Innovation is context sensitive
Amy Smith MIT Screenless Hammermill
In chatting with several co-workers I find that the word "innovation" is very context sensitive. One person believed innovation was all about being new and unique. Another person thought innovation focused on providing unique value to a specific customer. And another talked about innovation as being lexically derived from the word "invention" (he took the etymological approach).
One person working on a spin out opportunity said that the product was innovative to a specific customer but not innovative in the open market place.
So innovation is time sensitive both ways: something "innovative" 30 years ago is taken for granted now (the internet as an example) and something invented in the 1920's was forgotten and re-discovered as innovative in the 1940's (midair refueling).
Innovation is customer sensitive: Innovation to one customer may not be "innovative" for another.
Innovation is new sensitive: things that are new are more likely to be innovative. Or are they; look at the midair re-fueling example on 13 Oct 2004 entry.
Innovation is location (geographical) sensitive: Milling grain in to flour is not a very prevalent need for most USA citizens but is a dire requirement for those in third world countries. Innovation on milling is focused on the local geographical needs.