Simons Wood Lane Consultation

The difference between creativity and innovation is that the output from the innovation has to be a value-added output, while the output from creativity does not have to be value added. Keeping this information in mind, you can grasp the problem that the International Association of Innovation Professionals (IAOIP) was faced with when they were assigned the responsibility for (a) defining the body of knowledge for innovation and (b) establishing a certification program for innovators. It is obvious that before you can establish a body of knowledge for innovation, you have to have an accepted definition of innovation. Moreover, before you can certify an individual as the innovator, you have to be able to define what an innovator is and does.

You can see some excellent examples of these types of individuals on one of the most-watched new television programs called Shark Tank. The contestants are individuals who originated a unique idea, found ways to get it funded, and found ways to produce the output. They also set up the marketing and sales system, and sold the product. These are innovators who have come to the television program to present their innovative output to a group of five entrepreneurs in order to get additional funding and increase sales opportunities. Basically, we believe an innovator is “a person who identifies an unfulfilled need, creates ideas that will fulfill the unmet need, and incorporate the skills of an entrepreneur.”

So, what is an entrepreneur? Is an innovator also the same as an entrepreneur? Basically, an entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity, and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. An entrepreneur supplies risk capital as a risk taker, and monitors and controls the business activities. The entrepreneur is usually a sole proprietor, a partner, or the one who owns the majority of shares in an incorporated venture.

Keeping this in mind, the real difference between an entrepreneur and an innovator is that the innovator needs to be able to recognize an unfulfilled need and create ideas that fill the unfulfilled need. The entrepreneur does not have to create the idea but can take somebody else’s idea and turn it into a value-added output.

As you can see, this discussion applies very nicely to a person who is starting a new organization (e.g., a start-up company), but it is difficult to apply this to an established organization. In an established organization, the innovative process flows through many different functions, and usually the individual who recognized the unfulfilled need and created the idea to fill that unfulfilled need is not assigned to process the idea through the total innovative process. What happens in established companies is that subject matter experts are developed and assigned to individual parts of the innovative process. For example, the controller function is responsible for obtaining adequate financing; marketing defines how the unique concept will be communicated to the customer, and the sales force develops the sales campaign.

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