The author of this article starts out with the following:
“The word is the corporate equivalent of Valleyspeak linguistic fillers such as “like”, “totally”, or “bro.” It is devoid of meaning but used liberally by executives, journalists, and even politicians. … The word has become a catch-all for anything that isn’t old, established, outdated, or representative of the status quo. However, doing something you have to do every year is not innovation, it’s called doing your job.”
His proposal for how to fix this is to change the definition of innovation to (emphasis his):
- New solutions that fundamentally change the basis of competition within an industry
- Change that has meaningful business and/or societal consequences and results in measurable positive economic consequences.
Will this work? Doubtful. Innovation is used so much because it is so useful. Trying to get ‘executives, journalists and even politicians’ to change their ways is likely a futile endeavor.
What is necessary, however, and a ‘solution’ to this problem, is to ultimately develop a taxonomy to describe the new, different, and changing in our world. Terms like incremental and sustaining, radical and disruptive etc. have been used to categorize innovation into different classes but what is truly desired is a usable, MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) taxonomy for innovations that will allow us all to distinguish the truly transformational from the mundane. We are not there yet but we are still trying. Insisting that the term ‘innovation’ only be used is specific situations is not the answer.