What Is Creative Innovation

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People tend to use the terms Creativity and Innovation interchangeably. While they are certainly related to one another, they do actually mean two different things.

I think of creativity as applied imagination. It’s the connection of ideas, things, and people in ways that haven’t occurred before. Making new connections is the essence of creativity.

But what’s created isn’t necessarily valuable. To be innovative, the creative endeavor has to be beneficial in some way; solve a problem, improve a process, fulfill a need.

Innovation is applied creativity. It’s the application of creativity to the marketplace.

When you can creatively solve problems, improve situations, and fulfill desires in a way that bends reality itself to become a forward facing expression of your innermost thoughts and dreams, then you are being innovative.

But how is this accomplished?


Sometimes the best way to tackle a difficult problem is to consider it from a completely different perspective. Look to outside your field if you want to stand out inside your field.

If you only surround yourself with people who think like you do and come from similar backgrounds there will be blind spots in your perception that will result in missed opportunities for innovative solutions.

So collaboration with people from outside your area of expertise is a necessary component in creative innovation. It’s the key to gaining new perspectives.

Why Creative Innovation Matters in Business

Imagine spending your whole career becoming an expert in an area only to have some form of artificial intelligence come along and do it better, faster, and cheaper. This isn’t just happening to retail and restaurant workers (think of the kiosk screens at Panera or the airport), it’s beginning to affect white collar professionals such as accountants and radiologists as well.

“The advent of computers that can accurately interpret diagnostic imaging studies will upend the practice of radiology,” writes Robert Schier, MD in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

And according to Accounting Today, “In the grander scheme of accounting advancements, AI could radically change the profession in its entirety.”

In fact, there will hardly be a career that isn’t affected by this AI driven change in the next few years.

Machine Learning VS Human Creativity

As algorithms and robotics begin to take over the jobs currently done by humans, the one thing they will not be able to do is replicate our creativity.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report “Creativity will be one of the top three job skills most in demand by 2020.” This means that improving our creative problem solving skills is now more important than ever for both the success of our personal careers and the continued relevance of our business enterprises as a whole.

Creative innovation requires both making new connections AND implementing that idea in a way that will be valued by other people. Artificial intelligence is very good at repetitive processes, but the cognitive flexibility necessary to creatively innovate is a uniquely human competitive advantage.

The future of work belongs to those who are able to creatively problem solve and innovate profitable solutions. It’s the most important skill you can develop to future-proof your career in the age of AI.