"Why Iteration is not Innovation"

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Innovation should be driven by use cases — not the other way around

‘Innovation’ probably isn’t the most overused buzzword in the world of business and technology (synergy, anyone?), but I would wager it’s pretty high on that particular list. Most buzzwords have a very real reason for why they became popular before overzealous converts drive them into the ground. ‘Disrupt’ is just such a word; it comes from a real place with an understandable genesis — the scale and speed of digital transformation truly meant conquering startups disrupted both legacy companies as well as legacy industries (Uber really did disrupt the taxi industry; AirBnb really did disrupt the hotel/tourism industry; you get my point…).

But in a rush to don that mantle of disruption, the word has lost a lot of meaning. Not everything is a disruption. So, too, is the case with ‘innovation’ — seemingly everyone is preaching the gospel of innovation for innovation’s sake. And here at ENO8, we use the word ‘innovation’ quite a lot, so are we simply the pot calling the kettle black?

I’d argue no, and here’s why — we don’t extol the virtues of innovation as an end in and of itself; we see innovation as a specific solution to a specific problem our clients bring to us. We start with a use case — a real business problem — and then see if there’s a way we can leverage technological or methodological innovation to most efficiently, economically and efficaciously solve that specific business problem.

In Forbes this week, our Chief Architect William Francis wrote to that effect:

“The function of technology within an organization is to find a smarter way of getting things done. I encourage my team to make time each week to keep abreast of developments so that when a business need arrives, they are equipped to make a real case for a new technology. Innovation should be driven by a use case, not the other way around.

His distinction is prescient — we push ourselves to stay abreast of the latest, greatest, most ground-breaking technologies. That way, if clients have a particularly interesting or vexing problem, we’re ready to deploy the best possible solution to solve that problem, which often times will involve a novel or innovative technology, platform or methodology. But, we don’t try to shoehorn ‘innovation’ down our clients’ respective throats. We deploy it when the situation calls for it — we don’t call for it regardless of the situation.

That’s a huge difference.

We start at a use case and then innovate outward as necessary. We would caution others to do the same.


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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