To Invent or to Innovate – That is the Question
Apr24

To Invent or to Innovate – That is the Question

I have always respected people who come up with fresh ideas and invent new things.  I have been fortunate to be part of teams that invented new products and technologies during my college years as well as my professional career.  But I have always wondered, what happens after something has been invented? As time has gone by, I realized the next step is to innovate.  That is if your aspire to dominate your field. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with invention alone. It’s just that nowadays companies face great challenges in keeping up with customer demands. Often, many organizations tend to overlook the importance of innovation, and focus only on attempting to invent new products or services. In great number of instances they end up with neither of the two. The result is outdated products that could not address the growing and shifting demands of customers.  Compare that with organizations that manage to grow their businesses and you will find they do not fear innovation but rather embrace it. First, let’s define the two terms. Innovation is when you change something already in existence into something different, or one that is improved and modernized. Invention, on the other hand, is when you turn an idea into reality. Innovation and invention are obviously two different concepts but for an organization to propel forward and dominate, its strategy must involve invention and innovation. Put simply, invention creates a need; whereas, innovation improves on the delivered value. Let’s take The Coca-Cola Co. as an example. Coca-cola (‘Coke’) was invented by Dr. John Pemberton in 1886. Asa Candler, a successful businessman, bought the formula in 1890s. Candler’s aggressive promotions made Coke the big name it was in the 20th century. For many decades since then, Coke dominated the beverage industry but during the 1980s, when dieting started to become popular among women, Coke felt that it had to adapt to the changes by innovating. In 1982, the company introduced Diet Coke, which later became the biggest selling low-calorie soft drink in the US.  In 2005, Coke made another innovation through Coke Zero to target young adult men who associated Diet Coke with women. This variation also targeted soda drinkers who wanted something that is as tasteful as the original Coke yet having low calorie count. Everyone knows Coke as a soda containing lots of sugar and has a high calorie count. In other words, when people became health conscious, particularly, with weight and appearance, Coca-Cola decided to innovate. The result was Diet Coke, also known as Coke Light in certain markets. Coca-Cola took it a step further to improve the taste and...

Read More