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3 min read

Innovate vs Invent

3 min read

Innovate vs Invent

Whenever I start a presentation I ask the question of what innovation means to people; I always get different answers, but in general the idea that covers all of them is the notion of creativity. 

Besides, I have a phrase that I think is quite real. There are many occurrences and little entrepreneurship. 

Innovation involves planning and orderly execution to actually create wealth. 

It is important to be clear about this, if the innovation project does not generate money returns it is not innovation, it is just invention. 

Invention is basically a gamble, it does not involve an orderly process of thought, while innovation involves a process of analysis and implementation of objectives, with compliance indicators, in order to generate money.

Most people confuse innovation with invention; they consider creativity to be invention and usually reject the notion that innovation can also be copying something. 

I divide innovation into three parts: 

  1. Solving a problem
  2. A service
  3. A product

It is important to understand that these three approaches lead to different, complementary or conflicting solutions in many cases. It will depend on each case, but in general we can state that if we want to innovate we have to attack one of these areas. 

If your business is not addressing a problem in society the chances of success are quite low; so I insist, observation exercises, research, and surveys are vital tools to discover where those problems are in the market. 

My first recommendation in this direction is that you ask all the entrepreneurs you know what is the main problem they face in their business today and represents an urgency. Clearly they will say that there´s many and others will give elusive answers, but when you ask several you will find someone that will shed light on how to build a business around that issue.

The key to identifying an opportunity for innovation is to answer the question: How urgent is that solution to the market? Remember, if innovation doesn't generate revenue it doesn't work, so the urgency factor plays a vital role here. 

People do not buy something if it doesn't generate value for them, it's not to solve a situation for the sake of doing it, it's because it makes economic sense to us. For instance, we are currently experiencing it with COVID-19. Mouth masks have no real effect on the possible spread of the virus and some experts even consider it counterproductive, but people are buying it in high quantities because they find it urgent.

For example, we are currently living it with COVID-19, mouth masks really have no effect on the possible spread of the virus and some experts consider it even counterproductive, but people are buying it in high quantities because it seems urgent.

Your business should not only solve a problem but also provide a service, not just sell a product, but many times companies stop selling services that are complementary to the main product or service without knowing the mistake they´re making. The notion of post-sale service is vital in order to generate more sales. 

Finally, the product as such is not necessary for it to be incredible; remember that in a world like the current one, copying is the easiest thing that exists. Inventing products is very good, but it involves a lot of effort and risk. Generate the minimum viable product and get it to market as soon as possible, because if you are going to fail, do it quickly and cheaply. 

This brings me to the last point, which many people will find objectionable, but which is still interesting, which is copying. Copying, they say, is the greatest way to be honest because it means we do something good. 

When it comes to copying, it's important to have a clear theme, it's not the same to copy an idea or business models that is in plain sight to generate corporate espionage. Copying things that are in the market, whether they are business models or sales styles is valid and is part of innovation, what is wrong is copying patents, stealing trade secrets or generating unfair competition. 

That said, I state, copying good practices, importing business models or seeing things that the competition provides, but one can do better is a way to innovate.

In essence, seek to ask yourself what the market needs urgently and start by creating that solution. In the following articles you can learn more about how to apply innovation techniques to the development of your projects. 

Don't forget, planning is vital to generate revenue, otherwise you won't be generating innovation.



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