I have previously written elsewhere about 5 innovation killers, but have been thinking further on this subject and have now identified 10 organisational and management factors that I believe prevent companies from reaching their innovation potential.
- Professional management. Although professionally trained managers bring control and focus to organisations, they also reduce risk and demand proof ahead of action, inhibiting innovation.
- A desire for a magic pill, rather than a daily exercise regime. Innovation requires persistence not one-off efforts. There are no short cuts to success.
- Too many priorities. Innovation relies on pace, which, in turn, is facilitated by organisational focus on a few priorities.
- Excessive customer focus. Customers are often poor predictors of their own future behaviour. Sometimes you need to lead your customers, not simply build what they ask for.
- An over-emphasis on problem solving. In many organisations it is the problem-solvers, the managers who can sort out crises, who are the real heroes, not the innovators.
- A need to be ‘right first time’. ‘Right first time’ is fine for ongoing operations, but is anathema to innovation, which relies on trial and error.
- Reliance on a small internal team. The most innovative businesses are increasingly looking to partner outside their organisation to develop and drive new growth initiatives.
- An unwillingness to cannibalise sales. The simple truth is that if you’re not willing to cannibalise your sales, your competitors will eventually do it for you.
- Incremental goals. If your performance targets are focused on a few percentage point improvements you’ll probably find a way to achieve your goal without changing much. You need to raise the bar and stretch your organisation if you want to see new growth and innovation.
- A fear of failure. Top innovators rate their key strength as their ability to innovate fearlessly. Innovation is 90% failure. Don’t let your ego or your performance management systems encourage your teams to avoid failure. Instead, focus your teams on failing as quickly and as cheaply as they possibly can.
© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.