One of the more over used terms today in marketing is innovation. It seems everyone wants to claim innovation in order to be perceived as leading edge. Just mere mention of the word implies something fresh, new, and exciting. However, true innovation is something rare.
Let’s start with the Merriam-Webster definition of innovation which is the introduction of something new or a new idea, method or device. To innovate means there is an element of experimentation. Therefore, one litmus test among those claiming to innovate is whether or not they are truly experimenting. With experimentation comes failure yet we often see businesses shy away from experimentation because admission of failure is not often well received nor something one wants to admit.
Recently, I returned from Israel where I had an opportunity to meet with 25+ NGO’s (not-for-profit organizations) who are pushing the envelope in order to improve the lives of those needing help. Each day consisted of a lifetime of experiences. Each non profit innovated yet they were not obsessed about referring to themselves as innovative. Instead, they were more focused on their mission and the actual improvements they would bring to those afflicted.
The photo above is a picture I took while in the Negev desert. You have read that correctly. The transformation of this parch land into something fertile is truly remarkable. To observe, first-hand, the development of inhabitable land into plush, rich soil is innovative on many levels. Yet, when meeting with scientists as well as some of the Bedouin occupants, our conversation was more about:
- How these goals were achieved, and
- The implications going forward.
Therefore, I challenge us as marketers to default into a mindset of objectives, solutions, and implications instead of cheaply labeling something as innovative because it is convenient marketing speak in order to gain attention.
About the Author: Steve Levine is a marketing insights strategist, innovator who transforms information into stories that bring meaning to a full-service marketing solution. He consults with The Incandescent Group clients as a part of our team-based service.