other headline, every tenth word in a news release and every other conference presenter proclaims an innovation, engineers/product designers pitch it to their bosses. The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) tells shareholders/analysts the company is delivering true innovation to the marketplace.
When they’re really cool; they write, talk about disruptive innovation.
Now that is freakin’ awesome!
What is it really?
- Change that cannibalizes existing profit streams
- Change that usurps prior businesses
- New products/services that are better than, less expensive than those used today
- Different ways of doing things faster, more easily, more economically
Translation – it’s different. Maybe better, maybe worse; but only time is going to tell.
Outta’ Sync – Innovations and market acceptance are totally out of sync and they always have been. Gartner’s hype cycle follows bleeding-edge users and media drumbeats while consumers adopt technology/products at a much slower pace which Geoffrey Moore described in his chasm. The “innovators” abandon products long before they gain widespread sales/usage.
The problem is we have two bell curves – Gartner’s Hype curve and Geoffrey Moore’s chasm curve – and they are not in sync.
By the time most of us get what the innovation is, the innovators have forgotten about it and moved on.
We only know by looking in the rear view mirror if the new whatever is a good new or a bad new. If it fails, the innovator can say it was a good innovation but execution doomed it. If it succeeds, the innovator can put another winner on his/her resume.
However, as David Ogilvy, a pioneering ad man, said; “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”