For too long the concept of "innovation" has been seen as a squirrelly topic for many of us. We wrestle with the concept and term in the attempt of trying to get a tangible handle on exactly what innovation is, where it comes from and the precise steps to begin implementing it. To some extent, that is because there is still, to this day, no one “official” agreed upon definition. There are many conflicting opinions and attempts at definition emanating from a wide collection of viewpoints. It means many different things to many different people. Trying to grasp for meaning on a Google search only thickens the question as it produces 575,000,000 results. - Innovation remains a mystery to most.
The word "innovation" also comes pre-loaded with a wide array of personal connotations and cultural misconceptions. As people come into contact with the word, they hear and feel many different things. Some fear it. Some are perplexed by it. Some are excited by it, but nervous not to appear naive or foolish. Some just recall frustrations from earlier attempts where they had no support or guidance. Some dismiss it as applying to the realm of scary, smart people and has nothing to do with them. Some remember sticking their necks out on a new idea that ended very badly for them and have vowed never to try something novel again. Some are so internally energized by it, they find it hard to hold back their enthusiasm. It is hard to build consensus around a word that connotes so many things to so many people. - Innovation needs to be explained with a common language and given a new personal context over a camp fire or a group huddle.
On top of that, the word is used and abused in common every day conversation way too many times, almost to the point of being used as a verbal tick. It has been watered down and is losing its core meaning. "Innovation" has been used as a catch-all to conjure up mystical forces to come to our aid. "What we need to turn this company around is...um...um...innovation!" "Only way we can solve that problem is to.....to...innovate!" "Lets.... innovate.... by changing the color of our products." - Innovation needs to stand for a specific business purpose and process.
We have to deal with this word before we can harness the powerful business tools and dynamic of innovation.
With the formation of the Institute for Innovation Development, under our watch, we will grapple with this word "innovation" with our members. Thanks to the foresight of our Founding Sponsors - which are helping us get started, and agreed with us on the core business need for a growth-focused business innovation institute - the Institute will get to the heart of the question of what exactly is innovation as it relates to a growth-oriented business leader of any size company and determine what are the steps to start harnessing it as a practical, bottom-line business tool to help us grow and differentiate our firms, particularly in a business and cultural environment of accelerating change. Growth, differentiation and a new level of customer/community engagement - that is what innovation means to us and is our rallying point with our members.
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Founder and Dean
Institute for Innovation Development
This article was previously posted on Financial Advisor Magazine Online.
The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and best practices to drive and facilitate their growth, differentiation and unique community engagement strategies. The Institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors - Pershing, Voya Financial, Ultimus Fund Solutions, Fidelity, and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines). For more information or to join click here.