The perceived importance of innovation has reached heady heights. But innovation hasn’t just arrived so why now? What’s the fuss all about?
Man has survived and thrived on innovation since day one. Cavemen realised the importance of innovation when they discovered an ability to create fire from sticks. The wheel rolled in to our lives in about 3,500 BC whilst the canning industry was born out of Napoleon’s need to feed his army in the early 19th century. The Anglo-Saxons, Normans, Tudors, Stuarts and Victorians were all innovators. George Stephenson gave us a steam locomotive, Henry Ford modern assembly lines bla bla bla ……..
And yet now its “all about innovation”. The importance of innovation is unrivalled. Nothing else matters.
Corporations preach innovation with the smugness and self-satisfaction of teenage lovers convinced they’ve pioneered great sex for the benefit of mankind.
Before Innovation the buzzword (or should that be buzzphrase) was Customer Service. Before that it was Efficiency. In the 80s the buzz was Ergonomics. What will the next buzz be? Environment? Carbon Footprint?
Let’s not be fooled by big companies over egging the importance of innovation. That’s just marketing speak. Corporations defining themselves as modern, creative, progressive. Innovative. Fair enough. Can you imagine Bill Gates presenting to Microsoft shareholders at the AGM that this year they have pushed forwards the frontiers of administration and grievance procedures?
So where does this leave us small businesses? Is innovation important? Of course it is. Should we worry about innovation? Of course we should. But we should also worry about efficiency, customer service, business planning, financial control,employee performance and product quality in equal measure.
Good small business practice is about all these things. Evenly managing the interweave of day to day activities. Ensuring all thrive without detriment to the others. The importance of innovation gauged carefully against the importance of the other business functions.
Innovation will live on. But without the buzz. Just like before.
Tags: innovation, small business culture
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