50+ Innovation Quotes and What They Can Teach You

Mar 19, 2019
Atte Isomäki Atte Isomäki

Often times when innovation is present in any form of written material, it is accompanied with an inspiring quote from an inventor, idol, philosopher or some other great person in history.

These quotes are a great way to learn about innovation through the minds of those who have done it successfully or understand what it’s truly about.

Since there are many quotes out there, we decided to categorize them based on different areas or viewpoints on innovation and cherry-pick a versatile bunch for each category.

This way, we feel it’s easiest to accumulate new knowledge and reshape our existing understanding on different areas of innovation.

50 quotes on innovation cover pic


Quotes That Capture the Essence of Innovation

We’ll start off with the essence of innovation – as in, what innovation means to different people. These quotes will help you understand how people from different times, backgrounds, and life experiences understand innovation.

While you go through this first section, try to imagine what the author had in mind when they worded the quote. Think what could’ve affected their viewpoint.

 

1

 

“Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.“

Tom Freston (born 1945), Co-founder of MTV

 

 

2

 

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.“

Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931), Inventor

 

 

3

 

“What is the calculus of innovation? The calculus of innovation is really quite simple: Knowledge drives innovation, innovation drives productivity, productivity drives economic growth.“

William Brody (born 1944), Scientist

 

 

4

 

“Innovation is the unrelenting drive to break the status quo and develop anew where few have dared to go.“

Steven Jeffes, Marketing & business expert

 

 

5

 

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.“

Theodore Levitt (1925 – 2006), Renown economist

 

 

6

 

“Innovation takes birth in sync with the evolution of customer’s expectations and demands or vice versa. Either way, organizations around the world have to continually innovate themselves and keep up with the people’s wants. The failure to do so or being indifferent to your customer’s need will make your competitors win. And then suddenly, customers become indifferent to you- a high-risk gamble to play at.“

Ketan Kapoor, Co-founder of Mercer-Mettl

 

 

7

 

“If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.“

Steven Johnson (born 1968), Science author & media theorist

 

 

8

 

“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.“

Jeff Bezos (born 1964), Founder of Amazon (Quote provided by Devin Beverage @ DevBev)

 

 

9

 

“If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.“

Henry Ford (1863 – 1947), Founder of Ford Motor Company

 

As you can see, people view innovation quite differently.

If you ask a college graduate for their thoughts, it’s likely to differ from those of an industry veteran.

Same goes for an inventor who lived in the 1500s, as opposed to their respective counterpart in the 1900s.

Why is this?

Perhaps our perception of innovation amounts to the sum of when, where, and how we’ve lived. Although the term “innovation” may have been coined later, innovation itself is an age-old concept, and thus, how it has been viewed has evolved throughout the course of time.

50 quotes on innovation - Embracing change


Quotes That Embrace Change

Innovation can be incremental like evolution, or radical like the birth of a volcanic island. Change is a constant in both.

 

10

 

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building on the new.“

Socrates (470-399 BC), Philosopher

 

 

11

 

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.“

Unknown, An ancient Chinese proverb

 

 

12

 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.“

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Playwright (Quote provided by Serafino @ Paolo Culaccino)

 

 

13

 

“To stay ahead in innovation, look at horizontal industries and the ones leading your current industry, someone is always doing something new.“

Jeff Butler, Author & Keynote speaker

 

 

14

 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.“

Alan Kay (born 1940), Computer scientist

 

 

15

 

“I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.“

Wayne Gretzky (born 1961), Leading goal scorer in NHL

 

 

16

 

“Innovation is progress in the face of tradition.“

Divad @ ThereBeKulture

 

 

17

 

“You can’t allow tradition to get in the way of innovation. There’s a need to respect the past, but it’s a mistake to revere your past.“

Bob Iger (born 1951), Media executive & businessman

 

 

18

 

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.“

Allegedly Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), Mathematician

 

 

19

 

“Most innovation involves doing the things we do every day a little bit better rather than creating something completely new and different.“

Darin @ The Business Warrior’s Dojo

 

 

20

 

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.“

Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987), Artist

 

 

21

 

“Don’t be afraid to take big steps when one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”

David Lloyd George (1863-1945), Politician

 

 

22

 

“The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.“

Bob Iger (born 1951), Media executive & businessman

 

 

23

 

“Be an innovator, not an imitator.“

Audrey Carballo, CEO at Phoenix1

 

 

24

 

“There’s a way to do it better. Find it.“

Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931), Inventor

 

Innovation - or any type of progress for that matter - cannot happen without change. This means that it’s not only important to accept that change is necessary part of creating anything new, but in fact you must proactively drive it.

The best way to drive change is to embrace it, not fear it.

persevering in front of large steps


Quotes on Perseverance

Where there is change, there is risk of the unknown. How can you control or anticipate that which is new and unfamiliar? Well, you can’t, or not with any guarantees. However, it’s also the new and unfamiliar that allows breakthroughs to happen.

