Why are there so many different innovation definitions?

innovation definitions

How do you foster an innovative workplace? Are you looking to develop products or programs? Are you interested in increasing quality of life, or are you interested in increasing efficiency and decreasing costs? These are all questions that you have to answer when considering engaging in innovation. There can be many different answers to these questions that can help guide your path to innovation; similarly, there are many different definitions of innovation because innovation is used in a multitude of ways by a diverse set of people and organizations.

For example, innovation for a nonprofit may be completely different than innovation in a for-profit company. A nonprofit company is going to take into greater consideration the population that they are attempting to serve, and how they can do that in the most cost-efficient way possible. Perhaps they’ll focus more on the crowdsourcing of ideas, and engage in volunteer focus groups because it’s especially important for nonprofits to be budget conscious. While cost efficiency may also be important when a for-profit company is innovating, these companies may have greater potential for starter capital in order to get a wider outreach and to pay for research and development of new products and programs.

Likewise, innovation for a public service or government program may be different than innovation for a corporation. The desired end result for the public service or government arena may focus on helping citizens feels as though their concerns are being heard and noticed. For a corporation, the aim may be creating methods and systems that help save money over time. While these aims may seem unrelated, both can help to increase the quality of life: in government, for the citizens, and in the corporation, for the employees.

Defining innovation and determining the goals for your particular organization are imperative. Thinking through the questions that you must ask yourself in order to reach the definition of innovation (what are we hoping to get out of this, who will be impacted, how do we create an environment that fosters innovation in the way that we desire, etc.) will create a much more robust, developed innovation program, which will increase your chance for success.

You can download the above innovation infographic, and find out more about defining innovation for your organization, here.

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