Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@outlook.com) is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain.

What's the Difference Between Innovation and Creativity?

What's the Difference Between Innovation and Creativity?

By Dennis D. McDonald

I’ve been listening to Phil McKinney’s Killer Innovations podcasts. I am trying to understand how social media and social networking can contribute to innovative practices within an organization. One important impact might be the manner in which “innovation” is managed.

I have expressed in the past some skepticism about whether innovation can be “managed.” Some of my concerns arediscussed by Jeffrey Phillips in his post “You Can’t Manage Innovation.” One reason for some of my own confusion was my failing to distinguish appropriately between innovation and creativity.

Innovation can be thought of as a process. It is the impact of social media on this process that I am exploring. A practical example is how to manage the introduction of certain types of blogging into an organization as a tool for internal communications. The blog and its features provide a wide range of structured and unstructured approaches to communication, information management, and relationship development. Assessing and planning for how this complex mix can support the innovation process is an interesting management challenge. For example, you need to strike the right balance between concepts of structure and process on the one hand, and freedom and spontaneity on the other.

Creativity is less of a process than apersonal characteristic. People differ greatly in their ability to think creatively. One type of creativity is the spontaneous generation of new ideas of which some people are capable; extreme examples of this type of creativity are people like Mozart and Edison. Another kind of creativity is the ability to discern connections and relationships between existing facts or phenomena. Some people are creative on their own; others thrive on interaction with others.

Social media and social networking, when applied within an organization, can help to promote both innovation and creativity. I’ll be exploring these topics and their management implications in the coming weeks and welcome comments and suggestions from others who are wrestling with the same ideas.

Copyright 2007 by Dennis D. McDonald

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