Innovation vs Invention – What’s the difference?

innovation vs invention

To invent or innovate? That is the question that many organizations face from time to time. But which one to choose? While these words can be used interchangeably sometimes, there are hugely different.

What is Invention?

When you create a product, service or process from scratch and introduce it to the world (first of its kind), you have invented something. For example, Thomas Edison is credited for inventing the incandescent light bulb.

The key benefits of invention are:

  • Solving a new problem: When you invent something, it gives you the opportunity to offer people a unique solution to their problem. This decreases the number of problems that people face in the world, making it a better place.
  • More profits:  Since you have introduced something completely new to the market, there is less competition. This can leave your competitors scrambling while you enjoy the profits of a market you created. You can even patent the invention to prevent competitors from cutting in on your profits for a while.

What is Innovation?

When you make a significant improvement to an existing product, service or process, you have innovated rather than invented. Steve Jobs was a great innovator. While he didn’t invent the technology that went into Apple devices, he used it in ways that made things better for everyone.

The key benefits of innovation are:

  • Fewer costs: Since you are not creating the product, service or process from scratch, you get to save on costs. If it is a process, your organization gets to enjoy improved productivity. If it is a product or service, you gain a unique selling position (USP) and a competitive advantage.
  • More value for the customer: When innovating, you are simply adding more value to the product or service. Not only does this differentiate your competitors, but it makes it easier to convince people to by from you. Essentially, this means more profits for you.



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