Same difference?

I wonder if I am alone in being a little bored of conversations about the difference between ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’. The same goes for ‘leadership’ and ‘management’.

Most of the time I sense these are really a sort of one upmanship where the speaker’s propostion boils down to this: innovation is the creativity that I approve of. And leadership is the management that I approve of. (And possibly want you to pay extra for)


4 thoughts on “Same difference?

  1. Phil Dourado

    Absolutely, Johnnie. David Naylor’s weekly Naked Leader email last week started off with the headline “What’s the difference between leadership and management?” and ended up with this, which I liked:

    “whether your ambition comes under leadership or management, is irrelevant. Whether your true decision takes a skill that you label leadership or management, does not matter. And most importantly, whether the first action you take is as a leader or as a manager, will make no difference whatsoever, to anything. Jargon is for academics… labels are for food items – action is all.”

    Abraham Zaleznik started off all the leader vs manager stuff with an article in the HBR in 1977 that implied leaders were a superior life form and managerial skills made for bad leaders. Ho, hum. The fact is they are just modes. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we manage, sometimes we are led, sometimes we are managed. We flip flop through these different modes often hundreds of times during the course of a day.

  2. Dominic Campbell

    I’d say yes and no from my perspective Johnnie.

    Yes it is a bore and the serious amounts of cash that are generated/wasted on this conversation are a concern. However, no I don’t think I quite agree with your definition.

    Often I’d say creativity is seen as the emergent process that can but doesn’t necessarily lead to innovation, with innovation often seen as the result of putting creativity into practice/making it a useful reality. In short creativity doesn’t necessarily have an output whereas innovation often does.

    On the leadership versus management debate, I certain that this is more than semantics having worked in and with government. Management is maintenance of the status quo, control, gatekeeping of resources. Leadership is creating space for creativity and innovation, having more questions than answers and inspiring others to act rather than believing you have all the answers yourself.

    Managers manage the parts, leaders create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.

  3. Phil Dourado

    Dominic wrote: “On the leadership versus management debate, I am certain that this is more than semantics, having worked in and with government.”

    Working in and with government gives you experience of working atop a hierarchy, not of leadership. Government serves the people. In theory. In some democracies government represents the people. But, few people in a democracy where people want to lead and govern their own lives would accept the assumption that government does this for them. Byron got it right with “It is when we think we lead we are most led.”

  4. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for your comments Dominic. But in some ways I think you demonstrate the phenomenon I was describing, where you make innovation and leadership privileged versions of the more mundane management and creativity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.