Innovation is often confused with just having an idea, but innovation is of course having the idea and doing everything else – the R&D, the testing and re-designing to develop a new product/service/process, and then successfully getting it out to the market or putting it into use, so that it’s not just an idea but an applied result.
One way of looking at it is that there are only two problem areas for innovation: having the idea, and everything else.
Some organisations get stuck on ‘having ideas’ and need some help to re-imagine what they could be doing for their clients, from innovating the business model all the way to developing new products and services.
In other organisations, ideas can be cheap and plentiful – but it’s the development and implementation that get derailed, thanks to any number of innovation barriers:
- Lack of variety in the skills and mindsets available in-house
- Silo working or communication breakdowns
- Transactions with supply chain members, instead of relationships
- Not understanding the customers’ habits, needs, and preferences
- Too much process and bureaucracy – causing delays and ineffectiveness
- Not enough process or structure – chaos doesn’t have a deadline or a focus
- Leadership that doesn’t help the team to balance innovation activity with other everyday tasks
- A workplace culture that works against employee engagement with innovation
- Lack of a diverse external network that would provide ideas, knowledge, alternative views, skills and business opportunities.
It’s a good thing for any organisation to ask itself: “In our workplace, what’s ‘abundant and cheap’, and what’s ‘rare and expensive’”? How does that question apply to ideas, connections, effective cross-department working, efficient processes, a knowledge-sharing culture, mutual trust between the leadership and the workforce?
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