What Is The Difference Between Innovation and Creativity

Innovation and Creativity

Welcome to Episode 7 of The Creative Life podcast. In this episode, we look at what is the difference between innovation and creativity.

Watch the Video

We’ve heard the words bandied around by many corporations and individuals – creativity and innovation. But is there a difference between the two? Or are they just two sides of the same coin?

In this video, James Taylor explains the difference between the two terms, and gives a short history on why the two are often used to describe a new idea or product.

Is creativity a part of innovation? Or is it the other way around? Or are the two mutually interchangeable, dependent on context? Ultimately, are they just labels?

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • Why business executives don’t use the word Creativity
  • Creativity and the mindfulness revolution
  • The Creativity Framework

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.


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What Is The Difference Between Innovation and Creativity

Hi, it’s James here. One of the questions I’m asked a lot is, what is the difference between innovation and creativity?

When I go and speak on conferences, or when I speak to executives, or creative professionals, this question sometimes come up, and so I want to talk to you a little about the history on why these two things seem to talk about the same stuff, and why these two seem interchangeably a lot.

So in the traditional creative industries, your art, design, entertainment media, music… they use the word creativity. They often describe themselves as creatives or creative professionals. But in manufacturing, big businesses and enterprise, you’ll hear them use the word innovation, very rarely using the word creativity.

Up until very recently, that stuff has changed. And I’ve seen that change a little bit like what happened in the 70’s and 80’s, in the past, people would meditate. And the executives in an organization would be very reticent to tell other people that they would meditate at home. But that changed, and now, Time Magazine the other day, front cover, “The Mindfulness Revolution.” And now, why do executive and companies, these are like Fortune 500 company CEOs and hedge fund managers, talk ing about mindfulness.

Why has that changed? Because it’s the same thing, you know? Mindfulness and meditation, very similar to what they’re talking about. And part of the reason is that mindfulness has an appeal that could be measured. There’s a science behind mindfulness. Maybe they thought there wasn’t before, and that’s the same thing that’s happening with creativity so that’s why I’m always very happy when executive of companies start talking about creativity, and I think over time it’s going to change.

Innovation is still being used, and actually companies, and executives, feel more confident when they use the word creativity when they’re talking about the work that they’re doing.

Examples of this are Pixar, Apple… I see it in every different industry and I think that Silicon Valley, the tech companies, are leading the charge. They’re always talking about creativity. They don’t even talk about innovation, they talk about creativity.

So, one of the initial thinkings behind this, and reasons, is that it’s an outmoded way of thinking – creativity and innovation – these are just labels, it’s really the same thing. In the past, creativity was treated as front end of a production line process, of an innovative process.

So, when people are in the room, the creatives, they would come up with the ideas, they would refine the ideas a little bit, then it would come into the factories where it would be innovated on, it would be elaborated on, it would be tested, that’s innovation.

It’s a very old school definition, like a car factory line. And that’s not the way we work. I don’t know about you, but this factory line idea, is really going away. Things are a lot more complex now. Even in politics, we used to think of left and right politics, but things are a lot more nuanced now.

One of the ways to think about this, is what we call the creativity framework that I teach at C.SCHOOL. And it’s the six P’s of creativity. I think this is a much better framework for you to take, either if you want to model creative organizations or if you want to model creative individuals. It’s a better way to think about it rather than get hung up on the difference between creativity and innovation.

The creativity framework consists of these six things:

The first is the purpose, the creative purpose. This can be applied to companies and all individuals. Why are you doing this? Why are you creating in the first place? So for a company, why are you creating new products in this area? What is the reason, what is the mission of the company, what is the drive? What is that DNA?

Likewise, in individuals, what is the purpose for you creating an individual piece of work like music? Understand that, and also understanding the purpose of the people you aspire to emulate, is a very useful thing to think about.

The second point is personal personality, one of the six P’s. And this is understanding you, and in an organizational context, understanding your team and what their different creative personality types. We have different personality types and they all relate to creativity. We have one who’s creative in one way, while another in a different way. So we need to understand that, and especially in organizations, we need to understand the folks working under the company. Understanding what their different types are and blending them together so you have a really well-rounded team.

And as an individual, what is your creative person? What is your creative type?

The third is the process. Understanding the creative process. This is why the difference in innovation and creativity does not apply well now in companies, in non-profits, or in individuals. It’s understanding, what is your creative process? How can you model the creative process of, maybe, other successful creatives or other successful companies, and how they build their product, and how they create and refine their ideas.

And then the fourth one, which I actually find companies and organizations doing a better job of this than the people who identify themselves as creatives, is understanding their place. Understanding the space where they work and create, really optimizing that environment. Something I go in-depth in C-school when the course is helping organizations and companies in optimizing that space so they can produce their best work.

And then the next part of that is the product, what you are actually creating. I won’t go in-depth in that cause this is a whole area itself.

And finally, it’s this idea of persuasion. Now, in persuasion what we talk about there, whether you are an individual or an organization, is being able to persuade someone that your creative idea is worth pursuing. It’s extreme important.

Gone are the days when you would go into your little room, do your thing, give it to someone like an editor, and let them go away with it. If you’re a musician, let the label go away with it and they’ll do the marketing, distribution, and sales, and everything. It’s completely changed.

And so the idea of being persuasive, persuading other people to your idea, along the whole creative process, is much more important. This is a big thing that we’re starting to see, and this is where we start talking about big “C” creativity. Big “C” creativity, which I’ll talk about in another video, is the idea where your idea can change the domain in which you are working in. The only way to do that, the only way to change the domain or the industry or the area which you work, is to persuade others that your idea is good. This is something worth pursuing. The work has to be great, but you also need to persuade.

So I realize this has been kind of long-winded and we kind of meandered around this a little bit, but you know, creativity and innovation, ultimately they’re just labels. And I think a much more intelligent way of thinking about it, and I’m saying it’s a gray area about this over the creativity framework, I feel you should be confident about using the word creativity. If you’re watching this and you’re working with a large company, where’s there’s innovation all the time, actually start using the word creativity.

I think over time, what’s going to happen is, probably innovation, that phrase will be lessened. I see that happen all the time like in technology, the word interactive kind of lessened because now everything is interactive. So be very confident about using the word creativity and feeling yourself as a creative. Doesn’t matter what level you are in the organization, doesn’t matter to describe yourself as a creative person, you’re creative. We’re all creative. Creativity is something that can be trained and I train and talk.

This is James Taylor I hope you enjoyed this video.

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