Why Most Corporate Innovation Initiatives Fail

There is a marked increase and focus on innovation over the last decade. With new business models, delivery mechanisms and shorter cycles of updates in product and service offerings, corporates are literally being forced to operate in a more agile and innovative manner. One of the results is the rise of “Innovation-Initiatives” being generated. Is it a bad thing? Of course not. Are they all disasters? Of course not. Yet, not all initiatives are delivering the results as expected and others simply fail. Let’s look at just 3 possibilities in this blog, on why several corporate innovation initiatives are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Innovation Nurtured Vs Innovation Initiative

Is innovation in the very DNA of your company? Hard question to answer and significantly harder to measure. We attempt to demystify this code through some self-reflection. If you are looking at innovation as a proposal or quick maneuver rather than the fundamental strategy to reach your goals and vision, Innovation is not in your DNA. And if innovation is only an initiative, your culture will eventually devour the initiative to make it a “#fail”.

How can you expect creativity to thrive for a sustainable period of time another way to know initiative vs culture is by asking yourself the definition of Innovation? If you do not have a clear definition of Innovation, you certainly don’t have an innovation strategy and vision in place. And if this is the case, innovation is not cored central, to your company strategy and growth. No initiative will result in ideas relevant to your business needs. Often people of talk innovation Culture – at Ideapoke we believe in nurturing innovation.

The Not-Invented-Here (NIH) syndrome – is also a culture in a manner of speaking! Have a look at your team and company, are you still rigid to new ideas or perhaps resistant to ideas coming from anywhere outside the “Innovation Team”? No initiative, in such a situation, will sustain the test of time.

Success Only; Radical Innovation Only

In the academic world, innovation is often described as “commercialisation of invention”. It’s great to have ideas but what if they remain only ideas? What’s the purpose of creating something nobody would use? You could have initiatives that generate great ideas but what if they are not executed? This is well known, so some people go to the other extreme and want every idea to be a success, every idea to be a reality, every idea to result in a market-winning product or leading service.

What happens if you fail without knowing the idea of failing fast? Success ONLY for every idea is another blocking factor to innovation and why initiatives at companies fail. Breaking it down further, Ideapoke has noticed during workshops and client discussions we conduct, “… the idea must be radical…” – thereby a number of simple and effective ideas get rejected. An initiative should maintain a balance of incremental and radical ideas in line with the company strategy – this is amongst the first steps for it not to fail.

The Process-Methodology Quandary

Most companies actually do not have a methodology or process around innovation. Some have no innovation teams and other’s those who do, meet only symbolically! Initiatives are created with the “hope” to strike gold. Almost like throwing dice in the game of chance to come up with a magical solution.

The biggest drawback in this scenario is the lack of a consistent flow of valuable ideas. Innovation requires the harnessing and investment into individuals and teams. A number of initiatives fail due to the lack of rewards and recognition programs transparency tools to generate & evaluate new ideas clearly facilitated meetings; collaboration efforts and lack of funding. A process and methodology are most certainly needed, but beware of the process methodology trap of not letting you innovate!


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