All too often we are waiting for some big lightning bolt of innovation to hit us out of nowhere.

The Innovation Definition: It’s Not What You Think It Is


Before you read on, take a moment and write down how you define innovation. Write down a few sentences, some words, a few pictures...whatever works for you. Once you’ve written that down, keep reading. And, as you read, think about how your definition matches up to the innovation definition and rationale proposed below.

I suspect innovation isn’t what you think it is.

The big question, what is innovation and how does it apply to your business? Often times innovation gets siloed into a very narrow lane. It’s associated with new technologies and product launches. Or perhaps it’s designated to specific people, usually the ones with the wild blue streaks in their hair. And all too often it’s relegated to specific meetings, the 2-hour long brainstorm sessions that include blank easel pads and scented markers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love scented markers, especially watermelon, but when we narrow innovation we narrow its potential. In fact we miss many opportunities to innovate because we either don’t even try or because we are waiting for it to apply to the areas mentioned above.

I’d like you to consider a different innovation definition that encompasses all people and all times. This is the definition of innovation that we use both internally at LaunchStreet and with our clients to achieve measurable results.


[People each thinking differently about what’s right in front of them
to create differentiated value]

Through our work, experience and clients we’ve gained a rich understanding on how to make innovation something that leads to a competitive advantage both for the individual and the organization as well as how to move innovation from a concept to an action. My team has finely crafted this definition over our 20 plus years of business to reflect that.

Let’s break down the innovation definition parts:


People first, process and technology second. Real innovation happens when each person recognizes they are capable of and responsible for innovation. That’s where the magic happens. Often times clients bring us in, it’s because they invested a lot of time and money in an innovation platform or technology but aren’t getting the results they expected. All the collaboration and idea-sharing technology in the world won’t make a difference if your people don’t believe in their own ability to innovate.

...each thinking differently...

People say that innovation is just connecting the dots in new and meaningful ways. I couldn’t agree more. Shifting your perspective, creative problem solving, challenging assumptions, breaking from the usual patterns - that’s all thinking differently

...about what’s right in front of them…

 All to often we are waiting for some big lightening bolt of innovation to hit us out of nowhere. But real innovation isn’t just about what doesn’t yet exist. It’s about taking the challenges, resources, people, ideas, opportunities, etc. that you have right in front of you and molding them into something amazing. Incredible innovation can happen by taking what you have and doing something new and unexpected with it. create differentiated value…

You’ll hear me say it over and over again, in today’s crazy cluttered world, better is not enough. To win in today’s marketplace you have to be different and you have to be meaningful. It sounds simple, but it involves pushing past the limits of what’s already been done or what we always do to explore unique and ownable spaces in the marketplace.

In the organizations we work with, this is our approach to innovation and how we leverage the innovation definition to help them solve their biggest challenges and go after their greatest opportunities. If you are one of the innovators on LaunchStreet's IQE Pro Innovation Toolkit you know that the tools and resources we provide encompass three categories that reflect this innovation definition:

  • Behavior
  • Culture
  • Momentum

Embracing this definition of innovation allows everyone on the organizational ladder to participate in innovation. It takes innovation out of the narrow lane and into a wide landscape.