The “ICI Continuum”: Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation

I noticed recently that a number of readers had arrived at the Imagination Now site hoping to learn more about the imagination-creativity-innovation continuum, something that Scott Noppe-Brandon speaks about often and something that comes up frequently as a topic of discussion during the Imagination Conversations happening around the country. To help satisfy that curiosity, here is an explication of the concept that might serve as a foundation for your own further discussion or investigation:

“We define imagination simply as the capacity to conceive of what is not—something that, as far as we know, does not exist; or something that may exist but we simply cannot perceive, It is the ability to conjure new realities and possibilities: in John Dewey’s words, ‘to look at things as if they would be otherwise.’…

“If imagination is the capacity to conceive of what is not, then creativity, in turn, is imagination applied: doing something, or making something, with that initial conception. But not all acts of creativity are inherently innovative. In our view, innovation comes when an act of creativity has somehow advanced the form….

“Imagination → Creativity (imagination applied) → Innovation (novel creativity)”

Liu, Eric, and Scott Noppe-Brandon. Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009, p. 19-20.