What’s the difference between creativity and innovation? And why you should care.

Imagine you’re at a meeting, and someone asks you how you perform a particular task each day. Let’s say you’re a...

The difference between creativity and innovation.

Imagine you’re at a meeting, and someone asks you how you perform a particular task each day. Let’s say you’re a sales rep for a fashion company that’s on the road a lot, and you get into the main office once a week to process new orders. Yes, I know it sounds as if we’re in the 50s but that’s fine, for now let’s imagine we are.

So you tell your colleague how you get about processing your sales orders. You tell her that you go into the main building, and that you sit down at your desk every Friday morning. The whole day you process each individual order manually. In a filing cabinet behind you (in your tiny office) you then file each sales order alphabetically. You explain that you spent an average of one day a week on this task, however this is not where most of your time is spent (or wasted). The biggest issue is when you try to find something in your filing cabinet. There never was a really good system to keep everything on one place, and the more you file the more chaotic it gets.

When you’re done, that same colleague asks you if you ever thought of other – more effective – ways to perform this task. “Plenty of time”, you reply. “I’ve even got a list of all the ways I could do a better, quicker, and more productive job.” “Well, why haven’t you?” your colleague replies. To which a long silence ensues… followed by your answer… “It’s always been done this way.

In this very cliché example above (yes I know, I have no idea where that came from), we experience first-hand what the difference is between creativity and innovation.

We all have a ton of ideas every day. If those ideas are new and different, we consider them to be creative. Creativity happens in the mind. And yes, after that, creativity is often expressed in numerous different ways and transposed into something more tangible: the arts, literature, speaking, playing, … You name it, and it can be creative. But at it’s heart, creativity is a thinking game.

Innovation on the other hand – although it’s equally connected to the new and uncharted that our thinking can offer us – requires implementation. Innovation is definitely a form of creative expression, but not in the same way as the arts for instance. Contrary to them, the implementation of a creative idea that leads to innovation, implies that the alteration will improve that which is being changed. With creative expression in general, this is not a pre-requisite, and definitely not always the case.

So when you write down all your creative ideas to change the way you deal with a particular task, you’re being creative. In and of itself that’s really great. But change only happens when you take those creative ideas and decide to implement them. And innovation happens, when you not only decide to change how you do things, but when you also make a point out of improving how you do them.

This distinction between creativity and innovation is crucial. Especially in a fast-paced world like the one we live in today, where technological advancements seem to follow each other on a daily basis, it’s important to know how to innovate, and to do so often.

In his great podcast about Strategic Innovation, Tony Robbins talks about how the length of a business product lifecycle has shortened over the years. Today he says, customers expect innovation every six months, while up until a few years ago it was acceptable to come out with new products only every couple of years.

This is huge. And important. You need to know this and you need to do something with it.

In business, innovation does not only mean bringing new and improved products on the market. Of course, there’s that. But innovation in business also means improving your internal processes, the way you do things, who you partner with, what types of customers you want to serve, your business model, and so on. And it’s not only valid for corporations, small business owners, solopreneurs, creatives, artists, … anyone who’s in business can profit from innovation, and should always thrive for it.

I find that in your personal life, innovation can have an even greater impact. As a life and business coach I might be biased – somewhat – about the benefits of bringing innovative ideas into your life, that is new ideas that make your life better. But in all honesty, I fail to find a situation in which doing so would not benefit you.

So basically what I’m saying is: great that you’ve got all those amazing ideas about your business and your life. Wonderful, really!

But what are you going to do with them?

For real change to happen.
For greater happiness in life.
For more success in your business.
For a more fulfilling career.
For better systems, increased productivity, free time, and fun.
For anything that you would like to be different in your life, career or business.

You need to implement your creative ideas.

So what I’d love you to do now, is to think of one idea that has been with you for a while, about something that you know could improve your life or your work, and I want you to commit to do something about it today. Take that first small step towards innovation. Whatever it is. And let me know below!

PS: Oh and if you really feel up for the challenge, why don’t you come and join me and other like-minded sisters in The Loft… where we turn our creative ideas into inspired action.

As seen in

Send this to a friend