Innovation is a misunderstood and frequently a misused word. People often use the word interchangably with “new”, but that’s an incorrect use of the term. If you were to ask a group of people, “What is innovation”, you would typically get “to start something new”.

I really like Nate Young‘s definition of innovation:

Innovation is repeatable, scalable creativity through people and process

Innovation is not the idea

Innovation starts with a person who has an idea. Some people think the idea is innovation. It’s not. It’s just an idea.

Innovation is not imagination

Next, we picture the idea as a product, service or something physical/conceptual. Your ability to picture this idea in what we call imagination. Some people think imagination is innovation.

It’s not. Imagination is just your ability to see a picture of a concept.

Innovation is not creativity

Once you have a vision for this idea, through a process, you are able to turn this idea/concept a reality. Your ability to turn an idea into reality is called creativity. Artists use creativity to create beautiful art. Entrepreneurs use creativity to create products/services/experiences.

Many people think that creativity is innovation. It’s not. People get lucky and create a single great products and services. The question is are about you repeat this creativity?

Innovation is repeatable creativity

Innovation isn’t simply creativity. It’s repeatable creativity. It’s your ability to, time after time, exercise creativity to translate an idea into reality. An innovative company, nonprofit, church is an organization that is able to consistently be creative and create value through their people, their culture and a well defined innovation process.

From an early age, we are taught to be linear, left-brain thinkers while creativity requires abstract, right-brain thinkers. We are trained to be homogenious and to get in line, but creativity demands unpredictableness and chaos. We have two sides of our brain, but why are we only using one side? Innovation requires people who use both sides of their brain.

Key Ingredients of Innovation: People + Process

The first ingredient for innovation is a diverse group of people. All ideas come from people but divergent thinking is best done amongst a diverse group of people. Diversity and collabration are in our ability to think divergently. The different perspectives, experiences, and cultures that brings together an amazing amount of ideas and unique thoughts.

Innovation doesn’t happen by accident. It is must be designed.

The second ingredient for innovation is an innovation process. The key to repeated creativity is not only the idea, imagination and creativity to execute, but in order to survive, we must be creative and be able to turn ideas into reality, over and over again. This ability to repeat creativity requires not only people but a tools, practices, constraints and a process. The process helps the team to gather, align and focus and deliver amazing results over and over again.

The Definition of Innovation

So, there you have it. Innovation is repeatable, scalable creativity through people and process.

Is your organization, company, church, team building a system that fosters the environment for creativty? Are you able to repeat the original successes of your organization? Are you unleashing the potential and creativity that is within your people? Is your organization innovating?

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