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Is Innovation the Most Abused Word In Business? 287

dcblogs writes "Most of what is called innovation today is mere distraction, according to a paper by economist Robert Gordon, written for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Real innovations involve things like the combustion engine or air conditioning, not the smartphone. The paper includes thought experiments to help you gain more respect for genuine innovations such as indoor plumbing. The Financial Times has posted the complete 25-page paper.(pdf)"
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Is Innovation the Most Abused Word In Business?

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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:12AM (#41176941)

    I find it funny, I got an MBA degree, there was a strong effort in making sure we don't use buzz words, but to actually understand what they mean, then not to use them.

    There are a lot of Managers and Upper Managers without MBA's those are the ones who tend to be the biggest offenders. They will hear MBA's use the terms in correct context then reuse them out of context.

    For Example Synergy Is an aspect when people working in a team or a group produce more then the sum of each person. The Non-MBA takes this as meaning working well in a team, or just having a lot of energy and excitement about the work they do. Synergy is often not achieved even with groups and teams that work well with a lot of energy. Because as you put more people on a team the natural aspect is for each member is to work a little less hard then if they would do it themselves. MBA's may talk about Synergy as a goal, the other guys who don't know what it means and are too timid to ask, will interpret it incorrectly and reuse it in the wrong way. So in the modern MBA class we are told to avoid using these new terms that we learn because the non-MBA abuse them and degrade their meeting.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by arikol ( 728226 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:34AM (#41177049) Journal

    This was modded funny, but it's actually a quite clever comment.

    If GrpA had included some context it would be informative

    Thing is, in aviation, the first passenger jet, the DH Comet started exploding in flight and no one knew why. Turns out that square corners in windows and doors is a bad idea when it comes to pressured vessels made from aluminium.

    The failure modes of aluminium weren't perfectly understood at the time, and after huge amounts of testing (actually quite impressive amounts of testing using quite clever methods) they found that repeated pressurisation/depressurisation cycles led to the formation of microcracks at the corner's of windows and doors. This wasn't thought to be a big issue, because the best known metals (steel, iron) had quite gradual and benign failure modes.

    Well, it turned out that aluminium fails quite spectacularly when it has any kind of stress damage.

    The whole fuselage of the aircraft would basically rip apart in an explosive manner, and this was in a static testing tank so the 800km/h speed wasn't even factored in.

    The solution?
    Rounded rectangles for windows (or oval shaped windows)
    The cockpit windows have sharp corners, but also have special reinforcement to decrease/distribute the stress.

    So, rounded rectangles can actually be a major innovation :D

Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. -- F.M. Hubbard