What Is Innovation?

Innovation is like light. For ages, scientists have debated what light really is. Is it a wave, a particle, or both? 

Innovation, likewise, is tricky to define. Is it a noun, or a verb? Is it a process? Or, is it people? Recently, The Harvard Business Review searched their archive to shed some light on this "chicken or egg" puzzle.

Innovation can be defined in various ways, but what it it really? Ultimately, innovation is a practice done by people. However, it's not just DNA. It can be learned. Furthermore, innovation is more of a verb than a noun. It’s a verb that produces nouns.

The Best Innovation is Done on Napkins

Recently I tried something really different at one of my workshops. To demonstrate the versatility of the 30 Minute Innovation method, which can be done with high tech, or even low tech methods, we wrote our ideas on actual napkins! Yes, the best ideas really are written on napkins.


Innovation is Not Complicated

Everyone loves innovation. Everyone wants innovation. Nevertheless, innovation is elusive.

One reason why innovation is difficult is because of how it’s been defined. The word “innovation” means something to everyone. It’s become a buzzword, synonomous with “cool.” It’s come to mean everything, and nothing. If something isn’t clearly defined, how can you do it?

Ron Ashkenas, in a great article in Forbes entitled “It’s Time To Simplify Innovation,” explains that we need to:

  • Eliminate mission creep – have a clear definition.
  • Demystify the process – have a clear method.
  • Help managers enable a

Is English the Language of Innovation?

Mark Zuckerberg wowed his Chinese and Internet audiences when he addressed a group of students in Mandarin. That’s cool. It’s always great to see Americans who can speak more than one language.

In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Bill Fisher writes about “Why English, Not Mandarin, Is the Language of Innovation.”

Fisher outlines several reasons why English is widely accepted in business:

  • English is the language of the Internet
  • English is the international language of business
  • English is the basis for popular computer languages

In San Antonio, Spanish is spoken proudly.

The Innovative Power of a Mantra

Mantras are powerful things.

Guy Kawasaki, serial entrepreneur and former Apple evangelist, says that companies and organizations should dump their mission statements. Instead, he advocates mantras.

Mantras are clear, concise answers to the existential question, “Why are we here?” That answer should be stated in terms of value for the customer, not in terms of products. It should be very short, no longer than three words, or 10 syllables.

For instance, on a recent episode of Shark Tank, Mark Cuban gave one million dollars to Austin-based Beat Box Beverages. Beat Box sells box wine with