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Is Innovation the Most Abused Word In Business?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the give-it-a-name dept.

Businesses 287

dcblogs writes "Most of what is called innovation today is mere distraction, according to a paper by economist Robert Gordon, written for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Real innovations involve things like the combustion engine or air conditioning, not the smartphone. The paper includes thought experiments to help you gain more respect for genuine innovations such as indoor plumbing. The Financial Times has posted the complete 25-page paper.(pdf)"

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It is abused but I think this sets too high a bar. (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 2 years ago | (#41176385)

An innovation can be as small as a neat new way of handling some user interaction which nobody has done before or a heuristic which solves a hard problem but at the same time people from buisness or management backgrounds or courses do set an insanely low bar for what they consider "innovation".

If you were to believe buisness grads then "innovation" includes their "ideas" along the lines of "a website like *only better*" or "that thing which everyone is already doing but which I think is my neat new idea"

Re:It is abused but I think this sets too high a b (5, Insightful)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#41176401)

I agree - there's a difference between innovation and incremental improvements.

"Innovation" has been abused by patent trolls (5, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41176513)

Whether or not the word "innovation" has become the most abused word in the business context, that remains to be seen
 
On the other hand, "innovation" itself has been abused by the patent trolls
 
Innovators and inventors nowadays often find themselves in between a rock and a very hard place
 
On one hand, they can get sued by patent trolls if they put their innovation to good use
 
On the other hand, many of the innovators' livelihood depends on their ability to invent, to innovate, to create new things
 

Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (3, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41176573)

The "innovation" word has certainly been abused in business contexts. However, to assert that it is the most abused word is less clear. After all, competition for that accolade (in a manner of speaking) is fairly stiff. There are many words from the MBA lexicon with even greater claim, such as leverage, incentivize, and similar linguistic horrors.

Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#41176627)

You left out the use of 'transition' as a verb.

Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41176941)

I find it funny, I got an MBA degree, there was a strong effort in making sure we don't use buzz words, but to actually understand what they mean, then not to use them.

There are a lot of Managers and Upper Managers without MBA's those are the ones who tend to be the biggest offenders. They will hear MBA's use the terms in correct context then reuse them out of context.

For Example Synergy Is an aspect when people working in a team or a group produce more then the sum of each person. The Non-MBA takes this as meaning working well in a team, or just having a lot of energy and excitement about the work they do. Synergy is often not achieved even with groups and teams that work well with a lot of energy. Because as you put more people on a team the natural aspect is for each member is to work a little less hard then if they would do it themselves. MBA's may talk about Synergy as a goal, the other guys who don't know what it means and are too timid to ask, will interpret it incorrectly and reuse it in the wrong way. So in the modern MBA class we are told to avoid using these new terms that we learn because the non-MBA abuse them and degrade their meeting.

Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41176979)

yep.. MBAs *never* misuse these terms.

lolz... :P

If you're one of the good ones, good for you.

Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41177021)

Is it the most abused word? That is a big ask.

Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (5, Interesting)

eulernet (1132389) | about 2 years ago | (#41177123)

For Example Synergy Is an aspect when people working in a team or a group produce more then the sum of each person.

Sorry to disappoint you, but a group cannot produce more than the sum of each person.
This is called Ringelmann effect:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringelmann_effect [wikipedia.org]
it has been measured in 1914, by measuring the amount of effort of groups of different sizes.
When you put 8 persons together, you get the amount of effort only 4 can produce.
People unconsciously reduce their effort when they work in a team.

What you can do is try to increase intrinsic motivation, so that not too much energy is lost in the group.
Also, choose the best members for your team.

Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (2)

mjtaylor24601 (820998) | about 2 years ago | (#41177239)

Sorry to disappoint you, but a group cannot produce more than the sum of each person.

Not sure I agree with that. Having a team means you can take advantage of things like specialization of labor. So even if each individual team member is not working as hard, the overall output can still be increased.

There's a reason that assembly lines are much more efficient than having each individual build each unit from start to finish

Re:It is abused but I think this sets too high a b (0)

Wovel (964431) | about 2 years ago | (#41176777)

Air conditioning and Indoor plumbing were both incremental improvements on shelter. The steam engine and internal combustion engine were just incremental improvements in power systems.

Flight was an incremental i improvement in transportation. We can go on forever. Nothing is innovative by this standard. The wheel? Come on. Someone innovated round rocks? Really. Sentient beings were just an incremental improvement over non-sentient beings.

