5 Obstacles Preventing Your Company From True Innovation



It’s important for your organization, big or small, to innovate. Innovation takes ideas, and turns them into realities. Without innovation, you’ll recognize your business repeating processes over and over heading to an internal dead-end.


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Businesses often say they are practitioners of innovation, that they’re always on the lookout for new ideas and groundbreaking strategies. It’s all part of the push to customers, clients, and investors. In fact, the most recent State of Global Innovation report shows that 95 percent of respondents say they consider innovation a priority. That may be what the majority of companies claim, but too often the actions behind their words are lacking. The same report found that nearly two-thirds of businesses (63 percent) didn’t even have an official innovation-management structure established.

As the saying goes, talk is cheap. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these companies are purposely avoiding innovation, like adopting a new business policy or using new technology like converged IT infrastructure. Oftentimes they run into some common obstacles that prevent them from truly innovating.

1. Stifling Company Culture

Company culture is a major reason for organizations failing at the production of innovative ideas. This often comes in the form of fear — more specifically fear of change. Many people within a business become used to the way things are done, and the company culture often reflects this. New ideas are tough to come by, and even when generated, fall on deaf ears.

A poor company culture results in a certain mindset wherein employees become complacent with how things operate. Culture can also get bogged down in politics and needless bureaucracy rather than focusing on innovative thinking. When company culture transforms into a stifling atmosphere, that may be a sign the business is on the decline.

2. Rigid Organizational Structure

Related to company culture, at times the internal structure of the company can hurt innovation. Sometimes this is referred to as internal walls or organizational silos, but the result is usually the same: employees stay within their departments and rarely venture outside them.

This lack of collaboration means the free flow of ideas gets run into the ground. In cases where a good new idea is generated, it soon runs into the dreaded wall and has nowhere to go. Many companies proceed with the mistaken strategy that all new ideas should come from the top, but it’s easy to see that innovation can’t flourish in such conditions.

3. Poor Communication

There may be times, in the right type of organizations, where an innovative idea does get outside the walls it originated from. Even then, that idea may reach some significant roadblocks in the form of poor communication. Innovations may make sense from the people who came up with the idea, but when transferred to those unfamiliar with it, a lot can get lost in translation.

That means there may be trouble putting an idea into practice, or the very concept may be tough to understand. To properly implement an innovative idea (big data solutions for example), there usually needs to be a unifying guide that nurtures the idea from one department to another, making sure everyone who uses it fully understands its purpose and how to integrate it successfully.

4. Lack of Support

Perhaps a new idea may be free to move about the organization, and maybe it’s understood by everyone. If there’s no internal support for it, however, it can only go so far. To be truly supported, the business needs to provide not just the personnel but the budget and power to get it off the ground. The best way to do this is to get as many people involved as possible. The more people that feel like they have something invested in an idea, the more they’ll do to ensure it becomes a success.

5. No Time For Innovation

Even if every attribute aligns perfectly for innovation to proliferate, new ideas may still suffer if there isn’t sufficient time to develop them. Many businesses ask their employees to do a lot within the typical 40-hour work week. Asking them to promote innovation in addition to their normal jobs may be adding an extra burden. Without the time to actively pursue new ideas, innovation will likely fail to gain a foothold. Companies need to ensure employees have at least some time to develop their ideas, which should include proper experimentation and testing. Organizations should remember that time is a resource as well and should be managed carefully for maximum effect.

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