Recently on Quora, I answered a question that deals with a couple of concepts that are super talked about nowadays: “creativity” and “innovation”. In the tech-savvy, always-connected, ever-evolving world we live in, those 2 words are in everyone’s mouths.
Does everyone know what they’re really talking about? Most people are not sure how to define creativity or innovation, and get their noodles cooking when asked to differentiate the two. If that’s the case for you, don’t feel bad. There are a few different definitions out there, so it’s a little bit like religion: you should stick to whatever you believe, but if someone else believes something different, it doesn’t mean their wrong. But there are a some related concepts that are undeniable, like the fact that every new idea generates from previously existing concepts.
Read my answer below, or read it on Quora.
What is the difference between creativity and innovation? How do you define creativity? How do you define innovation?
You’re going to find that the definition of “creativity” and “innovation” vary A LOT depending of the author/source. I have my own take on it, which I offer below.
First of all, “creativity” doesn’t define or relates to ideas or things that are absolutely new and underived from other ideas or concepts. That doesn’t exist. Every new idea/concept comes from pre-existing elements.
To me, every innovation involves creativity, but not all forms of creativity are innovative. Both involve creating things that didn’t exist before you created them.
Creativity is the ability or act of generating new ideas by combining two or more pre-existing concepts and bringing those ideas into the world. That can apply to anything; from writing a poem to developing a new consumer product.
HOW creative we judge that poem or that consumer product to be is a more abstract concept, that will vary from person to person. But it has to do with how the new idea fits into the context of our times and personal experiences.
[Read more about this on this previous post or watch this part of a lecture I presented at a Brazilian university.]
There’s a very popular definition for “innovation” that describes it as “creativity realized”. Like coming up with an idea for a new consumer product, for instance, and actually producing it. This suggests that if you have great ideas and do nothing about them, it can still be called creativity. I don’t agree with that. Creativity requires creation.
Innovation is something that, through creativity, redefines or disrupts one or more aspects of a set of expectations surrounding a solution to a specific problem.
Designing a new electronic device is creative. Creating a phone that allows for 3rd parties to create apps for it is innovative. The launch of the iPhone created the term “smartphone” and created a whole new market for tech/software companies, disrupting the telecom industry.
Writing a book is creative. Writing a book released one page per day on Instagram is innovative. The @lookatmebook by ad creative Jason Sperling is innovative, because it brakes the expectations of how a book is supposed to be published.