The 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating
Work for an organization? Want to innovate, but... er... uh... um... just can't seem to get things rolling? Chances are good your reasons are on the list below. No problem. Without making yourself wrong, just note the ones that show up the most, then try my simple "go beyond excuses" exercise at the end of the list. Ready?
1. I don't have the time.
2. I can't get the funding.
3. My boss will never go for it.
4. Were not in the kind of business likely to innovate.
5. I've got too much on my plate.
6. We won't be able to get it past legal.
7. I'll be punished if I fail.
8. I'm just not not the creative type.
9. I'm juggling way too many projects.
10. I'm too new around here.
11. I'm not good at presenting my ideas.
12. No one, besides me, really cares about innovation.
13. There's too much bureaucracy here to get anything done.
14. Our customers aren't asking for it.
15. We're a risk averse culture. Always will be.
16. We don't have an innovation process.
17. We don't have a culture of innovation.
18. They don't pay me enough to take on this kind of project.
19. My boss will get all the credit.
20. My career path will be jeopardized if this doesn't fly.
21. I've already got enough headaches.
22. I'm no good at office politics.
23. My home life will suffer.
24. I'm not disciplined enough.
25. It's an idea too far ahead of its time.
26. I won't be able to get enough resources.
27. I don't have enough information.
28. Someone will steal my idea.
29. It will take too long to get results.
30. We're in a down economy.
31. It will die in committee.
32. I'll be laughed out of town.
33. I won't be able to get the ear of senior leadership.
34. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
35. The concept is too disruptive.
36. I won't be able to get enough support.
37. I don't tolerate ambiguity all that well.
38. I'm not in a creative profession.
39. Now is not a good time to start a new project.
40. I don't have the right personality to build a team.
41. Our company is going through too many changes right now.
42. They won't give me any more time to work on the project.
43. If I succeed, too much will be expected of me.
44. Nothing ever changes around here.
45. Things are changing so fast, my head is spinning.
46. Whatever success I achieve will be undone by somebody else.
47. I don't have enough clout to get things done.
48. It's just not worth the effort.
49. I'm getting close to retirement.
50. My other projects will suffer.
51. Been there, done that.
52. I don't want another thing to think about.
53. I won't have any time left for my family.
54. A more nimble competitor will beat us to the punch.
55. Teamwork is a joke around here.
56. I've never done anything like this before.
57. I won't be rewarded if the project succeeds.
58. We're not measured for innovation.
59. I don't have the right credentials.
60. We need more data.
61. It's not my job.
62. It will hard sustaining the motivation required.
63. I've tried before and failed.
64. I'm not smart enough to pull this off.
65. I don't want to go to any more meetings.
66. It will take way too long to get up to speed.
67. Our Stage Gate process will sabotage any hope of success.
68. I'm not skillful at building business cases.
69. Summer's coming.
70. The marketplace is too volatile.
71. This is a luxury we can't afford at this time.
72. I think we're about to be acquired.
73. I'm trying to simplify my life, not complicate it.
74. The dog ate my homework.
75. Help! I'm a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory.
76. My company just wants to squeeze more blood from the stone.
77. My company isn't committed to innovation.
78. I don't have the patience.
79. I'm not sure how to begin.
80. I'm too left-brained for this sort of thing.
81. I won't be able to get the funding required.
82. I'm getting too old for this.
83. We're too competitive, in-house. Collaboration is a rarity.
84. Spring is coming.
85. I'm hypoglycemic.
86. That's Senior Leadership's job
87. I'm thinking of quitting.
88. Market conditions just aren't right.
89. We need to focus on the short term for a while.
90. Innovation, schminnovation.
91. What we really need are some cost cutting initiatives.
92. Six Sigma will take care of everything.
93. Mercury is in retrograde.
94. IT won't go for it.
95. Maybe next year.
96. That's my boss's job.
97. That's R&D's job.
98. I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't.
99. First, we need to benchmark the competition.
100.It's against my religion.