I vote we remove the wold innovate from our vocabulary.

Re:It is abused but I think this sets too high a b (5, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 2 years ago | (#41176951)

"Vehicles that can fly" is a pretty huge incremental step from "Vehicles that can't fly". It's a big leap like that which we tend to call "innovation". Little steps aren't innovation- even though they're often even more useful. The Wright Brother innovated when they managed to put together the first working aeroplane- but it wasn't all that useful. When someone took their plane and made minor incremental improvements to speed, durability, capacity, etc. they weren't innovating, but they did create something truly valuable. When Boeing made the Jumbo Jet it wasn't an "innovation" (it's just a bigger version of what they already built)- but it was damned clever and useful.

Re:It is abused but I think this sets too high a b (1)

Toam (1134401) | about 2 years ago | (#41176871)

That's right. I would say that the "smartphone" is an innovation. The iPhone 4 is not.

Re:It is abused but I think this sets too high a b (4, Funny)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 years ago | (#41176453)

you're also forgetting that MBA's and Financial People use "Innovation" all the time to take funds from people and transform them into vapor.

Re:It is abused but I think this sets too high a b (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41176487)

Rounded corners FTW!

Innovation (5, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | about 2 years ago | (#41176395)

I'm sure that people understand that innovation isn't a black and white thing, and that some things are more innovative than others. Hence "the best thing since sliced bread" - i.e., something can be innovative but not as innovative as something else.

In the long term, something is innovative if we cannot live our daily lives without it. For example - indoor plumbing, light bulbs. In terms of always available communication the mobile phone was completely innovative. And the smartphone merely enhanced that and merged in myriad other devices into the single unit. A total innovation in itself, and making that conglomeration of functionalities usable in itself is clearly an innovation.

But maybe not as innovative as pre-sliced bread.

(note, I don't actually think that pre-sliced bread is that innovative, but maybe the means by which it can be pre-sliced and then not go solid or stale quickly is.)

Re:Innovation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176477)

What's really innovative about sliced bread is how they slice it without cutting the wrapper it comes in. Ingenious!

Re:Innovation (3, Funny)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41176609)

It's 3D printed.

Re:Innovation (1, Interesting)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#41176641)

What's really innovative about sliced bread is how they slice it without cutting the wrapper it comes in. Ingenious!

I've no mod points today, but I think you've just won the thread. :)

Re:Innovation (5, Interesting)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about 2 years ago | (#41176699)

In my opinion, an innovation is something that no one thought of before and that performs better than its predecessors. It is not a synonym for invention or discovery. Take graphene for example. People had been working with it in various forms (usually called "exfoliated graphite") for decades because it has all the interesting properties of graphite, but with an enormous surface-area to volume ratio. Theorists predicted interesting properties in single, isolated sheets of graphite, and there was some evidence to support it, but nothing really came of it. Then someone got the idea to use scotch tape to rip off a few layers of graphene from bulk graphite, which eventually lead to a Nobel prize. The innovation wasn't the scotch tape, or the graphene, or even using scotch tape to exfoliate a laminar material; it was using scotch tape to exfoliate graphite.

That one little innovation allowed all kinds of measurements that validated the intriguing properties of graphene and sparked a deluge of research across the physical sciences. Now, let's contrast it to something like the iPhone. Was that an innovation? I say no. Everyone had thought of the smartphone already--they were just waiting for the technology to catch up to expectation. People were using proto-iPads to keep track of stock trades decades [npr.org] before the iPod existed.

I think that in the business world, success is equivalent to money and innovation drives success, therefore anything that makes money is innovative. And since things that make money are generally popular, they use the word "innovation" to describe creating something that is popular, which essentially boils down to having the right idea or product and the right time.Thus Apple--which makes very popular, well-designed products--has become synonymous with innovation. I'm not knocking Apple; convincing people to enter their credit card information in order to use a device that they already bought is pure genius. But what have they done that is really de novo, that was more than just clever or marketed effectively?

