What is the Difference between Creativity and Innovation?

snakes2Discussions about innovation are often made difficult because people are unclear about the exact meanings of some key terms. In particular there is confusion about the difference between creativity, innovation and invention. Let us start with some definitions:

Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual

Innovation is the implementation of something new.

Invention is the creation of something that has never been made before and is recognized as the product of some unique insight.

If you have a brainstorm meeting and dream up dozens of new ideas then you have displayed creativity but there is no innovation until something gets implemented. Somebody has to take a risk and deliver something for a creative idea to be turned into an innovation. An invention might be a product or device or method that has never existed before. So every invention is an innovation. But every innovation is not an invention. When your company first published its website that was a major innovation for the company even though many other websites already existed.

We tend to think of an innovation as a new product but you can innovate with a new process, method, business model, partnership, route to market or marketing method. Indeed every aspect of your business operation is a candidate for innovation. Peter Drucker said, ‘Every organisation must prepare for the abandonment of everything it does.’ So do not restrict your vision of innovation to products. Some of the most powerful innovations you can make are in business methods and customer services. If we look at companies like Dell, eBay and Amazon we see that their great innovations were with their business models rather than in new products.

Innovations can be incremental or radical. Every improvement that you make in products or services can be seen as an incremental innovation. Most businesses and most managers are good at incremental innovation. They see problems in the current set-up and they fix them. Radical innovations involve finding an entirely new way to do things. As such they are often risky and difficult to implement. Most larger organisations and most managers are poor at radical innovation. If you had been making LP records then you could have introduced incremental innovations in your design and marketing. However if this was your strategy then a radical innovation, the CD, would eventually kill you. The CD manufacturer could similarly introduce various incremental improvements. Once again a radical innovation, music downloads over the internet, would make your offering obsolete. So we need to constantly look for incremental innovations and radical innovations. We need to develop creativity and turn it quickly into innovation.

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36 thoughts on “What is the Difference between Creativity and Innovation?

  1. It’s interesting that with all innovation preceded by creativity and invention that such short-shrift in the UK and elsewhere is given to inventors & creative industries.

    I lose count of the time I have heard the battle cry – ideas are worthless until they have been commercialised. And whilst I agree commercialisation / implementation will indeed make the difference between success and failure – it certainly does not mean that pre-commercialised concepts are worthless.

    It’s just a negotiation or misappropriation excuse used to undermine the Creator by those with more money and power to implement an innovation concept.

    A more respectful and ethical balance needs to become the norm in order to open-up innovation not restrict it by de-motivating the creators & IP generators.

  2. Really like how you make a distinction between creativity and innovation. You point about incremental innovation really gets down to the fact that people like to solve problems and be helpful. They like to have something to work with and make a small change. Its when you ask them to generate something new that they procrastinate. Could it be that incremental innovation does not expose you some much to criticism, whereas radical innovation does?

    1. According to my knowledge on incremental and radical innovation. The reason why radical innovation gets so much criticism it’s because it has to bring a significant impact in the market, although this contains more risk and issues that has to deal with risks tends to bring more criticism to those with less. So it makes sense why incremental innovation which deals with less risks is not expose to much criticism

  3. That’s interesting .
    but ” creativity is making of some thing unique that never held before . it mean to make some thing from its zero stage”

    & innovation is to amendment (to introduce the new fact) of some thing thing in a existing product

  4. Good post, I agree that invention includes innovation and not necessarily the contrary, we can have innovation without invention, iPhone is a good example, and we can have a parallel with creativity, to innovate you need creativity, but creativity isn’t necessarily innovation, a creative mind can do everything even usefulness things, for me innovation happens when we enter in the market, is validated by the market, until there we still are in a creative process.

  5. Radical Innovation is the most needed because we have to be creative,not relaying in idea of Incremental Innovation though it is also needed,we have to use our minds to discover new things! I also prefer invention,it shows how much someone worked hard to put up something new,it also encourages competition in the market.

  6. creativity is the way one brings something new or original into esistance

    innovation is modifying something to make it new.

    invention is the process of inventing or use a technique to do somethin

  7. Comments 13 & 14 seem about right. Innovatus is the latin for renewed, which suggests some kind of change to something which exists. We then have to consider the ideas that “nothing comes from nothing”. For example, a cubist style of painting a picture is still a subset of painting a picture, it’s not a sculpture or a something without a category (not that a lack of category means that a thing can’t be categorised).

  8. creativity is the capaciy to develop new idea,product or service for the advancement of society but innovation is when a product is perceived as new by a potential adopter

  9. reform is redesigning something that is in existence before while innovation is commercializing creativity.

  10. Creativity goes hand in hand with innovation. And there is no innovation without creativity. While creativity is the ability to produce new and unique ideas, innovation is the implementation of that creativity – that’s the introduction of a new idea, solution, process, or product. Creativity is the driving force behind innovation and the incorporation of looking at things from a different perspective and freedom of restrictions by rules and written or unwritten norms.

  11. Great. Creativity – Mind based outcomes – in my view – more in nature of ideas / concepts.
    Innovation – An idea being implemented bringing significant positive change / comforts / ease (every micro improvement may not be called Innovation) . The change could be in processes or in the end product utility.

    Wish to state that as a human being, we all are made to –
    -be creative every second that we see, talk, think.
    And we give our PERSONAL INTERPRETATIONS based on our life experiences / understandings.

    1. Creativity is about coming up with ideas & creativity is happens above shoulder. Innovation is about implementation of those ideas and it happens below shoulder. Hope it put things in the right sense – at least for a layman.

  12. creativity is the arrangement of several ideas in to a new physical outlook.
    innovation is the process of commercializing a service, product and new goods that never existed before.

  13. creativity is whereby one conceive something new/original and unusual.
    innovation is the implementation of something that has never been there before /uniqie

  14. Creativity is about creating new ideas,imagination and possibilities. But innovation is about introduction of something new and effective in advertising.

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