Is the Word Innovation Over Used


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In the 1970s, Aaron Marcus programmed a prototype desktop publishing page layout application for the Picturephone ™ at AT&T Bell Labs. He became the first designer to program virtual reality art-spaces while a faculty member at Princeton University, and directed an international team of visual communicators as a Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. A storied career in User Design.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Experiences in User Design

Joe: Are the concepts of Design Thinking and Innovation new?

Aaron: Well these are buzzwords. They are popular. There’s no doubt about it. But in my own humble opinion the kind of introduction to design thinking that I had as a graduate student is not too much different from what people are being introduced in the business world today. It’s just being given the latest version of clothes to look stylish and to help a lot of consultants and design firms market their services to people who may feel a little insecure about design or about being an “artist” or not, and not understanding a lot of the iterative processes, the various stages of development of products or services. I’ve seen it – I’ve got to admit that’s it’s an effective marketing technique for services of design consultants and design firms.

Joe: Well I kind of smile a little bit because I’ve never seen so many innovation consultants and startup consultants. I didn’t know that there were that many people that actually started up companies before.

Aaron: The other term that’s used and overused is innovation. I mean people want to not only innovate but disruptively innovate. And it’s kind of interesting to compare a lot of what I’ve read and seen with two recent projects of ours for Siemens Corporation. We spent a good part of the year trying to visualize their disruptive innovation process which they’ve been perfecting for years within one particular advanced R&D group. We studied video tapes; we studied many documents. We tried to encapsulate that process that takes place over specific activities and specific segments of time to involve technology companies, technology explorers within Siemens, and the business units that need to absorb new technologies into the processes, into their product and service offerings. So we’ve ourselves actually done a very detailed study of this innovation process, and it’s quite complex, it’s quite specific.

Siemens doesn’t want to talk a lot about that outside of Siemens. We did do another project called The Innovation Machine in which my associates and I did a study of innovation theory and tried to present a series of conceptual functions for a mobile device that would assist people within an organization or a corporation to be more creative and to be more innovative.

In fact everyone in general is somewhat innovative and creative but very often people within a large organization may not actually know how to turn their latest brilliant idea into something more to combine that with other people’s critiques and assistance to get it into a kind of internal marketplace for new ideas and to be in the process of assembling teams of people who might be able to implement something. So what our project – and we published a paper about this in the proceedings of the Design, User Experience and Usability Conference in 2013 – we explained this conceptual design which is also part of a series of projects we’ve developed called the machine projects, like The Green Machine to persuade people to save energy, or The Story Machine to persuade families to tell more stories.

In the case of The Innovation Machine we were trying to persuade people to be more effective and efficient in their innovative activities and their ideas and to turn a quick notion or an initial concept into something more concrete to put it into an internal marketplace where people could decide to contribute time to it and so on, to see it all the way through to completion. So yes I do agree that we see more and more people labeling themselves Chief Corporate Innovator, but I think those are somewhat hyperbolic in some cases, and again a technique for marketing services to business clients.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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