Innovation and creativity seem like such fundamental concepts. We all know what creativity and innovation are, right?

Throughout our annual 10 week Enterprise by Design experience, we talk a lot about innovation and creativity; encouraging our teams to collaborate and think outside the box. In EBD, it’s vital that teams across a multitude of disciplines. Business, Arts, Science and Engineering students work together and brainstorm, bringing creative and analytical minds together to create innovative ideas.

In a lot of ways, creativity and innovation seem as if the two go together, but why? What really is innovation and how is it that different from creativity? To find out why innovation and creativity and innovation go hand in hand, let’s explore them in today’s blog post!

So what is Innovation?

In some respect, innovation is hard to explain. In the dictionary, innovation is defined as “the use of a new idea or method”. In some cases, innovation can mean “making new combinations” but that sounds too simplified, plus, new combinations don’t necessarily mean you improve or renew anything.

Innovation comes from the human race wanting to improve things, from creating fire to electricity, humans are continually trying to improve on ideas that have come before. Many ideas have completely changed the world, some have made much smaller changes, and some have not worked at all.

Innovation doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, something as small as adding zips to trousers can make a change and add value to everyday fashion. But in order for ideas to turn into innovation, they have to add value to what came before.

It is a common legend that Thomas Edison tried 10,000 combinations to make the lightbulb, taking years to create something innovative with incredible value. However, without his many attempts, he would never have developed the lightbulb. This is where creativity can come in. 

Throughout our Enterprise by Design experience, we encourage teams to collaborate and brainstorm, doing activities such as crazy eights and folding challenges to cultivate ideas that will hopefully turn into innovative ones. The process of making something that is innovative takes creativity and it’s crucial that room for creativity is a part of the process, as the combinations could lead to something that is considered innovative. 

To see why creativity is vital to innovation, let’s dive into what creativity means! 

What is Creativity? 

Often, we tend to associate the word creativity with the Arts. Writing, painting, sculpting, theater or music. But when job adverts are asking for candidates to be able to demonstrate their creativity, they’re not typically asking for us to produce a painting during an interview. 

Creativity is defined as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness”. While that’s a broad definition, creativity in the professional world is often meant to be the ability to use imaginative or novel methods to solve problems. 

Creativity can be seen as approaching a problem from a different angle, which sounds similar to innovation, but the truth is that the outcomes can be very different. Whilst on the surface creativity and innovation sound like different facets of the same thing, there’s a subtle but important difference: innovation is an improvement, creativity is often not.

We can be creative while still following the ideas of something already implemented and we can also be creative without doing something the most practical, or cost-effective way, for example. In order for something to not only be creative, but also be innovative, the method must be one that improves on the original one. 

Creativity in and of itself is great, but it is just that if there is nothing about it that adds value to older ideas. If creativity is doing something in a new way, innovation must be the application of that method in a way that improves on the original method.

How does innovation and creativity go hand in hand?

As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Our ideas take time, creativity can take teamwork and building upon ideas often needs stages of work. That’s why EBD isn’t just a seminar or a conference, it’s a ten week experience where our students are consistently creating and collaborating, in the hopes that at the end of the ten weeks, they’ll have come up with something innovative and useful to local businesses and the environment. 

In order for innovation to eventually happen, creativity must be involved. We regularly encourage our students to do activities that have been done in the past, to learn from academic experts and business partners about what is already out there. We have them create objects or character personas as the key focus, even if they don’t at first create something that is new. The hope is, that through that creativity, the innovative juices start to flow. Creativity is a great starting point to get the brain to think “how can I add to this?” 

For innovation in the business world, there is also a whole lot of creativity involved in the aftermath of coming up with something innovative. In our Enterprise by Design teams, for example, in 2021 our teams have been tasked with creating a media campaign around their ideas.

The innovative idea is extremely important, obviously, but in order to share with the world that something innovative has taken place, you must find ways of getting the word out, thus often needing creativity to do that. There must be creativity in things like marketing, advertising and packaging in order to make people aware of the new innovation and to buy it, use it or participate in it. Those aren’t things that create something new, but it helps aid the innovation in getting out there to a wider world. 

Our aim at EBD is to show the analytical students how fostering a creative mindset can be useful for their own studies, and give the creative students structure on taking their mindset and making something useful as a business idea from it.

Innovation and creativity are both of paramount importance for the EBD experience, and it’s always amazing to see what students bring each year.

Read our other blog posts to see more about Enterprise by Design.