What is innovation? If you are a regular reader of Innovation Excellence, or have poked around on innovation forums on LinkedIn, or have generally taken in oxygen and dispelled carbon dioxide over the past 5 years, chances are you’ve either been asked this question or debated its answer. You are not alone: as innovation has emerged as the latest ubiquitous buzzword within business, its meaning has become less clear. And that’s a problem.
Why? Because in order for companies to develop a culture of innovation, the people involved in innovation (from the practitioners to the executives to the broader employee base) must be able to communicate effectively about innovation — and they aren’t.
We recently conducted a survey of our global panel of innovation practitioners about the challenges associated with communicating about innovation in their companies. The results of that survey are disclosed in the latest 21-page IX Research report entitled, “The Role of Communication in Successful Innovation,” which is currently available to IX Research subscribers.
One topic we explored was the prevalence of companywide definitions for innovation-related terms. Sixty-eight percent of the innovation practitioners we surveyed claim that innovation is at least a top-3 priority for their companies. (Source: IX Research Survey, 3Q2013.) Despite the apparent importance of innovation, there is little evidence of companies taking the time and effort to develop a common language of innovation that cuts across the organization.
We found that most companies lack consistency in defining key terms associated with innovation, instead relying on individuals (and in some cases, teams or departments) to come up with their own definitions, which may be different from those employed by others. With regard to the point made above, only 29% of innovation practitioners we surveyed reported that their company had a clear and consistent definition of innovation that applies across the entire organization. Firms are even less likely to have company-wide definitions for newer terms like open innovation, co-creation, and crowdsourcing; this creates an environment where misinterpretation and confusion can flourish.
Figure: Few Firms Have Clear and Consistent Definitions for Innovation-Related Terms
Source: IX Research Survey, 3Q 2013
Over the next two weeks, I’ll be publishing more insights from this report demonstrating why your company needs a common language of innovation.
Interested in getting an excerpt of this report for free?
Just sign up for the IX Research Panel by March 9, as I’ll be sending one out to all members on March 10.
If you want access to the full report today, simply visit the IX Research page and subscribe. Your 12-month subscription will give you access to this report, all future reports from IX Research, as well as our previously published report, “Success Practices in Co-Creation.”
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Doug Williams, Chief Research Officer and Principal Analyst, leads the development of IX Research. Doug is the primary author of IX Research‘s syndicated research reports, and is responsible for the development of the IX Research Panel and IX Custom Research lines of business. A former analyst at both Forrester Research and JupiterResearch, he launched and led Forrester’s innovation and co-creation practice for product strategy professionals. He authored 36 highly rated Forrester Research reports on innovation, open innovation, and co-creation, and was the primary author and developer of Forrester’s Open Innovation playbook. Doug tweets from @DougWilliamsMHD.