Few weeks ago, I had the most interesting though the weirdest conversation with one of my friends in a bar. He was telling me that he was becoming averse to any kind of innovation and was claiming that starting this year, he will stop buying new devices or products and will only live with what was created so far. Apart of having spotted a sort of midlife crisis in his statement, we started to have a vigorous conversation about it and the real meaning behind it. Few weeks later, I started to understand what was misleading us in our conversation. The definition of innovation was not properly used by any of us. (and we started to get joined by more people as we speak). We all got confused about where this conversation was heading.
We tend to use the word ‘innovation’ everywhere and we link it to many word association – some examples here from Thesaurus.com can help us – ‘change’, ‘novelty’, ‘modernization’, ‘modification’, ‘shift’ or ‘newness’.
This is where we mislead ourselves and, perhaps, why the notion of innovation might scare some of us. We use the buzzword in any situation to show that we move forward, fast…Innovation is coming from the latin innovare, in meaning ‘into’ and novus meaning ‘new’. So we can understand that innovation is about doing something differently, rather than creating something from nothing (invention) or doing the same thing better (improvement).
So, we have to understand innovation in very different ways sometimes. A lot of stories are coming to us and they are real innovation, real far from the new iPhone or the new trendy service delivered by a new App. All the stories might be about seeing the world in a different way. Not inventing something new but maybe making things approachable for different people (electric devices for third world poor people), giving another purpose to existing products we use everyday (life hacking movement can say a lot about it) or just bringing opportunities to people with existing devices. Innovation is not about obsolescence but about having a different approach with consumers habits or behaviours
So my friend can stop buying all the new devices that the market will offer him in the next few years. If he’s innovative enough, he will always be able to do incredible and new things with what he already possesses. Because the real innovation stands in simplification and availability.