My answer is a resounding YES! Arguably, the word has been overused in the past couple of years in particular,  I’d definetly agree. For example, how many big brand corporations have used innovation in their tagline? I can think of at least 6. That said, I think its too easy to dismiss the word innovation as an overused marketing term, let’s call it innowashing  There’s no doubt that its become part of every organization’s vocabulary, for the sake of sheer existence, yet nobody has really cracked the nut. So we’re going to keep hearing the word. I’d equate it to the popularity of the terms Competitive Advantage. In fact I see these two terms living side by side quite comfortably.

Nobody has found the bullet proof recipe for being innovative, getting credit and reaping rewards. There isn’t a one fits all solution and that makes it perplexing for some but full of opportunity for others. I don’t think the word will be retired for some years but I do think we all need to use it a bit more sparingly and recognize the essence of what makes the notion authentic and credible. Its all about the substance.

The company I work for has worked with innovative organizations working to tell their stories – the good, bad, ugly. The reality is, innovation exists everywhere but only matters when it really has an impact. We talk everyday with organizations about how amazing, cutting-edge their products, services, etc are however if truth be told – we need to break the hard news more often and tell them that not everything is TRULY innovative, hence not everyone will care. This is ok, we are ok with this and they need to be ok with it and know that innovation is not a label for everything.  

p.s. As of today, April 7 2008, 6.02 p.m. PST innowashing didn’t generate a single search result in Google, maybe this blog will be the first!   


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