For years we’ve been quite happy with our definition of innovation: PEOPLE implementing new ideas to create value. It seemed to hold four critical elements together:
-- the fact that only PEOPLE innovate, systems and tools may support the process but only people can produce the magic that is innovation.
-- the understanding that innovation is about taking something new into the world.
-- the truth that all innovations spring from new ideas.
-- the reality that innovation must create new value for customers (internal or external) and the organization.
Recently, however, we’ve been working on a more prescriptive definition to help people avoid two prevalent thinking gaps we’ve noticed. While it seems that we are making great strides in
understanding innovation, there still seems to be a tendency to jump into brainstorming sessions as our first step in being more innovative. This actually may be progress, because what we’d really rather do is pick an answer, fix the problem and get on with the program!
Our experience shows that the two steps that we leap over all too often are: 1. stopping long enough to gather new information about the situation and 2. testing ideas that show up. So, we thought the following definition might help people remember those critica steps:
PEOPLE using new knowledge and understanding
to experiment with new possibilities
in order to implement new concepts
that create new value.
We believe this definition emphasizes the importance of gathering new knowledge and understanding before trying to find solutions and the concept of experimenting with possibilities in order to test them against reality. We’d love to hear what you think of these definitions ... and what definitions you are using.
Please add your comments and definitions in the comment section below.