In a post at the Daily Fix blog, Paul Williams poses this question: "If you were to put a few talented musicians or skilled screenwriters into a room and [mandate that they] write a Grammy-winning song or Oscar-winning blockbuster, could they do it?"

They could try, obviously, and some might even succeed, but prize-winning creative work is not something that can be created on demand. "So why do we put business people in rooms and command them to drum up innovations?" he concludes.

Williams argues that we should think of innovation as the end result, not the process that leads us there. The acclaim is awarded after the fact, when ideas have led to a significant move forward. "You can try to create ground-breaking ideas intended for this purpose," he says, "but until [the potential innovation is] launched and in use, you won't know if it is an innovation."

It's more productive, therefore, to focus on less abstract and more tangible goals—for instance, brainstorming ways to make a product or process even better.

The Po!nt: "Telling people to 'innovate' is the problem," says Williams. "It frames the wrong issue. The mission of the team isn't to 'innovate,' it is to: 'Create remarkable ideas that have the potential to induce improvement and change.'"

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