Creativity vs Innovation – What’s the difference?

I run a company, and manage employees. Therefore, I’m always thinking about the difference between creativity and innovation. Companies often use these two words interchangeably during meetings. For example, “Let’s be more creative and find a solution to this problem,” and “We really need to drive more innovation around here.” But the two words aren’t really the same.

Creativity. I live in Los Angeles; I know a lot of creative people. Designers are creative. Artists are creative. Actors are creative. We need creativity in this world. The problem with creativity in the business world, however, is that creativity can’t be measured. It’s subjective.


Innovation. Different word altogether. Why? Because innovation drives action. Innovation can be measured because it has a tangible output. What companies want, but can’t always articulate, is they want innovation that drives action, producing output.

Don’t get me wrong. The two words complement each other. Applied creativity can and usually does, lead to great innovation.

Shawn Hunter, author of “Out Think: How Innovative Leaders Drive Exceptional Outcomes,” (Wiley, 2013) says, “Process is replicable and scalable; a creative individual is not. Once leaders understand the difference between creativity and innovation, they can work on inspiring both among their team members — and building a culture that supports these values.”

You knew it was coming. Here it is. So how does these two concepts apply to print? Creatively, we must re-think how print fits into a larger marketing program. With budgets decreasing and all of us needing to do more with less, it takes some creativity to figure out how direct marketing plays a role.

The innovation part though is more concrete. Like integrating and scaling marketing campaigns with print. Or utilizing trigger campaigns with print tied to IP addresses. Almost anything is possible; it just takes some good old-fashioned creativity, partnered up with some concrete innovation. Solving problems and putting those ideas to work.

Buy me a brew sometime (I’m a fan of classic pilsner or blonde ales) and I’ll give you a dose of creativity. And if you’re lucky, maybe some innovation too.