HOW TO GO BEYOND THESE LAME EXCUSES
1. Make a list of your three most bothersome ones.
2. Turn each excuse into a question, beginning with the words "How can I?" or "How can we?" (For example, if your excuse is "That's R&D's job," you might ask "How can I make innovation my job?" or "How can I help my team take more responsibility for innovating?"
3. Brainstorm each question -- alone and with your team.
Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 8, 2012 08:53 AM
Thanks for the list of excuses!
If it's any consolation to you - we hear many of them here in Germany, too...
While some of the excuses are trivial and easy to counteract, others are more insidious and are symptomatic of deep-lying organisational problems or misunderstandings.
Posted by: Graham Horton at April 20, 2008 07:55 AM
I think I have heard almost every one of those at the K-8 school where I am the tech coordinator and self-appointed head of the innovation committee.(just joking, there's no committee...) I'm sure I have used some of the excuses myself in frustration over hearing so many excuses. It is a vicious cycle sometimes, this desire to fight change. But when I look at the big picture I see that despite the excuses and the resistance, we are moving forward. Just seems like it could be happening much faster.
I appreciate the technique you've shared. I'm going to try the turning it into a question approach the next time someone hits me with an excuse. thanks!
Posted by: edtechworkshop at May 4, 2008 09:31 AM
Hello from Canada.
I've heard many of those same excuses. For some it's hardwired!
One technique I like is to ask folks to think of something that hasn't changed for a long time (in my work it is often the concept of "school" but it could be "gas pump" or "newspaper"). Then ask them to describe what the world would be like without it. Those who think in more concrete, detailed ways find this easier than brainstorming how to "make things better", and then they own the ideas as well.
Posted by: cindyseibel at June 1, 2008 09:45 AM
i need some body to motivate and i feel no one is going to motivate me for that particular innovative idea
In truth, not everyone is an innovator. In fact, well-known and validated studies by the late urbanologist Peter Maris examining individuals and communities under stress and facing novel challenges revealed that far more people are not innovators than are. Ask a thousand questions, it won't make a difference in their ability or success.
Forcing people to be "innovative," ridiculing them for their failure to come up with bright, snappy ideas -- not genuinely innovative, just clever -- and cajoling them into brainstorming (the least effective of innovation-inducing methods) is bound to (a) meet resistance, (b) cost a lot of time, effort, and money, (c) hurt morale, and (d) fail.
Successful innovation managers have learned to spot talent -- innate innovators, individuals who can't sit still without trying to make things better (as they see them). These are not the easiest people to have around and thus pose an entirely different and more difficult situation in the short run than hordes of non-innovators.
In the long run, dealing with innate innovators will make a positive difference if they are supported in their work, not over-managed; and if their innovations are well implemented.
The Hundred Reasons and other blame-the-help methods that some managers use to hide their own inability to manage innovation crumble before one set of simple rules: be helpful, be collaborative, be a good listener, and get out of the way. Once an innovation is birthed and has been vetted by a designer or some other applier of constraints, be prepared to forcefully implement on the back end of innovation -- an involve executives. That's it. No mystery...except maybe, how do those innate innovators do it? And how can we best help them, a project worthy of another round of research.
Posted by: Bob Jacobson at September 23, 2011 09:23 AM
Great blog post. Really helps me realize reasons why I am failing in life. Thanks.
EXCUSE ME!! I've just got myself an invention completed an is now in Contract talks... For those of you who are reading this let me give you a little bit of my back ground.
1. I've got Epilepsy.
2. I'm on SSI.
3. I'm on Social Security.
4. I'm on 2 or 3 other Goverment programs.
I've got all these things on my back but I didn't let them stop me. My family as well is highly on my back but I'm not going to let them stop me any longer. Those disabled individuals it can be done.
Looks like an 'Innovation 101' is almost complete:
1. 56 Reasons Why Most Corporate Innovation Initiatives Fail
2. The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating
3. 5 Ways to Jump Start a Culture of Innovation
4. 50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation
5. 5 Essentials for Innovation
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