Why reinvention? Why not innovation?

Uncategorized Jun 14, 2021

There are a lot of questions I get from our reinvention clients, students, practitioners, the press. But there is one question that shows up in nearly every conversation.

"Why reinvention? Why not innovation?"

I have taken a crack at that question in this YouTube video and in this Harvard Business Review article - but both were partial answers.

So, today I want to settle this issue once and for all, (or at least start that process).

Behold, my top 3 reasons why reinvention, not innovation, should rule the day.


#3: Love innovation? Most people are simply not that into it.

A research team at the University of Toronto surveyed 1,000 American and Canadian knowledge workers (all employed and with college degrees) to assess their attitudes towards innovation. In addition to measuring the “drive to innovate,” the scientist looked into things like “grit” and “openness to risk” across two countries and three age groups, (under 35, 35 to 44, and over 45).

While the drive for innovation among participants varied from 14% to 28%, only two of the six different groups measured, broke the 25% mark. Willingness to take risk was even more telling: at best, 19% of your company is willing, with some age groups dipping as low as 11%.

And that’s the data for the two of the world’s most innovative countries. What are the rest of us to do?


#2: Innovation prioritizes what can be, but often ignores what is.

Innovation is all about something new - new features, new solutions, new business models. Innovation demands freedom and creativity so that you are not caged by past and present limitations. Most of the time the question of "what do we do with the old" falls outside of the scope of innovation efforts.

Life, however, does not start from scratch. Companies have existing products, assets, and people. Families have existing histories, traditions, and possessions. We cannot abandon or ignore those legacies. We don't have the luxury to invent in a vacuum.

So, we have to figure out how to create new while also preserving the best of the old. How to drive change while also assuring continuity.

That's precisely what reinvention is all about.


#1: Innovation is only one of nine different types of reinvention.

Now we come to the most important reason why reinvention - and not innovation - is the focus of my life's work.

Innovation is beautiful, important, and deeply needed. And - it's only one of nine different types of reinvention.

In our work, we speak of a difference in scope and intensity of reinvention, as depicted in the Reinvention Portfolio Canvas below.

When it comes to scope, we distinguish three different levels: the sub-system (for example, reinventing a motor of a car), the system (the entire car as a means of mobility), and the eco-system (that includes suppliers, roads, charging stations, and much more).

When it comes to intensity, at different times we might need incremental, intermediate, or radical reinvention.

Innovation would most fit the upper-right quadrant of the canvas. It is a very needed activity for human advancement, but it is not the only tool that is necessary. At times, we need continuous improvement, or small re-engineering, or something else. We need diversity. We need the right tool for the right context. Reinvention offers you such diversity and a whole-system point of view:

I would love to hear your feedback on this innovation-versus-reinvention battle.

And I promise to show you how it all works in real life at our upcoming Easy Reinvention Lab.

Join us live or watch on replay - but I promise you'll leave with an easy doable step-by-step process you can use again and again in both, business and personal reinvention.

The Lab starts on Monday, June 21st. 

If you already registered, share this article with someone who can join you for the Lab as your accountability partner (it works so much better when we do the fun exercises together!).

If you have not yet reserved your seat, grab it now. You deserve to invest in up-leveling your skills and knowledge. Join us today>>>


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