The Opposite of Innovation

The internet born of innovation has some great articles on innovation and the need for innovation in business. It almost makes me want to write about the Droste Effect but I digress.

We don’t often talk about what’s on the other side of innovation. Linguistically is exnovation which has been applied as a term to products that are best in class and no longer in need of improvement.

What do I think is on the opposite side of innovation?  I’d like to propose that the opposite of innovation is complacency.  This might be somewhat controversial because it’s not the linguistic opposite and the term that is used for best-in-class doesn’t need any more innovation.  This is where I have a problem.  I don’t know of any products that don’t need any more innovation.

The lightbulb, reasonably simple by today’s standards has been significantly innovated in the past decade due to advances in LED technology and a market for smart devices.

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The pencil while apparently still the same object I used as a kid has its supply chain innovated several times over in the four decades since I was born.  In the wider market of writing utensils we see a great number of products get refined and improved.  My standard pen at work is designed to be erasable and wash off with water.  It ties in with a reusable notebook I have and makes taking notes fun and eco-friendly (in case you’re into that sort of thing).

I’d challenge any reader here to list one product that couldn’t benefit from innovation.

Because I think this way I don’t believe exnovation is real or at least it’s not a good idea.  I’m certain I’m wrong on this, but I don’t know where yet.  I do know that what someone might call exnovation merely seems to me like an excuse to be complacent.  And since complacency is a human condition I’m sure I’m guilty, because it happens to even the best of us.

If the best of us can fall victim to complacency calling it exnovation only gives us a home to feel safe in our fallacy.  Calling it what it is should at least help motivate us to do more.  So, if you’re not innovating (even small iterations) you’re not exnovating, you’re complacent.

 

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