Based on two empirical studies on education in health and elderly care, this paper reflects on the possible role of ‘old ideas’ involved in creative innovation. Most researchers agree that creativity and innovation are the results of a combination of what is new and valuable. What tends to be paid less attention, however, is the fact that many creative activities and everyday innovations in modern-day organisations actually build upon what is already there. Creative products and processes are often the result of some kind of learning from or even re-creation of existing processes and materials. The paper argues that there is excessive enthusiasm towards the novelty aspects of creativity and innovation, which overshadow the potential of old ideas and past experience as drivers of change.