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The word “innovation” has become one of those words that businesses and organizations use to fluff up their mission statements and half-heartedly motivate their workers to work harder.

While all organizations want to be innovative, what does it really mean and how can it be transformed from a company catchphrase to a meaningful action?

Webster defines the term “innovation” as the “introduction of something new.” While that’s all fine and dandy, there are two things that should be noted at this point (1) this isn’t a spelling bee, so we don’t really need this definition, and (2) this definition will hardly inspire anyone to work harder.

Want to transform innovation from a catchphrase to an action? Heed some advice from those in the know:

“Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form.”
— Watts Humphrey, software engineer

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
— Steve Jobs, former CEO, Apple

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”
— Theodore Levitt, economist

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” –Woody Allen, director

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”- J.K. Rowling, author

“Innovation is this amazing intersection between someone’s imagination and the reality in which they live. The problem is, many companies don’t have great imagination, but their view of reality tells them that it’s impossible to do what they imagine.” –Ron Johnson, CEO, JC Penney

“And, thus, we are all looking for the magic formula. Well, here you go: Creativity + Iterative Development= Innovation.” –James Dyson, founder, Dyson

What are you doing in your organization to make “innovation” more than just a catchphrase for success?

[Image: Joi]