Innovation Insight: You Don’t Have To Be an Inventor to Be an Innovator

One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


Many people confuse the words innovator and inventor; they can be synonymous, but they don’t have to be. Some of the world’s most successful and well known innovators aren’t inventors at all; they are masters of the art of taking an idea or concept and making it better. Often, they are able to make good ideas into the best ideas of all time.

Take Steve Jobs, for example. Famous author, Malcom Gladwell, has dubbed him, “The Tweaker” in a recent article he wrote for The New Yorker. Jobs was a masterful innovator because he was able to take the ideas of others and turn them into winning products and concepts. For example, Jobs got the ideas for the main characteristics of the MacIntosh operating system from Xerox PARC, stemming from a famous visit there in 1979. The revolutionary iPad evolved from an engineer at Microsoft’s idea for a tablet computer. His idea made use of a stylus – an old idea that wasn’t revolutionary enough for Jobs. He did away with the stylus and the iPad made history as one of the most coveted devices of its era.

The moral to this innovation story? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to become an epic success.

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