Innovators need more time, says new study

A new survey from Langdon Morris and InnovationLabs LLC shows that the biggest "tool" that innovation champions need to be successful is not software, training or case studies. What they want, more than anything else, is more time to work on ideas.

A new survey from Langdon Morris and InnovationLabs LLC shows that the biggest “tool” that innovation champions need to be successful is not software, training or case studies. What they want, more than anything else, is more time to work on ideas. 44% of respondents said more time would be “highly useful.” In contrast, only 6% said idea repository software tools would be highly useful, and another 6% said project management tools were most valuable to them.

The results of another survey question seem to reinforce the idea that innovators are under extreme time pressure. When asked what the key weakness of their company’s innovation program was, 52% of respondents said “not enough time.” This response was well ahead of the second biggest hurdle, which respondents said was “insufficient funding” for innovation (44%).

Morris sees several possibilities for this overwhelming focus on the scarcity of time for innovation. First, he theorizes that many respondents may simply have a chronic attachment to doing what is most “urgent.” Since most innovation initiatives are important but not necessarily urgent (because they tend to have longer timeframes than other duties that workers have), it’s not surprising that survey respondents said they don’t have enough time to develop their ideas.

Morris also wonders if some corporate cultures may be exacerbating the problem, by creating work environments where managers focus on “the tyranny of the urgent.” In so doing, they may be magnifying the scarcity of time in their employees’ minds, he explains. This is clearly a leadership issue.

This new study also covers other interesting issues, like the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of corporate innovation programs and the value of ad-hoc (informal) innovation networks. For all of the details, please download the full report.

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