Ten Innovation Obstacles

Innovation means really new: really new products, services, business models, markets, processes or customer groups. To be innovative you have to break with your present habits and convictions. This is difficult in organizations, where a lot of people have to change their convictions and habits before something really new will be deployed. You can invent alone, but you can only innovate teaming up with others. Here is a list of the ten most important innovation obstacles complied by Gijs van Wulfen and mentioned in a massive of responses from Linkedin:

1. We are not aware of the need for innovation. Our company is doing too well. “A lot of people in our organization are just lazy, copying the work of others”.

2. We cannot change our habits. We lack the ability to invoke change, the ability to change our mindset. “My colleagues don’t think beyond what made our company successful thus far”.

3. We are not creative. “There is a substantial lack of curiosity among people in our company”.

4. We don’t believe innovation is going to happen. We have started some initiatives, but the board always stops new innovative products just before they would enter the markets.

5. We fear failure. Our past innovations were not successful and have cost a lot of money. “Managers were fired because their launches of new products failed”.

6. Our short-term mindset rules. The company focuses on getting results next quarter. “Shareholders demand profits today”.

7. There is no support. The hardest part is to get the support for the idea of innovation. How to create sponsorship for innovation at the top? A lot of innovators see a lack of among colleagues and managers as main obstacle for innovation.

8. How to uncover customer needs? A lot of our new products failed because customers did not wanted them. “We struggle to get inside the head of potential purchasers of the product or service”.

9. We lack a process and structure. Our innovation process is unorganized. It’s ad-hoc.

10. Ideas are stopped because we do not have resources. We do not take the time for it. We do not get the financial resources for it. And we do not have the right people in our company to develop it.

We have a very “structured outside-in” process for innovation:

1) Develop the business case for change by measuring the current state – Having done dozens of these studies, I have yet to meet an organization that 1) doesn’t grossly over-estimate their differentiation in the market and 2) doesn’t have a wide gap between management opinion (assumptions) and customer perception (truth).  In addition, we build a predictive financial model around market opportunity to show the possible future state.

2) We use a proprietary model to uncover the subconscious, psychological drivers of customer needs and behavior change.  Usually 2-3 priorities for strategic positioning and innovation, which are currently being missed by competitors, become very clear. Using the predictive financial model, we can estimate the likely range of return-on-investment if these opportunities are addressed.

3) Once priorities are identified, we use them to focus a structured, collaborative strategic and action planning process (i.e., Set of objectives, Tactics to achieve the objectives, Ownership, Milestones, Deliverables, Budget, and Timelines).  These plans can then be cascaded through the organization ultimately down to the individual employee’s goal setting and performance improvement plan.  This information can also be wrapped up in performance management software for ease of review, accountability, and coaching.

4) Progress is measured and tracked over time and the predictive model is refined and calibrated for market changes and customer behavior.  Over time, executives start driving their organization by looking out the windshield rather than the rearview mirror, the organization becomes aligned to real market opportunity, and organization and customer become one – a true knowledge organization that ebbs and flows and grows by making change an innovation the expectation and a way of life.

For more detail on this process, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Posted in Startups

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