Haunted by the word… Innovation

Let’s be clear I love innovation. Innovation is great but as a word and concept, it’s turning into one of those words that is haunting me.

It’s like when you hear a song you haven’t heard in ages and then it’s everywhere. Or you learn a new word and then you hear it said multiple times a day.

Innovation may not be a new word to me or catchy tune but, it is everywhere.

Everything product and new process is ‘innovative’, people’s taglines promise us they are ‘innovators’. Toothpaste is innovative, the latest dishwasher is promising to blow me away with its innovative design. For a job you have to be an innovator and you’ll get it in your title too, Chief Innovation Officer, Innovation Engineer, Innovative Implementation Manager.

And it’s not to say any of those things aren’t true or valuable but, how can this word be so omnipresent in a world were we keep seeing the same old, same old?

My thought is innovation is in its peak of being a hot buzzword. It’ used to be ‘the word genius is bounded around too easily but…’

Whilst doing some research for a previous assignment for my module H817 Openness and Innovation in E-Learning (yep, I’m doing an actual Masters module with the word Innovation in it), I was looking up innovation in e-learning. I came across an article of ‘3 Innovative Things to Do in Your E-learning’. One of them was to include a clickable next button your e-learning slide. Mmmm. When innovative meets clickbait.

Innovation, like perception, depends on your vantage point in the first instance but as a word, a descriptor, an enticing click me title…we need to, as we should with all information, always ensure we are digging that bit deeper, we are thinking critically, we are checking all the vantage points.

And it’s equally important we use the word innovation with thought, thought of our own vantage point, the vantage points of our audience and we frame that innovation within its context.

What may be innovative to us, may not be to another and vice verse. Exploring those differences can be beneficial to both parties but it becomes a lot harder to have those conversations and sift out the golden nuggets if we are deafened by white noise of the term being overused.

Let’s not make innovation a throw away word, one we slip in just to give something some extra ‘pow’ or to gilt our offerings when we know we’ve actually just rearranged the deckchairs on the Titanic.

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