From manufacturing to accounting: in every sector, organizations sooner or later declare themselves ‘innovative players’. Sad but true: as a mantra for businesses far and wide, ‘innovation’ too often becomes a catchphrase devoid of meaning. So let’s break it down and get back to the nitty-gritty: what is innovation exactly, and why should you care about the word’s core meaning?
What comes to mind when you think of innovation? Ask this question to a handful of people and you’re bound to end up with answers that contain either the words ‘drone’, ‘self-driving car’ or ‘Airbnb’. Or you might just hear a random Steve Jobs quote. Although innovation surely is about these big and bold ideas as well, there is more to the word than meets the eye.
A working definition of innovation
The Latin word innovare – which means ‘to make changes’ or ‘to do something differently’ offers a partial answer to the question what innovation is. After all, doing new things is still at the heart of the matter. However, it does not cover the why. Organizations don’t make changes just because they’re fun or interesting. The key driver for all innovation is value creation and, ultimately, the long-term survival of your business.
A working definition of business innovation might look something like this:
Business innovation means making changes that add value, in terms of either revenue growth or increased operational efficiency. This value can be created by introducing new products, operational processes or business models. The ultimate goal is to safeguard the competitiveness and long-term survival of the organization.
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