Myth #5 I need to be a highly creative person in order to innovate

There is no doubt that the word innovation is often confused with the consideration that a person needs to be creative, quick, smart, and highly motivated to be innovative. The reality is quite different. Creativity is not needed for innovation. Creativity and invention have their own niches in the arts, sciences, and technology.

Innovation comes from the word “new” and “in” meaning to renew or bring something new into an existing situation or things. Invention and creation simply mean to make something new.

Innovation, then, is what happens within the growth process of an organization. One of the first steps of innovation in any given company is the need for members of the company to really know and understand the company. Each company has its vision and mission as well as culture. In order to be innovative in a company, administration and employees must understand the philosophy of the company.

This is especially important when a new CEO is hired as well as when new hires are being on-boarded. If there is a board of trustees, they, too, must understand the company to the fullest if growth and innovation are to be possible. As Robert Tucker states in his book Innovation is Everybody’s Business, “If you’re going to innovate, understanding your firm’s business model and culture is a must” (p. 38).

Once a person truly understands the mission and vision of the company along with its culture, then innovation becomes both logical and expected. That being said, what is innovation? Unfortunately, it has become a “buzz” word that carries some confusion. It’s like “love”; everybody uses it but everyone has a different definition. Even Google can’t define what they are doing every day; their definition: the act or process of innovating! The Oxford dictionary does a little better: “Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.”

Nick Skillicorn, founder and CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting, actually asked 15 experts to offer their definition of innovation and he got 15 different answers. Check it out HERE.

Nick distilled them down into a few themes:

  • 60% = have an idea – 60% = executing the idea (40% addresses real challenge)
  • 40% = add value to company – 40% = add value to customer (27% = new thinking)
  • 13% = moving forward – 13% = definition not important (7% = new market)

Nick finishes with “With all the above, if we could create the ultimate innovation definition, this would be the ultimate definition of innovation – executing an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and customer.”

With this definition we have a handle on innovation once we can truly say that we understand the philosophy and culture of the company. Does it sound like work? Yes, it is engaged work that really pays off when we step forward with an idea the company can execute.

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