Innovation — 1, Basic Concepts by KS Raghavan SignUp
Innovation — 1, Basic Concepts
Dr. KS Raghavan Bookmark and Share

During recent times INNOVATION has become buzzword. Innovation is essential for any organization or nation to survive. The main reason is that the world is becoming more and more competitive. The following two phrases convey the importance of innovation.


The most basic concept to understand and appreciate is the difference between invention and innovation. The essential difference is defined by the goal. Invention focuses on what is possible whereas innovation focuses on what is needed. This concept is well understood by studying the Pasteur’s Quadrant, due to Donald Stokes, diagram shown below.

Niels Bohr, the famous nuclear physicist, went deeper and deeper to understand the nucleus. At that time his aim was knowledge gain. One of the greatest inventors Edison, on the other hand, pursued research with specific outcomes, like the electric bulb, in mind. He did not bother himself about fundamental knowledge. Louis Pasteur, the famous French biologist and chemist combined both these in his work. He used his wealth of basic knowledge research capabilities and worked with a purpose of helping mankind and came out with principles of vaccination.

To be a Successful innovator one is recommended to work like Pasteur. Have a goal in mind, persevere to reach that goal, without leaving the realm of possibility.

Thus it is obvious that all inventions do not qualify to be called innovations. On this basis we can make the following statement.

Innovation happens when an idea or an invention is implemented to
create a favourable or desirable impact.

Put in simpler terms, innovation involves “change for better”.  A product of innovation will replace something that is existing. Favourable impact is that change.


Whereas innovation involves change, the converse is not true. All changes do not necessarily mean innovation. Here comes the importance of the words desirable/favourable. The contemplated change should be technologically feasible, economically viable and should be needed by the society. This is depicted in the form of simple Venn diagram shown below.

Innovation is the intersection of desirability, feasibility and viability circles. I call this TRIVENI SANGAM of innovation.

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