The problem with Innovation isn’t innovation

(takes a sip of water)… Let me explain.

The problem with Innovation is that the people who decide the direction of the company, don’t always get innovation. And you can’t blame them. There are two different versions.

There is “capital I” Innovation. This is the buzzwordy big brother. The one that gets five minutes in stakeholder meetings and thrown around in boardrooms as a checklist item. “Are we Innovating?” “Oh certainly. I put it right here in the vision doc. Be an innovative leader in the market.”

And there is “lowercase i” innovation. This version is mindsets and action. This is prototypes and hypotheses. This is out-on-a-limb gambles based on user empathy that the normal production evolution would never take us to.

Authentic innovation doesn’t fit neatly into scorecards or forecasting metrics. But Innovation does.

I’ve written this blog post a couple times now and it just doesn’t come out right. So we’re going to try something a little different, and I’m just going to open my mind and let it tumble out.

Look, Innovation is crap. It’s a buzzword, it’s a checklist item. “Did we tell them to Innovate?” “Yes, we added it to the vision doc that we want to be an innovative leader in the market.” The problem with that type of Innovation is that it is cheap and hollow, like the giant chocolate bunnies or Santas that look impressive, but when you bite into them you realize it was made of a sixteenth of an inch of chocolate… and filled with stale factory air. “Mmmm… it has a chalky mouthfeel, with a hint of … warehouse?”

What you drool over are the solid chocolate versions. The ones that are pure 100% innovation with every bite. Solid but smooth. Satisfying and makes the pains go away. The real problem with Innovation is that it’s hollow. Whereas the innovation it emulates is rich and every bite has meaning.

So why are there two different versions? Innovation and innovation? Because Innovation is easy, and innovation is hard.

 

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