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Once More on Innovation Versus Transformation

| On 08, Jan 2009

James Todhunter

If Bruce Nussbaum’s recent posts on the death of innovation have done nothing else, they have generated a lot of reactions in the blogosphere.  Although that inner voice is shouting “Enough already!”, I can’t resist making one more comment on the subject.

There have been some very nice pieces written on this topic in past two weeks.  You can find some great examples of these at CounterNotions, Fleishman-Hillard Innovation, and here (of course!).  In Kathie Thomas’ post (Fleishman-Hillard), she referenced a passage from Bruce’s arguments for transformation that I found particularly amusing.  The passage reads:

“Innovation” implies changing what is. “Transformation” implies creating what’s new. That’s what we need today, a huge amount of totally “new.”

Well Bruce, let me help you out.  Let’s crack open the dictionary and see what we find.  Hmm… Oh yes, here we go.

in•no•va•tion   \i-nə-vā-shən\ noun
1 : the introduction of something new
2 : a new idea, method, or device : novelty

trans•for•ma•tion   \tran(t)s-fər-mā-shən, -fȯr-\ noun
1: an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed
2: false hair worn especially by a woman to replace or supplement natural hair
3 a (1): the operation of changing (as by rotation or mapping) one configuration or expression into another in accordance with a mathematical rule ; especially : a change of variables or coordinates in which a function of new variables or coordinates is substituted for each original variable or coordinate (2): the formula that effects a transformation b: function 5a c: an operation that converts (as by insertion, deletion, or permutation) one grammatical string (as a sentence) into another ; also : a formal statement of such an operation
4: genetic modification of a bacterium by incorporation of free DNA from another bacterial cell; also : genetic modification of a cell by the uptake and incorporation of exogenous DNA

As you can see, Bruce, you have simply got your definitions backward.  Innovation is the creation of something new; transformation is the act of changing something in to a different state which may or may not represent something new.  If “totally new” is your prescription, then innovation is the cure for what ails you.

[IMG title=”The Year of Innovation” style=”FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 5px 5px” alt=”The Year of Innovation” src=”” border=0]

Meanwhile, the EU has pronounced 2009 to be the Year of Creativity and Innovation.

Enough said?

[Definitions excerpted from Merriam-Webster Online]

[Crossposted from]