Creativity and innovation are inherently tied together, yet many corporate leaders equate the two. Generating new ideas for the innovation lab requires creativity and a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the enterprise, but creative thinking doesn’t deliver results. It just sets the stage for them.

Despite the typical perception of innovation, design labs don’t exist to generate big ideas – they exist to generate new businesses or processes that drive revenue. Turning big ideas into new businesses requires execution and development, which goes well beyond creativity.

The Difference is in the Data

At the end of the day, executives can measure the output of innovation. Creativity, while it can help frame a good innovation story, is nebulous and typically undefined – it’s almost impossible to know the value of a single idea. Since corporate innovation inherently comes down to results and growth, it’s a practical endeavor that must be measured.

And innovation isn’t always creative. Sometimes the most impactful new ideas are rooted in practicality rather than creativity. We like to stress “out-of-the-box” thinking in the innovation lab, but corporations intentionally work within specific boxes – protecting or enhancing the core business demands it.

When it comes to convincing executives of the value of innovation, here’s the bottom line: creative thinking is neither repeatable or scalable. Execution and implementation of those ideas delivers concrete results.

Creativity Needs a Purpose

Innovators fuel new ventures with creative ideas, but many organizations struggle to turn big ideas into value for the company. It’s not enough to know you want to leverage a new technology or explore a new business application; you need to know how that technology solves a core problem of the enterprise or your customers.

Finding that value requires a framework for pairing an idea with a problem and exploring potential solutions. The product development world focuses on driving ideas to actual products through hackathons and focused innovation time, and the enterprise needs systems in place that ensure creative ideas actually move forward.

Be Practical

Although creativity and forward-thinking vision lie at the core of moonshot projects and new business line innovation, sometimes a practical approach to solving core problems is more effective than thinking outside the box.

At the end of the day, creativity may result in a host of new ideas; innovation delivers new products, services and business units to the enterprise.


Geoff is a true entrepreneur. He’s passionate about helping companies find, build and grow their next big idea. He launched his first venture at age 16, when he started a computer store in a shopping mall in Sarasota, Florida. Since then, he’s built eight more companies.