How ‘innovation’ is getting tired

The Wall Street Journal argues that the word is being stretched well beyond its intended use when it comes to products, including a new variety of Pop-Tarts.


Walk into any business meeting happening today and chances are good that you’ll hear some jargon. One increasingly misused word—especially for those working in technology—is “innovation.” How ironic that one of the least innovative words … is innovation. The Wall Street Journal pointed that out this week, using the example of Kellogg’s new line of Gone Nutty! Pop-Tarts, which CEO John Bryan called “an innovation.” A new product? Sure. An innovation? I don’t know … looks like an average Pop Tart with some different stuff in it to me. From The Wall Street Journal:

In the last three months, CEOs of S&P 500 companies have put the “innovation” word on Peony & Blush Suede perfume, premium potash and higher-alcohol Miller beer. “Innovation” also describes Dun & Bradstreet credit reports and PetSmart’s temporary tattoos for pets.

True innovation should be reserved for bringing something new to market. Bringing the Pop Tart to grocery store shelves was an innovation. Kellogg’s affected what millions of people eat for breakfast. New updates (flavors) keep the innovation fresh. In other words, survival in the marketplace does not equal innovation.

Or, as the WSJ‘s Dennis Berman asks, “Where does survival end and real innovation begin?” (Image via)

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