How Leadership Teams Tend to Block Innovation

Despite all of the talk among leaders about the importance of innovation, there seem to be a number of hidden objections, concerns and disagreements about it that tend to block its progress in many firms. These unspoken issues must be dealt with in order for innovation to thrive, warns Jeffrey Phillips.

The barriers to innovation that Jeffrey Phillips describes in this article include:

Lack of strategic alignment: Despite countless business books, management philosophies, balanced scorecards and other means of obtaining executive alignment, you’d think that every organization is closely aligned to strategic goals and outcomes. But this frequently isn’t the case. What most executive teams are aligned to is obtaining the next quarter, staying within budget and driving up share price.  Anything that may call any of these objectives into question is anathema to the team.

Uncertainty about objectives: After years of right-sizing, most organizations have just enough people to accomplish the day to day work.  Pulling the best people from the day to day activities to focus on longer term innovation seems risky and dangerous.

Resource allocation: Innovation demands the best people in the organization, not simply the people who are available or who can be freed up from their existing activities. This is not a case where more bodies are necessary. Innovation suffers unless the best people are involved.

No pioneers but plenty of followers: No one wants to be the first to try out a new activity or methodology when so much is on the line, especially in organizations with highly efficient processes and limited resources.  So it can be very difficult to find an executive on the management team willing to take the plunge and start an innovation activity.

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