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Change that results in a (hopefully) clever improvement. I think I used to think bigger, more radical shifts, but now also think slight, really clever adjustments. I also think more in terms of style now too. The word itself also brings up the idea of marketing jargon and people over-using that term when it's not warranted, which makes the clever, REAL innovations stand out even more, actually.

I think of it more in terms of a state of mind. Companies which I would describe as innovative (like 3M) have an open-source attitude to freshness and broadening their thinking through broadening the experience of their staff. They are willing to let their employees spend time being exposed to outside stimuli rather than sit at their desks. This, I think, sparks the the lateral thoughts that inspire all great innovations. Of-course, the other great thing that truly innovative companies do is allow time and space to incubate and greenhouse good ideas. A lot of it is down to how comfortable companies feel about staff spending time on projects which have no immediate payback, and so short-termism does not sit easily with a culture of innovation. The best example of this of-course, is Google.

When you think of "innovation" what do you think of?
Process of rapid failing

What kind of companies?

What is innovative in your mind?
Brompton bikes (but it goes against what i said up front: they're an old skool operation)

What does the idea conjure up (or not)?
A bunch of people building stuff, breaking stuff and building more stuff.

When you think of "innovation" what do you think of?
Innovation = Change (or creativity) with a business scarf.
I think it is a new, useful and efficient way to combine older elements.
What is innovative in your mind?
Something that allows to recognize a pattern where nothing was visible.
What kind of companies?
Ideo, 3M, Toyota? But I would like to include some good directors (Burton, Wenders, Lynch…) musicians, artists ecc…
What does the idea conjure up (or not)?
Actually I don’t like that word, because often it is just a promise, just a road to auto-celebration and gratification. Let’s start innovating the word.

This is a link to the most innovative companies in the world put together Innovaro.
Interesting to see the countries that most innovative companies are born


Childish wonder repackaged for a hungry business world?

I've been taking some linguistics classes lately. Linguistic innovators are people like E-40 and Snoop Dogg (-izzle)
and the Simpsons (cromulent).

O.E.D. says the word has been unchanged since about 1550. A question for people with more years: was this word around for your entire career? Did it become more common or take on a different meaning at some point?

"Innovation" is the word that designers use when they want to charge 2.5xFees, want to be profiled in BusinessWeek instead of CR, or want to speak to the CEO instead of customers.

Perspiration is still king.

innovation is the challanging the way things are done. It is the courage to ask the question why do we do things the way we do. To use a metaphor innovation can be described as rethinking the design of a bulb. Those we have now works prefectly, fits the lamps and they have always looked like that.

Inovative companies: Toyota, Google, Firefly tonics and jazz musicians

I have a few innovative thoughs on my mind about life, work. I try to innovate every day of my life. To be more specific - for example the role of media planners, the form and purpose of inisghts, the dinners I prepare and the way I serve them for my family.

Innovation = jazz jam

technical creativity for business

often involves a process/it being managed/happenming in stages/being somehow organised

and it tends to connote 'gradual' evolution not breakthrough ideas (you need to use phrases like breakthrough innovation to say it isnt just tweaking)

I think of a new PDF screen being innovation

I think of something really wild and surprising as being something else - I'd use words which are less corporate

I dont think of google doing innovation
I think they 'come up with great new ideas'

(I wanted to use the word IDEATION in my last book's title but my publisher wouldnt let me so i got stuck with innovation)


I think innovation is a delicate combination of strategy and risk that pushes not only a product but an entire category into new territory. It causes an echo effect that inspires other products/ categories to do the same. Sometimes this means thinking of something in a new way that is either simple and intuitive and/ or smart and very compliated. It feels very contagious but also very difficult to pull off. In my head I think I equate innovation to revolution.

As far as brands that do this? Perhaps Jet Blu or Virgin Airlines and how they're changing what people expect from an airline. Consumers finally feel like their needs are being heard by this innovation and are responding with loyalty and enthusiasm.

Guys I am stunned that there are so many ideas and large companies here!

Surely real innovators are people who are out there doing it, rather than engaging in pseudo academic posturing?

Surely the real innovators are those who are trying to topple the bigger incumbents. how about this list as a starter for ten...

innovation is a word that should be tossed from the marketing dictionary- much like quality and value. It holds little meaning today, and is used by corporations, not consumers.

