The need for increased innovation is one of the five major strategic concerns expressed by senior executives. This need is driven by the desire for increased revenues and greater market share. As pressure increases for growth, innovation brings hope for the solution. What we know from client experiences, however, is that the “how to” of innovation remains mysterious and elusive. We find that companies want to excel at innovation without having the knowledge or capability to deliver innovation in practice. As this cycle continues, innovation never achieves traction across the organization and growth suffers. Here are ten innovation challenges that companies face today.
1. Defining Innovation.
Innovation is bright and shiny with a feel good vibe but often without substance. There is no method for defining or training in innovation or even a goal with a metric. The company just wants to be innovative. Eventually the excitement erodes and people move on to the next thing. Innovation never achieves the traction that the excitement suggested.
2. Understanding Innovation.
Innovation lacks common definition and understanding. We get that it’s valuable and desired, but how does that big idea apply to my job and me?
3. Taking the Easy Way Out.
In lieu of defining and understanding innovation as discussed above, most companies embrace continuous improvement and call it innovation. This is the most common path we see in companies today.
4. Resistance to Change.
Innovation means change and many companies don’t do change. Innovation requires a change in behavior, including a new regimen supported by positive leadership and feedback.
No systemic approach to innovation results in random outcomes at best.
6. Creativity Workshops.
Creative thinking workshops abound, which are fun but have no means for transferring the workshop to actionable real life.
7. It’s Someone Else’s Job.
Most people see innovation coming from someone else, who is entrepreneurial and just thinks differently. The problem with this idea is companies don’t hire this type of person. The good news is that this type of person isn’t needed for innovation. The subject matter experts already exist in the business.
8. Current Practices.
Company processes were designed with the unintended result of stifling innovation.
9. A Previous Screw-up.
The Company previously entered a new market with disastrous results. Leadership won’t take that risk again.
10. The Hammer Seeking a Nail.
Company growth initiatives tend to be based upon solutions in search of a problem with clear advantages.
Innovation does not have to be an elusive idea that is unattainable by your organization. By studying innovation challenges and best practices, an organization can design and build an innovative business system that is efficient, effective, and sustainable. The goal of innovation is to achieve high growth by meeting previously unmet market needs with a value proposition that delivers a sustainable competitive advantage. Building a system that meets this goal represents one of the top competitive challenges of the coming decade.
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