Innovation versus Innovative

by Mike Brown

Innovation versus InnovativeI’ve been thinking lately about differences between the words “innovation” and “innovative,” not so much in the dictionary sense though. More about what the two words suggest to people – where they overlap and where they are different.

For me, innovation implies something process-oriented, structured, and clearly intent on creating something markedly new and different from what existed before.

Innovative seems like something more subtle; more of a perspective than an end result. It might be a strategy for adjusting a process or pre-existing entity to make it better or more efficient without being a revolutionary change.

As part of the ongoing tweaks (i.e., innovative modifications) to the blog and its contents, I’m curious about how you in the innovation community think about and draw distinctions (if any) between these two words.

Let me know your perspectives and what angles on each of them are of greatest interest and value to you.

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Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.

No comments

  1. Mike,

    Even when you make some distinctions between them, I think that semantics aside and not getting too much into what people may call radical innovation vs. incremental innovation.

    It is a function of how you define innovation, many of my collegues in the R&D community think that innovation is something that comes from the labs and is a breakthrough development, I disagree and more importantly Prof. Clayton Christensen the world renoun Guru in the field of Innovation also disagre and his formal definition of innovation is:

    “It is the process to find ideas for new products and the challenge to uncovering new markets. But in addition it includes the organization’s planning methods, the systems through which manager’s performance is measured and rewarded and the formal and informal mechanisms used to allocate resources across competing projects. Thus influencing the types of ideas that get surfaced, pushed forward and adopted.”
    “Innovation and the General Manager” McGraw-Hill 1999

    So going to your question in some instances it is the one and the same.


  2. Eric-Marie Picard

    I’ve recently attempted to define and formulate the link between “innovation” and “invention” :
    I have used then the term ‘innovative’ to express the potential for an invention to becoming an innovation.

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