Innovation – def. Something new or different introduced. The act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods. ~www.dictionary.com
In business, innovation is really important. Because it is so important, the word innovation is used all the time. Electronic companies are innovating new ways to create the electronic devices. Automobile companies are innovating new ways to make a comfortable yet fuel efficient vehicle. Companies in all sorts of industries are being innovative in their specific processes. With all that innovation, it is easy to hear people say, “Innovate this… Innovate that…”
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday called You Call That Innovation? by Leslie Kwoh. She talked about how all companies are in the habit of saying “innovation” to the point where innovation is beginning to have no meaning. In the article, she stated that the word innovation was used “33,528 times in quarterly and annual reports last year.” She also said that, “255 books [were] published in the last 90 days with ‘innovation’ in the title.” So is the word innovation being overused?
You may be wondering why I am writing about the use of the word innovation. Well, as the leader, it is very important to drive your company or organization to think outside the box. Leaders should think of new solutions to the existing problems. As the leader, you set the direction of your organization. If you set up an environment where people are encouraged to think outside the box and come up with new solutions within appropriate parameters for your company, you will get a new way of thinking. People will try to make things happen in ways that they have never been done before.
In today’s leadership environment, it is easy to overuse the word innovation. You need to be very careful to use the word innovation for true innovation as it occurs and not just for a slight change in a procedure. Innovation occurs when people make significant changes to improve the overall processes.
I had an experience with innovation last year that was true innovation. We have some processes where I work that are done on a regular basis. In order to complete one cycle of the process, it usually takes one year. At the beginning of last year, I was asked to complete three to four cycles within the same one year time frame. At first I felt very overwhelmed and didn’t know how to accomplish such a task. This forced me to think outside the normal process. I looked at the normal process and realized there were a number of ineficiencies. From there I found ways to eliminate the ineficiencies. I eventually decided to completely reinvent the process. By reinventing the process, I was able to get all four cycles completed during the same time frame it took to do just one cycle prior to the change.
What do you define as innovation? Have you seen the word innovation overused? In what ways do you innovate? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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