That Word, Innovation

Innovation and the Novelty Factory wherein Tim Klapdor defines terms and explains how commercial interests ask for one when they want the other. post

Tim quotes The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means".

Tim quotes Horace Dediu who offers a hierarchy of related terms each building on the other by demonstrating additional attributes. post


Novelty: Something new

Creation: Something individually new

Invention: Something new and useful

Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful


I've revised the attribute wording slightly to reconcile it with the protections offered each: none, copyright, patent, market domination.


Using that model we can see that a lot of what people declare as “innovative” should be re-graded as simple novelty, and what people want in their mission statements isn’t innovation but creation. Innovation is not for everyone.

Innovation is a lot harder and more difficult to achieve because it is essentially change.

Silicon Valley isn’t the hub of innovation – it’s a perfect model of the Novelty Factory churning out vast quantities of “new”, but affecting little real change.


Innovators and investors think differently about time. One invests time and achieves returns at whatever rate happens. The other invests money and hopes returns come quickly so as to achieve a better rate of return. One formula has time in the numerator, the other, the denominator. That makes all the difference.