Defining Innovation

I continue to hear and read about “innovation” in the current business press. In my opinion, as a word it has been grossly misused. Relatively few of those who say they are being innovative are actually achieving it.

I have been enamored with Horace Dediu’s blog Asymco for a while. Here is a key quote from a recent post titled Innoveracy: Misunderstanding Innovation.*:

“Understanding that innovation requires passing a market test and that passing that test is immensely rewarding both for the creator and for society at large means that we can focus on how to make it happen. Obsessing over the mere novelties or inventions means we allocate resources which markets won’t reward.”

He suggests in the image below that innovation is the culmination of what is useful, unique, valuable and new. It is both hard and rewarding.


Thanks, Horace, for providing a thorough discussion and perspective on how hard innovation really is. And for a visual reminder that innovation is not a synonym for novelty, creation or invention. A marketplace test makes the difference.

*Dedicated ZMAB15 readers may recall that I previously referenced this blog post in Weekly Download 14.4. It has stuck with me, and I felt it deserved repetition and elaboration.


One Comment on “Defining Innovation”

  1. Brian says:

    Seems like the circles would not lie within each other. All that is New is not valuable. All that is Valuable is not unique….and so on. The intersection is intriguing, but the diagram seems challenged. I defer to Christiansen and Raynor for my Innovation definitions, but also suggest following Kalypso for musings on what works

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