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What does innovation actually mean?

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Innovation is on the lips of pretty much every enterprise organisation at the moment. But according to Google, many remain confused about what the word actually means. “Innovation definition”, “define innovation” and “define innovative” received some 44,000 searches in the last month alone.

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Many people associate innovation with people like Steve Jobs, James Dyson and Thomas Edison – all great inventors who started a product revolution with one killer disruptive idea, which changed lives all over the world. “Blue sky thinking” if you will, based entirely on new product development.

But innovation is about much more than this. Disruptive innovation is just one definition at the far right end of the innovation spectrum, and out of reach of the average office worker. In the middle you find differentiated innovation, something which Cris Beswick defines at great length in his upcoming book “Building a Culture of Innovation: A Practical Framework for Placing Innovation at the Core of Your Business”.

And on the far left you can find incremental innovation, which concerns an existing product, services, process, organisation or method whose performance has been significantly enhanced or upgraded. Small, less disruptive changes that have the potential to generate dramatic results if you will. Waitrose has been innovating incrementally very successfully with The Good Suggestion Scheme and as Jamie Notter, author and management consultant has been quoted “Innovation is change that unlocks new value”.

I believe there is a place for every definition along the innovation spectrum in a modern enterprise. Some organisations are naturally predisposed to disruptive, others to incremental. It doesn’t matter, as long as they all become Everyday Innovation.

Everyday Innovation does what it says on the tin. It’s innovation, every day – bringing it in from the specialist fringes and putting it at the centre of everything an organisation does, making it accessible and acceptable for all.

We’re going to be launching a report looking more into the widespread confusion around the definition of innovation and the need for Everyday Innovation in the autumn. Y

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