Because the word “innovation” can mean both the act of innovating and the result of innovating, it is important to make a clear distinction between both. Most definitions of innovation (and there are plenty) involve describing the results.
Like the saying, you can’t tell which way a train went by looking at its tracks, you can’t tell how to innovate by looking at an innovation. The definitions of innovation all try to explain innovation by describing “an innovation.” Unfortunately, they provide no insight regarding “innovating,” the act or process of creating an innovation.
This is a problem because corporate innovation is all about trying to build a system that is repeatable, affordable, and predictable. The “process” of “innovating” is how we eventually get “an innovation.” And though the inputs (customer needs) and the outputs (valuable solutions) will always have degrees of variability, it is the system of innovation that must be constant and predictable to be useful to corporations. This means that how we think and act matters.