Innovation, a word of caution

The Merrian-Webster online dictionary has the following definition of innovation:

  1. the introduction of something new
  2. a new idea, method, or device: novelty

On Wikipedia we have a much more detailed entry (after all it’s purpose is different from a dictionary), namely that:

“innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs”

We have the notion of “market needs” being associated with innovation, and also:

“innovation is generally considered to be the result of a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that they affect society”

Since my personal involvement with the Lisbon startup ecosystem, i have been bombarded with this word (and many other “buzzwords”) on every occasion. It has also reached the mainstream media and it has become a empty, meaningless word. If we let those kind of words take place in our own communication, we risk becoming as empty and meaningless as them.

Communication, should be clear and engaging, and for that to happen we need to choose the words we use very carefully.

So instead of “innovation”, “game-changing” or “disruption”, let’s use words that are not tainted with severe “buzzowordiness”.

Scott Berkun proposes that Innovation is significant positive change. I find this definition worthy of adoption. Everybody know the meaning of these three words, and the combination is also clear. If you propose to reach that goal, it will be clear if you are being successful or not, and that is a good thing to everyone.