One of the first things people say to me when they discover my occupation is “What is Innovation?” or “Can you define Innovation for me, I’m never really sure what it is?”

In fact, if you googled ‘What is Innovation?” you’d receive over 300 million listings. Scour through a few of them and it’s very likely you’ll be left more confused than you were to begin with.  That’s because Innovation is one of those words that is often misused and misappropriated – especially in marketing paraphernalia!

At G2 we prefer to use one particular definition for Innovation in our training programs (see # 1 below), however there are a handful of others that are equally as honest and effective.

In order to clarify ‘What is innovation?’ here’s G2's top 5 definitions:

The Best Definitions for Innovation:

#1. The act of translating an Idea into a reality that creates value, or for which customers will pay.

#2. A new idea that is used constructively to create a more effective device, system or process.

#3. The application of a unique solution that meets new requirements, unarticulated or existing market needs and by doing so creates value.

#4. Positive change that makes a significant impact be that commercial, social and/or environmental.

#5. People creating value by implementing new ideas. 

What is key about all of the examples above is that they involve a new idea that has been implemented, to the point that a level of impact or value can be attributed to it.

My pet hate is when ‘invention’ is confused with Innovation. Invention is only part of the equation. An invention is just an original idea and it will remain just so, unless it solves a problem, need or desire to the extent that it either creates significant value or creates some other significant level of change. Invention is nothing without success.

Innovation on the other hand, is like the prize for winning a challenge. There’s a problem to be solved. Ideas arise, are questioned and moulded. A solution is discovered, tested and launched. The solution is highly sought after and valued, to the extent that significant rewards and/or change ensues. The prize – Innovation.

What is Innovation? Ultimately, Innovation is winning.



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