Like "cool", the word "innovation" long ago became a general and imprecise term.
In common use innovation is used as a broad term, and one capable of covering the range from invention and fundamental scientific discovery, through to creativity, all the way to even a mere change. This broad use groups these quite different processes together.
In our firm we use "innovation" to refer to changes in business products, services, technologies and systems. When we are referring to invention or fundamental reworking of methodologies, products or services we try to avoid the generic term innovation. For these processes there are perfectly good alternative words.
To illustrate, for Tiffany an innovation might then be a change in the tone of its classic box colour. As illustrated it might go from an aqua blue box to a box in a darker shade of blue.
In our firm we maintain a Commercialisation Glossary. As an intellectual property law firm and commercialisation consultancy, it is very important for us to use words in a consistent manner across contracts and related documents.
Here is an extract setting out our definition of the word innovation.
Innovation: change that adds value, resulting in new creations and new ways of doing things. The spectrum covered by innovation includes at one end a new creation, concept, discovery or invention and at the other end merchandising, repackaging, relaunching, improvements, and line extension. As a process, innovation requires people who create, collect, assess and test innovation. These people can benefit from an organisation which implements the related processes of:
codification of knowledge;
definition of its core competencies and core processes;
linking or merging knowledge islands;
knowledge management; and