In today's world, buzzwords are everywhere. Within the realm of innovation, the misuse of these innovation buzzwords runs rampant. Often, these words and phrases push people away from innovation as they perceive it to be too complex.
Buzzwords: What are they?
Often used to impress something upon someone, buzzwords can be technical or specific to a particular industry. Common buzzword examples are synergy, clickbait, and growth hacking. Synergy means something that works together. Clickbait refers to content developers such as Youtubers who exaggerate what their videos are about. Growth hacking means finding different ways to grow a business. Initially meant to simplify things, more often than not, buzzwords complicate them.
Within the world of innovation, there are many existing buzzwords that people dislike. The most common one I hear is design-thinking, which has been around for a while. Originally, this term referred to devising the user's needs at the beginning of a project and carrying that approach to the end. Unfortunately, this buzzword has been misused and turned into something different.
Misused Innovation Buzzwords
Let's look at an innovation buzzword I often use, ideation. At The Innovators Network, we teach workshops on the ideation process. Ideation is the process of generating more and better ideas. At the end of it all, ideation is a made-up word that means relatively the same thing that brainstorming does.
Another innovation buzzword is a disruptor— someone or something that shakes things up when entering an established industry. This shakeup is through the usage of different techniques and approaches. An excellent example of a disruptor is when Uber entered and changed the ride-hailing services industry.
Another buzzword that I use often is innovator. An innovator is simply one who presents a new product, service, or a new transformative technique. The issue that arises with this term is that so many people call themselves innovators when they don't offer anything innovative or perform innovation. Because of its rampant misuse, it has become harder to identify the real innovators from the fake ones.
Other Buzzword Examples
Next up is the term system-thinking. Top consulting firms often use this buzzword. Companies use the term in attempts to differentiate the services they offer from their competitors. System thinking means looking at things as systems rather than established processes. At its core, this term, like other buzzwords, is an overcomplication of something simple.
Pain points is another buzzword that refers to things that drive customers crazy. Another commonly used innovation buzzword is social innovation. This one is self-explanatory. It means using innovation to solve social problems.
When it comes to innovation, buzzwords create a barrier between those inside and outside the innovation space. While buzzwords aren't inherently wrong, their misuses often lead to confusion and misguidance. I hope that misuse of these buzzwords will start to diminish, creating more apparent openings for others to participate in genuine innovation efforts.
To know more about the misuse of innovation buzzwords, listen to this week's show: Misused Innovation Buzzwords.