I think the word innovation has been utterly debased. Every company, even paper clip companies based in Aldershot, have some sort of mission statement that includes innovation as a strategy. The reality is that few few companies actually innovate. Innovation these days is sadly the territory of line extension etc, rather than genuine innovation.


1) Strategically-driven Creative Rebellion

2) The Happy Corp, Naked, American Apparel, Vice, Girl Skateboards, PSFK, Staple...

3) Inventing or reinventing a category.

4) Punk rock

That's Staple Design (http://stapledesign.com), not Staples..Just wanted to clarify.

Interesting comments. Innovation is one of those concepts that has been devalued by marketing communications. Yet it is also the very thing we love when it happens in a product field we are engaged in. Tiptronic is a favorite of mine, Vac U Vin, Google Earth ... my 40 mpg TDI Golf (with Tiptronic).

The challenge is to deliver a solution to a problem that makes life a little better, yes?

Then marketing communications drown such things in a hype that works to devalue the idea.

Dyson is good at owning its innovation with industrial design and marketing strategies that emphasize functionality.

Innovation seems to be an opportunity everywhere (the perspiration can lead to it or can doggedly defend it). Look at Day Chocolate Co. Innovative contracts with cocoa producers, innovative marketing that connects your pleasure from the chocolate to the relationships with the growers that provide the quality of cocoa. They passed the credit from the marketer/manufacturer to the grower. In a small way they started the process of changing the way we relate to all sorts of food stuff.

Response to Zach (I have a few years): Innovation has been around for ever. I think the concept has become debased as companies focused on leveraging assets to increase a return on capital rather than bring something new to the market. It is easier to take cash out of the cow than feed a rising star - to borrow from BCG. Consolidation, economies of scale and so forth benefited business a lot more than it benefited the customer. Maybe with the exception of bringing good quality products affordably to large consumer groups (Toyota).

I also think we all got sidetracked by the power of psycographics in a mass mediasphere. In the new media world the artifice of marketing is revealed and rejected. We still need to entertain but now it is simply a means to clearly communicate a truth. McCann used to say "The truth well told" was their vision. Today that motto is really relevant. So companies need to innovate to differentiate and build close ties to their customers. This is a not the same as differentiation through attitude (ask Russell about this re: Nike) for example.

The cynicism expressed about the concept is natural. Marketers have been lying for a generation. This is the legacy we deal with in an age when truth tends to prevail and is expected by smart well informed consumers.

Good conversations .. thanks RD

Innovation is the capacity of executing and delivering practical creativity to solve old problems for business, life, Earth.

Companies: www.dandelife.com www.playawaydigital.com

What is innovative in your mind?
Innovative are the actions that enables us on doing things using the past as repertoire to bring the future faster. Like mp3 players for surfers.

What does the idea conjure up (or not)?
Time travellers that, when they arrive at the present, have their memories erased and it takes a while so those memories come up again to be used.

Innovation is about going beyond what is known, by challenging conventions and traveling further than what we think is possible. It’s about Honda...not Toyota. I give props to Toyota for being a smartly run business, but I think Honda is a more innovative and visionary company. Look at everything Honda has done over the past 40 years. They were the first to meet and exceed what was once thought of as the impossible standards of the 1970’s Clean Air Act, the first to sell a hybrid vehicle and now the first to sell a fuel cell vehicle. Not to mention the fact that the new Honda Jet is yet another expression of Honda’s engineering prowess and hyper-efficiency philosophy. Yet Honda does not boast about their achievements...unlike the PR machine run by Toyota. And in a way...isn’t letting your actions speak for themselves in an overly marketed society a pretty innovative concept? Long live the innovator!

Looked at over the very long term there has been very little change or innovation in what is REALLY important to people. ie Relationships with other human beings.

Research shows that the happiest people have : Love, Sex, Friends, Children and Health.

Wealth is what people THINK they want.

Innovations have been largely focused on WORK and WEALTH which are actually not that relavant to people's happiness.

So in terms of real social impotance, innovations that have helped with Love, Sex, Friends, Children and Health are the most significant.

I would tentatively suggest:
Condoms for sex
written communication (pen+paper, internet etc) for friendship
Hygiene/Health products (Soap, water purification, antibiotics) for health

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