Innovation Isn’t Just About Ideas

Probably the most long lasting myth about innovation is that it’s about new ideas. You’ve heard it before, someone comes up to you to tell you about their new idea and how fantastic it is. But you know what? Ideas are just that: ideas in someone’s head.

Creativity is about coming up with new ideas. Innovation is about turning an idea into value. And the path between those to phases is high on experimentation. Innovation isn’t just about ideas. It’s about thinking like a scientist: develop hypotheses, test them systematically, pivot as relevant, and don’t let early feedback lure you toward incremental improvements over breakthroughs.

What’s more important, if you want to put more value into an idea, is this: the value of an idea depends highly on the insight behind it.

Insight matters more than idea, because finding or developing an insight is very hard. An insight is an undeniable truth about a situation, pain, problem, challenge that exists in a group, a niche, a market, an industry.

Great innovation teams are driven by insights. With that said, one of the key questions you have to ask yourself before you start an innovation project is what is the insight on which this idea is based and why does it matter?

Bottom line: Creativity, coming up with new ideas, is the initial part of the innovation process. And yes, creativity is hard. But not as hard as executing your brilliant idea and turning it into value. Why? Because there is no innovation without experimentation; trial and error, making mistakes until you find a way forward.

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