3 Signs to Identify Innovation Barriers at the Top
Most leaders would tell you innovation is important to the growth and sustainable competitiveness of an organization. However very few leader could actually take lead in the innovation processes and walk the talk.
Putting innovation in your Business Strategy and come up with an “innovation” campaign slogan is not enough to deliver the actual innovation result. The most important factor to drive innovation should be removing innovation barriers at the very top and identifying the right innovation leader with the following 3 signs.
- Avoid Innovation Ownership and Responsibility
The purpose of innovation is to drive business growth and create new values and competitive advantages to drive continuous success. Since driving business growth and profitability is the key responsibility of business leaders, they should take more responsibility in the business innovation processes and accountable for results.
This mindset is instrumental to the success of innovation programs in an organization, and it requires not only the understand and support of the board of directors but cascade down to middle management and work level staffs, so everyone could play their important parts in the innovation process.
Having said that, only when the business leader willing to proactively own the innovation initiatives, they will then priorities and learn what it means to innovate and help strategize and arrange resources accordingly.
- Lack of Multidisciplinary Knowledge and Integrated Decision Making
Business innovation is about seeing insightful opportunities to create better values for business. It requires leaders with creative thinking, an entrepreneurial spirit, vision of future, change leadership, operational discipline, influential communication skill, industry insights, technology knowledge, cultural and social awareness, financial expertise etc.
There will be many conflicts of interests and multiple challenges in resources allocation, as well as balance between short term and long term business objectives in decision making processes. And the best Innovation leader is who could see through all the clusters and discover opportunities in each of the operations, then have the authority and influence to drive innovative changes.
Who else could have those level of leadership if not the business owner or the top executives and CEO?
- Inability to Lead Changes with Influential Leadership
Many traditional organizations are bureaucratic and political with many short-sighted stakeholders that only interested in risk-free short term profits, and resistant to innovation uncertainties and thus missed many great new business opportunities. There are many good examples of once very successful companies failed or struggle to sustain business due to lack of proactive innovations ~ Nokia, Kodak, Motorola, Sony etc.
To add more risk to those business is that most business leaders on the top were not trained to drive business innovations and embrace changes for good. It results in lack of change leadership to inspire stakeholders the innovation risks are controllable with huge potential returns for business growth, then to explore and invest in innovation opportunities to be ahead of the competitive game.
Without the influential leadership, the results are either lack of resource support for business innovation programs, or isolated innovation teams with unorganized synergies to make precise decisions and efficiently drive initiatives across organization, and then to fail miserably.
For successful innovation program, it requires the top leadership to heavily involved in the processes and exercise their multidisciplinary knowledge, influence power and authority to inspire and drive changes and collaborations.
Era of business Innovation
We are in the era of business Innovation, and businesses are competing in their efficiency and creativity to capture the heart and soul of customers, via innovative products, brand stories, user interactions, services and personal relationships – the holistic brand experience innovation.
If your business leader don’t have the right innovation determination and entrepreneurial spirit, they will become the organization’s biggest barrier for innovation on the top, and your company might soon be a history under the tsunami of creative and young entrepreneurs.
It doesn’t mean all innovation program will success, in fact, many of those fails due to leadership challenge I described above. That’s why successful & innovative organization need to first identify the right innovation leadership and try to avoid the 3 signs of innovation barriers.
Once you have the right innovation leadership in place, it is half of the success to drive business innovation for your organization, or not, it is a half failure to put innovation barriers at the top!