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Is urban transformation creative or innovative?

I was having a conversation with a marketing colleague the
other day about the difference between innovation and creativity. Semantically,
they share a lot in common – both require vision, imagination, inspiration,
inventiveness and a degree of resourcefulness or talent. My colleague maintained,
quite rightly, that while creativity is usually about doing something original,
innovation can be more incremental – modernisation or modification of some
sort, but not necessarily fundamentally new.  For me, however, a more compelling

difference is that creativity can be purely conceptual or abstract, but innovation needs

to be practically applied to have value, and will only succeed if it’s relevant to its target market. 

This week, I’ve been keeping a close eye on our World of Innovation heat map,
to see what innovation means to the wider world.  Three of the hottest topics emerging from the
conversations at the moment seem to be business, retail and lifestyle.  It got me thinking about how we help
organisations make tangible innovation from something as insubstantial as data
and processes.

For example, as the economic engines that drive the fortunes
of nations, cities are becoming more complex, diverse and dynamic than ever. Rapid
urbanisation presents unprecedented challenges, so we’re helping businesses,
governments and people create “best-run” cities under the auspices of our Urban Matters

A best-run city is one which helps to create smart, agile
economies that generate long-term prosperity and growth. It’s the kind of city
that has learned the lessons of the financial crisis and is looking to embrace responsible
business models and support entrepreneurialism. And it’s one that makes resilience
and sustainability central to everything it does, such as tackling poverty and
health insecurity, and building ‘soft’ infrastructure in the form of knowledge,
technology, culture and research as well as transport hubs and utility grids.

All of those bold ambitions would remain just that, were it
not for the practical application of insight to problem-solving and
decision-making.  An informed approach,
driven by data generated by millions of people and things on a daily basis, can
scythe through political policy and popular opinion to drive objective thinking
and positive change where it can have the greatest impact.  Now is that creativity, innovation, or a bit
of both, I wonder…?

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