Search - School / College / Institute

Innovation vs. Invention: What Is More Important?

08 Jun 2019

Simply put invention can be defined as the creation of any product or a process that is introduced for the first time. Invention is creation of a unique workable idea that is translated into some kind of device, a method, composition or process that enables to achieve better productivity, or simplifies the process of working. Invention is something that has been created for the first time and has never been attempted or made before. Like for example the invention of the light bulb, or the invention of the phone. Inventions are those ideas the creations of which have impacted the world profoundly. 

If we look at the way humans have evolved over the centuries, the adage "necessity is the mother of all inventions" will sound so very apt. As human evolved through the ages starting from the early stone age it was necessity that drove the human race to invent to meet their requirements. The Stone Age humans ,to meet their necessity for better hunting created small portable objects, new stone weapons that were more advanced, sharper and at the same time use of different materials other than just stone like bone, ivory, and antlers. As humans slowly started settling down they started inventing new things as necessity arose.  Through the ages in every decade or perhaps every year brings out some epic geniuses who come out with their ground breaking inventions in different fields. Some inventions have altered the way we live our lives, made our lives and this world better, smarter and also made our lives fun. Some of the inventions that changed the world are as follows;

1. Wheel & Axle

2. Sanitation

3. Written Language

4. Steam Engine

5. Light bulb

6. Penicillin

7. Phone

8. Television

9. Internet

10. World Wide Web

So what is innovation? How is it different from invention and creativity?

While invention is the creation of a new idea or concept, innovation is the process where these inventions or concepts are further improved. However, both invention and innovation are different and yet necessary and helps the society from getting stagnated. Innovation is a process when more improvement or a substantial contribution is made to an existing product, process or service. Innovation is also a process that involves multiple activities that led to or uncover new ways to do things or change the way an existing invention works. For example the first wheels were not meant for transportation. Evidence indicates that the wheels were originally created as potter's wheel in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. However, wheel was used for transportation much later. The Egyptians improvised on the wheel and added spokes in them, and these wheels were used in Egyptian chariots around 2000 B.C. The ancient Indians also used spokes in the wheels for chariots around 1500.B.C. The same wheels have gone through further innovation to be used for different purpose from wheel barrow, to numerous different uses starting from cars, buses, heavy freight wagons, bicycles to our modern day trolleys and suit cases as well. Wheel till date remains a classic example of a great invention which went through several innovations to meet different requirements.

Innovation is necessary as the traditional and old methods cease to yield the same result with passing time. The world is constantly changing and even though the basic principle remains the same there is always a need of new innovations to old concept and ideas. A product or idea becomes innovative when it is changed and the change makes it more useful, makes for a more improved product or service or a process.

It is said innovation starts when people start converting problems into ideas and make them work. Mostly we hear that innovation is necessary to create new business and is the most important and fundamental source of business growth and industrial growth. However, the most important reason why we need to constantly to innovate is because in this dynamic world where everything is constantly evolving, innovative new products, process and methods are essential to the progress of any society. 

Imagine if we never progressed beyond the stone-age tools and implements: Can we now think of our lives like from the movie "Flintstone". Imagine washing our clothes banging on a stone slab. We cannot, it sounds hilarious, that’s because it was innovation of the different inventions over the ages that has brought us to this stage where we can make things in our home work without even being physically present at home. Innovation not only makes our lives more comfortable but the process of developing new products provide employment and economic well-being to those who are both directly and indirectly involved. Innovation is necessary for companies for competitive advantage.

Innovation is a constant process of unraveling new ideas by uncovering the usual stuff that we do on a day to day basis. Take for instance healthcare; this is one organization that faces unprecedented challenges to improve quality, improve easy access, reduce harm, eliminate waste, and reduce cost and these need constant endeavor and innovations. New inventions and constant innovation are always needed as we will constantly face problems and every problem needs a solution. Every aspect of our life needs innovations. Whether it is education, business, healthcare, agriculture, everything around us is going through tumultuous change and from time to time we have the need to discover something new, add some new dimension to the existing to better our experience and our lives as a whole. 

It is not very easy to completely give a definite statement as to which is more important invention or innovation. Both are equally important. New inventions are necessary but to make those inventions work efficiently for us we need to innovate. It’s a constant process and while we innovate we also stumble upon new inventions and ideas. It is a constant cycle of evolving from one to another, but always towards something better. 

The famous Chocolatier Willy Wonka had once shared a very important nugget of wisdom; he said, “Invention is 93% perspiration 6% inspiration 3% perspiration and 2% butter scotch ripple.” Well the “2% butter scotch ripple” is innovation, the most important ingredient that can make or break many a thing.

By: Madhuchanda Saxena

Posted By - Assistant Editor