The lightbulb and its inventor, Thomas Alva Edison, have become synonymous with invention. When we think of a bright idea, we envision a lightbulb. When we think of prolific inventors, Edison usually tops the list. But the true legacy of Edison did not stop with invention; it expanded to include innovation—the subject of this book.
Invention is merely the conception of an idea—the start of a process that will eventually produce value. Innovation, by contrast, is the life of an idea. It begins with “invention” and ends with value that can be captured and demonstrated in financial statements and, yes, in the cash box. An invention becomes an innovation when it is successfully introduced into the marketplace. And this is true whether the “product” emerges as tangible goods or an intangible service.
It is innovation, not invention, that generates corporate profits and competitive advantage. Far too many companies focus solely on invention at the expense of devoting resources and attention to the full process of innovation.
Most companies are fascinated by invention—from proof of concept to launch. Much energy goes into creating an initial working version of a product, scaling it to achieve industrial levels of production, and creating and testing a beta version.
To some companies, it may seem that, at this point, the job is done. In truth, it is only beginning.
To extract commercial value from an invention, a company must do more. It must innovate, by creating ...