- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 26 July 2012 05:03, Updated 27 July 2012 07:33
The focus many companies put on efficiency can eliminate the time needed for fresh thinking.
Every company is looking for the magic formula that will produce breakthrough products and services. But a better starting point is to think about what gets in the way of innovation, especially in firms that already have lots of talented, creative, and motivated people. In other words, by identifying and removing barriers, it might be possible to accelerate innovation simply by leveraging the capability that’s already there.
In that spirit, here are ten common inhibitors that can dampen an organisation’s ability to innovate effectively. For each one, think about the extent to which it applies to your firm (never? sometimes? often?):
After you’ve thought about these questions individually, bring together your team to discuss your answers. You also might want to send the questions to a wider group and see how they respond. The key is to use this list of inhibitors (and any others you might want to add) as a springboard for dialogue about your company’s innovation practices and culture.
For example, through this process a group of 50 high-potential senior managers from different parts of a manufacturing company all agreed that the focus on short-term incentives was making it difficult for them to support innovation — which was contrary to the message that the CEO was delivering to them and their people. This led the managers to initiate a dialogue with the CEO about alternative ways to fund innovation, resource and vet new ideas, and accelerate progress. While it’s too early to know whether these shifts will make a difference or not, they have already reduced frustration and helped eliminate mixed messages about innovation.
All of us in organisations have the capability to innovate. Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.
Ron Ashkenas is a managing partner of Schaffer Consulting and a co-author of The GE Work-Out and The Boundaryless Organization. His latest book is Simply Effective.
Harvard Business Review