Re:Innovation (0)

Shadowmist (57488) | about 2 years ago | (#41177055)

In my opinion, an innovation is something that no one thought of before and that performs better than its predecessors. It is not a synonym for invention or discovery. Take graphene for example. People had been working with it in various forms (usually called "exfoliated graphite") for decades because it has all the interesting properties of graphite, but with an enormous surface-area to volume ratio. Theorists predicted interesting properties in single, isolated sheets of graphite, and there was some evidence to support it, but nothing really came of it. Then someone got the idea to use scotch tape to rip off a few layers of graphene from bulk graphite, which eventually lead to a Nobel prize. The innovation wasn't the scotch tape, or the graphene, or even using scotch tape to exfoliate a laminar material; it was using scotch tape to exfoliate graphite.

That one little innovation allowed all kinds of measurements that validated the intriguing properties of graphene and sparked a deluge of research across the physical sciences. Now, let's contrast it to something like the iPhone. Was that an innovation? I say no. Everyone had thought of the smartphone already--they were just waiting for the technology to catch up to expectation.

An innovation is something that changes the landscape about it. Yes there were smartphones before the iPhone. And most of them were boring buisness devices called Blackberries that you used for work, and either escaped from on the weekend, or were reminders that you did not have one. The iPhone redefined the smartphone as a lifestyle appliance. The author's bias is fairly obvious, he only sees innovation where it brings more to the corporate bottom line. The iPhone as a consumer device doesn't factor as a growth in worker productivity any more than a Blackberry would. But smartphones are now expected to do more than just push mail or track stocks. And they're not for Mr. Joe Executive any more. The iPhone bears the major credit in redefining it's role.

Re:Innovation (1, Interesting)

Wovel (964431) | about 2 years ago | (#41176785)

There is nothing in your post you can't live without.

Re:Innovation (2)

hattig (47930) | about 2 years ago | (#41177141)

Yeah, and we can all live as nomads without housing as well, but I'm sure the first person to wrap a few bearskins over a wooden frame would be thought of as innovative by modern standards.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176397)

Not only in business, also in science: I read that we make so many new discoveries nowadays, but how many of those are fundamental? OK, the exoplanets and elementary particles are important, but most of the "discoveries" I read about are ridiculous.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41176499)

The size of the innovations isn't the problem, the problem is the size of what the patent office accepts as 'innovation'. Currently we're at "rounded corners" and it doesn't seem to be moving in an upwards direction.

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

GrpA (691294) | about 2 years ago | (#41176517)

Rounded corners?

That's a pretty major innovation if you're talking about aviation...

GrpA

Re:Yes (4, Informative)

arikol (728226) | about 2 years ago | (#41177049)

This was modded funny, but it's actually a quite clever comment.

If GrpA had included some context it would be informative

Thing is, in aviation, the first passenger jet, the DH Comet started exploding in flight and no one knew why. Turns out that square corners in windows and doors is a bad idea when it comes to pressured vessels made from aluminium.

The failure modes of aluminium weren't perfectly understood at the time, and after huge amounts of testing (actually quite impressive amounts of testing using quite clever methods) they found that repeated pressurisation/depressurisation cycles led to the formation of microcracks at the corner's of windows and doors. This wasn't thought to be a big issue, because the best known metals (steel, iron) had quite gradual and benign failure modes.

Well, it turned out that aluminium fails quite spectacularly when it has any kind of stress damage.

The whole fuselage of the aircraft would basically rip apart in an explosive manner, and this was in a static testing tank so the 800km/h speed wasn't even factored in.

The solution?
Rounded rectangles for windows (or oval shaped windows)
The cockpit windows have sharp corners, but also have special reinforcement to decrease/distribute the stress.

So, rounded rectangles can actually be a major innovation :D

Re:Yes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176519)

The joke wasn't funny when you used it a few posts earlier. Do try and understand what's happening. Or just try harder to troll, currently you're crap at it.

Ahh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176407)

Thank you, thank you for this sober speech on the real reason on why our economy is fucked up.

I hate when trivial work is presented, and, you state the obvious, then you get the reply: " Sometimes simple things just work out, look at facebook!!" , this is wrong, people just want to innovate with low effort and risk and with the current technology rhythm you can just give a shot now and then on simple things until one enters the stream.

D'uh! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176413)

Option B is that you get everything invented in the past decade right up to Facebook, Twitter, and the iPad, but you have to give up running water and indoor toilets. You have to haul the water into your dwelling and carry out the waste. Even at 3 a.m. on a rainy night, your only toilet option is a wet and perhaps muddy walk to the outhouse. Which option do you choose?

Twitter, obvously!

trudging thru mud to shit again.

cold.

