Don’t get Innovation confused with Invention

Last year we pivoted our company from a traditional digital marketing agency to an innovation agency. The decision was based on a number of industry and macro trends, but most importantly for us, it came from the true self-reflection of the work we had gained the most enjoyment from over the past 5 years and where we had seen the most long-lasting impact for our clients.

We needed to get away from the short term success or failure of a seasonal marketing campaign and start to grow true partnerships, with shared risk and an equal voice around a table. So innovation for us is about finding those digital products that can provide a long term impact for our clients.

However, the word “Innovation” has proved problematic at times. It has caused some real confusion amongst our team. For some we are going to be building the next Tesla, for others we are going to be creating software that will change the world. I love the passion and excitement those ideas bring, but it sets very different expectations amongst the team and around where the company could or should be adding value for its clients.

We need to stop confusing the word “Innovation” with “Invention”!

Both words can live in the same conversation and are often intertwined, which only adds to its misappropriation.

So to clarify, my interpretation is as follows: 

Invention is… finding new or cutting edge technologies that enable us to do things differently.
Innovation is… creating value by doing things differently.

That means innovation doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest tech. For us, it means looking to solve an operational issue or sales process in a different way by reframing the problem. The tech is then applied or intertwined accordingly into the conversation.

Apple is great at this. I can’t think of many things Apple has invented, but what they have done is innovate. They’ve started with the end-user in mind, taken the tech others have invented and provided a superior offering. The fact my 1-year-old can pick up an iPhone and without being guided can start to find his way around, speaks volumes to simplicity.

The key is when we innovate we are looking to create a better value proposition for the customer. One with a long term impact.

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