Barriers to Innovation

Following up on the discussion started by Roger Smith in his post Can Innovation be Bought? — it’s an interesting angle to consider that senior management’s lack of familiarity or confidence with external innovations may be a barrier to their implementation.

But is it possible that the managers citing this lack of confidence are putting a new face on the old “not invented here” mentality? Many companies using “closed” models for innovation have long used it as a defense to maintaining their internal staffs and large R&D budgets. P&G and others are showing the true power of open innovation models in the market today.

So what are the other potential barriers to innovation? Strategos, Gary Hamel’s consulting firm, released a survey with senior executives in 2004 on the key barriers to effective innovation. Some interesting statistics in that study regarding the top factors cited as barriers…

  • Short term focus/ focus on operations (63%)
  • Lack of time, resources or staff (52%)
  • Lack of systematic innovation process (33%)
  • Leadership expects payoff sooner than is expected (31%)
  • Management incentives not structured to reward innovation (31%)

Also interesting that only 15% cited “we don’t know how to think out of the box” as a barrier to innovation.