Why Innovations Sit on the Shelf

What prevents great ideas from making it to the market? A new study finds that the culprit is a lack of communication. It shows the most effective way for a leader to realign his company is to encourage open and honest conversations about any barriers the organization is facing. This requires management to look at the roles various parts of the business and change the way employees interact.

The author offers some tips on fostering better communication:

  • Advocate, inquire, and repeat.
    Executives need not only to defend their initiative but also to find out what others think. Indeed, the two activities should be closely linked. To effect innovation, a leader must advocate, then inquire, and continue to repeat these actions as necessary.
  • Cut to the chase.
    All too often, leaders become mired in mundane business details and lose sight of the issues that will guarantee overall success. Leaders must ask themselves, “Do we have a coherent and distinctive innovation strategy that key managers believe in? Do we have the capabilities to execute? Is our leadership effective?”
  • Be open and inclusive.
    Several levels of management across important functions and value-chain activities must be part of the conversation, and leaders need to keep everyone three to four levels below them informed about what they’ve learned, and what changes they’re planning.
  • Strive for honesty alongside low risk.
    By encouraging honesty, then rewarding it, leaders can demonstrate to all levels of the organization that candor is valued. Once a leader is able to address the real issues facing innovation, issues that could only have been unearthed through truthful give-and-take can be rapidly and effectively addressed.

Was any of your company’s innovations kept from hitting the market? What was the reason? And how do you think the problem should be fixed?