What Stands Out To Me
Morgan O'Brien is the CEO of pdvWireless. He co-founded Nextel, serving as its chairman from 1987-1995 and as vice chairman until its merger with Sprint in 2005.
What makes one idea, enterprise, or initiative more "innovative" than another? Dictionary definitions don't help much — "introducing something new" and "featuring new methods; advanced and original" don't come close to what innovation means in today's world, especially in the context of the Fortnightly Top Innovators 2018. The meaning is insidiously flexible. Like some other buzzwords, "innovative" is particularly adept at taking on the meaning preferred by the person hearing it, whatever the speaker's intent.
Respondents to my own informal survey - all of whom work in technology in one form or another — were remarkably consistent in their views. They reliably added to the dictionary definition's focus on newness an element of usefulness and meeting a need, always creative, usually impactful, and frequently disruptive.
In selecting among the Top Innovators nominations, I tried to apply this more nuanced, perhaps more current view of innovation.
But even with this fairly detailed definition, the speaker's intent may not survive the hearer's assumptions. Specifically, when you hear that an innovation is useful and meets a need in a creative way, you presume that the innovation is an overall good and should be widely adopted. Though I consider myself an innovator, I have come to believe that in many cases and for many good reasons, the innovative approach is not necessarily the right one.