Pfew! fireshits and it stinks. Awesome Mex food!

And on ...

A good contender (2)

docilespelunker (1883198) | about 2 years ago | (#41176417)

Innovation is a good contender, though it's got to be "plan". Some of the chaps in my department spout the term but quite frankly they couldn't plan their way out of a paper bag. Hurrah for being a civil servant...

Re:A good contender (1, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 2 years ago | (#41176433)

It's those damn civil service exams. They've turned from testing wit to confirming robotic obeisance to a particular worldview.

too many words (5, Interesting)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41176437)

The amount of new business/marketing speak that comes out of the U.S.A. is very innovative.
Reach out to instead of contact is the thing that bugs me right now.
George Carlin had a whole wonderful bit about this - "You will not hear me say: bottom line, game plan, role model, scenario, or hopefully."
http://www.iceboxman.com/carlin/pael.php [iceboxman.com]

No (3, Insightful)

Ganty (1223066) | about 2 years ago | (#41176439)

It's 'Syngergy', along with maybe 'Wellness'.

And why are salesmen now called 'Sales Executives'?

ARRGGHHHH!!

Re:No (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 years ago | (#41176459)

Because it takes a lot of skill and patience to manage a customer. Since a salesman is managing a customer therefore he must be management and if he's been doing it long enough, he can become an executive.

It's like calling a guy who writes Ruby a Software Engineer.. LOL

Re:No (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176469)

My salesman pet peeve is in the financial industry. Calling salemen "Financial Advisors" kills me. The only advice they're going to give you is how to steer you into financial products that increases their book the most - like vairable annuities.

Re:No (1)

skine (1524819) | about 2 years ago | (#41176679)

It's Account Executive, you insensitive clod!

Re:No (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41177171)

It's Account Executive, you insensitive clod!

Account Executive is so oughties. Now everyone starts as a Key Account Manager.

Title creep is rampant, and part of the reason is corporation's reluctance to give people raises that match the overall income progression. In order not to lose employees, they have to be promoted to get a salary. And soon enough, you have everyone working at the higher grades, and they have to invent new grades to promote people into.

There was a time when a company had one veep. Everyone who in yore would have been a department head are now vice presidents, it seems.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41177229)

Don't you mean Monetary Conversion Engineers?

Patent Troll 101 (4, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41176465)

"Innovation" is a favorite term of patent trolls and other technovultures to describe nebulous ideas as patentable products that are nothing more than vaporware.

Of course, the list of engineering carrion-feeders is long and distinguished. You can be a Fortune 100 company and still be a patent troll from the standpoint of registering ethereal brain-farts as IP.

I disagree (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#41176491)

The most abused word in business has to be the word "invest".

Re:I disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176657)

The most abused word in business has to be the word "invest".

In politics too. "Your party spends. My party invests." Win a prize if you can spot the difference.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176671)

In politics too

If it were only that, I could live with that. Lying through their teeth is the new thing.

Re:I disagree (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41176677)

new thing?

640k (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176497)

From the end of the 15th page:
> And in 1981, in the most famous of these ill-fated quotes, Bill Gates himself said in defense of the capacity of the first floppy disks, "640 kilobytes ought to be enough for anyone."
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9101699/The_640K_quote_won_t_go_away_but_did_Gates_really_say_it_ begs to disagree.

Re:640k (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | about 2 years ago | (#41177075)

From the end of the 15th page: > And in 1981, in the most famous of these ill-fated quotes, Bill Gates himself said in defense of the capacity of the first floppy disks, "640 kilobytes ought to be enough for anyone." http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9101699/The_640K_quote_won_t_go_away_but_did_Gates_really_say_it_ [computerworld.com] begs to disagree.

I believe he was referring to system memory because at the time, MS-DOS could only address 640k of memory.

It's a weasel word. (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41176501)

Really, it's an euphemism for "invention", but used to describe things that do not qualify for patents.

What should be said in its place is "improvement", "engineering" and anything done by "knowledge workers".

Re:It's a weasel word. (2)

DoctorBonzo (2646833) | about 2 years ago | (#41176921)

If "sex worker" is the PC euphemism for prostitute, what's "knowledge worker" the euphemism for?

Wrong. (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41176509)

The iPad is about as innovative as the toaster. You can still read books without an iPad, and you can still toast bread without a toaster.

