Last week, we defined “invent” as the act of creating something purely new, as part of our 3 I’s of Innovation blog series that also includes “iterate” and “interrupt.”
In an age where every idea has already been brought to life, it’s next to impossible to create something purely new. Over time, the definition of invent has blurred the lines of iterate and interrupt (not to mention innovate), morphing it into an often overused marketing buzzword that runs the spectrum of merely updating to revolutionizing an idea.
When it comes to your path to innovation, what does “invent” mean to you? Are you trying to create something new or are you trying to solve an entirely and fundamentally new problem?
Inventions for Every Day or Just Every Day Inventions?
James Dyson said, “To be an inventor, you have to believe there is a better way of doing something.” It’s easy to take for granted how rare invention really is. Conversationally, we reference modern day inventions, like Facebook, the LED bulb, self-driving cars and the Dyson vacuum but many might describe them less as inventions and more as interruptions. The fact is, fundamentally, none of these examples are the first of their kind, yet they solve new problems and offer new benefits to the marketplace.
In many ways, and for many people, AOL was the Internet before the Internet, and its member-created communities (complete with searchable “Member Profiles,” in which users would list pertinent details about themselves), were arguably the service’s most fascinating, forward-thinking feature. – Digital Trends
Unarguably, these products, like the self-driving car or the LED bulb, revolutionized our world, improving global communication and increasing energy efficiency. Yet, at heart, are they not iterations of their original forms (or inventions) – the car and the lightbulb? As our world rapidly evolves, organizations face a grueling quest to invent something new, as well as the risk of giving their products an expiration date by choosing not to innovate.
Change the Language
Perhaps the solution is found in the way these words are used and applied in your organization; the 3 I’s of Innovation have dedicated dictionary definitions but defining them in a realistic, unique way for your business might reduce the noise of these powerful buzzwords. How would you define the examples provided in this post? Is invention still possible or are the products and services we enjoy merely interruptions of those inventions?