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Definition of "Innovation"

Discussion in 'Other Quality and Business Related Topics' started by RoxaneB, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    The International Association of Innovation Professionals has started a survey with the phrase "I define innovation as...". The link will take you to the first page where entering personal information is optional. They're looking for definitions that are under 25 words.

    It's an interesting question and the last time I looked (earlier this week) there were only 4 submissions. Surely this group can add some!
     
  2. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    Here's my definition (23 words):
    Innovation - the end result (tangible or intangible) of an original idea or design that has either new or greater value (or impact) to society
     
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  3. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Did you add it to the survey, Brian? There's a link to it in the first post of this thread.

    Is value and/or impact subjective? Is society too broad an audience? Why not Stakeholders?

    Not challenging your definition...simply attempting to focus my thoughts on it.
     
  4. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    I actually did add my definition to the survey just after posting here....thanks for the link Roxane :)

    To address your questions, it is difficult for me to imagine any "innovation" that was met with universal praise and acceptance, without regard to its value or impact. When thinking about such innovations, I tend to notice that "value" is in the eyes of the beholder, and also that their viewpoints can change with the times and culture of that era. My memory recalls that when the first iPhone was released in 2007, most of the younger generation and tech-savvy population embraced the new technological advancement and welcomed it with open arms. On the flip-side of that coin, I can also remember that some of the older generation didn't initially see these smartphones as necessary, but more or less a luxury item....that or they were either afraid of or just flat out didn't respect the technology.

    Fast forward to today, and I now observe that those same people are (now more than ever) in harmony with their smartphones and the benefits they provide. In that sense, I think a certain level of subjectivity is always going to be inherent. Plus there is an evolutionary factor in most innovations which affects people's decision-making processes over a lengthened period of time - again with the times and culture of that era.

    Also, I prefer to view society as not only a broad, but rather all-inclusive, term that I would apply to all recipients of any innovation, including stakeholders. In an unlikely scenario today, say a person who never used a high-end smartphone inherited one somehow (let's also imagine that they had no prior opinions of this smartphone and did not pay $ for it, plus maybe they weren't even expecting one) and found the new technology to be a godsend. While that person may not qualify as your typical stakeholder, their first encounter with a new innovation could have ended up impacting them in greater ways than they ever could have predicted. That (to me) supports my definition of an innovation.

    This does generate some thought-provoking questions, such as what if only one person (out of 7 billion) was impacted by something new that they valued in some way? Is that not considered an innovation? Or what about those who will never acknowledge an innovation, out of defiance or for their own personal reasons? Are they allowed to have any bearing on what society calls an innovation because of their subjective views, and if so, does a subjectivity threshold need to exist?

    BTW this is a great discussion topic....I'm surprised there aren't more posters commenting on this yet.
     
  5. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    It is a difficult question to answer. Many of us probably feel quite passionately about standardization, improvement and innovation...but when you attempt to DEFINE them, suddenly they can feel somewhat intangible. Yet, if we as their champions cannot articulate what these concepts are or entail, how can we expect others to embrace them with the same level of enthusiasm?

    BTW, my father has a cell phone...but still has no idea how to answer it when there's an incoming call. Knowing that he was at his regular restaurant at that time, I actually had to call the restaurant and have them pass their phone over to him! *lol*
     
  6. Ganesh Sundaresan

    Ganesh Sundaresan Active Member

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    I just pulled out this definition.
    A new object or a new way of doing things that Users tend to adopt with spontaneity due to one or more of uniqueness that makes it much simpler, better, cheaper and faster in comparison.
     
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  7. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    A tad longer than the 25 word limit, Ganesh, but both you and Brian reminded me of the 'The Three Basic Elements of Innovation' that I learned in school.

    Market
    • Sales
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Linguistics
    • Economics

    Implementation
    • Law
    • Regulation
    • Advertising
    • Operations Research
    • Accounting

    Technology
    • Science
    • Mathematics
    • Materials
    • Components

    What I find interesting...okay, fascinating, actually...is that many of the definitions submitted focus on innovation as it pertains to a product or service or process or idea. Even my own academic development in this area has been more on marketplace applications of innovation.

    I believe that we are too narrow in our definition. What about innovation as it pertains to a culture...an organization...or even just a team? An innovative product, service, etc. comes about because of an innovative culture...because someone could see beyond the constraints and limits of the current state. So where does the true innovation lie?...within the tangible, marketable item or the culture and thought-process that gave the item life?
     
  8. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    Roxane, I think I understand where you're going with this. If you're asking where is the "singularity" that is the innovation?....Where does it really stem from?....I think that if the innovation lies within the culture, and the thought-process indeed acts as that "big bang", maybe then the definition of an innovation could be significantly whittled down to "a flash of genius".

    That quote also refers to the movie of the same name about Robert Kearns (played by Greg Kinnear) and how he came up with the idea for the intermittent windshield wiper - he argued that the act of invention begins as an epiphany in the mind of the inventor, and in the movie he describes his own "flash of genius" as his inspiration to create a special wiper based on the human eye, which blinks intermittently as opposed to continuously. It was actually a decent movie if you like rooting for the underdog (plus I'm sure the Ford Motor Company legal department loved the way it negatively highlighted them regarding something that happened over 50 years ago).

    "A flash of genius" is actually pretty eloquent in its brevity....I think I'll upload that one too. Too bad it's already patented, though....
     
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  9. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    Just wondering to myself do I get extra points for shortest survey submission so far? o_O
     
  10. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Trying for quantity over quality? *lol*
     
  11. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    I thought they could use some more help lol....well I just checked the survey webpage and now there are over 30 definitions submitted.
     
  12. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, there are more now than when I first submitted my definitions. Still, doesn't 30 strike you as a low number? I would have thought there to be more definitions...and more excitement behind the ones that have been submitted. Some are too textbook/technical/clinical for my tastes and take all "magic" out of innovation. Maybe I'm romanticizing the notion of innovation too much, but think about the words you used "big bang", "flash of genius", "epiphany"...those are not words that embraced through passionless definitions.
     
  13. Brian Vandolah

    Brian Vandolah Member

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    You may very well be over-romanticizing the "definition" part of it, but I believe as long as people continue to realize the value of their "creative freedom" there will always be the potential for beauty and excitement when it comes to any breakthrough.

    And I sadly have to agree with you on most of the other survey submissions being too "bland" or "without flavor" - I thought it wouldn't take very long for someone to one-up my contributions and make me wonder why I didn't think of that one.
    It's like going to a fancy restaurant and ordering something, then the person beside you orders something else and the next thing you know you are suddenly jealous of what they have and now you wished you ordered it for yourself. "Excuse me, waiter?!!...."
     
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  14. Andrej

    Andrej Member

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    I like this discussion. My suggestion of a definition with 14 words would be:

    Result of innovation is to improve useful effects while decreasing harmful effect and costs.
     
  15. Miner

    Miner Moderator Staff Member

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    Innovation is the creation of value by performing a job a customer is trying to get done better than any available alternative.

    22 words.
     
  16. Candi1024

    Candi1024 Well-Known Member

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    I think they should have asked "What does innovation mean to you?" Just the term 'definition' takes the enthusiasm out for me. In my mind at least, a definition can be right or wrong, to tight or too inclusive. My own impressions on the other hand, don't have those same restrictions.
     

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