Innovation and continuous improvement are closely linked, though different. I tend to view them as two sides of the same coin. Encouraging both ensures your team or your company, is in a better competitive position.
So what are some of the main differences?
Innovation can be thought of as:
- Achieving improvement through a completely different “mouse trap”
- Seeing a need and finding a solution
- Challenging the status quo with a process/idea that has never been done
Continuous Improvement can be viewed as:
- Improving the current “mouse trap” to perform better
- Looking at current solution sets and fine tuning them
- Questioning the status quo with recommendations to improve current processes
Finally, the key to beating the competition is constantly performing better – quality, speed, costs, etc. No matter what you call it, encourage your teams to find a better way.