Have you ever thought about the true meaning of innovation? Believe it or not, it may cause confusion amongst the companies who think they are doing well at innovation but in fact, they may be succeeding in PR.
These days, the word innovation has gained massive popularity. It has evolved from a term with a specific meaning, to an over-used must-have amongst totally different industries. The frequent use of 'innovative innovation that innovates', has nothing to do with applying it in practice.
A vague understanding of it may also lead to negative consequences, where the worst one is the term losing the power of its original meaning. In that case, things could become a snowball, leading to confusion in business and becoming a cliche that everyone wants to avoid.
It is not just the word we have a problem with, but a number of professionals who genuinely can't distinguish innovation and invention, or innovation and creation. Unlike other terms, innovation means something new and uniquely useful, with a stress on the latter.
The ridiculousness is able to expand because some companies which more or less understand what innovation is, play a game of creating an illusion of developing products and launching new ones. This phenomenon has even been given a name- innoganda. Unsurprisingly, there is no good in innoganda and in business, it is used to describe an effort that has little hope of driving any material impact.
Innoganda campaigns are often run in a piecemeal manner. Sometimes, looking at others, executives hire a chief innovation officer but never give them any budget or staff. Perhaps following trends, a company might build an innovation lab that doesn’t have the funding or staffing to do anything effectively, but looks good for the press. An increasingly popular move is to create a press release announcing the creation of a new accelerator that will communicate with the startup community and change the way we see things. In reality, the company may not even know what it's going to accelerate and who it is going to communicate with.
Ironically, there is even a test which you can apply to spot those who are involved in innoganda campaigns. The next time you suspect innoganda, it is worth asking 5 simple questions:
1. What is the most exciting real project you are working on at the moment?
2. How would it fit the company's strategy?
3. How far are you in the development process?
4. How do you plan to accelerate from having an idea to the real impact?
5. Is there enough financial support for your team to make a real product/service out of your ideas?
Blank stares and weak answers will tell you all you need to know. We are not saying that the attempts to drive innovation in a company have no impact, but being poorly treated and organized, these kinds of projects would not give you anything but financial and time loss. A genuine desire to create a unique product and a clear understanding of your strategy, that's what going to boost innovation in your company.