What Exactly is Innovation?

“Innovation” is a widely misunderstood and misinterpreted term. Many presuppose that there must be an invention behind an innovation. Some even confuse innovation with invention.

Invention does not need to precede innovation, as Rogers states in his classic work: “Innovation is an idea, practice, or object perceived as new by an individual”. Take, for instance, fire. Man did not invent it, but using fire for benefit is definitely an innovation.

Almost a hundred years ago, Schumpeter emphasized the essential role that innovations play in business competition: “… innovations cause old inventories, ideas, technologies, skills, and equipment to become obsolete”.

That leads to a phenomenon he named ‘creative destruction’.

It is not merely a question of profit or performance, instead the very existence of a company is at stake.  

Companies must constantly renew because the environment evolves. Competition morphs. If the players do not move, there will be outsiders who change the rules of the game and its structure. They may even destroy an entire business.

"It's not Essential for a Company to Change"


from L. innovatus, "to renew or change," from in- "into" + novus "new"