Defining Innovation in One Word

by Jason Williams

MentorEdge’s Ravi Kikan (India) posted this challenge on the Future Trends LinkedIn group discussion page. Based on the responses, it is nearly impossible to define innovation, let alone in just a single word.

Innovation means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Nearly 300 people from across the globe have responded to Ravi’s post with 272 of these respondents providing their own one-word definition for innovation.

As you can see in the word cloud below, answers are all across the board:

What really stands out is that 272 one-word definitions were provided, and there are 182 unique responses on the list. That’s right, 182 different one-word definitions for innovation. No wonder this is a concept many organizations find it difficult to define. One responder even suggested that a “true innovation can never be described in one word, because it is best described by the moment of total silence created when all the people who said it will never work realize they are dead wrong.”

Top 5 one-word definitions for innovation:

  • Creativity
  • Change
  • Transformational
  • Different
  • New

Can you think of a single word that best captures the definition of innovation?

Are there any words on this list that surprise you?

Are there any new words you would add to the list?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Jason is a corporate Marketing Director and the Communications Director for Centric: Indy’s Innovation Network. Centric strives to elevate Indianapolis as a globally recognized center of innovation. You can connect with Jason on Twitter: @jawbrain.