By Jon A. Fredrickson Chief Innovation Officer - InnoCentive
Innovation and creativity often go together, and they can produce great results as a team. However, even in the best research and development/innovation environments, something can happen to derail the beneficial outcomes that businesses need and expect from innovative minds. Forbes thinks that the generation of a lot of ideas does not produce results unless management acts on them or puts them into practice.
Here are a few of the things that can cause innovation to fail:
The Fear of Taking Risks
The innovative process carries no guarantees, and the consequences of fear of risk tend to make organizations prefer the status quo. President Kennedy popularized the concept that “success has many fathers,” while noting that failure remains an orphan. The task of convincing the doubters with business case studies and deeply researched data to prove that inventiveness makes sense may require more effort than the innovators chose to invest. Sales and finance staff may need intense education by the research and development group to understand that not innovating may pose more risk than supporting the concept.
The Lack of Commitment
An indicator of a company’s commitment to developing creative ideas may show up in its job descriptions. The absence of any reference to tasks that relate to inventiveness reflects a company’s lack of interest in it. Employees may interpret the absence of assigned creativity-oriented tasks as extra work for some of them. Day-to-day business topics can occupy an agenda with a level of priority that excludes the creativity that a company may need to survive in the years ahead.
No one wants to contribute a great idea and watch it die for lack of interest by the decision makers. Even when management does execute an idea and put it on the market, a concept for a product that no one wants to buy defeats the cleverest but perhaps impractical ideas. A failure to recognize the lack of potential for success in the market can curtail enthusiasm for thinking up innovative ideas.
The preponderance of failure in business is a potential reason for the lack of success of innovative concepts. Citing that most products, mergers and acquisitions, startups and projects fail, the lack of structure within an organization that guides ongoing success creates a powerful force that makes the innovative process fail. An essential component of guidance requires an ability to anticipate the unexpected.
Don’t Let Your Innovation Fail
While the experts suggest the reasons that inventiveness fails, a survey of three different LinkedIn groups harvested 50 reasons that participants gave for the high failure rate. They reflect the prevailing opinions of the professionals and include the same theories: no management support, lack of a well-balanced portfolio of ideas, wrong people involved, cultural resistance, lack of understanding by management, fear of job loss, improper assumptions of cost and value, the absence of customer involvement and lack of consensus. Your idea may have as much or more merit as any other.