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Defining Innovation

February 9, 2011

The past few months have been really fascinating for any innovation enthusiast, the “word of the year” in 2011 might have to surrender itself and  fall in the lap of innovation.

Obama uses “innovation” more than using “the” (currently world’s most commonly used word) in his speeches.

The inference that one can draw from this amazing phase of human evolution is may be that this age that we live in might end up being called the innovation age.

So, lets in this post, try defining innovation. Although I agree to the fact that this post should have come before all the posts that we have had on the blog, but really its better late than never.

In this quest for defining innovation I have read various authors, various bloggers and asked various experts on innovation. This blog post starts with some of the striking ones I encountered during my research and ends with what I could conclude after my mini research project.

Wikipedia:
Innovation can be seen as the process that renews something that exists and not, as is commonly assumed, the introduction of something new.

ABS Innovation Survey:
An innovation is any new or substantially improved good or service which has been commercialized.

DIST
Innovation might be defined as the application of ideas that are new to the firm.

American heritage dictionary
The act of introducing something new

Regis Cabral
Innovation is a new element introduced in the network which changes, even if momentarily, the costs of transactions between at least two actors, elements or nodes, in the network

Bruce D. Merrifield
The three stages in the process of innovation: invention, translation and commercialization

Paul Schuman
Innovation is the way of transforming the resources of an enterprise through the creativity of people into new resources and wealth

David Schmittlen
Innovation does not relate just to a new product that would come into the marketplace. Innovation can occur in processes and approaches to the marketplace

For me after reading of amazingly large number of definitions of innovation the definition at OECD Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data rates one of the best

In accordance to OECD, an innovation is the implementation of a novel or enhanced product or process, a new or improved marketing process or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.

The key aspect to note here is the stress on the element of implementation. My friends and often myself are found quoting that I have innovated something, while what they want to say that they have ideated (and not innovated) that something. Thus innovation as the figure below depicts is a combination of ideation and implementation.

I’ll end  by quoting one of the most well acclaimed authors in the innovation landscape Prof. Govindrajan,

“Usually, managers equate innovation with creativity. But innovation is not creativity. Creativity is about coming up with the big idea. Innovation is about executing the idea — converting the idea into a successful business.”

Thus may be innovation is not equal to Creativity + Implementation, it is more like
Innovation = Creativity*Implementation

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