A buzz word to be sure, what is innovation really? An improvement? Not always. To innovate means to evolve.
Let’s take a recent innovation, the iPhone. The iPhone took existing technologies and merged them into one device. It wasn’t anything new…really… Let’s take an older one. The innovation of sliced bread is that we sliced it! An evolution on the presumed “lump of bread.”
But innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s a shared evolution. For example, what’s YouTube without its users generating content? Though YouTube was the innovation its users were the true innovators. To give another example, people were sharing photos long before Instagram. So what was the innovation there? The scale of photo sharing Instagram provided, the immediacy of it, creating a temporary or even disposable way of sharing photos?
So how do I define innovation? As a different way of doing things. Not necessarily a better way of doing things and not necessarily a replacement for the previous way of doing things. Just different. Let’s face it nothing will ever replace the feeling of flipping through an old family photo album. But when enough people flip through enough photo albums at some point and time someone is going to come up with a way to do things differently. And from there an innovation can arise.