Surfacing the challenges and road blocks to innovation.

Jeffrey Philips wrote recently a blog entitled “what really blocks innovation” that he has seen at executive level towards innovation when introducing the work mat approach he and I developed. He put these into four framing boxes that make up the potential barriers. I agree with all of what he says and more.

I’d like to go a little deeper with a suggested way to surface these deeper personal hidden blockages that you do find in working with innovation, that the work mat brings out. It is surprising as they often have real commonality once surfaced and then you need to find the dedicated time to allow them to be fully discussed, as they are critical to unlock.

Often in innovation adoption there are so many hidden barriers that need drawing out and resolving. Take a read of Jeffrey’s observations, as they clearly triggered my own approach of how to deal with them which I thought I’d share here.  As Jeffrey states there are “very different perspectives, different goals and even different definitions between and among members of many executive teams.” The key is to surface these.

We both totally share this point that Jeffrey raises, that “sustained innovation can only occur when there is clarity about goals, alignment within the executive team to the goals, deep commitments to appropriate staffing and resource allocation, and the willingness to lead into risky or uncertain initiatives.  When these factors are present, innovation can flourish.”

To get to this point we need to draw out those real hidden concerns that inhibit innovations adoption at executive level. We need to trigger ‘collective’ discussions so the team can relate and share their concerns and offer up solutions that breaks through those barriers. Continue reading

Plan your innovation resolutions early for 2012

For many October is the peak month for bringing together their strategic and operating plans for 2012. Meetings get frantic, issues get raised, and plans get drawn up, rejected and redrawn. The period becomes a fever pitch.

Where does innovation figure within this? In new products, new services and plenty of noble entreaties to adding to the growth I am sure. One aspect you might want to consider within all this activity and planning, is to develop a resolution list of issues that need resolving, I mean really, finally, actually resolving in 2012, to allow innovation to have a greater ‘hold’ on future thinking. Achieving a consensus, a clear focus, and a corporate commitment is what strategic plans are about so draw up your list of innovation resolutions needed to be resolved in 2012 and commit to them within the plans. Be upfront and bold.

Make sure you choose ‘soft’ as well as ‘hard’ innovation resolutions within any mix

One thing I would recommend when you draw up your list. Most corporate executives find the ‘softer’ aspects of innovation harder to work through. There is this certain ‘hard wiring’ that everything has to be clear, measurable and tucked away  in the accounts or ‘ticked off’ in each person’s mind. Softer aspects of innovation often don’t conform to this orderly view of the world and it is addressing this inconsistency ‘head-on’ has great value. Continue reading