The Difference Between Creativity and Innovation

In my Edgy Librarian webinar on Culture Shift in Libraries, I asked the question “Does it feel like, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about the need to be creative and innovative?”  Most of the people on the webinar responded “yes.”  Much of the webinar covered why this is so, and what to do about it.  What I didn’t get a chance to do was really get into what it means to be creative and innovative.

One definition for creativity often used by researchers is “the generation of novel and useful ideas.”  A definition for innovation is “the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization.”

It’s important to understand how these are different because you may be strong at fostering creative ideas but weak in implementation. Or weak in idea generation though you have the desire and means to implement something cool. (Do people still say “cool?”)  To me the benefit is in understanding that there are phases which involve different skills and organizational structures.  Coming up with the “cool” idea is often the easy part and is too often generated by a select few. That’s the topic of another blog post. 😉

When working on your next innovation, keep in mind that the setting, rules and behaviors required for generating creative ideas is different from the effort to prioritize and decide what to do.  When you get to the “how“ phase, there will likely be a need for more creative thinking.  The final piece is to manage the change process that incorporates the innovation into daily work flow.  In the ideal organizational culture, people at all levels will have been involved, or at least informed, along the way and will have learned to see change as opportunity.

We already have all of the raw materials in both staff and resources to supply innovations in the area of connection to learning, resources and community.  With changes to our organizational structures to promote creativity and experimentation and a little more practice reframing change from challenge to opportunity, we’ll be set.

George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about Libraries and Imagined Constraints

podcastIn this edition of Thinking Out Loud, George and Joan take on what they call “the classic objections” – things that libraries say to avoid taking risks or making changes. Why? Joan says it stems from a lack of confidence in their area(s) of expertise, and the dreaded “What if it works?” among other things. Listen and see what you think!

Oh, and here are the classic objections they cite:

  • It will never work
  • We tried that in 1997 and it was a disaster
  • Our patrons/member libraries/board won’t like it
  • It will take too much time
  • We can’t afford it
  • We can’t do it without more staff
  • We need to focus on the basics
  • It means throwing away all the hard work we’ve done
  • You can’t prove it’s any better than what we have
  • This isn’t why I got an MLS