The term, innovation, dates from the 16th century, and is derived from the Latin, innovatus, “to renew or change,” from in- "into" + novus "new." In today’s business environment, to innovate is essential for survival; constantly evolving technologies and market dynamics ensure that stasis or inertia are certain to result in obsolescence.
Innovation has been studied through the lenses of economics, engineering, political science, sociology, and other fields. From the organizational perspective, Luecke and Katz (2003) define innovation as:
generally understood as the successful introduction of a new thing or method . . . Innovation is the embodiment, combination, or synthesis of knowledge in original, relevant, valued new products, processes, or services.
[Luecke, Richard and Ralph Katz (2003). Managing Creativity and Innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press]
Amabile, et al., refine the fundamental distinction between “innovaton” and “creativity”:
All innovation begins with creative ideas . . . We define innovation as the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization. In this view, creativity by individuals and teams is a starting point for innovation; the first is necessary but not sufficient condition for the second.
[Amabile, T. M., R. Conti, H. Coon, J. Lazenby, and M. Herron. "Assessing the Work Environment for Creativity." Academy of Management Journal 39, no. 5 (October 1996): 1154-1184].
In organizations, innovation occurs as knowledge and experience are applied to generate new products and services, new insights into competitive advantage, and new systems, processes, and ways of conducting business. Innovation can be manifested in new organizational structures, such as modular offices, virtual teams, matrices, and flattened hierarchies. Organizational innovation requires a cultural orientation attuned to anticipating trends, generating and evaluating ideas, communicating solutions, and leadership dedicated to promoting, executing, and sustaining initiatives.
This series is designed to explore the many facets of change and innovation in organizations, with an emphasis on how people interact to effect change, rather than on the technological or macroeconomic aspects. The series will include contributions from researchers in a variety of fields including management, economics, sociology, anthropology, and education, and will cover such topics as organizational design, human resource development, training and on-the-job education, mentorship and coaching, change management, employee retention, performance measurement and management, communication strategies, leadership, corporate culture, creativity, team dynamics, decision making, brainstorming and problem solving, and evaluation.