"Innovation" Word "Is Way Over-Used"
(p. B1) It measures nearly 3 inches by 5 inches, and it's made from enriched flour, corn syrup and creamy peanut butter.
This is Kellogg's Gone Nutty! peanut butter Pop-Tart. If you agree with Kellogg CEO John Bryant, it's one of the cereal company's important products of 2013. He went so far as to call it an innovation.
Listen to the chiefs of America's biggest companies, and you'll find the Gone Nutty! Pop-Tart has plenty of company. Most CEOs now spray the word "innovation" as if it were an air freshener. A little spritz can't hurt.
In the last three months, CEOs of S&P 500 companies have put the "innovation" word on Peony & Blush Suede perfume, premium potash and higher-alcohol Miller beer. "Innovation" also describes Dun & Bradstreet credit reports and PetSmart's temporary tattoos for pets.
Back in 2007, 99 companies in the S&P 500 mentioned innovation in their third-quarter conference calls, according to reviews of transcripts from Capital IQ. This year the number was 197.
When Boston Consulting Group asked 1,500 executives to rank their company innovation from 1-10, more than two-thirds rated themselves a seven or higher.
The word "is way overused," says International Paper CEO John Faraci.
. . .
(p. B8) As for the peanut butter Pop-Tarts, a Kellogg spokeswoman says that it had long been one of the most-requested new flavors.
"Development challenges and nut-allergy concerns stood in the way of launching this innovation. Since its launch, Pop-Tarts Gone Nutty has exceeded our expectations."
There's nothing wrong with keeping pace. It's what companies must do. But it's worth asking at your company, no matter what words the CEO uses: Where does survival end
and real innovation begin?
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(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date December 3, 2013.)