Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Innovation and Disruption - the semantic battle solved

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 22, 2007

I've been thinking a lot about innovation and what it means the past couple of weeks. It's a topic I've delved into before too, with Geoffrey Moore (see posts at end).

My complaint is that "innovation" is used too broadly these days, its meaning is being diluted, it is being used to describe incremental improvements in business process rather than disruptive, which is its more traditional use.

Here is how I can prove it:

-The term "innovation" is being used by a lot of people and companies these days. They would only use the term if it held a special significance in our culture--and it clearly does. But it is appended to things that offer "incremental" improvements and thus they are made to sound better than they would be.

-Our history books are full of innovations--none of them are "incremental" they are all game changing, disruptive technologies. Show me one that is incremental.

 

I can't fight the broad trend to dilute the meaning of innovation. IBM, Geoffrey Moore, et al, have a lot more resources to call upon and can make changes in meaning over time. Therefore, I will give up using innovation in my tag line..."reporting on the business and culture of innovation."

Instead, I'll use this:

"Silicon Valley Watcher: Reporting on the business and culture of disruption."

I think it is a more powerful way of saying "innovation."

- - -

Additional Info:

Innovation inflation - innovation is everywhere, even on business cards

 

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