Don’t debate whether or not it is an innovation; just do it!
I sometimes hear argument about whether this or that proposition represents an innovation or not: to which extent is it really new? How do we know we are the first? How different is it from this other proposition?
Who cares? If it creates value, it’s worth pursuing. It may not be new-to-the-world, but if it is new-to-my-corner-of-the-world it is innovation all right.
40 years ago, in Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers described the life-cycle of an innovation as it journeys from innovators to early adopters, early majority, late majority, to finally reach laggards. As long as there is a market segment to be reached and value to be made from it, the innovation is alive and kicking. It may not be as exciting as it reaches the late stages of the journey, but innovation it remains. As a matter of fact, some small incremental innovations may have to be added to the initial one to make it more easily adopted by the late majority. For instance, while early adopters of the iPhone were prepared to put off with the short battery autonomy, the late majority will certainly require this and other teething problems to be fixed before taking the plunge.
Every second spent debating the nature of the beast is a second lost: while you talk about it, others who have a greater sense of urgency are doing it.
In The ten faces of innovation, Tom Kelley provides one of the best illustrations I have ever heard of: that of Tellme’s VP of Caller Experience, Gary Clayton, receiving during a business dinner feedback from a prospect about an issue with Tellme software platform, placing a discrete phone call to his staff, and getting it fixed before dessert!Arguably such performance had never been seen by the prospect before and in that sense was an innovation in its own right, but that is not the point.
The point is: don’t debate it, just do it, innovate today!