1. There is no money. Organisations sometimes think you can get innovation without investment. They believe in an “innovation culture” where employees do new things as part of their day job. The reality is that innovative companies have creative employees and some kind of formal enablement. Enablement costs money. Companies that don’t spend any (hoping that assigning a person or two to the innovation challenge will do), rarely do very much innovation.
9 signs you know you shouldn’t bother with innovation
2. Your boss is late majority, or worse, a laggard. They don’t like new things, and always need plenty of positive reinforcement from people they trust before they’ll even try something new. If they have an innovation programme, it is likely its been forced on them. They won’t see the point of the work, and certainly won’t support it.
3. Everything is controlled by the Finance Director. Another don’t bother moment, because this individual will likely want to make sure of the business case for every single innovation you undertake. Because most really interesting things don’t even start to pay off in the short term, chances are you’ll get nothing major done. You’ll be reduced to incrementalism (not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s what your innovation strategy is), and you may as well rename yourself the Lean Team, rather than the Innovation Team.
4. The organisation is laser-focussed on core business. If this is the case, especially if it is because the organisation is in distress, then probably innovation will be considered a distraction. Oh, the right words will get said, but when the chips are down, the innovators will be told to go away. Retreat to the core is a classic strategy of an organisation that is disconnecting itself from change, for whatever reason.
5. The company is riding high on established product and service lines. There may be competitors, but for now the position is secure. Innovation will probably not be seen as all that necessary in the scheme of things, because there’s nothing going wrong right now. Such organisations have no burning platform for innovation, therefore, none will happen.
6. Audit and governance functions are over-powerful. If your organisation is full of security people, audit people, and governance people with the power to call the shots, then you should consider whether to bother with innovation. These are not bad people, but the organisation has programmed them to shut down change in all its forms. To innovate, you first have to find a way to eliminate their power over the innovators. In many organisations, that’s a task which is practically impossible.
7. The organisations has never had a recovery from a near-death experience. Really innovative organisations have a generation of managers who were either with it when it started (when every day was a near death experience), or who went through a period where there was every chance of a close down. Without such people in place, there’s no entrenched belief in the power of change. Ergo, no innovation.
8. Your innovators are stuck in IT. This is a hard one, but the reality is this. If you’re an IT innovator, chances are you’re there to find ways to “enable” better IT through innovation. This is all very well, but enablement of a support function has much less money associated with it than enablement of a core business line (which in turn, uses IT). Sooner or later, the innovation team will look less attractive as an investment than other available opportunities.
9. Your CEO is risk-averse. If this is true, then even the very best innovations, no matter how well constituted, are likely to fail. This will not be because the CEO doesn’t “get” stuff. Rather, the amount of reassurance that he or she will need before they make a “go” decision is likely to be excessive. You can spend all your available time trying to convince everyone whom the CEO might consult of the value, and still miss a key individual that will plant the seeds of doubt. Then you’ll have to start all over again.