“Innovation”, when closely associated with “law firm” makes me twitchy. I can’t remember the last time I came across a law firm that wasn’t “innovative”. I am not alone in thinking the term is overused as much of what is described as innovation is really just about being current. I am all for innovation, truly I am, but the hype often exceeds the end product. 

The overuse issue may just be down to sloppy labelling and okay, so maybe I’ve become a word pedant, but I’m not alone: Horace Dediu usefully distinguishes between innovation, invention, creation and novelty. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘huh?’ you would be amongst a majority group suffering from ‘innoveracy’. Look it up. Then get out of that group.

Pedantry aside, lazy and plain wrong labelling affects impact and positioning, plus it can make you look stupid or out of touch or both. Harsh, perhaps, but in an age where comparison and competition are a click away, the power of The (Right) Word leads to marginal gains essential in a saturated and competitive market. 

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard to transform my twitch into competitive enthusiasm.  When last a partner swelled to a climactic finish about his new CIO’s latest whizz initiative, I was positively gushing. “I'm so impressed by your firm's innovation but tell me is it just incremental innovation or do you do architectural innovation as well?” 

Can you correctly identify which of the four Dediu categories the ostrich pillow [see photo] belongs to? While you work that out, I’ll be  placing an order for a CHBL Jammer coat  which is too innovative to be available for purchase as yet.