- wrong from the very first sentence.

The innovation here was not specifically the function of the device, the innovation was the ability of the company to present a new type of product that delivers functionality in a way that people feel is better, that is all.

Innovation does not have to be invention. Those are separate, different words.

Innovation CAN be something simple, it can be simply a better EXECUTION of the same thing as before, but done more efficiently, cheaper, faster, prettier even.

Innovation does not mean 'revolution', it should means 'better' for some purpose.

Re:Wrong. (-1, Troll)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41176725)

Oh wow, brave defender of corporations roman_mir to the rescue of Apple!

Re:Wrong. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176849)

- wrong from the very first sentence.

No, the sentence is correct

What the author is wrong on is that he seems to think (electric) toasters aren't innovative, but they actually are.

The electric toaster is a very innovative product for its time. Comparing the iPad to the toaster is a COMPLIMENT, not an insult.

Prior to the toaster, people indeed had other ways to toast stuff, but they found, like you said, that toasting on a toaster is better than the old ways.

The electric toaster changed the way people toast, the same way the iPad changed the way people consumed content.

Plus, the stereotypical silver toaster is also shiny and has rounded corners ;p

Innovation != Invention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176527)

And the poster even gets it wrong. "Real innovations involve things like the combustion engine or air conditioning, not the smartphone." No these are real inventions (and even the smart phone was an initially an invention)

From dictionary.com first definition of each word

Invent - verb - to originate or create as a product of one's own ingenuity, experimentation, or contrivance

Innovate - verb - to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.

Re:Innovation != Invention (2)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#41176843)

I have to protest this one.

Innovation means "renewment" from latin nova = new. If I do the same stuff in a new way, I am innovative. If I am doing something new with the same stuff, I am innovative. If I am doing something new with new stuff, I am innovative.

The problem is that like all marketing, "new" is a very flexible word, and so is innovation. From "now with 25% more vapor" to a complete cultural change with other social structures, hierarchies and priorities, all can be "innovative". The author argues, that the increases in productivity that came from the inventions in IR#1 (steam engine and mechanical looms, turning craft and manufacture into industry) and IR#2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, internal plumbing, empowering the individual and making us independent from lots of exterior circumstances) had a much higher impact than the IR#3 (computing and data processing), because IR#3 is more about improvement of service delivery and entertainment than about a complete redesign of complete parts of the society, thus the gains in productivity are much lower.

Good old days syndrome (2)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#41176535)

This analysis smacks of looking back at tech history through a biased lens. Those innovations cited did not appear fully formed but evolved from simpler forms. I think it is quite silly and unimaginative to call a computer you can put in your pocket - and just incidentally make phone calls with - which by itself is more powerful than all the computers in the world just a few decades ago not an innovation.

Re:Good old days syndrome (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#41176567)

except radio telecommunications is innovative, and touchscreens too, and a fair few other bits and bobs that make up a smartphone. Calling it "a small computer" is not giving credit to the advanced technology that has gone into making it - even if you think its a commonplace device (kids of today, tut).

that said, rounding off the corners is NOT innovation.

Re:Good old days syndrome (1, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#41176673)

A small computer with some radio hardware is all they are. Pretending otherwise just makes you seem deluded. And they weren't an innovation, they were simply a progression of what had come before. There was no quantum leap despite what apple fanbois might have us believe since touchscreens have been around for decades and apple even used them on the dog that bombed called the Newton.

Re:Good old days syndrome (1)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#41176707)

A small computer with some radio hardware is all they are.

You are proving my point. Go back 50 years and hand anyone this tiny box and tell them it's only a small computer. No big deal.

Re:Good old days syndrome (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 2 years ago | (#41176789)

Go back 10mil years and explain how you're just a chimpanzee. No big deal.

Amazing how many many generations evolution can lead to something that seems new and special, but was really just the logical result.

Re:Good old days syndrome (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 2 years ago | (#41177125)

If it was so obvious, then why didn't any of the cell phone companies with decades of experience do it first? Why did the first Android prototypes look like BlackBerry knock offs?

I want to punch people in the face... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | about 2 years ago | (#41176549)

When they say: "We're comitted to..... blah blah...."

it's Solution (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176557)

Have business stopped using the word "Solutions"? If not... I vote for that word. I'd be willing to bet that the only solution ever accurately received from a Solutions Provider has been a cup of sugary coffee.

