Taking b/s out of innovation

Stewart Butterfield wrote last year We Don’t Sell Saddles Here, a great piece on Slack’s vision. It describes how one shouldn’t just look at the product or what the product can become, but rather on the impact a product can have on its customers as this will give a better north star for product decisions.1 I’ve now read it three times and still find new gems. This time I discovered his understanding of innovation, a term that only few people are innocent of having abused (cough, cough), and how tangible and intuitive it is:

The best — maybe the only? — real, direct measure of “innovation” is change in human behaviour. In fact, it is useful to take this way of thinking as definitional: innovation is the sum of change across the whole system, not a thing which causes a change in how people behave. No small innovation ever caused a large shift in how people spend their time and no large one has ever failed to do so.

1 See also Bruce Lee’s quote: “It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”