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In today’s global economy, in the presence of more competition than ever before and increasing customer expectation, innovation is a key contributor to growth and value. While organizations should constantly seek new innovations—unfortunately many don’t.

Businesses seek to understand why customers choose to go elsewhere or why competitors passing them by. In seeking these answers, businesses often overlook the internal or external obstacles standing in the way of innovation that creates new opportunity and value.

Our over 25 years of hands-on experience across numerous companies and industries have revealed these often overlooked barriers to new innovation:

1. Internal Bureaucracy. Meetings, talks, seminars, studies, documentation, reports, onerous process requirements and paperwork bog down ideas and people. No matter the size of the company or business, it’s often important to like a startup and remove unnecessary internal process and paperwork obstacles. Simplify internal requirements so as to encourage the new and best ideas, freeing up people to exceed expectations.

2. Poor Leadership. Innovation starts in the executive suite. Strong leadership knows that a company must continually change and adapt to new market conditions. Lackluster leadership focuses on internal and past issues rather than seeking to create a new future and making it a reality. Great leaders take risks and get involved in making innovation happen—never delegating or seeing ‘how things work out.’

3. Fear. People and organizations are afraid of change, preferring to perpetuate the comfort of the status quo. To be sure, change can sometimes be ‘bad.’ Fear creates irrational investments for ‘quick fixes’, leading to lower return on investment. Instead, lay a foundation of sound principles, understanding of the issues, and exercise creative risk, laying aside fear, and innovate to new revenue and opportunity. Especially in a highly competitive or commoditized market!

4. Wrong Experience. If you don’t have the internal skill or experience to innovate, fill gaps by bringing in people or outside organizations that have “been there, done that.” Don’t let a lack of experience stand in your way, surround yourself with innovative agents of change and manage them to new business horizons. Stop talking or wishing you had the skills needed for innovation. Get the right people and learn how to creatively innovative through ideas their implementation.

5. Bottom Up Thinking. There is no question that understanding markets and customers is key to better ROI. However, most markets and customers don’t really know what they want when it comes to innovation. Therefore, innovation is often best led “from the top.” Look at the big picture, create a new vision of a new future, then implement the right strategies to make that vision a reality.

6. Lack of Cash. Cash is the oxygen to innovation. When it comes to innovation and establishing a new future, “investment is king.” Invest in people, environments and ideas that foster new innovation and advantage to the organization and company.

7. Too Rigid Boundaries. People are passionate about all manner of ideas. Manage this passion to extraordinary outcomes by allowing your employees to have time to work on things that excite them and contribute to the business. Google, for example, encourages its employees to take up to 20% of their time to work on new ideas or projects that the employee thinks will advance the company. Many of the great ideas for your future will come out of such freedom.

8. Hoarding Information. Retained information is power, right? Wrong. Innovation flourishes when information flows freely. Provide processes and mechanisms to keep people and teams informed and sharing information across functions and roles—encouraging everyone to innovate by connecting information and ideas. Look to partners for new information and ideas that can propel the business forward.

9. Staying in the Office. Take time out to get out of the office and meet with customers, employees and partners. Go to their location, learn and value their suggestions, ideas and opinions on the business, product or service, customer experience and the value or benefits received. Discover improvement or innovations they feel would make the business better or create new, unmet need.

10. Poor or No Recognition. People desire recognition for contributions. Make celebration and awards an integral part of the business culture. Encourage employees to excel in their skills and profession, creating a platform for new opportunity and revenue to the organization.

Go ahead. Innovate by getting rid of barriers to innovation and move into new future success!

The Afterburner Group has been assisting companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries discover new innovation through ideas, organizational improvement and new opportunity for over 25 years.

If you think that your innovation is suffering or your business could benefit from an innovation “health check”, fill out the contact form below and we’ll let you know what that looks like and how you’d benefit.

Remove innovation barriers.

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