What’s the difference between innovation and change? At receptions I easily swap between the two. And so do many other professionals in the field. Even literature does not make a clear divide between the two. As far as I’m concerned, some examples classified as innovation could easily fall under the category change and vice-versa.
My own rule
My own rule
Roughly speaking I apply the following rule:
- Innovation deals with the creation and introduction of new products and services.
- Change deals with the transformation of a working culture and behaviour into a different working culture and behaviour.
Now, this does not always simplify the discussion. Because every innovation, every introduction of a new product or services usually impacts on the organisation and its culture. Therefore the organisation needs to change. Equally so, transforming the organisational behaviour (e.g. to better adapt it to changing market circumstances) usually implies innovation, the introduction of new products or services. Both things often come together.
The starting point is different
Innovation starts with nothing. The new product or service does not yet exist. It needs to be created from scratch regardless of any existing organisation. In its most disruptive form there is no pre-existing state. That also gives all the freedom to create a totally new organisation around the innovation.
Change, on the contrary, starts with a pre-existing state. An existing organisation and working culture wants to transform into a new state that is better adapted for survival of the organisation. This usually implies transforming and redefining the values and norms that govern the organisation.
And being aware of different starting point makes a big difference in designing a process and making it participatory