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Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Taking the NO Out of InNOvation"- 10 NO's Blocking Business Innovation

From experience and ongoing research, there are fairly common situations Blocking Business Innovation across companies. No business has all of them, but the presence of just a couple of them will scuttle the most modest dreams of bringing new possibilities to life to benefit others.

None of these NO's are insurmountable, so it's important to understand what causes each of them and some steps to take to navigate around them and get innovation going.

1. NO Knack for Innovation

There simply isn't an orientation toward innovation. It may be a mature industry, a company that's had success with an intense focus, one that's grown through M&A, or has been burned on previous formal innovation efforts. Whatever the reason, innovation doesn't appear to be in the company's DNA.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

2. NO Direction

Without a top-level mandate, it's tough for an innovation-oriented culture to flourish. Could be that innovation is outside the company's vision, there's no upper management champion, or a lack of alignment stands in the way of innovation efforts.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

3. NO Rocking the Boat

There's an unmistakable signal from management (whether it's uttered directly or not): "If it isn't broken, don't mess with it. We're not interested in risk taking; let's just maintain the status quo." These messages make it clear that good things don't await those interested in exploring new approaches or trying to do things in different ways.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

4. NO Talent Pool

The company may have convinced itself the right people aren't in place to make innovation happen. It could be a perceived lack of "creatives" or "outside the box" thinkers. More likely though, it's a failure to get people with diverse perspectives together and let them work. It's more about diverse talent not working together than not having the right talent in the first place.
What Are Some Things You Can Try?

5. There's NO Tomorrow

This NO springs from the conviction things will be won or lost in the short term, so there's little need for long term development. Or it may be there's no patience for protracted realization of opportunities. If it's going to be pursued, it needs to be developed and start paying out by the next quarter. With the current economic environment, this sentiment could be more prevalent than ever.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

6. NO Resources

As with a "no tomorrow" view, lowered interest in applying resources to innovation may be more acutely felt right now. The absence of specific resources can be broad, including management attention, available time, and investment dollars. Without these vital inputs, innovation stalls or never takes off in the first place.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

7. NO Motivation to Innovate

Something's lacking that dampens an internal drive to innovate. It could be an environment that doesn't promote cooperation, no opportunity to receive credit for your effort, or a lack of other meaningful incentives to bring ideas forward and develop them. The net result is that innovation isn't happening as naturally as it might.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

8. NO Process

There are instances where innovation appears to emanate naturally from within an organization. Chances are though that it's been cultivated and developed through a process, even if it's a relatively small scale and informal one. Without some type of planning and organized means to realize innovation, barriers and bureaucracy can easily block new ideas from coming to fruition.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

9. NO Implementation Success

Intriguing ideas and concepts are cool, but only have value ultimately if they lead to successful implementation and deliver benefits for the intended audience. There are various roadblocks to successful implementation, including flaws in how ideas are recommended, prioritized, developed, and marketed to target audiences. With all those potential challenges, it's a wonder anything new actually takes place!

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

10. No Measures

It's difficult to sustain formal innovation efforts without metrics in place to show ROI or even general positive improvement. Even earlier in the process, the absence of metrics makes identifying and prioritizing innovation opportunities a shot in the dark. Simply put: no metrics = no hope of long term innovation.

What Are Some Things You Can Try?

All the best to you in addressing the specific NO's you face at work that stand in the way of InNOvation.

If you'd like more information on exploring the personal perspectives you need to approach you whole life more innovatively, you can download an eBook version of "Taking the NO Out of InNOvation" from Slideshare. It's a great companion on your mission to bring innovation to life!


Joe Gauder said...

Well thought-out and well written post. Like the ideas behind NO Rocking the Boat and There's NO Tomoorow. Downloading the eBook to read more.

Mike Brown said...

Thanks Joe for jumping from Twitter over to Brainzooming to check out this post. Glad you found it helpful. Particularly today, there's a lot of NO Tomorrow attitudes going on.


Pete Modigliani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Modigliani said...


I really enjoyed this post. All too often we see organizations slugging through bad processes and make failed attempts at reforming them. I used your list in a recent post on my Defense Acquisition Enterprise 2.0 blog. ""

Good luck on the transition to the new site.