lost-innovation-potentialIn most organisations there is a yawning gulf between senior leaders’ rhetoric on innovation and the reality on the ground. As I’ve set out in this chart, the potential for innovation across an organisation is generally far greater than the actual innovation delivered.

The ‘lost opportunity’ is not, in my view, a result of poor intentions but is a consequence of specific barriers that lurk unseen in many businesses. In a new Strategy Confidential video that I made last week (and which will be appearing here soon), I call these barriers the ‘innovation killers’, and they fall into three types:

  1. Strategic Killers – which include incremental goals, focusing resources on defending existing businesses at the cost of creating new income streams, and excessive and conflicting priorities
  2. Organisational Killers – which include unclear accountabilities, too many management layers, and a reliance on small, internal R&D or equivalent teams for all innovation, and an over-reliance on planning
  3. Attitudinal Killers – which include a desire for a magic pill solution (rather than a daily exercise regime), a belief that customers can simply tell you what new innovation they want (when, in fact, customers are poor at predicting their own future behaviour), a requirement to ‘get it right first time, every time’, and, most importantly an intolerance or fear of failure.

Achieving your ‘innovation potential’ requires you to attack and eliminate these killers. And, as with personal success and development, changing attitudes and beliefs will have the biggest and most sustainable impact on your company’s performance.

Which of these killers are preventing your business from achieving its innovation potential?

© Stuart Cross 2009. All rights reserved.