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5 Innovation Quotes from Top Thought Leaders

Posted: Aug 27, 2015 by Brianne Spinelli

5 Innovation quotes from top thought leaders

Where does innovation come from? Have you ever considered yourself an innovator? Many times, the best sources of innovation can be found within each and every one of us. Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes and can be very inexpensive. While some may debate the definitive source, one thing we know for certain is that individuals who simply repeat what they know well with little change are unlikely to be good sources of innovation. Below are some quotes on innovation from people who found sources of innovation within themselves. 

1. “If your business proposition is innovative, your ultimate goal has to be ‘The Customer always thinks that WE are right.'”
– Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

Sir Richard Branson may be one of the most prevalent innovators of our time. His “humble” beginnings were not-quite-so-humble as he was cleverly innovative in creating his own magazine at age 16 and starting up a mail-order record business a few years later. His ongoing ingenuity resulted in what we now know as the Virgin Group: a multinational venture capital conglomerate comprised of more than 400 companies. Their reach spans a number of industries including entertainment, travel, hospitality, health, publishing, media, competition, energy, business services, retail, banking, communications, online services, and charity. 

2.  “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
– Steve Jobs, Pioneer of the personal computer revolution, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc.

Described by his biographer, Water Isaacson, as the “creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing,” Steve Jobs’s innovative endeavors secured him a place as a leader. If you yourself are not in possession of an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device, there is probably someone within 5 feet of you who is. Steve Jobs reshaped the future of music industry with the introduction iPod digital music player and the iTunes digital music store and then revolutionized the mobile communications industry with one of the first touchscreen smartphones: the iPhone.

3.  “Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship… the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.”
– Peter F. Drucker, Consultant, educator and author known as the “founder of modern management”

Peter Drucker, who helped establish the foundations of modern business corporation and was a leader in the development of management education, stressed the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship. So much so that he even titled his 1985 book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” It was the “first book to present innovation and entrepreneurship as a purposeful and systematic discipline that explains and analyzes the challenges and opportunities of America’s new entrepreneurial economy.” The fact that it was published 30 years ago serves as evidence that Drucker was clearly years ahead of his time.

4. “There’s a way to do it better—find it.”
– Thomas Edison, Inventor and businessman

When we hear the word “innovation,” one notable visionary almost always springs to mind: Thomas Alva Edison. Thomas Edison is responsible for some innovations that not only modernized the world in which he lived, he transformed the world in a way that today we cannot imagine living without some of his inventions, including the incandescent light bulb, motion picture camera, and the first commercial fluoroscope (which you may know as the machine used to take X-ray images). In addition to the many inventions and patents to his name, Edison found ways to take things that had already been invented and improved upon them. 

5. “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”
– Theodore Levitt, Economist, professor at Harvard Business School and editor of the Harvard Business Review

In other words, as Theodore Levitt put it, people tend to “confuse creativity in the abstract with practical innovation.” Creativity is the thought; innovation is the action. Levitt’s innovation took hold in the form of globalization: the term he coined and popularized throughout the business world. His article “Globalization of Markets” in the Harvard Business Review sparked a long-standing debate regarding the emergence of global markets for standardized consumer products at lower prices.