Horizontalism: Why Innovation is Becoming the Introduction of New Common Language

We can not innovate faster than we can introduce new shared language. This is hard logics, it needs no analytics to be proven true. Because every innovation needs a name, so we can refer to it, a definition so that we know what it is (or isn’t) and a narrative so that we can relate to it. Otherwise it’s not an innovation. A new name, definition and narrative = new language. Previously, developing the technology and business infrastructure was the bottle neck, and we thought of that as the core of innovation. But technology is often quickly developed today, for example smartphone apps. Business infrastructure is also not much of a bottleneck. A single entrepreneur can set up a multinational business with supply-chain, distribution marketing, sales and back-office – all overnight! There are lots of innovations with good technology, business models and infrastructure. The challenge is getting out the story.

We are getting more aware of the challenges involved in getting people to buy into the story of the innovation. It’s about creating a shared language across the stakeholders and getting the users to adopt it. Overcoming this bottleneck is a key to growth in the innovation economy. It can even be useful to define innovation as “the introduction of  new common language”.

With this language-centric innovation paradigm, an innovator only needs to answer two questions correctly to be successful:

  1. How will my story become their story?
  2. How does it remain mine once it is theirs?

This slide show presents a new take on nurturing innovation ecosystems. It is based on the definition of innovation as the introduction of new common language.. This take is behind the i4j innovation for jobs summit, as well as the innovation journalism initiative at Stanford University.

Until recently, short term economic growth was about doing more of the same. Now, in the innovation economy, it is about doing new things instead. Growth used to be about optimizing silos, now it is about challenging them. In today’s innovation economy, there is a challenge: POWER IS VERTICAL but POTENTIAL IS HORIZONTAL. This slide show presents an idea of how to boost innovation drive growth by applying a new, straight and very simple mindset.

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