Creativity, invention, and innovation are all interrelated and necessary for growth to occur. What do innovation, invention and creation mean? And, how do they differ in business?

Creativity: new ideas into reality. Invention: Creating a new concept. Innovation: turning a new idea into commercial success


A person wearing a thinking cap. A number of sticky notes with different ideas fall down from the ceiling onto their desk. That most human of qualities, creativity evidences itself in our ability to solve challenges or problems with novel ideas. Shawn Hunter, author of Out Think: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes (Wiley, 2013), defines creativity as:

...the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual.

The key factor is that creativity remains a great idea alone, not reality yet. Creativity is the novel step of being the first to identify that something might be possible.

Examples of Creativity:

  • In the case of Uber, creativity was necessary in producing the concept of ride sharing and of making driving jobs accessible to any individual.

  • The Google Glass, which were very creative at the time (new, different in the market), were not necessarily innovative (monetary return over investment made by the company).


An animated graphic of Edison's patent for the electric lamp.

Invention can take the form of a process, method or device. Hunter defines it as:

The creation of an idea to do or make something without verification that it works, or is commercially valuable.

The meaning of invention and innovation sometimes blend together, but they are distinctly their own. Invention cannot occur without creativity, but creativity alone is not enough to properly develop an idea.

Example of Invention:

  • The wheel stands out as an original engineering marvel, and one of the most famous inventions. This basic technology not only made it easier to travel, but also served as the base for a huge number of other innovative technologies.


A machine with many different switches, boxes, and screens.

Shawn Hunter weighs in with his own definition:

Innovation is the implementation or creation of something new that has realized value to others.

It is the process of taking creative ideas and exploiting their benefit for commercial and financial success. Innovation is realized most vividly in the form of a tool, physical benefit, or aid that solves a problem or creates an advantage.

Example of innovation:

  • Internet search engines are one of the most well-known examples of contemporary innovation. Thanks to the conceptualization of a space that offers a much broader online experience for consumers, search engines became one of the leading tools of technological and internet information acquisition.

Take Action

Innovation cannot happen without creativity or invention! A person running inside a lightbulb The next time you have a new idea:


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