The 6 Most Common Innovation Mistakes Companies Make
Because innovation is a system-level problem, a point solution – trying to drive widespread change by doing a single thing – is wholly ineffective. It is equivalent to attempting to turnaround a failing school plagued by disinterested students, overwhelmed teachers, and crumbling infrastructure by painting the walls blue. Soothing, perhaps, but unlikely to have any real impact. Here are the six most common innovation mistakes to avoid.
You Need an Innovation Strategy
Why is it so hard to build and maintain the capacity to innovate? The reason is not simply a failure to execute but a failure to articulate an innovation strategy that aligns innovation efforts with the overall business strategy.
Without such a strategy, companies will have a hard time weighing the trade-offs of various practices—such as crowdsourcing and customer co-creation—and so may end up with a grab bag of approaches. They will have trouble designing a coherent innovation system that fits their competitive needs over time and may be tempted to ape someone else’s system. And they will find it difficult to align different parts of the organization with shared priorities.
Is Innovation More About People or Process?
What’s more critical to producing a breakthrough innovation – finding creative people or finding creative ideas? This is a question Pixar head Ed Catmull has asked a great many people, and he says they tend to be pretty much split on it.
The Discipline of Business Experimentation
The data you already have can’t tell you how customers will react to innovations. To discover if a truly novel concept will succeed, you must subject it to a rigorous experiment. In most companies, tests do not adhere to scientific and statistical principles. As a result, managers often end up interpreting statistical noise as causation—and making bad decisions.
To conduct experiments that are worth the expense and effort, companies need to ask themselves several questions.
How Companies Can Learn to Make Faster Decisions
SpaceX had a problem. Managers at the aerospace manufacturer wanted to make faster decisions for one of their big clients—NASA—by finding alternatives to the high volume of meetings and cumbersome spreadsheets used for tracking projects. Initially, NASA sent a fax (yes, a fax) whenever they had a query, which SpaceX added to a list of outstanding questions. The company then assembled a weekly 50-person meeting to review product status information contained in spreadsheets, addressing each question individually before sending the responses back to NASA.
SpaceX’s dilemma is not an uncommon one. In today’s organizations, the speed of decision making matters, but most are pretty bad at it. One-third of all products are delivered late or incomplete due to an inability or delay in decision-making, according to research from Forrester Consulting and Jama Software. Others at Gartner cite “speed of decision making” as the primary obstacle impacting internal communication. No doubt you’ve been part of a team that waited… and waited… for a higher-up to make a decision before you could resume your work.