If business writers could pick one word from their vocabulary to define 2014 it would probably be ‘innovative’. However, it seems like many have lost sight of what innovation actually means, with certain commentators seemingly mistaking it for ’success’.
Whatever the case, the term ‘innovation’ has been inescapable over the last couple of years and with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, it’s also on the lips of many presidential candidates. For example, Wisconsin Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate, Scott Walker, stated that he felt that ‘free trade rewards hard work and innovation’.
In Marco Rubio’s new book, ‘American Dreams’, he also says that, ‘Republicans haven't been creative or innovative enough in offering solutions’, just one of the 33 times that the word is mentioned in his book.
It’s not just the Republicans either, the Democrats are also fond of the word. Hilary Clinton promised the crowd at one of her Silicon Valley rallies that she would make the State Department a ‘hub of innovation’.
Outside of the political sphere, ‘innovation’ continues to reverberate around some of the internet’s most prestigious business websites, including Forbes and Fast Company, both of which continue to release lists counting down the top-100 most innovative companies in the world.
Although highly subjective, both websites capture the essence of innovation and make solid cases for the companies that they include on the list. They tell their audiences how the companies they have chosen are innovative by examining their creative projects and processes.
It’s not a question of innovation being worthwhile, it’s just important that companies don’t use it as a cover-up when their asked about what their company needs to improve and they don’t have a proper answer. In today’s environment, it’s not good enough to simply say that ‘we want to be more innovative’ because innovation as a concept has so many avenues, meaning that companies need to be more specific to inspire their workforce when moving towards a common goal.
The term ‘innovation’ has a place and is much more than a buzzword. It has however been misused by many and shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat for management teams that haven’t found a way to bring their organisation forward.