Defining innovation

CIOs talk a lot about innovation. Actually, it’s often all they talk about – along with a bunch of related concepts, such as value, efficiency, globalisation, leadership and partnership. But what is innovation?

It’s a question that’s being analysed in a number of ways by CIO Connect and I’m putting together a special feature, speaking to CIOs and senior researchers at blue-chip businesses. Early conclusions? CIOs – and other business executives, more generally – often wrongly focus on the ‘blue sky’ element of innovation.

‘Blue sky thinking’, as well as being a bloody awful phrase, is only one tenet of innovation. It covers the research and development part, the creativity. But there’s another area of innovation that is probably more important, especially in the current economic climate.

Innovation is not just about developing something ‘new’, it is also about the re-use of existing assets in different and exciting combinations. Basically, it’s about regeneration and making good with something bad – ‘brown-field site thinking’, if you will (to borrow and manipulate the phrasing of geography).

Now, which is better – ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘brown-field site thinking’?

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