Innovation is one of those organizational behaviors that it seems most aspire to. In a world of rapid change, being able to come up with adaptable solutions is seen as a prerequisite for success.
A recent report from i4cp looks at some of the ways that organizations stifle the innovative capabilities of its employees.
“Are Google or 3M able to give their employees free time because they are successful, or are these companies successful because they give their employees free time?” says Cliff Stevenson, i4cp Senior Research Analyst.
The report identifies four things that tend to stifle innovation:
- Lack of leadership support – by its very nature, innovation tends to be something that involves a degree of risk. I wrote about a study last year that explored eight behaviors that go into supporting innovation. They included things like encouraging thought diversity and providing good feedback. They might provide a good start point for leaders wishing to become more innovative, especially as the study found that most managers were lacking in the areas identified.
- Lack of clear goals and priorities – knowing where you’re going as an organization seems a healthy start point for all manner of things, but it’s certainly the case for innovation. Numerous studies have highlighted how top performing employees want to work for an organization that not only does produces great things, but does so in the right way. Alas, a recent Deloitte survey found that 66% of employees didn’t think their organization was doing a good job at communicating a clear purpose.
- Fear of failure – fear is something that’s regularly touted as a barrier to innovation, whether that’s fear of mistakes, fear of losing status, fear of moving from the status quo. I would personally say that a reluctance to experiment is a bigger issue, as they are a great way of implementing ideas at relatively low cost, and should be encouraged, but to do so requires a cultural willingness to try things out.
- Lack of time – once again, this is a topic that has been touched on a few times, and the report cites some well known examples from 3M and Google of 20% time style initiatives being used to allow employees time to innovate. A lack of time is something that probably afflicts many things, not least of which is innovating or collaborating with others.
Are there other things that harm innovation? Almost certainly, but these four provide a good start point for any organization looking to create a healthier environment for innovation.
You can download the full report here.