Transformation and Innovation: How Are They Different?

At Foundry, we say we create “digital transformations.” We also do “innovation work.” If you’re thinking: What’s the difference? You’re not alone.

Author photo
Kurt Schmidt
July 13, 2022

At Foundry, we say we create “digital transformations.” We also do “innovation work.” If you’re thinking: What’s the difference? You’re not alone. It’s confusing because people often use the words “transformation” and “innovation” interchangeably in casual conversation. However, they are, indeed, different concepts. 

So, let’s take a minute set the record straight. First, we’ll define innovation and transformation individually. Then we’ll talk about how they work together.


Innovation is the process of inventing ideas that are new, surprising, and useful. We often focus on the “new and surprising” parts, but useful is a critical part of the equation. In business settings, innovation only matters if it provides value to your organization and/or your customers. Innovation can be big or small—completely disrupting your industry or evolving an internal workflow. While it impacts your business, innovation doesn’t necessarily change the way the company operates.

Although innovation is often depicted as a “eureka!” moment in popular culture, in real life, innovation takes effort. At Foundry, our innovation projects combine strategic thinking, ideation, collaboration, research, testing, and more. At the end of each of our innovation engagements, the client has a desirable, feasible, and viable concept they can use to create competitive advantage or internal efficiency.  

Transformation (and digital transformation)

Transformation is about fundamentally changing how an organization and its customers interact. It’s how organizations grow and adapt to the changing environment—whether they’re responding to the market/competition or creating a revolution from within the company. Either way, the outcome is a new reality, where all areas of the organization—technology, tools, roles, processes, and supply chain—are often impacted.

In today’s world, almost every transformative action has digital elements, causing organizations to rethink their business with a digital mindset. In this environment, digital experiences—such as custom software apps—are the catalyst for creating lasting positive change. This process is called “digital transformation” and it’s what Foundry does best. (Check out our guide, Get ready for digital transformation, for more info.)

How innovation and transformation work together

To put it simply, innovation often kickstarts transformation. It’s the spark that lights the fire behind the transformational changes. Transformation takes the innovative idea and makes it a reality—putting the operational heft (technology, people, and processes) in place to take the organization into a bold, new era. 

Want to create innovation or digital transformation in your organization? Contact us to learn more about how Foundry can help you succeed.