Innovation is the most overused, a grayed-out word in the services sector. While at the same time, it is a universally understood need.
We all know that companies must keep moving to avoid collapse under their weight (I like West's graphic of consecutive exponential lines in his TED talk).
Still, it often lacks the texture to describe what innovation is vs. incremental tweaks in production.
I want to offer a metaphor I often use. Suppose we accept that companies (and people for that matter) have particular affordances in their life and work. Certain actors they engage with, rules, and plays. We practice, strategize and develop tactics to move around the pitch. A sports metaphor becomes useful.
Sometimes, if we're lucky to create the opportunity, we can confuse the game.
We might show up to another game, creating the mental visual of showing up to a basketball match wearing cricket gear.
Or we might be able to develop a new game altogether. A new game will be externally new (instruments, technology, playing field) and require mental development.
Shallow innovation fits within the same sport and gets a higher score. Where deeper one expands the pitch, diversifies the sport, or invents a new game.