Innovation management versus change management

The only real difference between innovation management and change management, is the intention that lies behind these approaches.

Innovation, whilst often highly reliant on luck and randomness, is inherently a proactive and optimistic strategy. Namely it’s an attempt to create a better future using our collective capabilities and creativity.

Whereas change management, whilst equally subject to chance and circumstances, is inherently a reactive and more negative approach. It is usually a reluctant acceptance that we need to reorganise to respond to an uncertain future by implementing new structures and processes.


As an open innovation agency we’ve learned from experience that embracing the unknown is much better with a positive mindset rather than a negative mindset, as so much of what we create is ultimately a self fulfilling prophecy.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t; you’re right.” Henry Ford

Change management is often perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a precursor to bad things that might happen soon e.g. impending redundancies. Having said that, it’s crucial to tackle the cynicism that can get in the way with innovation. It’s never the easy option and requires just as much discipline, effort and commitment as any other change process.

“It’s better to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.” Jerry Sternin 

In summary, we’ve concluded that innovation initiatives and change management programmes are two sides of the same coin. They are both, in essence, about facing uncertainty and trying to work in a different way. However they both start from a very different place, and result in radically different outcomes.

So if you want to transform your organisation, we find that it is always best to change your culture indirectly. By investing in innovation you will definitely create and influence a positive change, but in addition you might just invent or discover a new future too.

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