3 Reasons Why The Innovation Process Fails

Skydiver jumping out of a plane

Innovation has many sources. It bubbles up through organizations, springs from individual players in a business or is the result of a concerted group effort. But the innovation process can also fail, and fail badly for many diverse reasons. That can happen if an organization isn’t ready to embrace innovation, or if they fail to structure the innovation process to properly to fit how their organization functions.  As designers, we’ve worked with many different companies and our first goal when we begin an innovation project is to understand how they work so we can understand the innovation process that works best for them. Here are three reasons why the innovation process fails:

1. Nobody Wants to Take Risks

Innovation is inherently risky and many organizations would rather stick with the status quo. Your product or service is doing very nicely, and selling quite well, thank you very much, so why bother innovating it? With this mindset, even an idea for the best-designed product won’t find traction. To counteract this risk adverse attitude, you have to prove that the innovation makes sense, and that means convincing all stakeholders. Deeply researched data that covers every aspect of the design innovation will help win over skeptics, whether they’re in the sales department or the finance guys. Business case studies help too, and will convince doubters that while innovation is risky, not innovating in today’s competitive environment is even riskier.

2. Not Everybody is on Board

Achieving consensus can be a struggle when it comes to pushing innovation projects through established organizations. We’ve seen that with giants like Microsoft; innovative as the company is in many ways, communications and collaboration were lacking, which meant that the innovation process hit a bottleneck and took too long to move forward. Innovation requires consensus from the C-suite on down, and that means understanding the needs, concerns and motivations of everyone involved in the innovation process. These socialization efforts might take some time, but it will help drive consensus at every stage.

3. The Vision Got Lost

We admire pioneering companies with strong, passionate visions that have led to great business success, like Richard Branson’s Virgin group of companies. Yet these companies can also benefit from new and innovative approaches that can enhance and push their brands in surprising and inspiring directions, which is the primary focus of the Chief Innovation Officer. To do this successfully, though, never forget the core vision and what underpins the company’s success with that vision, and how it resonates with customers. Once that is clear, you can innovate that vision and inspire the leadership to bring its vision to life in ways they might not have imagined.

Craig McCarthy

Posted By: 

Craig McCarthy

Director, Strategy