What is all this talk about innovation? Usually just talk.

A recent Globe and Mail article questioned the over use of the word Innovation and how it is at risk of becoming a meaningless term.  You can’t escape the buzz that we need more innovation.  People need to be innovative and so do governments, businesses, cities and even countries.  There are task forces created to determine how we can become more innovative.  Yet the term is so broad that it is almost useless in helping us to take action.

Read a government report on innovation and you see the same suggestions – more people should study science or engineering, put more emphasis on math in schools, reduce taxes, provide more venture funding or more government incentives.  The list goes on but you can almost change the author’s name and leave the report the same. Corporate executives talk about the need to become more innovative as if that wasn’t something they should have been doing all along.

Innovation is one of those terms like quality and sustainability that corporate and government leaders like to toss around to make it appears as if they are out there leading the charge.  The terms are sufficiently ambiguous that they can’t be called to task for not having delivered since no one actually knows what was being promised.

What we need are businesses that produce products and deliver services that people are willing to buy.  They need to sell for more than they cost to deliver without the benefit of subsidies or grants.  They have to be able to be competitive against other products and services to make sure that there is constant improvement and people get the best that business can produce.  This ongoing drive to serve paying customers and make a profit or provide a social benefit is what innovation is about.  Companies that do this on a consistent basis are the innovative ones not the ones that just talk about it.

Published by Vince Bulbrook

Vince has spent over twenty five years working with entrepreneurs providing financial and strategic advice. Much of this advice has centered on business model design and product development. Issues such as determining how to invest product development resources, pricing options, features, distribution and client requests all come in to play. For much of the past fifteen years Vince has operated a business providing CFO and strategy services to small businesses. In this period he spent three years in the product development group of a software company that had a $26-million development budget. Along with overseeing the development of a product he also worked with senior management and the other product teams to determine how to manage the product portfolio. He has advised clients in software, entertainment, digital media, publishing, retail and distribution on product pricing, feature selection, distribution strategy. Prior to founding the advisory business Vince worked with Price Waterhouse and Ernst and Young. Vince graduated from the Ivey School of Business with an HBA and is a Chartered Accountant.

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