What is Innovation?
Everywhere you look, people are talking about innovation. There are conferences and gurus, workshops and webinars, apostles andpractitioners.
But what is it, really? It’s hard to go about the practice of innovation when there is so much
confusion about what it actually is. Some have
supposed frameworks (i.e. discovery/invention/innovation), but to be honest, I don’t find them particularly helpful.
It seems obvious to me that a common sense definition of innovation is that it is a process of finding novel solutions to important problems.Unfortunately, in order to make innovation palatable to business organizations, many have tried to narrow the definition to make it more
purpose driven. That’s getting it backwards, after all it’s businesse
s that need to adapt.
A Question Concerning Technology
Okay, let’s start from the beginning. Clearly, the reason that businesses are interested in innovation is that we are living
in an increasinglytechnological world and, for any business to consistently earn a return, it needs to develop technology.As
,even the use of the word “technology” relatively new, serious use of the term onlydates back about half a century. So it’s not something we have a lot of experience with, li
ke operations or accounting.
was the first person to seriously tackle the issue in his classic 1949 essay,
,wherehe argues that technology both involves uncovering (i.e. bringing forth) and enframing (i.e. putting in context of a particular use).