Invention is the creation of something new
Innovation is creating a new solution that addresses a human need
If I were so inclined, I could go into my garage cobble together some random materials and produce a “one of a kind” object. I could call it Joseph’s garage invention. While I might amuse myself in the process, the invention would be nothing more than an expression of my creative process.
Innovation, by contrast, requires an effort to solve a problem.
As a customer experience consultant, I am often tasked with helping businesses identify the high-value human needs for which people, process, or technology innovations can be crafted.
One of my favorite examples of a high-value innovation is the Hippo Water Roller.
My enthusiasm for this innovation is reflected in my financial support for the non-profit project which enables distribution of the Hippo (that is my not so subtle hint that you may wish to consider making a contribution of your own).
In case you haven’t heard about the Hippo, this is straight from the Hippo’s mouth or should I say the Hippo Roller’s website concerning the human need:
“750 million people in Africa and Asia struggle daily to access water. Water collection points are often located far away from their homes: 1-6 miles. This is typically done with heavy 5 gallon buckets balanced on their head.”
And as to the solution:
“The Hippo Roller enables women, children and the elderly to collect up to 5x more water than a single bucket. Users simply roll the Hippo Roller along the ground. It improves water access, food security and income generation.”
To see the hippo roller in action (click the picture below or visit hipporoller.org)
While most of us will not innovate a solution that will have as broad a social impact as the Hippo Roller, we can dedicate our efforts to remove pain points, improve capacity, and decrease effort (all aspects of the Hippo innovation).
To the degree we make our customer’s lives easier and enable them to live in a more fulfilled and productive way, we are and can be innovators.
Take a moment to reflect on your customer’s journey and think of where you can lighten their load or ease their path…that is the beginning point for all great innovation.