Innovation barriers

3 Big Innovation Barriers.

Innovation is massively important because it is what helps a business grow, outpace their competition, change with the times and profit. But in pursuing our need and lust for innovation there lie a number of barriers, challenges and traps that actually hinder and stop innovation in its tracks.

1. The myth of BIG:

There is the myth out there that in order to be successful we need to be radically disruptive, we need to find the next big innovation, come up with the next Uber or reinvent the iPhone. And that simply isn’t true.  

We constantly hear and talk about stories of start-ups who began with a radical idea and who changed the world and made millions, if not billions in the process. But the reality is that the Ubers of this world are few and far between.

But who said that innovation had to be about big radical disruption?

Many businesses and their leaders, like I once did, believe that success and profitable growth relies on finding that one ‘Eureka’ idea. Truth is though business success isn’t about one single innovation but many small-scale innovations strung together. Business success comes by consistently finding innovative ways to improve everything you do. And those innovations don’t need to be big or radical, they simply need to work, be effective and make your business money.

I’m not saying if you do happen to invent the next Google or the next Uber not to go for it but what I am s saying is don’t let it be to the detriment of the business in front of you.

Many really successful businesses have never had a disruptive idea what they have done extraordinarily well is consistently find ways to do things better than their competitors and before the competitors. I have interviewed literally hundreds of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders and the one thing that stands out is their ability and their passion for constant improvement. When speaking it’s something I’ve seen audiences at innovation conferences always keen to discuss.

To overcome this barrier to innovation we need to change our view of innovation from being radical and large-scale to being achievable, effective and everyday.

2. Complexity:

Most people see innovation as too costly, too risky, too time-consuming and way too complex. Which is another challenge worth overcoming.

In companies all over the planet are innovation champions with a myriad of innovation degrees and various models and systems that measure, test, analyse, re-measure and re-test. All valid and effective.

Thing is, ask your people to be innovative and they’ll run because there is someone up on level three who does that, and they are way too busy to get involved anyway. They see innovation as a challenge

But give your people a simple achievable process and back it up with a culture to support them and they will perform miracles.

Simply ask them to find a problem or a gap, come up with a solution, act on it and gauge whether it works or not and you’ll have an endless supply of innovative solutions.

Who said innovation has to be complicated?

3: Micromanagement:

Here’s the deal. If you want innovation as part of your business on an everyday basis then you need to give your people permission to not just find effective solutions but let them act of those solutions and stuff those solutions up as well.

If you want to suppress the desire of your team to be constantly finding ways of doing things better then all you need to do is look over their shoulders and tell them how to do everything. Micromanagement is a massive barrier to innovation thriving in your business.

It’s one thing to give a directive of everyday, small-scale innovation to your people but it’s another thing entirely to let them take the initiative and the responsibility

Build an innovation culture that give them permission to not just have ideas but also put them in place. Let them know it’s okay to try something and get it wrong as long as they learn from mistakes.

When speaking with audiences I see all the time the lights come on and the heads nod when these three big myths are debunked.

Business success isn’t a result of finding and successfully implementing a single ‘Eureka’ idea. It’s the culmination of many scale-scale innovations and of consistently finding innovative ways to improve everything you do. Business success is a ‘Game of Inches’.

A related article to this is ‘How do I foster an innovation culture in my team?

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