Maxine Park: Innovation – a word which complicates the simple
Is the word innovation being overused in the business world?
I think it’s fair to say that it is almost becoming clichéd in a world where the spotlight on business leaders is now more intense than ever before.
This opinion only crystallised to me last week at an event with our local law society in Hertfordshire. As a founder of a business where law firms outsource their dictation services to our teams of legal secretaries, I noticed the word innovation, innovators, innovate landing in my ears many times in as many hours on this pleasant evening, and it made me sit back and think more about the connotations of the word.
Whilst business leaders like to hear nice things about their work, I wondered am I alone in thinking, in essence, it is a little more than a very nice word glamourising change?
For instance, like many who started their own business, I did not see myself as someone changing the world, I just found myself daring to do something slightly different from the norm.
It wasn’t inventing an electric aeroplane that could run on water and take people across the Atlantic faster than Concord, it was a simple solution where there was a gap in the market to build a business that serves a need.
Don’t believe the Dragons Den gloss
Many of the best ideas are simple ones. We found a market for law firms almost 20 years ago to outsource typing and we have ‘innovated’ further. This means we have changed since. We realised that other industries like local government, the medical industry etc., could also benefit from what we do, so we tested the water and now have clients in these fields and others too.
We continue to grow and this is the essence of innovation for all firms. It’s simply seeing opportunities and trying them out. In other words, forging ahead.
It is heartening that the last few years has seen business leaders/ entrepreneurs inspire so many with shows like Dragons Den, but I believe these are here primarily for entertainment.
We need to be honest enough to strip away the glamour of the media, and the celebrity of the very wealthy dragons, and realise that most business leaders aren’t some astonishing band of superior beings with brains constructed in a new way never known in the evolution of mankind.
They are people who have guts. They get rejections, try things that fail, and, just like employees, sometimes can get incredibly down. They just find they build up resilience and keep on going until they succeed. Even then, the best of them rarely have life completely sorted.
Keep your feet on the ground
The entrepreneurs of this world who stay on top of the pile and retain balance in their lives, I believe, are always the most humble ones. They celebrate success, but not too much- they don’t let failure get them down too much either. They are likeable too, and don’t people always buy from people?
These superstars of business are just ordinary people who change things when there’s a need, be it online shopping, music streaming services, or opening take-aways on high streets.
It is right that we inspire a new generation of businessmen, but let’s not do it from a pedestal of superiority, but as the best of teachers. Innovation sounds better than change, but the plain truth is that’s all it is.
By Maxine Park
Do you think the word innovation is a misunderstood and daunting word? What does it mean to you?