What Is Creativity And What Is Innovation?

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Creativity and innovation can be for long thought as interchanable, but in fact these are two very different concepts in themselves. The biggest challenge when looking at these concepts is to distinguish between these two, which is so confusing that even leading business figures of today's world misguide them(iainchalmers, 2008). So in this context, what is creativity and what is innovation? As general, creativity and innovation is the trasition of knowledge and ideas into something of business value. This is a perfectly acceptable definition, but again like the failure to differentiate between information and knowledge it is not very useful for the purpose of discussing the subject area. It is important to distinguish between creativity and innovation because the processes are different, the risks are different, the starting points are different, and the climates needed for achievement are different, and there are consequences of these differences. To support this argument, the author has divided this essay into three main parts. First of all creativity and innovation is defined according to different researchers. Then the some basic differences between them is discussed. At the end, the author has described process of creativity and innovation to support his arguments.

Creative thinking, creativity and innovation are separate and distinct things. Creative thinking is a process that can be taught, creativity is a phenomenon about which can be taught, and innovation is more than creativity. Creativity is the production of novel and useful ideas in any domain whereas the innovation is the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization.(stein 1974, woodman, sawyer and griffen 1993). West and Farr (1990) consider “creativity as the ideation component of innovation and innovation as encompassing both the proposal and applications of the new ideas” (p. 10). Robinson and Stern differs these two terms as follows:

Creativity - the results of creativity in companies are improvements or changes to what is already done.

Innovation - the results of innovation in companies are entirely new activities for the company

The key words, improvements and new, help define the difference in these terms. However, creative thinking is part of the innovation process. Another way of explaining this comes from the late management consultant, Richard Byrd, who defined innovation as “creativity times risk taking.” There also exists the enormous graveyard of innovations that have never been adopted andnot necessarily because they are the results of repetitive, foolish, or simply “reproductive” processes. Paolo Legrenzi, Creativity and Innovation, http://www.iuav.it/Ricerca1/Dipartimen/dADI/Working-Pa/wp_2007_02.pdf)

Most researchers and managers recognize that creativity at the individual level represents only part of the challenge. Organizations must create environments that allow and encourage employees to engage in creativity. Most organizations have developed layers of rules, procedures and bureaucratic processes that stifle creativity (MacKenzie, 1998).To be creative, the management has to tolerate the mistakes and accept the degree of risk involved with this. It also requires the long term commitment of time and resources whereas; the risk of failure is also there to be considered (Yukl, 2006). Creativity is the long term investment of any organization, which can't be start or stop any time. Firms commonly encourage employees to use their creativity and judgment through empowerment (Gandz and Bird, 1996). Hence, the management culture of an organization is the major factor which initiates the creativity in an organization.

On the other hand, much lower degree of risk is involved in the innovation. In innovation the success is ascertain, so the process can be terminated at any desired stage. Innovation does not require a long term commitment of time and resources. Innovation is more likely to occur in groups where there is support for innovation, and where innovation attempts are rewarded rather than punished (Amabile, 1983; Kanter, 1983)

In modern age, creativity is considered as a science which can be learnt. Several universities offer courses and degrees in the field of creativity and creative problem solving where as there are only a few offer coerces in the field of innovation. For organizations it is easy to train their employees more creative and effective in their work. On the other hand, innovation is much more informal field. No specific body of knowledge serve a basic of teaching and learning for innovation. Most of innovative techniques are derived from the basics of creativity.

Japan railway east is the largest rail carrier in the world. When they decided to construct a new bullet-train line through the mountains north of Tokyo, they never anticipated that this would open the doors of a new business horizon for them- the beverages.

JR east have to construct many tunnels, and water causes problem there. The JR plans to drain this water away. But the crew inside the tunnel found a new solution of this problem; they were using to drink that. One of the workers liked it taste so much that he give suggestion to the JR to bottle this water and sale as premium mineral water instead of draining that into runoffs. His idea was implemented and soon the water was marketed with the brand name of OSHIMIZU. Within a short period of time it become so popular that JR plants vending machines at most of its platforms and establish a subsidiary company who only deals with this water. This idea turns so profitable that in 1994, sales of Oshimizu beverages were $ 47 million and it's also started to sell juices as well as iced and hot teas and coffees. We can clearly see that the whole process starts with a creative idea comes in the mind of a worker in the tunnel. But this idea generate a whole new dimention of the business for japan railways and make one of remarkable innovations and achievements in recent history of the business. ( Corporate creativity: how innovation and improvement actually happen.


It is important to distinguish between creativity and innovation because the processes are different, the risks are different, the starting points are different, and the climates needed for achievement are different, and there are consequences of these differences.(kumar, 2008)