Sometimes, Innovation is an Orphan

An idea is different from an invention, an improvement or an innovation. An idea is a thought that stays in your head. An invention, technology or process is an idea reduced to practice.

Quick: who said "Necessity is the mother of invention"?

a. Donald Trump

b. Karl Marx

c. Plato

d. Steve Jobs

(We’ll get to back to that.)

Affluenza, worthless technologies, and medical procedures that don't work are not something new. In this age of the innovative imperative, where nothing seems to be valued unless it is shiny and new, we are seeing a resurgence of the disease. The latest form of the disease is digital health.

An idea is different from an invention, an improvement or an innovation. An idea is a thought that stays in your head. An invention, technology or process is an idea reduced to practice. Whether something results in an improvement, an innovation or a solution looking for a problem depends on where it sits on the user defined novelty-value matrix. Innovations create much higher multiples of perceived user defined value when compared to the competition or the status quo. In fact, consumer research indicates it takes at least a 5x multiple of perceived value difference for consumers to change from one product to another.

Here are 10 things you should know about innovation.

While necessity might be the mother of invention, sometimes innovation, particularly those technologies that consumers did not know they needed until they appear, are orphans in the early stages. They are ignored or abused and only grow to be healthy adults because passionate, loving foster parents claim parenthood in the early stages. Of course, once these innovations are born, parents start coming out of the shadows to claim ownership.

Plato (the right answer) was indeed a clever guy. But, he might have been confusing invention with innovation. Maybe he should have just stuck with that shadow in the cave thing.