Creativity vs. Innovation (With Differences and Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 10, 2022

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Embracing change is an important aspect of problem-solving and improvement. Innovation and creativity can serve as major drivers of positive change in your personal life and the workplace. Identifying their differences and developing these qualities can help you impact your workplace positively. In this article, we discuss creativity vs. innovation, identify their differences, highlight their importance, and provide tips to improve creativity and innovation in the workplace.

Creativity vs. innovation

Although people sometimes use creativity vs. innovation interchangeably, they differ in context and output. Some differences between both concepts include:

  • Meaning: Creativity refers to the ability of a person to develop new ideas, solutions, alternatives, and possibilities regardless of if they result in measurable outcomes. In contrast, innovation refers to the flexible application of new ideas, methodology, processes, or products to achieve measurable outcomes or results.

  • Process: The creative process is internal and typically imaginative, such as thinking about how you can improve operational processes in a company. In contrast, innovation is external and more productive, such as creating a new index format to aid the retrieval of documents.

  • Quantifiable: Innovative activities often create measurable or quantifiable results, while creativity is intangible and isn't always measurable. Creativity usually involves concepts or thoughts on new ideas, while innovation results in deliverable products.

  • Money consumption: Creativity rarely requires funding or monetary allocation. In contrast, innovation often requires funding to obtain the necessary raw materials to develop a physical product.

  • Risk: The innovative process involves risks, while creativity typically involves fewer risks. For instance, a company rarely allocates money for creative processes, avoiding financial risks.

Related: How to Be Innovative and Creative at Work (12 Easy Steps)

Importance of creativity

Creativity is beneficial for numerous reasons, including:

  • Problem-solving: Creativity can help you develop better problem-solving and analytical skills. With a creative mindset, you can approach issues from various angles instead of using traditional methods.

  • Better confidence: Sharing your creative process can help eliminate any compulsion or fear of perfection and allows you to become more confident in yourself and your work. This can improve workplace productivity and lead you to deliver better results.

  • Health benefits: The Creative Canada Policy Framework, issued by the Government of Canada, states that creativity may lead to longer life and improve your quality of life. For instance, creativity can help reduce stress your levels, anxiety, and give you a healthier and more productive platform to process negative emotions.

Importance of innovation

Here are some reasons why innovation is important in the workplace:

  • Promote growth: Innovation in the workplace can encourage employees to think differently and approach issues from a solution-oriented approach. This can function as an inherent stimulant for growth and development.

  • Attract new talents: An innovative work environment can help companies attract new and young talents to the workplace. This is because this type of environment can give employees an opportunity to express themselves and grow within the workplace.

  • Experience a healthy workplace environment: When the office culture supports and rewards innovation, it can contribute to establishing a healthy work environment. Employees understand they can make mistakes and learn for them, which can improve their overall work experience.

  • Improve efficiency: When employees are always searching for new ideas and approaches to situations, it may help eliminate redundancies in the internal process. Also, improved internal processes usually translate to high productivity.

  • Increase employee relationships: Innovation encourages teamwork and collaboration, which can foster good professional relationships among employees. This can also help improve the company's public image and overall profitability.

Tips for developing creativity vs. innovation

Some tips for developing creativity and innovation include:

Create a conducive environment

Working in an enabling environment can improve your creativity, provide resources to implement your ideas, and enhance your overall productivity. You may consider stimulating your other senses by adding colours and nice fragrances to your workspace. You may also put up posters or photos with motivational quotes or loved ones to help inspire you to perform better.

Ask questions

Being inquisitive is a great way to develop a creative thinking process, and creative thinking often translates to quantifiable innovation. You can practise this by using an unrestricted approach, like asking open-ended questions when approaching a new challenge. For instance, instead of thinking about a problem, ask the most efficient way to change the situation or approach the issue. Also, being inquisitive can help you grow professionally and develop the necessary skills to improve your workplace performance.

Have a growth mindset

Having a growth mindset means believing that you can learn any skill or grow in any area you want with sufficient effort and opportunity. In the workplace, exercising a growth mindset can help improve creativity and innovation as it allows you to adopt a solution-based approach to workplace challenges. When faced with difficult situations, try seeing them as an opportunity to leverage your skills and test your creativity in different ways.

Consider a change of environment

In some cases, a new environment may be the catalyst to inspire innovation and creativity for individuals and groups. For example, you can try taking a long walk or working in different locations to inspire new ideas or influence your creative process. Also, changing the workplace setting to an off-site group function is a great way to increase collaboration, creativity, and innovation between team members.

Prioritize teamwork

Working in a group often inspires new ideas and makes them easier to implement, leading to innovation. It's advisable to consider collaborating with colleagues on projects to enable you to get different perspectives on issues. When working in teams, it can be helpful to create a conducive environment that allows your team to work well together.

Maintain a positive outlook

Maintaining a positive outlook can help you improve your creativity and innovative capabilities, as it allows you to identify and explore new possibilities. Respect and explore each idea, even those you feel you may not use entirely. At the same time, try to regulate the time spent on each idea to keep group sessions moving. Exploring all possible avenues can help create a continuous line of thought and allow you to use old ideas as inspiration for new ones.

Set meaningful goals

Having significant goals may help structure your creative process and transition your ideas from concepts to measurable outcomes. Try using established frameworks like the SMART framework to ensure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. These frameworks also help improve your productivity level because you can easily identify what goals you're working towards and streamline your activities to help achieve them.

Read more: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

Adopt continuous learning

Improving your creativity usually involves learning new skills and developing new ideas, while applying these skills and ideas may lead to measurable innovation. To help you achieve this, it may be helpful to seek professional developments either online or physically in colleges or universities. You may also consider creating a book club with some of your team members to review creative works and discuss how they impacted you.

Related: Improve Your Creativity Skills to Highlight on Your Resume

Implement solutions

Applying your ideas and making them into practical solutions may help you connect your creative and innovative qualities together. You can practise this by taking action on your ideas every day at work. Identify all the processes required and try to create a definite plan to implement your ideas and innovate.

Engage in role-playing

Engaging in role-playing is a good way to approach an issue from a different perspective. Encourage your colleagues or team members to try roles different from their job description and develop as many ideas as possible. To help obtain the maximum benefit, it's advisable for you and your team to take the exercise seriously when playing different roles.

Related: 9 Smart Ways to Work Effectively with Others

Stay updated on industry trends

Staying updated on recent market trends may give you an idea of what your employer's competitors are producing and how to improve them to meet consumer needs. It can also provide insights into if you can create a new market for your product or services. It's advisable you explore beyond your industry and think about how you can effectively incorporate some of the processes in your workplace.

Actively relieve stress

Stress can be a hindrance to creativity and innovation. To relieve stress, try developing a hobby or pastime to help you relax when you begin to feel overwhelmed by work. You can consider watching a funny movie because laughing is an excellent way to aid relaxation and improve creativity. You can also begin your day with activities that stimulate creativity and relaxation, such as meditation. These activities can give you time to be imaginative and calm, which can help you better enjoy the day.

Find a creative partner

You can get someone that you're comfortable discussing ideas and working with to become your creative partner. The partner can help you track your progress, keep you motivated, engage in brainstorming sessions with you, and help you develop new ideas. To keep the process fresh and innovative, you can consider changing your partner after an agreed period.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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