Close
 

What's the difference between creativity and innovation?

  • Opinion
  • March 28, 2019
  • Mike Hutcheson
What's the difference between creativity and innovation?

Innovation and creativity are two terms that can tend to get muddled when it comes to talking about business. Advertising guru Mike Hutcheson explores the difference between the two. 

When it comes to innovation and creativity, all minds are not created equal. It seems appropriate to start by defining what we mean by those terms and examining their relevance to our lives. I believe innovation is the love child of creativity and unfulfilled human needs.

Creativity is about insight rather than information and defies accurate definition, but one that comes close is “seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.”  It comprises three essential elements; originality, utility and a tangible product that is recognized by others. The utility could be corporeal or intangible. It could mean anything from a useful device or tool, to a work of art.

The trouble is creativity has become very fashionable and most people play fast and loose with its meaning. It’s a big word with lots of nuances and it is relative, because all creative activities reside somewhere on a continuum that ranges from bricklaying, through painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, to discovering gravity.

But people head off to seminars, read books or study creativity, thinking that it is a process that can be learned — a dangerous notion of dubious promise. To claim it can be learned is to demean it. Creativity is not about rules it's about how you break them.  Aspirants should instead be taught how to recognise creativity when they see it.

There is no doubt that creative skills can be honed and polished, but the core talent should pre-exist the polishing.

Another way of defining - or achieving - creativity is “making the familiar strange and the strange familiar”.

So, who has it, where should we look for it and how do we recognise it when we see it?

For a start, you don’t want too much creativity in your average heart surgeon or airline pilot.

When you are under the knife, you desperately want the knife you are under to be wielded by a very un-creative, but highly intelligent ex-geek who was paying attention in Biology 101. Not by someone who was at the beach chatting up Gaye Ashton on the day they were dissecting frogs and who is now wanting to be adventurous with your cardiovascular system.

If creative people did open-heart surgery, rather than follow the anatomy textbook, they might be tempted to try connecting the left ventricle directly to the penis in order to speed up blood flow.

Similarly, you don't want to be in a plane flown by a creative airline pilot. Just for the hell of it, he might decide to loop the loop in the middle of meal service. And you definitely want the building you're in to have been designed by an engineer who knows more about calculus and physics than couplets and phonemes.

While it is true that all creative people are bright, it is not true that all bright people are creative. There is a body of evidence that suggests beyond a certain point, (like an IQ of 120) higher intelligence has no real bearing on creative powers. In other words, you can't be a creative innovator just because you are very clever. Which helps explain why people with IQs of 160 often end up working for those with IQs of 100.

The undoubted intelligence required by would-be doctors and jet pilots is directed at assimilating and storing information to be recalled sequentially, not in the random manner of your average writer. And that’s the point — some people's brains are wired differently when it comes to creativity and innovation.

Generally speaking, discovery and invention comes from intuitives who make up approximately 24% of the general population, order is made from chaos by non-intuitives who make up the other 76%. The world needs both sorts — in that kind of proportion — in order to function.

Consider the relationship between creativity and intelligence. Many inventors, or innovative scientists like Einstein (an average mathematician by his own admission) and 80% of the members of the Royal Society, were strictly B to B+ students at university. Their success being due to the fact that they have creative rather than linear minds.

It seems to me there are two sorts of things in life: real stuff that ‘is’ and made up stuff that ‘might be’. Real stuff is stuff like electrical wiring or the fact that the aorta extends up from the left ventricle. Under no circumstances should it be attached to any other part of the body. People with logical minds know this.

On the other hand, innovation comes from creative people with lateral minds working with people with logical minds to make something out of nothing. Their resulting ideas may be built in concrete, painted on canvas, printed on paper or projected on a screen. Collaboration is the key.

That’s the thing — having a medical degree qualifies you to be a doctor, having an accounting degree qualifies you to be an accountant and so on. But having a degree in English only qualifies you to be a reader, not a writer. Unless a writer's words are strung together in an unusual way, are delightfully lyrical, or simply make you see things from a different perspective, you might as well read the phone book.

How the creative process works no one really knows. But it is mostly about absorbing lots of information and images and letting them distill in your subconscious mind. Then insights seem to pop out as if from nowhere, usually when you are in the shower or on the motorway or eating your sushi. Pretty much anytime you haven’t got a pen handy.

Creativity is not a process you can learn from a textbook, any more than owning a set of golf clubs makes you Tiger Woods.  But innovation can be the domain of everyone - with differing minds working together to bring creativity to life.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Automation will help retailers focus on customers

  • News
  • June 19, 2019
  • The Register team
Automation will help retailers focus on customers

More than 100 retailers have gathered at Freedom Furniture’s new Newmarket flagship to consider what the upcoming wave of automation technology offers for the industry. Speakers included Pier Smulders from Alibaba Group and Soul Machines’ Hilary O’Connor.

Read more
 
 

A guide to the four favourite business f***-ups I've made

  • Opinion
  • June 18, 2019
  • Wendy Thompson
A guide to the four favourite business f***-ups I've made

Wendy Thompson is the founder and CEO of the successful social media marketing agency Socialites, and has 16 years digital marketing experience in some of New Zealand's top advertising agencies. However. that doesn't mean she hasn't made her fair share of mistakes in her career. Here, in her typically colourful way, she shares four mistakes she's learnt from all her years in business – and the important lessons she learnt from them.

Read more
 
 

The Kiwi start-up making edible coffee cups a reality

  • Design
  • June 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
The Kiwi start-up making edible coffee cups a reality

The vanilla-flavoured, sog-resistant edible cups produced by Auckland company Twiice were four years in the making, but now they’re on the menu at Auckland cafes. We gave them a taste.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 
News

Alibaba runs its Ecommerce Expo in New Zealand for the first time

Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group reported revenue of more than US$56 billion this year, and in Alibaba.com it owns the world’s largest online B2B trading platform ...

 
 

The beauty of it: From start to success with cosmetics mogul Rowena Roberts

  • News
  • June 14, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
The beauty of it: From start to success with cosmetics mogul Rowena Roberts

Rowena Roberts had zero experience in retail when she propositioned Estée Lauder to allow her to open a MAC Cosmetics store in New Zealand. Now, over 18 years later through her business Red Honey Cosmetics, she has sold luxury brands Jo Malone London, Bobbi Brown and MAC in New Zealand successfully. The cosmetics mogul talks to us on the most important aspects of running her businesses, and why no one should ever be afraid to do the literal dirty work.

Read more
 
Design

Spread the word: Pic’s Peanut Butter World opens

If all the world’s a stage, Pic’s Peanut Butter World is no peanut gallery.

 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}