On Wednesday I met Ram Charan, one of the foremost management consultants and leadership gurus in the world. Here’s the third insight I gained from my time with him.
Invention is the creation of new ideas. You need geniuses for that.
Innovation is converting ideas into revenue and margins. You need leaders for that.
Successful business relies far more on the latter than the former.
I thought this was a very interesting perspective. When we talk about innovation the conversation does usually push toward extreme examples, but business innovation, the kind that helps one company win over others, is often about incremental improvements, a cost saving here, a process improvement there.
Time after time when companies unleash the creative power of their employees (usually doing little more than asking and listening) they uncover numerous innovations. So we can leave the invention to the Einsteins. Ask around for the innovative ideas. Then put our leadership to use selecting the best innovations and converting them to positive business results.