Innovation is quite the in thing these days, at least in business circles. What’s not to like about it? Is anyone in favor of stagnation?
But as with many things, before answering the how question (how do we innovate?), we have to answer the what question (what is innovation?).
And there’s the rub. Everyone supports innovation, it seems, but few people agree on its definition. Don’t believe me? Google “define innovation” and you’ll get 39,400,000 results. (That isn’t to say, of course, there are that many definitions, but there are a lot.)
Here are some of the definitions of innovation that appear at the top of Google’s ranking:
“Innovation is the development of new customers [sic] value through solutions that meet new needs, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in new ways.”
“The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.”
– business dictionary
“Innovation: A change in a product offering, service, business model or operations which meaningfully improves the experience of a large number of stakeholders.”
“I define innovation as: executing new ideas to create value.”
The wikipedia definition crams so many buzzwords into one sentence that it sounds like a parody of business speak. And most definitions include another common business term — “value” — which is, itself, undefined.
Still, most definitions share three common elements. In business, innovation is
- a process for implementing an idea
- that creates something new (e.g., a product or service)
- that provides value for end users (e.g., customers or clients).
If that’s what innovation is, a presentation is an innovation of sorts. Or, at least, a presentation shares those same three elements.
First, a presentation introduces and makes the case for implementing an idea. In business, which is different from academia, presentations aren’t just about educating people. They’re about giving people information or knowledge that can be used in some way.
Second, a presentation creates something new. It changes — or intents to change — the way people think or feel or act. There’s no reason to make a presentation if you want your audience to remain the way they’ve always been.
Third, a presentation has to provide value to your audience. I like to define value as a “desired benefit.” You always have to ask why your audience would want to do what you want them to do. Why would they want to adopt, endorse, or implement the change you’re proposing? How will they benefit? Do they want that benefit?
So what do you think? Have I defined innovation correctly? Would you define it different? Do you agree or disagree with my defining a presentation as a form or example of innovation?