Re:it's Solution (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41176709)

Sugary coffee is most definitely a solution. And a suspension... To think of it, it's usually an emulsion, too, if it is with cream.

But TRUE Innovation is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176563)

A rectangular phone/tablet with rounded corners!

No - Passion is.. (4, Insightful)

dwkns (2607961) | about 2 years ago | (#41176597)

'Passion' is the most abused word. Don't tell people you are passionate - show them!!! I stare wordlessly at people who misuse the word passion for an inappropriate amount of time. Very quickly they realise what they have done wrong. Actually it works for all of the abused words. Innovation, solutions, synergy etc. Try it, it's fun.

Re:No - Passion is.. (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about 2 years ago | (#41177019)

Also... I'm doubtful as to whether most people really want to work with someone 'passionate'. A passionate person tends to ignore reason and logic and fly-off-the-handle when they don't get their way. I quite like to keep strong emotions out of my day-to-day job...

Is Cool the most abused word in culture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176613)

The word "cool" constantly reinvents itself and surprisingly has failed to be used up. Cool is what sells. Pretty sure innovation is the same.

So don't try and tell me what cool is.

That's not cool.

That, and "technology" (1)

HuguesT (84078) | about 2 years ago | (#41176633)

Every little engineering detail in software or hardware now is a "technology". A new kind of button is a technology. Inverting the direction of scroll is a technology. Least squares optimization is a technology.

Re:That, and "technology" (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41176711)

Wait...do you mean I should stop telling our clients that we "Invented a new inventive and productive technology to optimize the display of the typographically-easy-accessable tabular-grid" when all I did was switch the "Order" property of the column to true?

Daleks ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176661)

... "INN-O-VATE!"

It's not a good thing.

Yes! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176663)

YES, YES, YES!!!!!

Proactive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176675)

Proactive must be up there, and it makes me suicidal.

Re:Proactive (2)

Pikoro (844299) | about 2 years ago | (#41177031)

At least you'll die with clear skin...

Lots of innovations (1)

charles.fox (1217292) | about 2 years ago | (#41176719)

I think the last decade /has/ produced many big work advances. For example in the last couple of months at work I have: attended remote video meetings in Europe, the US and Africa without having travel or cause pollution, and opening up Africans to work on the same projects as us; routinely worked from home over fast broadband, reducing commuting and pollution massively; replaced all my books with Kindle pdfs, which give everyone on the planet access to everything ever written from their homes (which might be far from libraries, eg in Africa again); invested in funds spanning S America, China, Russia, Africa and the Middle East with a few mouse clicks; had purchases recommended to me my supermarket datamining that predicts what I want to buy and optimises its supply chains accordingly to massively reduce waste on shelves and in warehouses; rapid-prototyped my CAD designs; bought stuff made in China and distributed all over the world extremely cheaply and distributed via ebay; used wikipedia and social nets to find incredibly detailed infomration on everything I ever wanted to know, and to make contact with work collaborators for future projects all over the world. It's easy to forget that even in 2000 these were all just fantasies in Wired magazine. See Friendman's "The world is flat" for many more examples of how the IT revolution really has transformed how we work locally and internationally.

The most abused word in business is ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#41176733)

... "Success". Next is "successful people". There is an assumption that this is all about money. Of course for a business, it is. But for most people, once they have enough money to live comfortably (which the one percenters want to take from everyone for themselves), then what matters is happiness in life, such as family, and their art of living. Money is merely the means to get there because we have made that so.

Re:The most abused word in business is ... (0)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 2 years ago | (#41176773)

I agree entirely, but would offer "profit", derived from profectus. This is the past participle of of proficere - lit. to make forward, i.e. to progress .

If only, when businessmen and their armchair evangelists cried out, "The only purpose of business should be to make profit!" they actually meant, "The only purpose of business should be to make progress!"

Got to go with paradigm (2)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 2 years ago | (#41176739)

Then again I think I agree with John Carmack that many managers and business heads think it means 20 cents.

Don't forget robust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176793)

Ugh.

Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176813)

Apple sold multitasking as an innovation... nuff said

Most definitely. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | about 2 years ago | (#41176819)

It's kind of ironic that the companies that talk about innovating the most are usually the companies that also internally stifle it the most. It is extremely hard to "innovate" with tight and usually colluding deadlines, little room for error and little breathing room from heavy-handed "auditing."

