Idea receptiveness survey sheds light on potential innovation barriers

A new survey from Paul Sloane's firm, Destination Innovation, indicates that the most common barriers to the implementation of new ideas are lack of time and money, poor communication and a variety of cultural issues including risk aversion and fear of failure. All of these issues, he says, are related to leadership.

A new survey from Paul Sloane’s firm, Destination Innovation, indicates that the most common barriers to the implementation of new ideas are lack of time and money, poor communication and a variety of cultural issues including risk aversion and fear of failure. All of these issues, he says, are related to leadership.

Another interesting finding of this survey is that most people consider themselves more receptive to new ideas than their bosses are.

“Whereas 95% of people think that they would welcome or consider ideas from outside their department, only 77% thought that their manager would. If they had implemented a new policy and someone suggested there might be a better way to do the whole thing, then 52% of respondents would consider the suggestion carefully and be prepared to try it. However they thought that under similar circumstances only 18% of bosses would do the same.”

This begs the question, however: Are bosses really not as receptive to ideas, or is this simply a perception of workers? My suspicion is that it’s a combination of the two. In many companies, managers are compensated based on their ability to produce results – which in many cases are the same results as last year plus X percent. Consistency becomes important, and anything that may divert the department’s or division’s singular focus on producing that predictable result – such as a new idea – tends to be viewed as a distraction. And in all but the most open, progressive corporate cultures, workers tend to be suspicious of their managers.

Paul asks the question, “Are we just as bad as our bosses but we don’t see it?” I think the answer may be yes.

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