talks – invention, innovation & business models

Here are the slides from a talk I gave this morning:

They might not make much sense as standalones – so here’s a summary of the two main points. The first is that invention and innovation are two different things. It is pretty closely related to the posts I’ve made here about the relative importance of ideas (first post, second post). The key takeaway point is that it is not enough to come up with a good idea. From an evolutionary perspective, an idea just generates variety. Innovation encompasses variety, selection & replication – and that you have to consider all three things to innovate succesfully.

The second point is that the best way to turn an invention into an innovation is to build a business model around the idea. I illustrate this by using the Kristin Hersh model that I talked about a couple of weeks ago.

This talk is a stripped down version of the one that I gave as part of the Brisbane CitySmart Innovation Festival last night. Turnout for that was low, but the quality of input from the people that showed up was extremely high – so I was pretty happy with the way that went.

Next time I do one of these I’ll record some audio to go with the slides…

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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5 thoughts on “talks – invention, innovation & business models

  1. Tim,

    I agree with your position that innovation is not the same thing as invention. An invention is not necessarily an innovation. But I am not entirely sure if an innovation is necessarily an invention. (I guess this will depend on how broad your definition of “invention” is?)

    The second point is also important and striking. It seems that a whole lot of people are resistant to change *when change matters* (i.e. when it can potentially lead to a “phase shift” in the system).

    The Monty Python illustrates nicely how the counterintuitive (counterintuitive for businesspeople) act of embracing rather than resisting such change can be beneficial. (And that “resistance is futile” – to quote one famous alien race).

    Donella Meadows has said all of this before, many years ago ( She also notes that people are very good at spotting such phasing-shifting changes yet they always end up doing the exactly wrong thing.

    It is a mystery why no one has paid sufficient attention to this.

  2. Thanks Marco! I wouldn’t call every innovation an invention. The way I frame it is that innovations are always the actualisation of an idea, but inventing is usually coming up with a ‘thing’ of some sort, so it’s definitely more restricted.

    I hadn’t run across that work by Meadows before – thanks for pointing it out. I’ll give it some thought…

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