Continuing our Buzzword series, this week we are looking at the word innovation. More and more, the word gets tossed around and overused by businesses trying to seem like they’re on the forefront of something. But what does it really mean? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, it means to “introduce something new,” or “a new idea, method, or device.”
That seems pretty broad, doesn’t it? More specifically, you could say, it’s a renewed effort to create something new, to find a better way of doing things. Others would describe is as the fight to stay relevant.
Most often, it’s used in the world of technology, where innovation seems to exist in spades. Every day, we hear of a new piece of tech that’s going to change the world, from Artificial Intelligence to wearable technology that can monitor your health and aid people with serious illness, to self-driving cars. In the digital era, there is no limit to innovation.
But we would be remiss to say it only exists in the sphere of technology. After all, there is no one sector that can make the claim that they are the only ones able move forward. In business, innovation can mean searching for and creating new products for customers. Or, it could mean changing the way products are sold. Think Amazon- they have completely revolutionised the way consumers purchase. No longer do you have to leave the comfort of your own home to buy any product you can imagine. Instead, you can research, compare, and click to buy, all on one website. It’s then delivered to your home the next day. Is that not innovation?
The issue comes with the question, is the term innovation overused, misrepresented? Depends on how you look at it, really. Innovation does not have to be a breakthrough, the big disrupter that makes everyone reconsider everything they know. It can happen every day, as new questions are posed and answered. It doesn’t have to be sexy, it just has to add a new value, and it has to change how things have always been done.
However, it is undeniable that the term does get overused. A lot of companies state their dedication to innovation without actually stepping up to the challenge. Rather, they rely on the term speaking for itself, and that’s when it becomes a buzzword. If you choose innovation to describe a pillar of your business, that’s excellent, but you have to make the commitment. That can mean spending time reorganizing even before you address the question how to innovate. It means dedicating time to purposely to reconsidering and reinventing every single day. Innovation requires thought and practice every single day.
It might seem like a lot of work, but as mentioned above, innovation can be seen as the fight to stay relevant. If you decide to commit to innovation, it is something your clients will definitely notice.