When Is Innovation

What I have learned from observations.

Over the years I have graphic-recorded and facilitated many meetings and strategic ideation session where the topic of innovation arises. Recently, possibly due to the popularity of the idea, innovation constantly emerges as an answer to a problem.

‘In order for us to achieve (X Y Z) we must innovate, be innovative, or become innovative thinkers.’ 

The real challenge is not achieving innovation but what leads up to the innovation for, in my view, an innovation is not ever-present. I believe it does not happen throughout, but at as end moment proof of an endeavor. Innovation is the tangible outcome, not the intangible process.

A colleague far across the big pond, discussed this idea with me on many occasions. We both agree that innovation is originated from discontinuous thinking. It is an outgrowth of difference and not of continued progress. We do slightly divert from the definition however as I feel strongly that part of the misconception in public is the word use outside of its true definition and he sees that it is a bit more about being word semantics. In either case that you may lean-to, it still is an over-used term for everything new or different.

So much distortion has been created that “Innovation” has become a catch-all buzzword and has diluted its value and tense of the action. As I stated, innovation is a past tense word and here is why I think this. Please indulge my thinking for a moment. I will arrive at the importance of this statement shortly. Take a look below at a diagram (The Path To Innovation) I created for an online chat about innovation over a year ago.

Path of innovation

Notice the Path of Innovation flows along the process, but is not truly part of the process. It flows in the background. Above the Path of Innovation is the Path of Thinking. This path runs parallel yet changes slightly once through each node only diverted by an outside resource. The path is not continuous, yet the direction is. Only until both paths pass through “Measure” do we know if the idea is an innovation or that your idea has been proven innovative.

It is not until you measure and prove that the “Idea” is a valued concept can you initiate it into action. This action then has created an innovation or innovative method that changes an old process or product indicating the point of application or implementation is after the innovation has been proven valuable and is adopted. Innovation is then a historic action making an innovation a past tense thing.

Okay, so why all the nonsense of past and present tense of innovation? Simple, for the reason of clarity. Innovation is a thing proven not of an idea conceived. If no proof in action or value is present, something, be object, process or thinking can not be deemed an innovation. If proof dictates innovation, then innovative thinking is then merely creative thinking improperly categorized or misquoted. In essence, creative thinking is an intangible concept, and innovation, which is a proven (past tense), is the tangible product.

So, let’s use the proper words around innovation for the proper application, Creative Thinking, Systems Thinking and/or Happenstance can all lead to Innovation, but are not innovative or innovation of themselves, only something that is proven valuable can be stated as innovative or an innovation.

 

 

 

An Occurrence of Innovation

I have written and drawn on this topic before and from my earlier post, it has driven some very interesting conversations with groups who focus on conditions and mechanics of creating an innovation and action of being innovative. This subject of innovation and being innovative is a very complex and multifaceted issue. It has created a major divide in the thinking by those misinformed, highly involved and extremely learned.

In my earlier post on this subject “A Path To Innovate”, I focused on a methodology or the thinking process and avoided any mechanical technique. I have no wish to add fuel to an already heated, blazing topic, yet I do want to add something to the topic. I would like to add a bit broader visual about the occurrence of innovation. In my earlier diagram, I focused on the change to the thinking process as part of achieving an innovation.

I realized, by taking a step back further, I could see how an occurrence of innovation evolves and comes into existence. This not a change to my previous post or the visual I created, rather an expansion or companion piece. If you had read the earlier post you will notice that there are similar elements in both, however the key additions are “Status Quo” and “Communicate.”

InnoOccurs

I challenged myself to understand why there is a need to drive an innovation. I realized that the “Status Quo” is only remains as affective as the environment allows. When change occurs around the set item, its “Status Quo”, a need grows from that environmental change. This stimulates the process that can promote the path to innovation, but does not guarantee that it will occur only that it should.

In the second stage which I have labelled “Ideate”, the need has grown to somewhat of a pain issue. The item no longer fulfills the function due to the changes around it. This creates an opportunity for some enhancement or the creation of something new to fulfill the growing need. It is this need that generates new ideas, solutions to resolve where the status quo no longer applies. Yet, this phase also does not ensure that an innovation will come to exist. only the idea that it could.

The last phase begins to bring the innovation to life. To “be” an innovation, it must have two parts to exist. First, it must be constructed and brought into existence, not merely an idea that could be, but an idea that is. The second part of this is that the idea must be communicated. For an innovation to take hold it must be constructed and allowed to be shared so others are aware of its existence.

When it comes to innovation, the easy part is identifying a need and having an idea to solve it. The hard part is actually making it happen and have others apply it. An innovative idea can not live inside a vacuum, it must be constructed and shared to truly become an innovation. So take that idea and make it the next innovation.

Have a great day, and an innovative future.

The Path to Innovate

There has been much debate recently wether or not an idea, a non-tangible thought, can be an innovation. I present my visual map of the process through which an agreed innovation travels.

Path of innovationTwo key elements that need to be pointed out before providing my thoughts. The first element is along “The Path of Thinking.” Almost every innovation I have heard about, discussed or have been presented had a similar path of origin. All of the innovations, had resources from something other than the old thinking. In every case, the catalyst resource from which the innovation was derived came from outside the situation. In other words, the path of traditional thinking was halted and a new path introduced. As John W. Lewis of #Innochat would state, “This is a discontinuous action.” and I agree. He goes on to share, “it must also add value.”

The second key element to observe is that of “Measure.” To be innovative, implies improvement or enhanced value. To understand if there has been an improvement or enhancement of value, the idea must be implemented and then measured against the earlier condition for evaluation and validation. The idea must become tangible to be evaluated.

So here’s my thoughts on the issue.

I believe this, no idea, concept or notion, no matter how impressive, brilliant or revolutionary, can be deemed “innovative” on its own merit. In order to be recognized as an innovative idea, the idea must be put into action either by methodology, application or by production. Once applied or constructed, then can it be measured and evaluated against its ancestry.

An idea is exactly that, an idea. An innovation is a measurable application or production.