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Making creativity and innovation happen
Making creativity and innovation happen

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1.2 Defining innovation

How then should innovation be defined?

As with definitions of creativity, there are many understandings of innovation. While some are highly technical, others are focused more on the outcomes.

On an international level, the Oslo Manual – which includes guidelines for collecting and interpreting innovation data – specifies that:

An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.

(Statistical Office of the European Communities, 2005, p. 46)

While on a more technical level this definition might be suitable, a simpler and much more effective definition of innovation was suggested by Ekvall (1997) who asserted that at its simplest, innovation is really just:

a creative idea that has been brought to application.

(Ekvall, 1997, p. 195).

The ‘creative idea’ might involve inventing a new product or service, adapting an existing product or service or even simply just doing things in a unique and distinctive way.

Yet as both definitions of innovation highlight, just having a good idea is not in itself sufficient. For a creative idea to be classed as an innovation, it actually needs to be implemented or applied.

Next you will look at whether these definitions of creativity and innovation apply equally in all contexts.