What is innovation?

Innovation is a well used term and so often gets confused or associated with the creation of big ideas.  People associate innovation with flashes of inspiration, with developing the light bulb.

To me, simply put, innovation is ideas in action.

It is not just about invention.  It is not always a new product, service or process. Innovation can be as simple as improving an existing process or changing the way we deliver an existing service.  Innovation is not just ideas.  You have to put your ideas into action.  You have to actually make them work for them to be considered innovative.

I believe anyone can innovate. You don’t have to be a so-called creative type of person.  If you have an idea and you put it to work then you are an innovator.

Innovation is not about change for change sake.  The intention is to make a positive change and improve a product, service or process.

Innovation is not about people in a laboratory wearing white coats conducting experiments; it is not about people sitting in a room with funky chairs and garish coloured walls just thinking things up.

Innovation is happening around us all the time.  It is happening in our work places right now. Every time we improve a product, service or process then we are engaging in innovation. Every time we make something faster, simpler, better or improve its quality then we are innovating.  Every time we remove waste from a system then we are innovating.  Every time we move a transaction from requiring physical or over the counter services and move them to an online space then we are innovating.

In a public sector context innovation is about improving service delivery to the community, whether that is through direct services or policy development or our internal administrative process. If we improve any of these areas then we improve our service to the community.


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