Innovation is a popular word these days in business.

Good old Wikipedia defines it as “Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs.”

But being innovative is not simple. And often the things I see being tagged as Innovative are just plain lame:

  • Hiring a chief Innovation officer, who buys iPads for the exec’s and they use it solely for checking their email
  • Having a menu item on your website called Innovation with lots of WW on it (and yes our previous version of our website had this tab!)

So what are some things that I think have been innovative and why?

  • iPhone / iPad –  I don’t need to go to my laptop to connect to the world anymore
  • The Paperclip –  it holds my paper together easily, and I can easily pull them apart
  • Nintendo wii –  got my kids off their backsides while playing games
  • email – I didn’t need to send paper anymore to communicate
  • ATM’s – I don’t need to go into a bank to get money

So what do these things have in common?

Well they all started with a problem that wasn’t being solved.

They worked out what the core things were that were stopping (breaking) the problem being solved.

They delivered something that fixed the problem, in a way that hadn’t been done (successfully) before.

Apple knew I needed to go to my laptop to be connected, they knew all the current mobile devices were hard to use, they delivered a mobile device that was easy to use to be connected (and gorgeous).

So if you want to Innovate, try breaking something then fix it in a way that hasn’t been done before.