What’s better: Innovation or Productivity?

Why Innovation Beats Productivity Every Time

Do you think innovation or productivity is more important? Here’s a better way to ask that question: Would you rather work smarter or harder?

innovation or productivity

Forcing a choice of innovation or productivity is a false choice. Innovation will lead to productivity. But certain factors need to be in place in order to have an innovative workplace.

Here’s why you should focus on innovation instead of productivity in your workplace.


1. Innovation develops new processes. Productivity tweaks old processes.


Managers want the fruit of innovation, but they don’t necessarily want to have to pursue the process required to get there. They want to keep things on schedule, so they try to fit innovation within the current parameters. Which won’t work.

Leaders understand that innovation requires invention. New wine does not fit in old bottles (Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37). That requires looking at things with new eyes.


2. Innovation allows for experimentation. Productivity focuses on efficiency.


Managers say they want innovation, but at the same time they want the team to stay within the lines. A team has to think outside the box in order to be innovative. That takes time. And a focus on constant productivity does not afford the time necessary to be innovative.

Leaders understand that innovation is not linear. It does not happen on a schedule. It happens when it happens. Deadlines can be helpful to encourage creative thinking, but the workplace culture will either foster innovative thinking or prevent it from ever happening.


3. Innovation results from freedom. Productivity stems from rigidity.


Managers want productivity to boost their numbers. They want to see measurable and increasing success develop in a regular progression.

Leaders understand that a culture that encourages a freedom to fail will ultimately produce success, but not necessarily in a straight line. There will be bumps in the road, but a quest for innovation will always eventually outperform a quest for productivity.


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