Innovation abuse

Last week I was attending some product awareness training where claims were being made that a particular vendor’s servers were “innovative”. “Really?”, I thought, “how’s that then?”. I decided not to ask as I’d already been quite disruptive about the presenter’s use of out-of-date analyst reports on CIO priorities but they may well be – I just want to know how.

A day later, I was presented with a pop-up ad for the latest version of Microsoft Windows Server, with a big neon sign that says “Insert Innovation Here”. Sounds interesting – but a click through leads me to a standard marketing web page about the product’s capabilities – nothing obvious about how it will help me be innovative.

Let’s be clear – innovation is far more than just a buzzword on a website or a slide deck.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve worked alongside the guys in our organisation that run services and networks (communities) around open innovation within our organisation and with our partners and customers. I haven’t been directly involved, but one message has hit home pretty hard.

Innovation is about:

Problem + Solution = Value.

In other words, I have a problem (generally a business problem) to which I would like to apply an (innovative) solution to increase the value. Innovation is not to be confused with invention but it is about finding new and better ways to do things.

Marketing materials promoting innovation are generally just that – marketing. Maybe next time you see someone claiming to be innovative, you might ask them how they are – what is it about the way they work that captures innovative ideas to apply to business problems and derive additional value – at the very least it will be an interesting discussion.

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