Creativity Is Not Innovation (But You Need Both)

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Written By Obaid Ur Rehman

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Creativity and Not Innovation are two related but separate notions, and each is required for workplace success. Here’s the difference, and how you can inspire both.

  • Innovation, not creativity, is what drives business development and inventions. However, innovation cannot occur without the involvement of creative individuals.
  • Giving people the freedom to occasionally think outside the box and deviate from the standard is one way to foster creativity.
  • If you allow bureaucracy to stifle innovation in your business, your rivals will advance with increased market share.
  • The goal of this essay is to help prospective company owners and entrepreneurs learn how to mix creativity and innovation to build really unique enterprises.

The terms “creativity” and “innovation” are frequently used in brainstorming sessions, business gatherings, and mission statements. There is little doubt that these ideals are highly regarded in the hectic modern workplace, but do the leaders who employ the phrases actually understand their distinctions?

Also Read: The Best Shared Calendar Apps for Your Business

What is creativity?

The most human of traits, creativity, shows through in our capacity to come up with creative solutions to issues or obstacles. Creativity is defined as “the capability or act of thinking something original or uncommon” by Shawn Hunter, author of Out Think: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes (Wiley, 2013).

The important thing is that creativity is still only a brilliant notion and not yet a reality. The ability to express complicated thoughts is something that only humans are capable of doing; the majority of what they do impart is based on instinct or by means of example.

Types of creativity

Research on creativity by Arne Dietrich, Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, categorizes it into four types: spontaneous and emotional, spontaneous and cognitive, deliberate and emotional, and deliberate and cognitive.

Every one of the four forms of creativity is accessible to anyone. Deliberate and cognitive creativity may appear while working, which is particularly true for information professionals like researchers, attorneys, and physicians, whereas spontaneous and emotional creativity might emerge during an artistic endeavour.

While emotional and spontaneous creativity comes from the amygdala, deliberate and cognitive creativity relies on the prefrontal cortex and developed connections between knowledge stored in the brain.

What is innovation?

The Ten Types of Innovation Framework was developed by Doblin, a worldwide innovation consultancy that assists top businesses in finding human-centered solutions to business challenges, in order to recognize transformative possibilities, especially in the business world. Doblin identified three main categories based on studies of more than 2000 successful innovations: business model, product, and marketing.

Business model:

These internal-focused configuration innovations examine how a company runs and generates income. These might carry a larger risk since they occasionally alter the fundamental choices upon which enterprises are based. When owners and operators discover oversaturated markets, low consumer satisfaction, or out-of-date technology, business model improvements are best pursued.


Product innovations, which are almost always tangible, either improve on currently available material items or result in the production of a completely new product. The most prevalent type of invention, renowned examples include wireless headphones, cellphones, fidget spinners, and foot-massaging insoles.


Marketing innovation expands the market share of already existing markets or generates new ones. Marketing innovations are fresh, disruptive methods for companies to interact with their customers. Marketing innovation may be as basic as pushing a current product for a different application than what was originally intended, in addition to introducing a new method of communicating with the audience.

What’s the difference between creativity and innovation?

While closely related as an element of the creating process, creativity and innovation are not the same. Innovation, which at its most basic level simply means “new,” is measurable in the sense that it is the production of anything new, whether it be a new product, concept, or process. In contrast, creativity is not quantifiable and is thus subjective.

Why are innovation and creativity important?

Innovation is typically a simpler challenge for more players to complete if a concept is feasible. Being the first to recognize that something may be conceivable in the first place is a unique step in the creative process. Innovation, though, is more than simply thinking; it’s the process of turning ideas into reality, despite obstacles and opposition. While both are important in business, only one generates actual income and profits.

Business executives typically confuse creativity and innovation without realizing the differences between the two.

According to Hunter, invention isn’t always the result of creativity. “There is no innovation until something is put into practice, even if you have a brainstorming session and come up with dozens of fresh ideas.”

Hunter observed that rather than only creating creative goods, processes, and interactions, many executives place more emphasis on producing innovation on demand.

Innovation “isn’t some enigmatic black box,” he declared. Simple adjustments to current procedures, goods, or relationships may be necessary. We can create innovation at scale by emphasizing the process rather than the heroically inventive individual.

Sergey Petrossov was a standout innovator that Karen Gilchrist featured on CNBC. He recognized the need for a software application that would link passengers eager to split travel expenses with low usage of luxury aircraft. The market’s component parts were all present, but Petrossov used software to bridge the gap between them and develop a new business, JetSmarter.

In other words, a technique can be scaled up and replicated, but a creative person cannot. Petrossov was unique in identifying what was required to develop a new market, but once his software code was built, other programmers could readily copy it. When leaders understand the distinction between creativity and innovation, they can work to encourage both in their teams and create an environment that upholds both ideals.

The importance of creativity and innovation in business

By meeting specific market demands, setting firms apart from rivals, and developing a brand as customer needs and wants change, creativity and innovation help a business expand and succeed overall. An organization remains dynamic via creativity and innovation.

How do you develop creativity and innovation?

While leaders may encourage innovation, Hunter argued that the business as a whole also has to promote it through the structure of its culture and the way it develops its procedures. “At times, enabling organizational behaviour that deviates from the norm but may provide beneficial results is the greatest approach to spur innovation.”

Getting people to dream and create fresh visions of what may be is a part of the problem. Although creativity is frequently linked to art and culture, one need not be Leonardo da Vinci to be creative; rather, it is important to be open to thinking beyond the box and to see new possibilities.

The concept that can be put into action begins here. Consider using crowdsourcing to create even more ideas for you to think about. Of course, turning that brilliant idea into a technical or physical prototype is the challenging part.

Hunter used Starbucks’ now-famous Frappuccino drink as an illustration of how giving staff some latitude for error enables creativity to develop into innovation. The crew at a Santa Monica, California Starbucks created a novel beverage in the early 1990s and urged an executive to submit the idea to corporate, where it was eventually rejected. Later, the same retailer created the Frappuccino, and the management instructed the workers to stealthily prepare and provide the beverage to nearby consumers. As soon as its worth was established, the management team adopted the popular notion across the whole organization.

The Frappuccino ended up becoming one of Starbucks’ most well-liked and lucrative beverages, according to Hunter. And, according to Howard Behar, [Starbucks’ then-vice president of sales and operations], it occurred because someone was permitted—even encouraged—to experiment with a new product that was different from the company’s main line of goods.

What is creativity and innovation in entrepreneurship?

The two components combined involve upsetting the boat, to put it briefly: What else is feasible and can we actually make it a reality if the norm is not good enough? Every day, entrepreneurship relies on invention and innovation to develop new possibilities, disrupt markets, and generate new sources of income. If researchers had just accepted that phone lines and satellites would suffice for communication, the internet may never have been invented. Today, it would be difficult for us to fathom doing anything without access to digital technology. Making it a reality required imagination and ingenuity.

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