The Technology Diet
Being in the Buy Mood

Innovation Wednesday: Passionate Engagement

If this is Wednesday, it must be innovation day. Albeit, it's already 5 o'clock and I have been dying to get to the blog but...clients have to come first. Speaking of clients - watch this space! Do I ever have some exciting announcements for you -- just in time for Christmas.

Let's talk innovation, though. Here are some descriptions from the Innovation Forum -

Sophie Vanderbroek,Chief Tech Officer from Xerox said, "Innovation is creativity plus entrepreneurship."

Cisco Senior VP, Daniel Scheiman, said, "Innovation comes from your community." Following this with, "HR does not know who the innovators are." And, "HR tends to promote politicians not disrupters." Meaning, success comes to those who "fail forward."

Something that really struck me about the Forum was the "language of Innovation." Will Edwards of Advanced Micro Systems spoke of the language, and how it's one way you can get off track. His exact words were, "Language can kill you. You need to create a new vocabulary." To that, I say, "Hear, hear!"

Here's a list of words that were repeated over and over, and input on what the "language of innovation" should be:

  • Passion
  • Engagement
  • Framework
  • Co-creative
  • Stakeholders
  • Community
  • Building credibility
  • Skin in the game

As I wrote down those words, on day two, in response to the number of times I was hearing them, I was secretly thinking, "We need a new way to approach this. To discuss this. To talk innovation. Using the tired old words of the last century doesn't do it."

Yes, they are reflective of innovation - the kind of activity described here and throughout both the Forum and the blog but...but...but...they don't do the concept justice. And, they don't being to reflect or describe what innovation in a world of community participation really is.

So, the challenge, as I see it - is as much about the language of innovation, as it is about innovation itself. We live in a world that depends on communication - on the ability to share stories and experiences and to have the person you're speaking with actually understand what you're talking about.

How can that be more effective? Within the variances of all the companies that participated in the forum, speakers, attendees, and those who served us, innovation is something unique and special. Apart from common misconception. While the University at Colorado Springs may now be offering a Bachelor of Innovation program (as per the forum blog), the words it used to attract students are... ordinary.Components_of_innovation

Innovation demands extra-creative thought and disruptive processes. Innovation requires outlandish, extraordinary methods. It requires coloring outside the lines - maybe, not even recognizing the lines.

Innovation will not be satisfied with less than outrageous thinking. Forget out of the box - start thinking out of the universe! Beyond the sky! On the other side of the moon! And, I'm NOT talking about the Wizard of Oz. How about the Wizard of Now?

Here are some words and phrases that might suffice - from me:

  • Creativeship
  • Bold Manuevers
  • Gigantic Thought
  • Antimanagement
  • Harmonic dissodance (from Will)
  • Musical stories
  • The color of magic
  • The sound of creation
  • Grasping the invisible

What are the words you think of when you think "innovation?" What do you think the University of Colorado should have in their Bachelor of Innovation program?


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Michael Wagner

You are asking great questions and have my mind racing.

In part I hear you say we need a shift in vocabulary because words like "innovation" can be given tacit acceptance without any real change taking place.

There is a kind of "head nod" that I get from clients around creativity and innovation but nothing happens.

Earlier this year I studied for three days with a pair of toy inventors just to gain greater skill in leading "Bold Manuevers".

Sometime you have to "march off the map"!

Thanks for enlarging this conversation.


Thanks, Yvonne, for your fantastic coverage of the Fortune Innovation Forum. If you come across examples of companies or organizations that are experimenting with a new vocabulary of innovation, feel free to drop me a line at the Business Innovation Insider, and I'll highlight them on the blog!

Looking forward to the next Innovation Wednesday... Err, make that the next Color of Magic Wednesday!

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