What Happened to Innovation?

Last week, I happened upon a Bloomgberg article spotlighting Merck’s new CEO – Kenneth Frazier. The article was named, Merck New CEO Frazier Vows Innovation, Wider Markets. Of course, you can imagine my intrigue as a pharma marketer and lover and advocate for innovation. So, I read on.

Line after line, I read empty meaning to a word I hold so dear. At the end, all that was left with a slight feeling of resentment. Has “innovation” simply become another buzzword with subjective meaning? My colleague Wendy shared a great post with her thoughts on what innovation requires. At it’s root, innovation is about renewing something existing or introducing something new. Our hope is that this new whatever-it-is will solve a problem, bridge a gap and be a positive change within the organization, company, industry and world.

For the purpose of this blog, innovation is two-fold – how it’s done and then how the story is told. For companies who are truly innovative, there is a specific type of leader, culture and goal. You can feel it when you walk into their office. We know these companies. They’re the Facebooks, Amazons, Apples and Googles of the world. For a full list, check out Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies.

As for how you communicate it, my fear is that innovation was inserted into a key message document to perk our ears. It worked, but left me disappointed. As communicators, we need to stop inserting in words that make our clients sound smart, but fall short. Tell us the true story, in their own words. The next time you create a key message matrix, look at it, highlight on the buzzwords, and revise.

Have you seen companies be truly innovative? If so, what are they? Any bad experiences with buzzwords? Please share!

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Posted on December 11, 2010, in Corp Comms, Leadership/Management, Media, Public Relations and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Innovation is a buzzword many see as meaning ‘I’m new here and do things differently’ but which they present to the public as meaning ‘the ideas to bring us onto newer, better things stem from me’. There are too many buzzwords in use these days, but precious little understanding of their true meanings. Perhaps we ought to get back to the old days of hard grind and less of the personal promotion through the media.

    Viki.

    • Yes I quite agree here. We have tried innovative new ideas in education so why are literacy rates plummeting, similarly we have tried them in hospitals and health care, so why are standards of hygiene and care so poor. I believe we should get back to some old fashioned idea and principles.

  2. I am just sick of buzzwords altogether – i was told day after day in different lecture halls to pick out the buzzword and work on that to ‘help’ me answer the actual questions to my assignment!

    It seems the media are driven by buzz words the majority of which carry sexual innuendo if you read the tabloids that is!

  3. “state-of-the-art”, “innovative”, “the first… (enter lots of quantifier)”

    When companies use these “buzzwords” so sparingly, we know that they actually have no USPs.

  4. Most of the companies I have come across claim to be innovative. When you read further you come across things like world class, state of the art ,at the cutting edge etc.These are rather vague terms. Most of the truly innovative companies I know of do not bother with the hype but concentrate their efforts on building beter quality products and services.As a sort of example I was unemployed for a while and sent to a contracted job providor.On the reception desk was somthing called philosophies and core values.THIS INCLUDED THINGS LIKE TO MUTUALLY EXPLORE INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS AND STRATEGIES IN A NON JUDGENMENTAL SETTING SO AS TO EMPOWER CLIENTS TO ACHIEVE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL.It did not say anything about finding people jobs.So I think the more signs they have around the place the less innovative they are.

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