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Innovation, invention, and creativity have far-reaching implications for individuals and organizations. Unfortunately, the exact meanings of these concepts are poorly understood. The goal of this assignment is to shed light on the exact meanings and the relationship between the concepts of invention, innovation, and creativity. Psychological and organizational aspects of creativity are also discussed. The paper brings into attention and evaluates the importance of innovation for both organizations and individuals. The crucial role of effective management for creating an innovative organization is discussed.
Keywords: innovation, invention, creativity, organizational performance.
“Successful organizations are innovative organizations.” The meaning of this expression is often taken for granted. Managers and business owners understand that innovativeness is the main source of organizations’ advantage, but what it means and how it works is often beyond understanding. In the present-day organizations, creativity, innovation, and invention go hand in hand. They greatly contribute to the effectiveness of all individual and organizational processes, but are not the same. The relationship between innovation, invention, and creativity is extremely complex. Only organizations that understand this complexity and have relevant management systems in place can realize the organizational and entrepreneurial potential of innovations to the fullest.
Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: Understanding the Meaning and Relationship
The role which creativity, innovation, and invention play in individual and organizational success is widely recognized. Creativity, innovation, and invention are essential inputs to organizational and individual performance, but they are not the same. According to Michael S. Slocum (2007) and the definition borrowed from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, innovation is the introduction of a new method, idea, or device. It is an act of introducing something new (Slocum, 2007). At the same time, invention is the process or act of inventing, which results in a discovery, device, finding, or any other type of novelty (Slocum, 2007). Finally, creativity is the ability to create or the talent of being creative (Slocum, 2007). Simply put, innovation and creativity are process-based concepts, whereas invention is a static concept, describing the factual representation / expression of creativity, the eventual goal of which is to innovate. At times, organizational psychologists and economists describe the concept of invention as a problem-solving exercise, a discovery or device that it intended to solve some individual or organizational problem (Swann, 2009).
The relationship between innovation, creativity, and invention is rather complicated. While creativity is the process leading to the production of useful and novel ideas, innovation is the practical application of creative ideas (inventions) by organizations and individuals (Amabile, 1996). Amabile (1996) also writes that creativity is the starting point for innovation. However, creativity alone cannot suffice to produce inventions and promote innovation within organizations. Creativity by itself exemplifies a unique paradox of extraversion and introversion and demands autonomy and connectedness to the rest of the world (Swann, 2009). Creative people are those who seek to develop their autonomous self and, at the same time, look forward to share their creative experiences with others (Swann, 2009). Needless to say, for creativity to turn into invention and innovation, organizations must recognize the importance of these concepts and facilitate their development and transformation into actual products and services. Organizations and individuals should also understand that creativity is vital for invention and innovation, as the latter cannot develop from something that does not exist in the concept. Creativity is a theory, an idea,, and innovation is the process by which concepts transform into new products and services. Innovation relies on creativity, but not otherwise (Sajid, 2011). However, the effectiveness of innovation predetermines the success and future effectiveness of creativity. The most brilliant description of the creativity-invention-innovation relationship has been developed by Sajid (2011), who said: “creativity = invention while innovation = improvements = changes to make it effective and efficient = making it practical = researching new ways to produce and improve creativity = the act of producing the same concept in a newer and improved form.”
Individual and Organizational Innovation: Why Important?
The fact that innovation is vital for the success and survival of the humanity cannot be denied. Creativity and innovation have always been the two fundamental processes driving the humanity towards its current state. Through the gradual evolution in creative and mental thinking, individuals have come to occupy one of the highest positions in the biological and social hierarchy. Earlier successes and inventions became a perfect incentive for the development of new discoveries and forms. Today, creativity and innovation are not only the key drivers of the human progress, but also the main sources of organizations’ competitive advantage. Creativity and innovation have considerable impact on the quality and efficiency of the organization’s performance.
Innovation is claimed to be a fundamental source of value creation in organizations. It is also an essential enabler of competitive advantage (Bordia, Kronenberg & Neely, 2005). Depending on the type of innovation, organizations can contribute to or facilitate the development of sustained competitive advantage: for example, disruptive innovation allows organizations to change the competitive game rules, whereas complex innovation results in the development of sophisticated technologies and knowledge that make the market impenetrable for potential rivals (Tidd, 2001). Unfortunately, measuring the impact of innovation on organizational performance is an extremely challenging task. Generally, two classes of performance measures are used to measure innovation output: accounting and financial performance measures, and changes in market share / growth (Tidd, 2001). Despite these complexities, it is clear that the success of creativity and innovation greatly depends on the quality of management and its styles.
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Creativity is not a sufficient condition for the development and implementation of innovative solutions within organizations. The quality of innovation management predetermines the effectiveness of creativity, inventions, and innovation in organizations. Because innovation is a complex and cross-functional activity, only effective management can help to resolve the emerging tension between innovation objectives and limited tangible and intangible resources (Bordia et al., 2005). Moreover, as market competition intensifies and the overall scarcity of resources increases, only effective management can predispose relevant and productive use of creativity in organizations. As of today, not only the style of management, but the presence or absence of relevant knowledge management frameworks changes the rates of innovation in organizations. Knowledge is the resource used to reduce the complexity of creativity and innovations, and it is crucial for the success of innovativeness and creativity in organizations. Given the complexity of the creativity concept and the importance of internal and external sources of knowledge, management can help organizational members to gain access to knowledge from all levels of the organization and beyond (McAdam, 2000). Objectively, the importance of management and management styles in organizations where innovation is enabled cannot be overestimated. Innovation is a social process that reflects a complex interplay of various organizational and environmental factors, which necessitates the use of sophisticated management systems to support creativity and knowledge flows for the creation of new knowledge (Adamides & Karacapilidis, 2006).
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The role of creativity, invention, and innovation in the development of firms’ competitive advantage can hardly be overstated. Despite the inputs provided by creativity, invention, and innovation, these concepts are not the same. Creativity is one’s ability to be creative and the starting point of innovation, whereas the latter is about applying creative ideas and theories in practice. It is clear that innovation plays a huge role in individual and organizational progress. Through innovation come new ideas, products and services that drive human progress and turn into the main source of organization’s competitive advantage. Yet, creativity is not a sufficient condition for innovation. The quality of management and management styles greatly influence organization’s chances to become innovative. Innovation is a social process, and managers are expected to manage information flows and encourage the creation of new knowledge. Therefore, organizations face a difficult task to develop and implement management systems that favor innovativeness and growth, leading to sustained profitability and competitiveness.