Innovation is taking a risk on a new approach for an old challenge

Sometimes when a word is really powerful, it gets over-used enough that its power dwindles. This happens in cycles, like how “collaboration” was sorely stretched in recent years as institutions got hip to open source culture, and now as “innovation” is being slid into the name of any new effort from any organization aiming to look forward-thinking.

That over-use doesn’t mean the word isn’t effective. It is. But it should mean it requires defense. So when I was asked to submit to business marketing magazine SmartCEO my own definition of the word and my process for employing it, I tried to do just that.

Here’s what I shared:

It’s a word that can be over-used but innovation is simply being willing to take a risk on a new approach for an old challenge. I don’t know why we’re on this planet, but I feel comfortable prioritizing doing just that — getting smarter about how we spend our time. For me, that means thinking about how to better strengthen a tech community, like with journalism and events. That means experimenting with connecting people by mixing the digital and the analog. I best challenge myself to do things differently by dropping the barriers — free range thinking on my bicycle does it best, but writing and speaking with other smart people creatively and without boundaries does the job too. Focus on mission, not method. That way you’re not wedded to an old way of doing something, just a goal.

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