What is innovation, creativity and design?

3 04 2013

Having previously discussed why companies need to innovate I thought it might be appropriate to actually define innovation. Innovation is often seen as a something vague and woolly. The image of the mad scientist comes to mind and this results in confusion between innovation and invention.

Innovation = Creativity + Implementation

Creativity is process of coming up with new ideas, suggestions, improvements, products or services. This is not about a flash of inspiration. It actually relates to a body of knowledge. You need to have a detailed knowledge of your product/service/market in order to be genuinely creative. Everyone can be creative if the environment is right but creativity cannot be ordered or demanded. People have to be inspired.

Implementation is the process of taking an idea and making it happen. If creativity is a little intangible then implementation is the very tangible. It requires an organised, systematic approach to getting things done. There are three key steps in the implementation process:

  1. Idea selection: this is where you take all the ideas that have been suggested from the “creativity” phase and decided which ones to progress. This should be based on which ones are the best fit with the strategic goals of the organisation.
  2. Development: this step is about taking an idea and moving it to a stage where is can be tested and fully assessed. To borrow a term from product development you create a prototype though this can apply in the service sector also eg a chain of restaurants may test a new menu in one restaurant before rolling it out fully.
  3. Commercialisation: this step is about bringing the idea to marketing successfully.

What does this mean for an organisation? It means that to be innovative requires different skill sets that need to be combined effectively in order to be successful.

To be creative people have to think differently; to be innovative people have to behave differently.

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