Innovation Is More Than Invention

“Innovation is the art of getting people to adopt change.”  -via The Innovator’s Way

Too often, when we hear certain words, the wrong representation comes to mind. Such as, when we hear the word creativity, we have this tendency to bring to mind the idea of the lone artist or scientist holed up in their laboratory or loft creating work that is destined to change the world. And while that may be the case in some instances, most often creativity is happening all around us, by people just like you and me, who are persisting diligently in their daily life to breath new life and energy into their work.

The same thing also seems to happen with the word innovation. When we hear innovation we have this tendency to think of some grand invention being created to change our lives. We think of Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Alexander Bell, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Steve Jobs. We think of some original, novel, and new product or conception that pulls the rug out from under our feet and changes our path into the future.

And that is unfortunate.

When we entertain these fallacies and false representations of important terms like creativity and innovation, we allow those mental myths to push us away engaging in that kind of work. We have to understand that creativity and innovation are too important to the future of our organizations and institutions to entertain wrong notions that hinder us from engaging in the work that will be necessary and required of each of us to move forward effectively into and beyond the 21st century.

However, you still may be asking, if innovation isn’t the just invention of something original, novel and new, then just what is it?

But, before we go any further, let me clarify that innovation can and is the invention of something original, novel and new, it just doesn’t stop there. That is just a part of what innovation is.

When you look at the definition of innovation, you find that words like alteration, transformation, breakthrough, and change come forward.

And the deeper you look, the more you start to see that innovation is truly about change. Whether that change comes in an invention, or a new method, approach or process, a change. Which means that innovation can be as much mental, as physical in nature. Especially, if innovation is about, what John Seely Brown shares in the foreword of The Innovator’s Way as being “the art of getting people to adopt change.”

Which means that innovation is going to require a bit of novel and new, in what we create, the ideas that we put forth, the methods we incorporate, the processes we design, and what we consider and even how we think.

And when we put this lens on innovation, when we frame it in these terms, we begin to see that innovation is not beyond each of one of us.

“The core of the work of innovation appears to be getting people to accept and implement change, and to sacrifice old, familiar ways in order to gain new ways.  For success at innovation, we must learn to do this well.”  -via The Innovator’s Way


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