Innovative – What Exactly Does it Mean?

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of what does innovative mean is as follows: Using new methods or ideas but there’s so much more to innovation than that!  Innovation is very much part and parcel of the world we live in today.  The world wouldn’t be what it is today without innovation, it constantly evolves, new advances appear every day and people strive to improve in business which means lots of exciting new products and services.  Technology itself is the greatest innovation of the 20th century (and the 21st century to date), it’s also incredibly fast-changing which means it is always innovative because new ideas and products constantly update it.  Innovation by today’s standards is also about reinventing products and processes, changing them, disrupting them so they become, well, even more innovative!

Innovation in basic form includes developing new processes, conjuring up new products and changing business models in order to fit the requirements of the customer.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg though.  We are all innovators, all of us have ideas but it’s the ideas that come to fruition and quite literally change the world and how we live that are the biggest innovation of all – back to that technology example, Cloud Computing is one of the biggest innovations of recent years.  Television was one of the biggest 70 years ago and the airplane another, 115 years ago and look where both are now, how they’ve evolved with newer innovation.

Innovation Can Also Be Disruption

Inventing something new doesn’t necessarily mean innovation.  What does innovative mean? It is not just about developing newness; it is also about disrupting old ideas, so they update themselves. So what does innovative mean? It’s not only about being brand new, but also about the timing.  The iPhone was an innovation – but it keeps on innovating with every new generation.  Each new generation iPhone harnesses the latest technology, so it makes life easier, the aim being that we have everything quite literally at our fingertips, that in itself is innovation although the original idea, the iPhone was the novel or the brand-new innovative idea.

What does Innovative Mean? Timing is Important!

The timing factor is so important.  Let’s take FaceTime on the iPhone.  It first appeared in 2010 and was quickly adopted by billions of users worldwide.  As much as it is the most phenomenal piece of technology engineering, it couldn’t have appeared with such success years before.  That’s because the mobile phone was still in its infancy, and not many people had one until the 1990s (and while they were innovative then – they were pretty basic by today’s standards!). Whereas actually videophone technology had first appeared in 1970 by AT&T.  It’s just that there wasn’t sufficient technology and technology was too basic at the time for it to roll out in the seventies.  By 2010 though, technology was ready for that innovation.

We Are All Innovators In Our Own Way

Some people are born innovators, others fuel ideas – both are still innovative!  Yes, without doubt, people have different brains but there’s a lot of belief that innovation is a skill, and it can be taught.  Lots of ideas come from discussion and brainstorming which is why we are all equipped to be innovators.  If we all had the right people around us and the opportunity to really dream big, we could dream up some very exciting, mind-blowing ideas!  It’s getting those to work that’s the biggest problem and that’s why real innovators are leaders (more on that later).

So Who is an Innovative Person and What Does Innovative Mean?

what does innovative mean
What does innovative mean?

Everyone can innovate but there are some qualities that innovators are born with.  The ability to think outside of the box is one.  That means to see things differently and not be frightened to experiment outside the boundaries.  If we all stayed within the same boundaries, the world would never move forwards.  We’d still be considering how to move heavy rocks from one area to another, having not invented the wheel! There’s another interesting definition here: What does innovation mean?

Risk Taking

An innovator is a risk-taker.  They’re not frightened of trying out something new, on the contrary, they can see the benefits and are willing to make mistakes along the road to get to their goal. 

Understand The End User

Equally, an innovative person knows what they want to achieve, they understand what the user wants out of their idea, so they stay focused on that, developing their product or service with the end user always at front of mind. 

They Have Great Interpersonal Skills

They’re also good with people with excellent interpersonal skills so you’ll find the best innovators are collaborative, utilizing the skills of others to get to their goal. 

Critical Thinkers

They’re also critical thinkers that consider situations strategically to come up with good solutions and importantly, most innovators are leaders (consider Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates etc.).  A successful innovator can dream up an idea, communicate why it’s necessary and deliver it.

They Challenge the Norm

An innovative person will always want to challenge themselves and the norm and even when they don’t realize it, they’re learning.  They have a desire to improve their knowledge, to fill in the gaps, to dig deep and to understand.  This is so important, because to innovate, you need to get to grips with how to do it and understand the necessary ingredients needed to make your idea come to fruition.  Knowledge and learning are all part of the innovation process.

Finally, an innovator isn’t frightened of what other people think.  There will always be negativity along the road to a new innovation but listening to that negativity hinders progress.  If you have an idea that you really, really believe in – don’t be put off, think of the innovators of this century and those from the last and remind yourself that if it wasn’t for them, we probably wouldn’t be enjoying all the benefits of mobile technology, Cloud computing, virtual reality and Social Media.

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