24 Reasons Why Your Business Is Not Innovating

March 24, 2010

Innovation is a key driving force that has enabled our modern civilization to become what it is today. Innovation has taken us from being simple wandering hunter gatherers and nomadic tribes all the way up to the social, military and economic revolutions that have propelled us to where we are today.

Innovation is the process of trying something new and if it works or survives, you keep it, otherwise throw it away or tweak it until it grows and changes things for the better. Andy Singleton, from Assembla.com, writes about the Theory of Innovation requiring exploration, observation and optimization. People and companies who don’t challenge themselves to innovate themselves as well as provide a culture of team innovation are likely to fall by the wayside and be beaten by competition. Whether you are looking for a new job or whether you’re looking to grow sustainable advantage against your business’ competition, innovation mindsets are the key to success.

Re-invent, pivot, tweak, learn and optimize are alternative actions that I think of for innovating myself and my businesses. Out with the status quo and in with better ways, tools, methods and thinking.

The successive waves of innovation over the last century has taken us from electricity to telecommunications to microchips all the way into the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and has changed the way humans live and continue to advance into the future.

Science fiction has also inspired researchers, engineers and scientists alike to take visions of the future and attempt to innovate these visions into reality. From Star Trek’s communication devices to cell phone technology, human kind undoubtedly has an innate backbone and curiosity to innovate.

I wrote this post because I often come across a common theme in various sectors of our technology driven world — resistance or ignorance to innovation.

Working as a hive mind, an organization or business of any shape or form, must work to better themselves, achieve their shared vision and hopefully do good in the process for the world.

Whether driven by shareholder value demands or passionate social good there are many reasons why innovation isn’t in every nook and cranny of society.

Just as one example, cloud computing as an innovation has helped to reduce costs, reduce waste, increase profits, increase scalability and make better use of our energy resources. At the same time, ignorance and resistance to change have led to common beliefs that cloud computing is inherently insecure. With the right strategy and execution cloud computing can be highly secure, it just depends on your situation and needs.

I’m a firm believer that each and every person in this world should work towards betterment of themselves and so should the organizations where they work. Corporate values and social goals alongside innovation is paramount to everyone’s future. Eliminating disease, war, hunger along with conserving resources and capital waste are all very good reasons for leaders of society to innovate.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people innovating throughout the government, business sectors and even non-profits, but having an understanding of why you may not be innovating may be the first step in continuing to advance the progression of innovation — whether incremental or game changing.

Here are some reasons that you should look for in your organization or team to understand why you may not be innovating!

Lack of internal support or buy in

  • Resistance to change
  • Management discourages innovation in it’s culture
  • Lack of focus, vision and direction from leaders
  • Lack of association of innovation and differentiation with growth
  • Leaders defensive to new ideas that challenge status quo

No common definition of innovation and how to measure success

  • Lack of understanding of the types of innovation
  • No key metrics and tracking for baseline and targets

Lack of innovation processes

  • No idea management
  • No new ideas, new problems or learning opportunities
  • No process to bring idea from vision to growth
  • No research and development
  • Lack of effective communication between team on innovation process
  • Failure to execute projects effectively
  • Lack of measurement and tracking on projects
  • Lack of user and stakeholder analysis
  • No monitoring or communication on innovations

Lack of Customer Focus

  • Lack of listening and talking to customers
  • Lack of understanding of market and customer development interaction

Lack of long term goals

  • A focus on risk mitigation and risk adversity
  • Short term focus with no time spent on long term
  • Focusing on unrealistic financial returns or short term gain

Lack of resources

  • Lack of adequate funding
  • Lack of prioritization of resources

Lack of teamwork

  • Lack of challenging your team
  • Lack of effective communication between team on new ideas
  • Lack of knowledge management
  • No perceived incentive to be innovative