Monthly Archives: October 2011

A rant on creativity v. innovation

Creativity and innovation are often used interchangeably. I know that because I have read it in numerous articles. It is written, so it must be true.

It is written, so it must be true…

I beg to differ. Creativity and innovation are not describing the same thing, nor are they describing different stages in the same process. Creativity is an ability, not the act made possible by the ability. A verb exists for that: “to create”. Innovation is a result of a series of acts, not an act in itself. In this way, it is similar to profit. It is not something that one does, it is something that results from what one does.

To be fair, there is nothing special whatsoever in “begging to differ”. Researching creativity I found dozens of definitions originating, no doubt, from a similar inclination. Don’t even get me started on the many ways of abusing the notion of innovation.

Why then, did I feel compelled to adopt my own approach and make these specific distinctions, adding to the noise surrounding these buzz words?

Because if innovation is your goal, there may be less use than you think in spending so much brain power on answering questions of how to motivate and nurture creativity. Innovation may be the result of acts that were never specifically intended to result in something new and did not always emerge from the application of a creative ability.

Therefore, in a flurry of research focused on the why’s of innovation, there may be more value to be derived from a study of HOW.

Specifically, are there any common patterns of behavior in individuals recognized as successful innovators? Irrespective of what motivates them or of whether they are blessed with various degrees of creativity, what is it that they DO differently?

I ask myself…

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