In my article “Invention vs. Innovation” I have explained that invention refers to new concepts or products that derive from individual’s ideas or from scientific research while innovation is the commercialization of the invention itself. This definition is quite suitable for companies or organizations, but what if we talk about people? One could say that an inventive person comes up with many inventions while an innovative one comes up with many innovations… no shit (pardon my French)!
Now, I am talking not only about people who work in research centers but people who will come up with innovations in their house, in their relationship, in their work routine and so on; meaning we need a better definition. One simple yet effective way to classify the two is the following: an inventive person will come up with many new ideas and concepts in many different situations; an innovative person, on the other hand, will implement many new ideas (both his and from others) creating a tangible impact upon his or other people’s life.
So is it better to be inventive or innovative? Probably there is no definite answer for such question, as many situations will require both. That is why companies tend to create operational teams with people from different backgrounds and with complementary strengths.
If we consider a single person, however, it is unlikely that she will be able to bring into her house, her relationship or her work cubicle a person with complementary strengths to balance her traits. A good rule of thumb for inventive people, therefore, is to focus not exclusively on developing ideas but also on executing and implementing them.