Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is "Innovation" too much of a Good Thing?

A recent article titled "You Call That Innovation" in the Wall Street Journal has sparked quite a bit of debate by claiming that the word "innovation" like many others such as "synergy" and "optimization" has outlived its usefulness. The article was quite ruthless in its assessment of the current state of affairs. "Companies are touting chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovations strategies, and even innovation days. But that doesn't mean the companies are actually doing any innovating. Instead they are using the word to convey monumental change when the progress they're describing is quite ordinary."

I got a smile on my face when I saw two blog postings on HBR, side-by-side, each taking a different perspective on the views of the article. Bill Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company magazine and author of Practically Radical, seemed to agree with the article in his blog post Please, Can We All Just Stop "Innovating"? In his post, Bill asks whether it is time that we all stopped "innovating" and set our sights on something more meaningful and real. 

On the other hand, Scott Anthony, author of the The Little Black Book of Innovation, seems to take objection to the article calling innovation just another overused term in his blog post Innovation Is a Discipline, Not a Cliché. He agrees that while there is no doubt the term innovation has bankrupt some companies, the problem was not innovation itself but the fact it was never really understood clearly. To be honest, I think that is exactly the point the WSJ article is trying to make. After all, not all of us can be innovating all of the time, even we are Living in the Innovation Age!

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