Ban Innovation

Co-Founder of Fast Company Bill Taylor advocates banning the word “Innovation” from business lexicon in his HBR Guest Post Stop Me Before I “Innovate” Again!. . He gives a very powerful example of how the word has been misused too much too often. If we keep accepting what is presented to us as Innovation literally anything we do falls under innovation. He emphasizes the need to make Innovation more authentic.

This article reminded me of an Innovation workshop that I did for the chefs of a leading hospitality brand. workshop was spread over 5 days and every day chefs delighted us with their creative dishes including a theme of chilly and chocolates. Now they said they are very innovative because everyday they create something new from the same ingredients. My argument was that the nature of your job demands that you are creative in what you do. I drew a parallel from a fashion designer who is approached by high end clientele to create something that no one else has. It is his job to churn out a unique piece for his client every time. Is he being innovative or is he being creative and bringing out a different product every time a key characteristic of his job? There are certain jobs that require one to be creative all the time and fortunately so, as most other jobs tend to be repetitive and get boring over a period of time.

To be Innovative, specially from a business perspective, one had to do things differently once in a while to jump from one level to another – to move from one orbit to another, to try out better or may be even just other ways of doing the same thing. From a commercial perspective it should directly impact your top line or bottom line non-linearly. You can define what innovation means for your organization – but it can not mean everything you do already.

You call this Innovation

Wall Street Journal Article ‘You call that Innovation‘ is one of the most honest articles I have read on Innovation. The article quotes number of times the annual reports mention Innovation as a word even to describe their mundane activities. The use of the word has increased in 64% in last 5 years and obviously this is not in sync with the amount of innovation. Every company has an innovation initiative going in with dedicated teams and consultants working on it. Suddenly market is flooded with books on Innovation.

Bill Taylor of HBR writes on the basis of the above article ‘Please, can we all just stop innovation‘ and quotes examples of real innovations in the business world, where the aim was not to innovate, but innovation happened to meet a larger goal. I think all those examples are worth understanding. We must understand that innovation for the sake of innovation is worse than no innovation, when you at least know that you are NOT doing innovation.

You need to question what does innovation mean to you and your company? Are your initiatives really innovations or are they simple changes that any live organizations will have.

It leads to another question – Has the buzz gone out of the word or the jargon Innovation?

Fast Company’s Most Innovative

Fast company’s 2012 World’s 50 Most Innovative companies list is out.

I wonder if it is world’s most innovative list of America’s most innovative. I see a few Indian and Chinese companies, most of the other seem to be the US or let’s say western world based. Are we saying more than 90% innovation is still happening in the western world or does the western world continue to be ignorant of what is happening in the rest of the world?

I like the presentation though – a small tag line telling you why the company is innovative, a click on the name takes you to the detailed story and for the top four companies, you can choose your own rating. There is an archive of the last 3 years for you to refer and see how the companies are doing. You can also see them by industry if you are not too bothered about others. Incidentally, two industries are India and China, and you can top 10 innovative companies in there, and there are companies besides those listed in Top 50. What happened to Israeli companies or from other countries around the world.

But then they say ‘My definition of world is what I can see’



Jugaad and the world Media

Is Jugaad being over hyped and beaten to death…? Now they have coined the term for our Jugaad….Frugal Innovation. I wonder if the terminology actually reflects the width that Jugaad covers and if you can derive a model out of this general term that is used for anything from a simple trick to roundabout dealings with an objective to get the desired output.

Jugaad is a method where the means do not matters, it is only the result that matters, and more often than not the means could be unfair too.