Innovation vs invention

It is often said that invention is not innovation and I believe it. Invention has to have socio-economic value to become innovation. It has to be socialized or else it sits in the lab. Xerox Parc was famous for the huge number of digital inventions that never became innovations until people outside Xerox connected them to what people wanted in a PC. Dean Kamon’s Segway is a great invention still waiting for socialization to become an innovation that adds value to people’s lives. The entire Japanese robot technology industry is an example of invention that is not innovation because outside the labs, there is no use for them (unlike the lowly iRobot Roomba which does something useful–it cleans our floors).

Bruce Nussbaum’s reply to Don Norman from a few years ago. This is part of what I was trying to get at with my second point. “Conceptual breakthroughs” aren’t an innovation until they have an impact on society, until they “change our lives.” Invention vs innovation is a helpful distinction.

Related posts