Coming up with new and cool ideas requires time and room for mistakes. These cost money. Bigger companies can't have that.

Re:Most definitely. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | about 2 years ago | (#41176829)

Stupid me; I meant "colliding," not colluding. Though I guess the deadlines can agree to be as tight and inconvenient as possible.

Rivited airplanes (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#41176841)

The rivets in airplanes are only now being partially replaced. This has always been a what the heck for me. The main difference between a jet in Mad Men and now is the smoking. All kinds of little things since 1960's air travel make it mostly safer such as the detection of wind shear but is almost nasty that a jet from 50 years ago could operate today almost unnoticed. There seems to be a cultural rejection of anything that is significantly better. One guy crudely glued a nosecone and tail onto his honda giving it an extremely low air resistance; resulting in something like doubling his mileage but it made my culturally tuned self cringe. How is it that even someone as techno desiring as myself would reject such a great improvement as weirdo? Keep in mind that this was crudely added on; not wind tunnel tested; or done by an artist. There was a huge amount of room for improvement yet no car manufacturer has run with it. Think of the early ugly honda hybrids with the covered rear tires. Again rejected. We should be clapping as these cars go by seeing that they literally improve our lives with less pollution and reliance on fossil fuels. But our sense of what is proper overrides this.

How can we possibly think outside the box when there is such a huge cultural pressure to conform at all costs? Even the people who generally think of themselves as non conformists fit into a few acceptable boxes of non conformity.

One of the solutions should be via money. Science degrees would be subsidized by those getting business degrees. Society could take a leap and say that scientists doing fundamental R&D don't pay income taxes.(Along with other tax benefits to R&D) That would then prove that we value innovation over say bankers and hedge fund managers.

Re:Rivited airplanes (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#41176977)

The rivets in airplanes are only now being partially replaced.

You mean with composites, I presume? Composites have bee usd for years in aircraft, it's the main structural bits which may be due to move to composites in airlinres soon. In less critical roles they were adopted first and are slowly percolating down to the most conservative end of things.

That's not a lack of innovation. It's taking the inovation (composites), figureing out how to apply it to aircraft (innovative), then making sure it is very well understood before applying it to airliners.

All kinds of little things since 1960's air travel make it mostly safer such as the detection of wind shear but is almost nasty that a jet from 50 years ago could operate today almost unnoticed.

Yeah, they look pretty similar. Aerofoils all look much alike and area ruling isn't going to change any time soon, and cylinders make excellend aerodynamic pressure vessles. That's basically physics there.

If you look closely, you will see that the nature of the aerofoils has changed considerably, the engines have got vastly more efficient and everything has got much lighter. Modern jet angines even operate above the thermal limits of the turbine blades.

There seems to be a cultural rejection of anything that is significantly better.

Like what? There have been huge changes to the innards of aircraft. The gross outer shape is determined by things which have now been well nuderstood for quite a while. Actually, area ruling was really only just coming in 50 years ago, and if you look closely, you can now see sign of it on every modern airliner.

Re:Rivited airplanes (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41177127)

The rivets in airplanes are only now being partially replaced.

There are good reasons to rivet together individual pieces of metal instead of welding them together. For one thing, a crack will move across a weld much easier than it can cross a riveted seam. Ships, skyscrapers, and bridges were also riveted together for the same reason. Today the engineers are getting better with materials and welding so eventually rivets will be obsolete, but there's nothing really wrong with using them.

No - Reasonable is... (1)

Onetus (23797) | about 2 years ago | (#41176891)

If you really want to see weaseling and lying in action - it's the word "reasonable".
* Full-time employees and part-time employees may be required to work "reasonable" overtime and thereby qualify for overtime payments
* ,,, reasonable charges may apply
* The service provider must provide reasonable levels of support after hours

It's the word for defining an undefined amout, that changes on whom is interpreting it and how they want the situation to pan out.

Innovation is only abused? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176919)

I honestly thought it was beaten into a bloody pulp and left in the corner to die a slow, painful death, was more accurate. Maybe I should patent, patents.. oh wait I think that was done already.

Just like... (1)

Xenious (24845) | about 2 years ago | (#41176935)

an economist writing a paper on technology, Innovation is an abused term all around. While the current smartphones might be more pervasive than innovative, they are being utilized and accommodated in more places. So in the end the application gatekeepers allow compatibility and I can do more on my phone than I ever could in the past. So is acceptance and exploitation of a technology, innovation?

