Defining Innovation

“Innovation is the process of creating and delivering new customer value in the marketplace.”

I personally subscribe to this definition of innovation, and I think this book is perhaps one of the most important reads on the subject. This might be the first book you should read as you begin learning about product development; it’s that good.*

Defining innovation is important because it’s such an overused buzzword. It’s also important because it’s pretty hard to dig into the deeper layers of a subject if you can’t even define the top layer.

According to Carlson and Wilmot, innovation is NOT…

…a cool new design

…a new business model

…a technological breakthrough, like a new resistor

They argue (convincingly) that these things – in and of themselves – cannot be innovations. Only when NEW VALUE is DELIVERED to a CONSUMER does something qualify as an innovation.

You might consider it semantics, but I think it’s actually the backbone of product development.

*It’s always risky to endorse something some emphatically. Maybe the authors of this book are actually terrible people, or maybe the company is doing something really negative to the environment. I have no knowledge of these things; I just like this book. Don’t judge me. Also, this endorsement is probably only for the first half of the book; it somewhat loses steam toward the end.