Innovation – what is it, really?

Gregor Ferguson, Defence industry analyst, defence innovation and science communicator, had a couple of interesting conversations last week about Innovation, including one with David Chuter.

The Australian government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) is now nearly two years old and its effects are being felt across the defence industry, which is my principal work area. The idea of innovation is gaining traction but a lot of people still don’t understand it and many are still a bit intimidated by it as a result.

So what is innovation? David Chuter, CEO of the Innovative Manufacturing CRC, and I, agreed quickly on this.

Let me start by saying what it’s not. Innovation is not Continuous Improvement. And it’s not Invention. The former is a succession of incremental steps, building gradually on everything that’s gone before. The cumulative effect may be significant, but each little change is just that – a little change. The latter is merely a good idea unless somebody does something with it – puts it to use. Then it may become an innovation.