Stupid people trying to sound smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176937)

Cold hard statistics. Half of the average employee poll are of below average intelligence. And lets face it, people still in the central part of that bell curve arent all that great either.

People who are genuinely smart don't call themselves smart. People who genuinely innovate don't say they innovate. People who are experts in a field don't call themselves experts. They let their actions speak for themselves.

Stupid people, the pretenders who need to desperately justify their continued employment, use these words as a smokescreen.

It is a lesson of business. (I happen to be lucky and my management chain is pretty heavily weighted towards the wheat side, but I see chaff all over the place)

Obvious (3, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#41176949)

innovations involve things like the combustion engine or air conditioning

Pah. Obvious variations on the Carnot heat-engine cycle! As for indoor plumbing - that's just a small aqueduct with a lid and rounded corners!

Seriously, though, I think it's useful to have a word for "did not invent but turned into a practical and useful product". E.g. the first internal-combustion engine cars were not exactly user friendly - others adapted them for the mass-market. That takes the foresight to spot an invention with potential, a ton of cash to invest and a willingness to take risks.

The problem with the patent system is that only really works in a nostalgic fantasy world when an engineer declares "Gosh, I've just made an important discovery about thermodynamics - how do I share that with the scientific community without sacrificing my competitive edge in the steam engine market". It relies on the blunt instrument of the legal system to make tricky, subjective decisions on whether or not ideas are obvious, when even the experts in that field would probably argue.

If you could find a suitable genius polymath capable of making such judgements and prepared to work in a patent office, they'd probably get bored with all the bureaucracy and just sit there daydreaming about riding on the beams of light coming in through the window...

Well, it's a nice word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176953)

Nice words often gets abused.

It is abused (1)

mcwop (31034) | about 2 years ago | (#41176965)

I am not going to argue what is innovative or not. But, many companies have no clue how to simply keep their products fresh. Design by giant committees keeps a lot of companies stale, and many get killed by change. RIMM comes to mind, and there are many others. Sure RIMM made an "innovative" new phone OS, but so did Apple and Google. RIMM's corporate structure certainly stifled their ability to innovate within a competitive time frame. Even Google recognized they were missing important new product innovations, which they specifically allocate time for their employees to work on (e.g. Twitter).

Sometimes innovation has an important back-end to make that innovation sustainable/workable. Depositing checks via mobile camera, needs a lot of back-end support. Legacy back ends can be very difficult to innovate around, and that is "invisible" to the user.

Additionally (2)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#41176973)

Not only is innovation an abused word but so is engineer. I've seen positions for server, network, and desktop engineering. These are not engineering positions, they are implementation and configuration specialist positions. A true computer engineer is the one who designs and builds the microprocessors and motherboards and other associated components. A network engineer doesn't actually "engineer" anything, they implement and configure. These are sad and sorry times when we dilute the meaning of engineer to someone who has passed his or her MCSE, CCNP, etc. What about the masters and college grads with actual degrees in Engineering and have passed Professional Engineering exams? Those are the true engineers. We devalue these terms in the name of making some job look more exciting than it is or giving someone a fancy title instead of paying them the market wage. I have held a Desktop Support Engineer position and I steadfastly refused to call myself an engineer. Nope, I'm just simply Tier III support.

Innovation: Rounded Corners! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41176987)

Banning another competitor from the entire market, now that's innovation!

In the words of Ron Burgundy,
"Stay classy, Apple."

But (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41177037)

But Apple tells me that a rectangle with round corners is "innovation"

Second most abused (1)

deimios666 (1040904) | about 2 years ago | (#41177067)

The most abused word is "excitement" All press releases start with "We're excited to..."

One Word (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41177105)

Yes. It is

Words, words, words (2)

coofercat (719737) | about 2 years ago | (#41177185)

After our recent out-sourced data-mining operation, our world-class Data Research team have concluded that "innovation" is not an overused word, phrase or best-practice.

Of course it is abused... (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 2 years ago | (#41177213)

... Microsoft was one of the worst offenders a decade or so ago. Microsoft used the term "innovation" as a cover-up for their stifling monopolistic-like practices in the PC world. "Innovation" in the 1990's is what got Microsoft where it is today - an aging, bloated, internally-conflicted organization.
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