Are We Going Crazy about Using the Word “Innovation”?

Lowe'sThis past weekend, I made a routine shopping trip to Lowe’s. Strolling around the store, I was stunned to see a large poster marking the entry to one of the aisles: New Innovation. My first reaction was that this was a mistake and that the two words belonged to two different writings. But no, below the “New Innovation” in English, there was a version of the same in Spanish: La Nuova Innovacion. Unable to restrain my curiosity, I walked down this particular aisle trying to find any goods deserving such an ambitious description. I found nothing: the aisle was full of the usual stuff–mostly plywood–that I’ve seen there before (unless, of course, I missed some new and highly innovative sizes).

For a split second, I entertained an idea to approach the Lowe’s personnel and ask them what exactly “new innovation” means. And, perhaps, inquire whether they’re going to create a section “Innovation on Sale.” Then, for the reasons anyone can understand, I rejected this idea.

Are we going crazy about using the word “innovation”? I already wrote that innovation has become a buzzword, with inevitable dilution of its original meaning and unfortunate attempts to use it to describe something innovation is not. I can understand the desire of the Lowe’s management to impress visitors of their stores with catchy slogans. Yet, by doing this in such a silly way, they mislead not only them but they own employees as well.  Either way, this is a huge disservice to the Lowe’s brand.

No, I don’t call for a word police; nor do I see any sense in having one. I do however expect marketing professionals working for retail sector understand the meaning of words they’re using. And I really expect them paying respect to innovation–as an innovation manager and as a consumer.

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is the Founder of (WoC)2, an innovation consultancy that helps organizations extract maximum value from the wisdom of crowds by coordinated use of internal and external crowdsourcing.
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1 Response to Are We Going Crazy about Using the Word “Innovation”?

  1. Good insight Eugene, i too think innovation is overused, abused and out of context these days… cheers

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