 

25

 

“Innovation comes from saying NO to 1000 things.“

Steve Jobs (1955-2011), Co-founder of Apple

 

 

26

 

“Innovation survives only when people believe in their own ideas.“

Levo League

 

 

27

 

“There’s always an element of chance and you must be willing to live with that element. If you insist on certainty, you will paralyze yourself.“

J.P. Getty (1892 – 1976), Petrol-industrialist

 

 

28

 

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.“

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), Mathematician

 

 

29

 

“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order that is not yet understood.“

 

Henry Miller (1891 – 1980), Writer

 

 

30

 

“When looking to innovate—fail forward. Innovation can be a chaotic process, embrace it and learn from your failures.“

Luke Wester @ Miva

 

 

31

 

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.“

Woody Allen (born 1935), Director, writer, actor, and comedian

 

 

32

 

“About 95 percent of new products fail.“

Clayton Christensen (Provided by Timothy Wiedman)

 

 

33

 

“Innovation is more likely to come from a person who sits down and does the same thing every single day until they become an expert than from a person who sits down once because they feel inspired.“

Stacy Caprio

 

 

34

 

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.“

William Shedd (1820 – 1894), Presbyterian theologian

 

 

35

 

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.“

Brené Brown (born 1965), Professor in social research

 

 

36

 

“If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.“

Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896) Chemist, engineer, and inventor

 

 

37

 

“Innovation- any new idea- by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience.“

Warren Bennis (1925 – 2014), Scholar and organizational consultant

 

 

38

 

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.“

George Addair (1823 – 1899), Real-estate developer

 

 

39

 

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Fail. Try again. Change the world.“

Simon Sinek (born 1973), Author, motivational-consultant

 

 

40

 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.“

Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931), Inventor

 

Sometimes you must accept that things may not work out the way you expect. After all, to find out what works, you must often first eliminate what doesn’t. It also means that you must sometimes have faith in your own ideas even if others don’t.

Failure and unyielding faith in the face of opposition can get tiresome, and this is when the risk of quitting is highest. However, the only way you’ll surely lose is by quitting before giving it your all.

This is why perseverance is paramount for innovation.

50+ quotes on innovation - leading innovation

Quotes on Leading Innovation

Although accepting failure, having faith, and taking risks are crucial ingredients in innovation, it isn’t all about throwing darts in the dark and seeing what sticks.

There are things you can proactively do to make innovation happen or at least increase you chance of success.

 

41

 

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.“

Lee Iacocca (born 1924), Automobile executive

 

 

42

 

“Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.“

William McKnight (1887 – 1978), Businessman & philanthropist

 

 

43

 

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.“

John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968), Nobel awarded author

 

 

44

 

“A dream will not become an innovation if there is no realization.“

Ciputra (born 1931), Businessman & philanthropist

 

 

45

 

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.“

George Patton (1885 – 1945), General of U.S. army

 

 

46

 

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.“

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), Mathematician

 

 

47

 

“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.“

Linus Pauling (1901 – 1994), Chemist, author, and educator

 

 

48

 

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.“

Steve Jobs (1955-2011), Co-founder of Apple

 

 

49

 

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.“

Roger von Oech (born 1948), Speaker, author, and toy-maker

 

The success of innovation is largely affected by what you do, and better yet, how you do it. This is why it’s important to lead or manage innovation.

Leading innovation implies proactively turning ideas into innovations, instead of just letting it happen organically. Just like any other management, it consists of a systematic approach and a process of trial and error. 

50+ quotes on innovation - inspiring innovation


Quotes That Inspire to Be Innovative

Why do we innovate?

It may sometimes be difficult to truly understand the importance of innovation. Especially since the term is often blown out of context (and abstract to begin with).

For this reason, we’ll cap this post with quotes that inspire us to innovate.


 

50

 

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.“

Wayne Gretzky (born 1961), Leading goal scorer in NHL

 

51

 

“He who asks a question is a fool for 5 minutes. He who does not ask a question remains a fool forever."

Unknown, An ancient Chinese proverb

 

 

52

 

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game."

Johann Goethe (1749 – 1832), Writer

 

 

53

 

“What is now proved was once only imagined.“

William Blake (1757 – 1827), Poet, painter, and printmaker

 

 

54

 

“Short cuts make long delays.“

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973), Writer (Quote provided by Keval Baxi @ Codal)

 

 

55

 

“A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.“

Antoine Saint-Exupéry (1900 – 1944), Writer, poet, and journalist

 

 

56

 

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all what the world needs most are dreamers that do.“

Sarah Ban Breathnach, Author, philanthropist, and public speaker

 

 

57

 

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.“

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), Essayist, lecturer, and philosopher

 

 

58

 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.“

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014), Writer, poet, and civil rights activist

 

 

59

 

“The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones.“

Unknown

 

 

60

 

“They did not know it was impossible so they did it.“

Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), Writer (Quote provided by Marie @ DashThis)

 

 

61

 

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.“

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970), Psychologist

 

 

62

 

“Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it’s there.“

Barbara Corcoran (born 1949), Businesswoman, investor, and consultant

 

 

63

 

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.“

Antony Jay (1930 – 2016), Writer, broadcaster, and director

 

Simply put, proactively imagining and creating new things is a vital component in driving change and adapting to new environments. For example, our unique ability and need to innovate allowed humans to become the apex predator on the planet.

On the scale of a company, this can be translated into competitive advantage; the necessary advancements in capabilities that provide an edge in comparison to competitors of the industry.

Much like has happened with the species on our blue ball, the ability to be innovative may determine which companies are left standing 10, 100, or even 1000 years from now.