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What hinders us to innovate?

Even when there is much value to achieve, and a lot of pain to relieve, the path of innovation is not always taken due to obstacles. Although trends can increase the urge for innovation, many barriers can be on the way. These barriers can be culture, technology maturity, implementation effort, regulations and procedures etc. When the perceived obstacles are too high, it can hinder to start the innovation journey.

First, culture of an organization determines the easiness of how it can adopt an innovation. To innovate, an organization has to go through a change management process. It depends on the experience and the willingness of people to change. Is change within the organization daily business, or are people very conservative? The directory board can have beautiful plans in mind, but as Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker

Second, the maturity of innovation is very important to have trust in the innovation. Gartner defines the hype cycle with five phases: Technology Trigger, Peak of Inflated Expectations, Trough of Disillusionment, Slope of Enlightenment, Plateau of Productivity. How confident do you feel at a certain technology? Are you an innovator, early adopter, laggard or something in between?

Third, many innovations are not just unboxing exercises, but require an innovation project. In case of the digital transformation, you need software, hardware, human resources, and activities. The project leader has to control the time, money, and quality of the project. Activities and milestone need to be planned and prepared.

Fourth, regulation and procedures can hinder innovation. Many new ideas are terminated because an organization is too red-taped. Bureaucracy can kill many initiatives. Also, legislations and regulations can be very laborious, and discourage opportunistic people to go further with innovation.

This is not an extensive list of all the obstacles. Although it describes the main obstacles, many other different impediments can stop innovation. Therefore, there should be assessment of the obstacles to tackle or to mitigate them upfront.