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Understanding the Value of Useful Novelty

January 26, 2014, 7:00 AM

What is innovation and how is innovation different from all other forms of value?  Well that's the big question.  There are lots of definitions for innovation, but I think the simplest one is innovation is anything that makes any product, any service or any experience better or new, better or new. 

Useful novelty is the key to innovation and how innovation is different from everything else is really in three parts.  Number one, innovation is different because it's the only form of value that happens in the future for which we have no real data. 

The great irony is what people do when they don't know what's going to happen next is they collect excessive data, which stops them from acting, so it's a great form of resistance. Innovation happens in the future. 

Number two; innovation has a shelf life.  It goes sour like milk.  Innovation is only an innovation for a very short period of time.  And then finally, innovations happen in cycles and that is when something is an innovative product or a service or solution or an experience.  It's only that for a period of time before it slides off and becomes a commodity and the cycle begins again. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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