One of the keys to success for companies today is innovation. However not everyone thinks of the same thing when the word ‘Innovation’ is used.

For some people it means the process of coming up with an idea, for others it means inventing something, and for yet others it means a different way of doing something.

To help sort out the confusion here are some definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary and from Elite Consulting, that may be helpful in understanding the differences between the 3 I’s;- Ideas, Invention & Innovation


  • A conception or plan formed by mental effort – Oxford English Dictionary
  • An original thought – Elite Consulting


  • A thing invented (created by thought, devised, originated), a contrivance– Oxford English Dictionary
  • An embodiment of an idea that does something new or in a new way – Elite Consulting


  • The process of bringing in new methods, ideas etc– Oxford English Dictionary
  • An idea or invention brought into practical use (e.g. in production) – Elite Consulting

The Innovation Process

I suspect that when most people think about innovation, they have in mind primarily the creative process of idea generation. However, whilst this is the crucial first step, there is a lot more involved in getting an innovative product to market than just thinking of the idea. Outlined below are the typical steps in the process.

Idea Generation

Companies need to be generating enough ideas for new products and services to be able to filter out the most promising ones for future development and leave the less promising ones on the shelf. One source suggests that only 1 in 60 ideas become successful products, so you need plenty of ideas to choose from. You probably also need an Idea Management system to track all the ideas.

Idea Selection

If the company does not have enough resources to pursue all the ideas, then there needs to be a method of selecting the best ones for further development. This method needs to be one that will optimise the likelihood of selecting the right ideas, i.e. the ones that will be the most successful for the company.

Idea Embodiment (Concept Generation and Selection)

The chosen idea(s) need to be turned into something more concrete, i.e. there could be a number of different product concepts or architectures that all embody the same basic idea. Thus these concepts need to be generated and then evaluated and leading to one being chosen as the way forward.

Business Case

Suitable market research should be done and the potential product costs assessed so that a business case can be prepared with estimates of the sales volumes, costs and selling price, so that profitability can be determined.

Product Development

The product should be designed and tested, with a view to it being manufactured in whatever quantity is required. At the same time the manufacturing facility, suppliers and the marketing, sales and service channels should be prepared for the impending launch.


The manufacturing and sales launches take place and the product’s performance in the market place is tracked and any lessons learned are fed back. We can help you with your innovation process by facilitating sessions with your staff to develop or improve your process, or assist with any stage of the process. For more information contact us.