How to Overcome 3 Big Obstacles in the Way of Your Innovation Idea

How to Overcome 3 Big Obstacles in the Way of Your Innovation Idea

“It’s tough when markets change and your people within the company don’t.” – Harvard Business Review

 It is widely recognized that innovation is invaluable when it comes to driving forward organisations in today’s competitive environment and increasingly technology-driven markets. However, despite the many benefits, most companies talk about innovation, but don’t go beyond this to start innovation. Why is this? Here are 3 obstacles that could be standing in your way and how to overcome them, so you can start innovating successfully.

Lack of time: taking the lead on an innovation project can be very challenging and fun, but many see it as very time consuming too. It doesn’t have to be. If you are seeing new opportunities, here are a couple of ways to overcome the time constraint:

  • Early on, find a group of enthusiastic colleagues who can support you in developing and implementing your idea
  • Do a small test for your idea and present it to your stakeholders. If you show this initial success, chances are that you will be able to take it to the next level and start working on your idea as part of your working hours.

Innovation is not a priority: if your organisation is doing well, your department or organisation might not feel the need to innovate. Senior leaders often prefer the status quo to the uncertainty of innovation. You will need to find ways to make your management team understand that doing nothing is a bigger risk than going on an innovation journey. A couple of ways to add urgency are:

  • Visit ex-customers that changed to your innovative competitor
  • Visit young customers and ask what they think of your products and brand.

Innovation is not in your company’s culture: because innovation is not a department, it becomes the responsibility of everyone in an organisation. But to be successful, innovation must have stakeholders buy-in. Management plays a key role in encouraging employees to innovate. Here are a couple of ways you could encourage positive cultural change:

  • Use positive language, this way mistakes will become not only accepted, but encouraged. Like Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed 1,300 times. I have successfully discovered 1,300 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”
  • Make innovation measurable, knowing that in the beginning you may have no information about revenue streams. Consider measures such as the number of experiments that have been done in a certain period. The more experiments, the higher the chances for a successful breakthrough.


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Rody Vonk has been working as an innovation consultant and trainer for over fifteen years. He uses his creative background in developing disruptive ideas and strategies for organizations that get stuck in their daily routine or projects. The learnings from these assignments he uses as examples and as a source of inspiration in his trainings, workshops and presentations on serious creativity and innovation.

To find out more about the whitepaper he wrote recently on starting innovation and the course he is delivering with the Innovation Academy, please see:

Rody Vonk




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