Understanding innovation at work (and how it leads to success)

Updated on January 28, 2023
inovation at work

When it comes to creativity, innovation is the buzzword. The holy grail of creative work. We all know that innovation equals success and we should all strive for it.

But what does innovation in the workplace even mean? And what is the difference between creativity and innovation?

What about “invention”?

Here Office Topics will explore these topics and figure out the connection between them.

The difference between creativity and innovation

creativity and innovation at work

Creativity and innovation: what is the difference? To put it simply, the ability to solve complex problems that don’t have obvious solutions is often referred to as creativity. However, creative ideas are just that - ideas. Following through those ideas and acting upon them is what could be described as innovation.

Basically, creativity is the realization that an idea can be applied but taking the necessary actions to bring that idea to fruition is what a true innovator does.

The difference between innovation and invention

Innovation is building upon some body of work that already exists. It’s making a service or a product a little bit better than it was before.

But what happens when you jump the curve? What happens when you build something that is entirely new?

This is what we call invention.

The value of innovation at work

Creative minds who can bring forth innovative ideas are among the most desired and valuable employees to a company. Employers have pondered over how to bring innovation to a company for decades.

Introducing innovative workplace practices has tremendous implications for success in business. It all comes down to attracting the right kind of people and creating a culture of innovation in the workplace.

Innovation is a planned process

innovation at work

If you want to innovate, then you need to realize that this is something that does not happen overnight. It requires a high level of familiarity with the subject of your work combined with careful research and planning.

It might seem that great innovators have brought forth their revolutionary ideas after a lucky stroke of genius. But only they know just how much learning, planning, and testing they have gone through.

The traits of innovators

Let’s take a look at some of the most common qualities and traits that we see in all contemporary innovators.

#1. Curiosity

You know what they say, curiosity helped the cat to build a spaceship and go to mars. Innovative individuals are curious about the world. They spend countless hours learning about various topics and drawing inspiration towards what they are trying to achieve.

#2. Imagination

Innovators look around and ask themselves: what would happen if? They actively think about how things “could” be rather than what they currently are. Innovators are able to imagine a better world and this fuels their desire for improvement.

#3. Passion

Innovators are truly passionate about what they are doing. They are almost magically drawn towards their goals. And they love it. They are simply content with their field of work. Their passion fuels their motivation even during the hardest of times.

#4. Internal motivation

No matter the odds, people who are highly innovative are never discouraged by the outside world. That is because their drive comes from within. While others rely on external factors such as profit and approval, innovative мinds see the world differently and follow their vision because their purpose is higher.

#5. Courage

Changing the world is not easy. And all great innovators have faced various challenges. But their internal motivation gives the courage to face those challenges and come on top.

#6. Stamina

Innovators are also crusaders. They are in for the long run. And realize that success does not happen overnight. It takes years of hard work, research, trial and error to achieve something great.

#7. Leadership

Passion, motivation, courage, stamina. These are the qualities of a leader. Great thinkers have great ideas that are worth following. Innovators attract like-minded individuals and empower them with their aura.

Skills that will help you innovate

innovation skills

#1. Risk-taking

One of the key skills that will determine your success as an innovator is your ability to take calculated risks. A lot of trial and error goes on during the innovation process. And the outcome is never certain.

#2. Organization

You might think that creators thrive in chaos. But multitasking and overcommunication have been associated with lowered productivity and mental capacity. Providing structure to your work and being organized will bring you closer to your goals.

#3. Ability to deconstruct concepts

Understanding how things work is important for innovation. That is why innovative people tend to deconstruct things and then put them back together. This way innovators can carefully analyze a process or a subject and understand even the most intricate interactions.

#4. Develop a wide scope of interests

A truly innovative and creative person is never satisfied with a single thing to work on. These people are usually all over the place. Just take a look at Elon Musk and his whacky companies. Immersing yourself in various fields will broaden your horizons and allow your mind to expand.

#5. Connecting the dots

Everything in our world is connected. From politics to economics and beyond, it’s all a delicate ecosystem. And highly creative people are able to see the patterns and how things are connected. They can see what others can’t and figure out the complex relationships between things which gives them a unique view on things.

#6. Cultivativation of creativity

Innovators and investors understand better than anyone else that good ideas need time. To develop, to flourish. Sure, there is always some trial and error. But creative genius doesn’t happen overnight. Each breakthrough is the result of months or even years of learning, thinking, and planning.

#7. Thinking beyond limitations

Our reality is often the result of what we believe in. This factor can limit us or give us the push we need to succeed. Successful innovators are able to think beyond what is currently possible. Through the power of imagination and strategic thinking, creative people are able to reach new heights.


  • Creativity, innovation, and invention are connected but they are not the same thing.
  • Innovation is a planned process that requires learning, thinking, and testing.
  • All great innovators have certain common traits that we can learn from.
  • Certain skills such as being organized and willing to take risks can help us become better innovators.

Written by:
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co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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