Friday, July 25, 2008

Thinking about "Innovation"

Scott Burkun at Harvard Business Publishing when notes innovation has become a vapid PR catch phrase that isn't often used by the people who are actually doing it:

Inventors, creators, and leaders, the people who earned fame for the work other people call innovative rarely used that word themselves. Instead their vocabularies leaned heavily on words like problem, experiment, solve, exploration, change, risk and prototype. Powerful words. Words that are either verbs, or imply a set of actions. And more to the point, they care less about being innovative than they do about making things. Making good things. Forget creating a breakthrough: it's hard enough to make a really good thing that people will love to use.


Instead of asking "How can we be innovative?", a toothless and vague question with mostly useless answers, we should be asking "How can we make great things?"
On a somewhat related note, Sathnam Sanghera from the Times UK appropriately notes that design is useless if it isn't functional. He uses the creative naming/symbols to designate washrooms at restaurants/bars that try to be trendy. I had an interesting experience in Singapore. And to that end, some life experience garnered: jalapeno tequila shots are not recommended on an empty stomach. At the time I was fortunate enough that there was a washroom available as the women standing outside the washrooms were confused unable to figure out which was for whom.

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