Innovation’s Dirty Dozen: 12 Innovation Mistakes to Avoid in 2011
Here they are – 12 of the most common mistakes organizations make when it comes to innovation:
- Upholding the belief that Innovation is a ‘black art’.
Innovation does not have to be haphazard and unpredictable. At a time when CEOs and their organizations are under great pressure to attain sustainable growth, innovation is just too important to leave to ‘inspiration’. By applying the right processes and resources, innovation can, in fact, be systematic, structured and repeatable.
- Outsourcing innovation.
Companies that outsource innovation are, in effect, outsourcing their brains. In the short term, they may save money and boost profits. In the longer run, they outsource creativity and, gradually, erode their capacity to generate new products and services.
- Focusing on either breakthrough product innovation or incremental innovation, exclusively.
Experts estimate that up to 90% of product development initiatives are focused on improving and extending existing products. This is particularly true for product-proliferate consumer-oriented industries like consumer product goods and consumer electronics. But every bit as critical is an organization’s ability to come up with radical, next generation, competitively differentiated products.
- Failing to knowledge enable innovation workers.
There is a real need for knowledge enablement for innovation. Companies need to design an Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem – a framework for delivering precise and critical information from a variety of sources that lead to increased productivity and accelerated innovation.
- Focusing on the wrong problem.
The impact of solving the wrong problem, or solving a secondary or symptomatic problem, is easy to understand. The outcome yields only partial or temporary relief, and all too soon the pain recurs – often with increased visibility and urgency. Valuable resources are consumed as the task is reworked, hopefully to a final resolution. In the interim, the organization suffers cost-overruns, time-to-market delays, and lost opportunities or customer loyalty.
- Failing to Collaborate.
Innovation is not an individual endeavor. Innovation is a multi-disciplinary and cross-functional effort and contributions to the innovation process extend across the entire business – from marketing, to R&D, to engineers, to manufacturing, to partners, and to the end-customer.
- Failing to provide a collaboration framework.
To work collaboratively, companies need to formalize innovation processes and provide workers with a framework for collaboration. The right collaboration framework enables both active and passive collaboration. Innovation software like Goldfire allows people to identify and directly reach out to and engage the relevant subject matter experts. It also allows innovation workers to leverage the ideas and insights of colleagues – even those no longer with the company – by accessing documented lessons learned, designs, technical notes, etc.
- Failing to Capture and Re-use Tribal Knowledge.
Companies that fail to proactively retain and leverage lessons learned, project/program knowledge and best practices are facing huge knowledge gaps. The result of such knowledge gaps include: inefficiencies, repetition of past mistakes, long ramp times for new employees (individuals must re-learn - often via trial and error - what the corporation already knew), and breakdowns of critical activities.
- Repeating Past Mistakes.
“If only we knew what we already know!” is the cry raised by engineering managers accountable for time and resource costs when their project teams repeat experiments, test hypotheses and make discoveries that have already been done elsewhere in their organization or industry. These efforts spent “reinventing the wheel” represent one of the greatest obstacles to timely innovation.
- Failing to (more) Proactively Address Product Obsolescence.
Companies are faced with products – in many cases entire product portfolios - in maturing markets that need to be repurposed into new markets or replaced with new products representing new revenue streams. Beyond incremental improvements to extend product life, companies need to look to more radical innovation – and even forced obsolescence – to identify next generation products.
- Accepting Poor Innovation ROI.
According to The Economist, experts estimate that it takes around 3000 bright ideas to come up with 100 worthwhile projects resulting in just 4 development programs for new products. Of the four, one might result in a ‘winner’. What’s more, 50 to 80% of all new product launches fail. And, the large majority of execs are unhappy with the financial returns on their innovation investments to-date. Innovation must be more efficient and more sustainable.
- Failing to ‘Walk the Walk’.
After years of retrenchment and cost cutting, C-level executives across industries share the conviction that innovation is an increasingly important source of competitive advantage. However, just adding innovation to the corporate agenda is not enough. Execs still cite a lack of innovation tools and processes. To drive sustainable innovation, executives must 'walk the walk'. Teams must adopt a repeatable innovation process to help reach business goals, effectively.
Looking to improve your innovation efforts? See how Invention Machine Goldfire can correct these 12 mistakes and more.