What do we mean by innovation and being innovative, and how do
we distinguish this from creativity? By 'innovative' we mean the
systematic capacity of organisations to successfully exploit new
ideas in a commercial context, wherever and whenever they arise
and to whatever they might be applied.
We therefore make a firm distinction between creativity and innovation.
Whereas the dominant focus of creativity is on the individual,
innovation is more firmly located as a property of the organisation.
Both are important, are symbiotic and respond to organisational
management. You cannot have innovation without creativity, and
there is little point in a company having individually creative
employees unless that is channelled into innovation benefiting
the organisation and its customers.
Managers in organisations typically understand creativity better
than they do innovation. And because the training market predominantly
addresses individuals and their skills, creativity receives more
attention and funding than does innovation. Interventions aimed
at improving innovation are more subtle and complex than those
that seek to make individuals more creative or try to encourage
more ideas to come forward. But it is at the interface with the
organisation's needs, systems and dynamics where the biggest payback
This wider perspective of innovation is often overlooked, particularly
given that western culture gives primacy to the individual. But
innovation as defined here is fundamental to long-term business
success. Such capability is widely seen as holding one of the
most important keys to unlocking competitive advantage.
William Tate, the Director of Prometheus Consulting, co-authored
Opportunity Through People, published by the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development.
His The Business Innovation Audit
is an organisation development toolkit published by Triarchy Press.