Sources of Innovation – Invention versus Discovery

by Braden Kelley

One theory of why there is more innovation in a downturn comes from Professor Dominic Houlder of London Business School. It goes like this:

There are two main sources of innovation – invention and discovery.

Discovery as it relates to innovation is analyzing where customers are being over-served and where they are being under-served. Discovery is teasing out what needs customers have surpressed during the boom times for a myriad of reasons, and identifying ways to better serve customers. The firms that get this right during the downturn are the firms that are likely to emerge strongest out of the downturn.

For more detail check out the video:

So, now that you are less busy filling customer orders. Are you using that time to innovate through discovery or only through invention?

Where will your next innovation come from?

@innovate

One comment

  1. Francisco Perez

    Interesting proposal.. however… why do we give so many renewed definitions and names to things that simply what they are… Discovery: is the product of “uncovering something”.. be it intentionally or not.. by chance.. or on purpose. As a matter of fact, discovery not necessarily leads to Innovation.

    On the other hand to invent doesn’t lead necessarily to innovation either.

    Thus since neither leads to innovation straight away, they cannot define innovation at its basis…..

    We can invent something out of a discovery:=> example: petrochemicals production out of oil discovery…

    What might be interesting true is that a discovery will have high probability of becoming the base of an innovation at certain point in time, if the correct invention (construction, use or application of that discovery) is reached.

    Sorry Professor for diverging against your proposal.. but that’s the richness of thinking…

    My best regards
    Francisco

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