From Joyce Wycoff:
This morning I was working on a session for a client and wanted them to think about what innovation is so I decided to Google "Innovation Definition." What a disappointment! Soren mentioned in an earlier post that innovation is still a new field but I expected better. Admittedly, this is a random selection and most organizations are working with far better definitions but it does seem to indicate some confusion in the field.
One comment that was included with the definitions might be a sign of things to come: We are counting the days until we hear the buzzword "re-innovation." With such limited, unhelpful definitions floating around, he might be right.
For instance, in the 21 definitions included in the compilation (including my own), the word "new" is used 30 times but the concept that this newness creates value is only included in ten of the definitions. Many of these definitions boil down to the word new as if a new color on a package of deodorant would qualify as innovation. Boiled down to its essence, innovation would actually be "new value." If the color on the deodorant package somehow created value, then it would qualify as innovation.
The definition we like and use is: PEOPLE implementing ideas that create new value. Notice that the "new" word modifies value not ideas. Who cares if they are old ideas if you can find a way to create new value with them?
Here are some of the more problematic definitions:
The act of introducing something new and significantly different. . (JW: New idea: all cars should have square wheels. Is that an innovation?)
Innovation is introducing an object as if it were new. (JW: It doesn’t really have to be new … we can just pretend it is?)
“An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption” (JW: Unit of adoption ... is that something like a customer?) (Rogers, 1995, p. 11)
Innovation is creating something that others want. (JW: I want bread. Does that mean bread is an innovation?)
I'd love to hear the working definitions some of your organizations are using so we can create a much better list than this one I've attached. Here's the compilation: Download innovation_defined.doc