July 23, 2012
56 Reasons Why Most Corporate Innovation Initiatives Fail

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Innovation is in these days. The word is on the lips of every CEO, CFO, CIO, and anyone else with a three-letter acronym after their name.

As a result, many organizations are launching all kinds of "innovation initiatives" -- hoping to stir the creative soup. This is commendable. But it is also, all too often, a disappointing experience.

Innovation initiatives sound good, but usually don't live up to expectations. The reasons are many. What follows are 56 of the most common -- organizational obstacles we've observed that get in the way of a company truly raising the bar for innovation.

See which ones are familiar to YOU. Then, sit down with your Senior Team... CEO... innovation committee, or best friend and jump start the process of going beyond these obstacles.

56 Reasons Why Most Corporate Innovation Initiatives Fail

1. "Innovation" framed as an initiative, not the normal way of doing business

2. Absence of a clear definition of what "innovation" really means

3. Innovation not linked to company's existing vision or strategy

4. No sense of urgency

5. Workforce is suffering from "initiative fatigue"

6. CEO does not fully embrace the effort

7. No compelling vision or reason to innovate

8. Senior Team not aligned

9. Key players don't have the time to focus on innovation

10.Innovation champions are not empowered

11. Decision making processes are non-existent or fuzzy

12. Lack of trust

13. Risk averse culture

14. Overemphasis on cost cutting or incremental improvement

15. Workforce ruled by past assumptions and old mental models

16. No process in place for funding new projects

17. Not enough pilot programs in motion

18. Senior Team not walking the talk

19. No company-wide process for managing ideas

20. Too many turf wars. Too many silos.

21. Analysis paralysis

22. Reluctance to cannibalize existing products and services

23. NIH (not invented here) syndrome

24. Funky channels of communication

25. No intrinsic motivation to innovate

26. Unclear gates for evaluating progress

27. Mind numbing bureaucracy

28. Unclear idea pitching processes

29. Lack of clearly defined innovation metrics

30. No accountability for results

31. No way to celebrate quick wins

32. Poorly facilitated meetings

33. No training to unleash individual or team creativity

34. Voo doo evaluation of ideas

35. Inadequate sharing of best practices

36. Lack of teamwork and collaboration

37. Unclear strategy for sustaining the effort

38. Innovation Teams meet too infrequently

39. Middle managers not on board

40. Ineffective roll out of the effort to the workforce

41. Lack of tools and techniques to help people generate new ideas

42. Innovation initiative perceived as another "flavor of the month"

43. Individuals don't understand how to be a part of the effort

44. Diverse inputs or conflicting opinions not honored

45. Imbalance of left-brain and right brain thinking

46. Low morale

47. Over-reliance on technology

48. Failure to secure sustained funding

49. Unrealistic time frames

50. Failure to consider issues associated with scaling up

51. Inability to attract talent to risky new ventures

52. Failure to consider commercialization issues

53. No rewards or recognition program in place

54. No processes in place to get fast feedback

55. Inadequate sense of what your customers really want or need

56. Company hiring process screens out potential innovators

Others we may have missed?

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at July 23, 2012 01:31 PM

Comments

I'm concerned that this list is too large to be really useful. Here's my view on the subject: http://wp.me/pJfdj-cG

Posted by: Thompson Morrison [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 7, 2010 05:17 PM

I really like the things you pointed out about what could lead innovation to fail in companies. There is a panel discussion event hosted by UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business Southbay Alumni chapter on January 7, 2009 that would address some of these issues. Sara Beckman, HaasBusiness Professor, will lead a panel discussion with a focus on using customer insights to encourage and drive innovation. Venue is at Dinah's Garden in Palo Alto. $15 only. Click onto registration link to find out more www.acteva.com/go/hansb

Posted by: Phan Thanh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 7, 2011 05:09 AM

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