Following up the Taking the NO Out of InNOvation presentation at the KanSPRA session back in October, Kristin Magette, Director of Communications at Eudora Public Schools, tweeted me to ask how you can tell when yesterday’s fantastic new innovation is today’s status quo and is ripe for an innovation opportunity.

That’s an intriguing question whose answer is, wait for it, more questions! And the questions I’d ask all spring from a Twitter-sized innovation definition I use:

Innovation is a fundamental, valuable improvement relative to the status quo.

Breaking the definition into pieces creates a series of questions to better understand if yesterday’s new and innovative thing needs to be freshened up in a big or even small way.

  • For “Fundamental” – Ask, “Does the innovation still relate to something important for our organization and/or our audiences?” (If it’s not that important of an area, it’s probably not worth the time spent to innovate something new.)
  • For “Valuable” – Is the previously new innovation failing to now deliver maximum value to target audiences? Is the performance advantage it originally created much less now?
  • For “Relative to the Status Quo” – Does the innovation now seem ho hum? Have competitors matched its features, benefits, and performance? Have people forgotten what things were like before the innovation?

If you can get through those questions with mainly “Yes” answers, it’s definitely time for innovating what was previously innovative but has seen better days. If you hit “No” answers, your time is probably best spent looking at other areas for a strong innovation opportunity.

As with many tools, I worked this one out with a hand-written flow chart, so it’s included here if that type of strategic thinking tool is more suited to your style.

How do you determine when yesterday’s new and innovative has become ho hum and status quo, creating an innovation opportunity?  - Mike Brown



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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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