Think about it, what innovation barriers are you facing?
Is your innovation process highly prescriptive or very organic?
Is your innovation pipeline delivering a balanced portfolio of projects and products or is it skewed to being incremental or hedging on high risk disruptive innovation?
With all of the capability to connect and communicate with other people and data, creating a balanced and fruitful innovation ecosystem in today’s world has been made easier, wouldn’t you agree, or maybe not?
There are several issues that we need to acknowledge, which are spoken privately but not always openly discussed as you will see why. There are also two strategies that we need to embrace, understand and implement.
Innovation is about being creative, creating that new “thing” that nobody else has thought of and adds value.
Below are some of the common innovation barriers in the form of issues and constraints that I have come across whilst working in various sectors such as the engineering, construction, pharmaceutical and biotech industry, albeit with varying degrees. Think about how many of these you have experienced within your organisation.
Standardisation – you are working in a business and a world where you have to conform to procedures, policies, legal requirements, what is expected, “the norm” so much so that creativity is virtually non existent
Linearity – from standardisation you have business processes, work flows, structure whereby you believe if you follow the process you will get the right results. I believe it was Einstein who said Insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There is a time when you need to go off-piste if you are to innovate.
Diversity – within your business and organisation you will have a set number of people with certain skill sets, training and knowledge based on what you believe to be correct. There are over 7 Billion people in the world and I would bet that there is someone, somewhere who is not in your organisation, who does not exist as a position that has the block-buster idea or know how to develop a transformation and disruptive innovative solution.
Passion – how passionate are you and the people within your organisation about the work you and they do and how it contributes to creating and developing new products and services. Are you high performing organisation?
Creativity – do you promote continual learning and development through dynamic collaboration across your business and with outside organisations that can help you to think creatively?
Visualisation – having visibility of your innovation pipeline, whether this is new ideas, products, services or projects that can be shared with anyone supports divergent thinking, which is part of creativity.
Poor decision making – you are constantly being bombarded with data, requests, distractions that it is becoming more difficult for your to make informed decisions and is taking longer to make as well
Fear culture – fear of being wrong, getting a negative result and sharing it because of what people might think of you or how it will affect your career to get to the “top”. This has an adverse impact on decision making as described above.
You will notice in most of the items above there are only one or two points that are system and technology related while the others relate to people – you and me. And yet what I have discovered is that businesses will typically focus on the “tangible” assets such as the business
processes, systems, equipment and not on the “intangible” assets, which include people, the organisation and knowledge (including data and information) and contains the highest segment of an organisations value and innovation capability.
Why is that?
Probably because it is easier to understand, it is more tangible and therefore easier to optimise. But are you optimising the right part of your organisation?
Visualisation and Collaboration
It would appear that connecting people so that they can collaborate is key to breaking down some of these innovation barriers. Collaboration promotes divergent thinking and growth and you will see improved learning when groups collaborate. Using visualisation as a means to communicate which is part of collaboration can help you utlise your data and discover new insights by being able to visualise and share this data with other people.
By converging data and people through visualisation and collaboration you can start to break down these barriers to innovation. This will help you to make quick and informed collaborative decisions and increase your innovation capability. Refer to Fig 1: Visualising your innovation pipeline supports collaboration and helps to remove barriers to innovation, as an example.
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