According to the RIT website, one of the values of the university is “Innovation and Flexibility,” meaning that RIT “Provides and/or encourages new ideas that could make the department, college, or division an even better organization.” As a higher-education institution, RIT has an obligation to facilitate such innovation and flexibility and in my opinion, has done a pretty decent job.
Innovation is important. Large corporations, small businesses and even college students are learning what it means, how to do it and why they should care. In the most simplistic terms, innovation refers to the creation of something new.
A friend’s idea to wrap taco salad in a flour tortilla, creating either an easy-to-eat meal or a redundant Mexican dish, was pretty innovative if you ask me. However, the term innovation has been used to mean many different things, blurring the lines between invention and improvement.
Though it may not be viral enough to qualify as a “fad,” innovation is becoming an increasingly used buzzword with an indistinct definition and diminished significance.
Branded as the “Innovation University,” RIT has made its commitment to innovation quite apparent. “Hello, I’m an RIT innovator!” reads one of the many t-shirts sitting in the back of my closet. From the moment I first arrived on campus I was bombarded by information stating that I was supposed to be innovative, I was surrounded by innovative people and by the time I graduated I would do innovative things. After awhile, it became a bit monotonous.
An anonymous quote found in a LinkedIn post by founder of FORTH Innovation Method Gijs van Wulfen states “innovation is anything, but business as usual.” If the overuse of the term innovation continues, it will become exactly that: business as usual. Innovation, by nature, is novel and exciting and to be innovative requires originality and inspiration.
If every product improvement or process modification is innovative, where does that leave the truly unique ideas and inventions? The term’s constant use at RIT lessens its effect and in turn, can cause apathy towards projects branded as innovative.