Definition of Innovation

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Definition of Innovation

Quotes on the meaning of innovation from well-know business leaders (in the area of technology), university professors who teach innovation topics, and experts who give talks on TED Talks have been presented below. These quotes support the view that the definition of innovation is something fresh (that is, new, original or improved) and that creates value.

Well-Known Business Leaders

  • But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.” — Steve Jobs
  • "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." — Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and Chair
  • "When somebody has a breakthrough innovation, it is rarely one little thing. Very rarely, is it one little thing. It's usually a whole bunch of things that collectively amount to a huge innovation." — Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and Chair
  • "Our modern lifestyle is not a political creation. Before 1700, everybody was poor as hell. Life was short and brutish. It wasn’t because we didn’t have good politicians; we had some really good politicians. But then we started inventing — electricity, steam engines, microprocessors, understanding genetics and medicine and things like that. Yes, stability and education are important — I’m not taking anything away from that — but innovation is the real driver of progress." — Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair
  • "Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better." — Tim Cook, Apple CEO
  • "If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness." — Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO
  • "We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent." — Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO
  • "I don’t look at business as a zero-sum game. I don’t. I’ve never seen it play out that way in our industry, and I think you innovate and you add value, deliver value back to customers, and you get value back from the world. " — Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO
  • "On the Internet you get continuous innovation, so every year the streams are a little better." — Reed Hastings, Netflix Founder and CEO
  • "Now more than ever; innovate or die. There can be no innovation if you operate out of fear of the new." — Robert Iger, Disney Executive Chairman
  • "Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation." — Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO
  • "There's innovation in Linux. There are some really good technical features that I'm proud of. There are capabilities in Linux that aren't in other operating systems." — Linus Torvalds, Linux Creator
  • "For CEOs today, it's all about achieving growth and efficiency through innovation. It's not about product innovation so much anymore as about innovating business models. process, culture and management." — Virginia M. (Ginni) Rometty, IBM Executive Chair

Professors and Experts

  • the innovator’s job cannot be to deliver a proven result; it must be to discover what is possible, that is, to learn, by converting assumptions into knowledge as quickly and inexpensively as possible.” — Vijay Govindarajan
  • "A disruptive innovation is a technologically simple innovation in the form of a product, service, or business model that takes root in a tier of the market that is unattractive to the established leaders in an industry." — Clayton Christensen
  • "COMPETING HEAD-TO-HEAD CAN BE CUTTHROAT, especially when markets are flat or growing slowly. Managers caught in this kind of competition almost universally say they dislike it and wish they could find a better alternative. They often know instinctively that innovation is the only way they can break free from the pack. But they simply don’t know where to begin. Admonitions to develop more creative strategies or to think outside the box are rarely accompanied by practical advice." — W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  • "Creativity is the generation and initial development of new, useful ideas. Innovation is the successful implementation of those ideas in an organization. Thus, no innovation is possible without the creative processes that mark the front end of the process: identifying important problems and opportunities, gathering relevant information, generating new ideas, and exploring the validity of those ideas." — Teresa Amabile
  • "Change masters are — literally — the right people in the right place at the right time. The right people are the ones with the ideas that move beyond the organization's established practice, ideas they can form into visions. The right places are the integrative environments that support innovation, encourage the building of coalitions and teams to support and implement visions. The right times are those moments in the flow of organizational history when it is possible to reconstruct reality on the basis on accumulated innovations to shape a more productive and successful future." — Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Innovation occurs as humans share and exchange ideas.” — Peter H. Diamandis
  • “I’ve found that organizations, while well intentioned, tend to approach innovation incorrectly. The very things they put in place to drive innovation—meetings, reports, policies, procedures, task forces, and governing bodies—wind up constricting it. While some structure is important, the best approach to change and innovation usually isn’t to do more, but to do less. Get rid of things that aren’t working to make space for new things that are.” — Lisa Bodell
  • "Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship, the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth." — Peter Drucker


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