We should Ban the Word Innovation

Scott Berkun, author of “The Myths of Innovation”, shares on the Economist why we should all ban the word innovation. He writes:

Einstein, Ford, Picasso and Edison rarely said the word innovation and neither should you. Every Fortune 500 crowd I’ve said this to laughs and agrees. The abuse of words like innovation, disruption, game changing and breakthrough is killing us.
(snip…)
Ask people who say innovation what they mean. If ever anyone says the word in a meeting, ask “Can you give an example of what you mean by innovative?” If they can’t, you’ve just saved everyone in the room hours of time. Using the i-word is often a cop-out for clear thinking. They are trying to signify creativity, without actually being creative.

Quite true, Innovation is a horrible word to use especially when you are taking a design brief from a client! One of Scott’s points is that Innovation often has a blurred definition and what we need instead are clear actionable points. A design brief with actionable points has clear structured deliverables designers can work towards.
In my mind, innovation or being innovative is the type of word that you get labeled by, and not something you shamelessly declare. Saying “I’m Innovative” is like saying “I’m fat”, or “My life is tough”, it is all relative. So always focus on doing the best possible work you can, and the rest, such as being called innovative, will all fall into place.
Via: Economist

3 Comments
  • Taylor Coil

    July 6, 2010 at 10:34 pm Reply

    I’ve never thought of “innovative” as being a cop-out for creativity, but it absolutely makes sense. It’s almost a goal that companies get starry eyed imagining, and forget that creative specifics are needed to achieve it.

  • Saikat

    July 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm Reply

    Totally agree!

  • William Sutton

    July 8, 2010 at 11:30 pm Reply

    I’s like to put people on the spot when they throw-out the word “creative” (eg. your in a meeting and the salesguy/project manager says, “it needs to be creative”, or “it needs to ‘pop'”)–they haven’t SAID anything!

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