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Inventors vs. Innovators

RichRich administrator Posts: 582 Site Admin
edited April 2006 in Developing Your Invention
I`ve been LOVING Yvonne Chouinard`s book, Let My People Go Surfing, about the genesis of the company he founded, Patagonia, and the philosophies that have made it such a huge, iconic success.
One really interesting distinction he draws is how the process of innovation is different than the process of invention.
This was an aha! moment for me. Like when something says something so crisply and clearly that all of a sudden it comes into full light, even though it`s been there in the shadows forever.
Since reading this, I`ve thought about this concept a lot. When people invent, Yvonne argues, they come up with something that makes a huge leap forward.
When people innovate, on the other hand, they simply improve on things.
Interestingly, he sides heavily with innovation as a capability to emphasize and stress vs. inventing. He says he`d much rather improve on things for which there`s proven demand (innovate) than blaze new expensive and risky trails with something revolutionary (invent).
What side of this equation do you fall on?Rich2006-4-20 16:22:36


  • theswaynestertheswaynester subscriber Posts: 15 Bronze Level Member
    I`m more of an innovator.Innovation is almost a mental playground for me. Throwing concepts together. Combining markets and schemes. No pressure.Jamming.Sometimes arriving at the brilliant. Sometimes at the brilliantly stupid.Invention seems much more serious.My ultimate goal, though, would be something like an innovative inventor. I classify people like Albert Einstein and Jimi Hendrix as innovative inventors.Not afraid to screw around with concepts but once they get absorbed in that zone. Wow... quantum leap.
  • keyconkeycon subscriber Posts: 34
    I tend to think that innovation (meaning "improvement) is the way the majority of businesses and business leaders lean. It`s the "Build a better mousetrap philosophy." Most everyone thinks about ways to improve an existing product. There are not many Edisons out there.
    Take the toothbrush. I`m over 50 and I bet I`ve witnessed more improvements to the toothbrush in the last 10 years than in the first 40 years of my life. Just when I think "surely, this is the absolutely best toothbrush ever invented," - BAM - here comes another improved toothbrush.
    And why? Because the toothbrush business is BIG! They have to keep "innovating" to keep market share.
    Innovating is fun. It is competition. Competition is American capitalism. We thrive on it. Drawing the line in the sand every day - daring someone to "innovate." I love it!
  • MrSoloInvntrMrSoloInvntr subscriber Posts: 7
    I surely fall to the side of innovation. I am currently working on a product which is already very proven and widely used in the marketplace. It is helpful to know that people are already buying this product, im going to improve it. We all have had moments when your using a product and its not performing how you think it could. That slight change or redesign would make all the difference in the world. This is what drove me to start my own business.
    Secure Solutions
  • theswaynestertheswaynester subscriber Posts: 15 Bronze Level Member
    Or maybe a most wanted poster?
  • BardStuffBardStuff subscriber Posts: 7
    For good or for bad I`m gonna put myself in the inventor category, and
    maybe we`ll be onto something.  Whenever I have an idea, I first
    poke around to see whether it is mostly similar to something that
    already exists.  If so, I usually lose passion for it
    rapidly.  I don`t want to get into the competing business, I want
    to get into the creating business.  It`s the ideas  I have
    where I say "Wow, I really can`t find a similar thing to this at all"
    that make me keep pursuing it.  Naturally there are far fewer of

    But maybe that also explains a bit about why I`m not in business yet,
    because I`m still holding onto that daydream that the one perfect idea
    will hit me that everybody needs, but nobody`s thought of yet, and the
    business will just run itself .  Maybe a little competition and
    "Here`s what sets my product apart from that guy`s" is healthy, and not
    a sure fire way to fail.  I can easily see my insecurities setting
    in and merely assuming that I would lose any such battle.  One of
    the benefits to invention over innovation is that you`re less likely to
    have to compete head to head with somebody.  Sure, you still have
    to prove value to a marketplace, but that`s very different.  I`d
    rather have a customer say "I don`t have use for that" than to have one
    say "Yours is not as good as this other guy`s over here."

  • BardStuffBardStuff subscriber Posts: 7
    Kim,The major thing going for my side is that when you invent something new, you are inherently expert in it.  I would never, for instance, say "I want to open up a dry cleaner."  Because I know nothing about dry cleaners.  There`s nothing stopping me from going into that business and succeeding at it.  I could even have some innovative ideas about making my dry cleaners the best in town.  But there`s certainly that hurdle to overcome first.  Over on the inventing side I can tell you every aspect of a given idea  (see our other thread for an example of that!) because they flesh themselves out completely in my head.  However, that obviously doesn`t get me as far as I need to get -- I`m not the first one to say "Ideas are worth a dollar, businesses built around ideas are worth millions."  So whether I`m an innovator or an inventor I still need the business skills before I can call myself a business man and not just an idea guy.d
  • CarlitoswayCarlitosway subscriber Posts: 0
    I'm an innovator, sounds like there are a few here, then you all may like this site, it's for people who have great ideas. www.edisonnation.com be careful this can get addictive....lol
  • RossTaylor2440RossTaylor2440 subscriber Posts: 0
    The Investigation focuses on inventions as a result it permits students to explore a number of the a lot of sensible applications of the scientific enterprise. Normal folks from all walks of life contributed to science and technology as inventors of product that we have a tendency to use everyday. This can be vital as a result of youngsters in early adolescence got to see science-related careers as a true choice for themselves.
  • saravanansaravanan subscriber Posts: 389 Silver Level Member
    The invention is creating something completely new on the other hand innovation is all about Improving something that already exists.
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