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Innovation Vs Invention . . . Vs . . . Discovery?

Innovation Vs Invention . . . Vs . . . Discovery?

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 287
Posted by: Terry
Posted on: Saturday, 24th February 2007

Sorry for being so untimely, but I just came across your discussion as a result of a search on Innovation, Invention and Creativity.  I've been wrestling with the nuances of these concepts for several years (casually).  In that regard, being two weeks late to the discussion is still fresh.

I should first state my disagreement with the importance of commercialization.  We know full well that inventions can be claimed with no commerical application . . . or even value.  I also believe innovations can be claimed with no commercial value . . . or positive impact to society.  If I am a parent and I develop a new approach to disciplining my children, it is an innovation, even if never commercialized.  If I am a thief and I develop a method of breaking into a bank without detection, it is an innovation, while neither commericalized nor positive to society, at least in its implementation.

Over the course of reflection, I believe the foundation to these concepts is discovery.  Discovery is personal; it involves no creation on the part of the discoverer.  During the process of discovery, something previously unknown (to the discoverer) becomes known.  What is discovered may have been known to many before, or to no one before.

Discovery can lead to invention.  A specific, tangible (I'm wrestling with this–I believe “tangibility” is necessary for invention) application of discovery.  What is discovered already existed; what is invented dis not exist before.  Invention results from creativity applied to discovery.

Discovery can also lead to innovation.  (The other thing I'm wrestling with is whether 'innovation' must pass through 'invention.')  For me, innovation is based on something already existing.  Innovation is the novel application of something.  It can be an idea, or a tangible thing . . .  again, commerical or not.  Much of the time, I believe innovation is the extenstion of invention.  But . . . can innovation be the extension of discovery, with no intervening invention?  I think perhaps.  Innovation is also a product of creative behavior.

So . . . one model is that Discovery is the base, branching directly to Invention (as the next 'level' in the heirarchy) and then directly to Innovation.  The other model has Discovery as the base, branching out to both Invention and Innovation, as essentially equal peers derived from discovery.  In this latter model, perhaps the difference between Invention and Innovation is tangibility.)  Surround either model with a balloon, call the balloon Creativity, and my world is almost complete.

What do you think?


Message: 289
Posted by: Terry
Posted on: Saturday, 24th February 2007

Sorry, I committed a sin by inadvertently posting a new message instead of a reply.  Mea culpa!


Message: 1416
Posted by: Tagi
Posted on: Monday, 1st September 2008

Hi Terry,

The discussion on distinction between innovation and invention (and definitions for discovery, emergence, etc.) was very useful for me. I have referred to many references for demystification of technical terms and the page you prepared is one of the bests among all others.