I spoke to 15 of the world’s leading innovation experts to get their definition of “innovation”. The variety in their responses may surprise you.
- Nick Skillicorn
- David Burkus
- Stephen Shapiro
- Pete Foley
- Gijs van Wulfen
- Kevin McFarthing
- Robert Brands
- Paul Hobcraft
- Mike Shipulski
- Paul Sloane
- Jeffrey Baumgartner
- Stefan Lindegaard
- Drew Boyd
- Michael Graber
- Jorge Barba
- Analysis of all the definitions
- The ultimate definition of innovation
Innovation is truly a confusing buzzword which many people love to hate.
Every business leader agrees that it is important. But nobody can quite seem to agree on what it actually is or what it means.
If you ask Google for an innovation definition, it is less than helpful, coming up with over 300 million results with thousands of definitions. Its own definition is pretty much useless: “the action or process of innovating”. Using the traditional sources for a definition such as the Oxford dictionary also doesn’t help much, with their answer being “Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”
So I contacted a selection of my fellow innovation experts to see how they talk about innovation with their clients, and compiled the results for you here. I asked them all:
- What is your definition of “innovation”?
- What mistake do companies often make when they talk about innovation?
- What simple thing can a company do to change their conversation / perspective about innovation?
The results surprised me. Even amongst the group of industry insiders here who teach and author books on innovation methodologies, case studies and thought leadership, there was a huge variety between the responses. So in the last section of this article, I’ve analysed what everyone said to find the most common themes, to try and see if it is possible to use the common threads to determine the most effective definition you can use.
Let’s get started.