I recently asked my estimable colleague, CXO Online Editorial Director Chris Lindquist, when innovation got to be such a hot topic.And Lindquist, who\u2019s not even a cranky old guy yet (but, I\u2019m proud to say, seems to be well on his way) answered: \u201cWhen it became something people could make a buck off.\u201dWell, the innovation business is booming.So, naturally, everyone wants to be innovative.For example, when CIO magazine surveyed IT leaders for our recent \u201cState of the CIO\u201d special issue\u00a0in order to slot them into the four basic archetypes we identified (Operational Expert; Business Leader; Innovation Agent; Turnaround Artist), the number that qualified as Innovation Agents turned out to be a very small percentage of the more than 550 IT leaders who responded. But when people filled out our online self-assessment tool, that number jumped to almost 50 percent.Nearly half of you guys are innovation agents? Come on, fellas. Fess up. You cheated and all that proves is that you\u2019re smart enough to game a quiz\u2014like filling out a Playboy self-assessment that \u201cproves\u201d that you\u2019re the world\u2019s greatest lover.But that\u2019s okay. I can dig it. Your bosses want you to be innovative (or at least they think they do) and everywhere you look people are writing books about innovation, pulling down speaker fees for talking about innovation and peddling software that promises to help businesses organize the online communities and social networks that (the vendors and gurus agree) are absolutely essential to coming up with and implementing new ideas. (Check out Christopher Koch\u2019s excellent blog on social networking, \u201cWeb 2.0: A Community in Denial,\u201d\u00a0for an analysis of whether these social networks are producing, or have the capability of producing anything of real value.) And after you buy all that software, you\u2019ll need some more to collect, categorize, digest, manage and analyze the torrent of data that will (they assure you) pour out of all those communities.The community angle is really hot.Mention online community and then you better duck because the venture capitalists will start throwing big, heavy bags of gold in your general direction.Me, I\u2019m suspicious.I go by Sturgeon\u2019s Law: \u201cNinety percent of everything is crud.\u201d If that\u2019s true (and I believe it is), then 90 percent of all the ideas these online communities come up with will be absolutely useless to you. Actually, worse than useless, because you\u2019re going to have to devote a lot of time and money and resources into discovering just how cruddy they are.The one upside I can see in all this process growing like mold around the idea of innovation is that it relieves people of the responsibility for coming up with new ideas of their own.So the real growth area, the real opportunity, is in telling people how to come up with new ideas, not actually coming up with them yourself.That takes imagination, creativity and leadership\u2014which is hard work and not nearly as profitable.Of course, that\u2019s just me being cranky. Which is my job.