In our Buzzkill series we shine a light on some common industry buzzwords, and look at how we can reclaim, redefine, and reinvigorate these words together as an industry. See our first Buzzkill post here.

So everyone from Elon Musk down to your favourite local baker wants to be innovative. And because people like Musk and other famous movers-and-shakers, keynote speakers, life coaches, and more are constantly touting the virtues of innovation, this concept has permeated our lives and our business vocabularies to the point where it’s a must-do, must-be, and must-say – a buzzword, if you will. Like all buzzwords, it’s come to the point where we aren’t even sure what it means anymore when we hear this word thrown around in our industry, so today we’re taking a stab at clarifying exactly what it means to be “innovative” in the events world.

First things first – what does “innovation” actually mean?
To help answer that, we’ve armed ourselves with a quote that we love from Theodore Levitt, who was an American economist and professor at Harvard Business School: “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”

Since creativity and innovation go hand-in-hand, they often get used almost interchangeably, and this quote is such a great reminder of the distinction between the two, and how they work together. Creativity is filling your gas tank, but innovation is your foot on the pedal.

This means that when we’re talking about innovation, or referring to ourselves as being innovative, we’re not just talking about how creative we are and how many great ideas we have. We’re talking about having the motivation, the wherewithal, the practical skills, and the certain level of guts required to first see things differently, and then actually go for it and execute new ideas.

Innovation in the events industry
Innovation in events is often focused around cool new products or amazing new ways to impress or engage guests. Those things are without a doubt important, but there are less obvious ways to be innovative too – ways that are just as important and impactful.

A never-before-done idea for an activation is inspiring and exciting. But if innovation is about execution, then innovation shouldn’t stop there. New methods and logistics strategies that increase efficiency, reduce labour hours, enhance safety, or add value to the client’s budget are probably more valuable in the end to a client than any trendy product or mind-boggling photobooth environment. Cool ideas aren’t confined to budgets, and being able to ideate and innovate regardless of budget is a huge value.

And when it comes to product, we think there’s a lot of room for innovation here beyond having all of the newest product all of the time. Sure, we all want to stay on top of what’s latest and greatest and yes, we’re absolutely watching The Hot List presentation every year too. Who wants to be off, or even worse behind (gasp!) trend? Constantly buying new product is an option, but it’s probably not be sustainable – and, it might not actually be the most innovative way to approach product. We definitely keep our inventory current, but more importantly, we consider carefully the product that we add to our warehouse. Investing in product that can be rebranded and reimagined is a smart way to keep product innovative, without ever doing the same thing twice.

Innovation that’s bigger than yourself
To get where we’re going here, consider this (amazing) quote from this Forbes article by Frederick E. Allen: “Greatness on your part is not enough. You are no longer an autonomous innovator. You are now an actor within a broader innovation ecosystem.”

Mic drop, right? This speaks directly to our collaboration-loving souls. We’re always led by our belief that we do nothing on our own, and that everything is better when we do it together – and innovation is no different. It doesn’t matter how clever or great your individual idea is; what matters is what you do with it in context with every single idea, choice, action, or solution that is part of a greater event ecosystem. In the same way, hoping or expecting that a few key players in your office will be “the innovative ones” is not going to work, and thinking that way will limit the innovative potential of your team. As businesses, as event teams, and as an industry, we should all be innovative together, no matter who we are and what role we play. Together, we can push each other and our industry forward, and do things that will blow all of us individually away.

Fired up? Let us know your thoughts about innovation, or other buzzwords you’d like to start a conversation about, by getting social here, here, or here.