When most think about innovation, they think about the final product. We think about pieces of technology and gadgets without realizing that we are completely failing to understand what innovation truly is. Innovation is about the process. It is about discovery and the path taken to get to the final goal. What innovation is not are “strategies,” “milestones,” and “product.” Simply put, it is about the “how” and not about the “what.”
Innovation is necessary when it comes to thriving and surviving in business, but not every organization is ready to really do what it takes to innovate. Below are four common hurdles that organizations must tackle before they are truly ready to begin their journey of innovation.
1. Barriers to Ideation
Organizations that have difficulty tapping into the insight of their employees are often hitting one or more of the following three ideation barriers:
- Inaccessibility: Employees are unclear on how they can share their ideas with leadership.
- Uncertain Goals: Employees are unsure what they are trying to help solve or achieve.
- Unresponsive Administrators: Without feedback, employees are unsure if their idea is being valued or even received.
See more in our latest post on barriers to idea generation.
2. Risk Averse Behaviour
No one wants to fail, and that is especially true when in front of a crowd. This is likely why the larger the organization, the less likely anyone—from frontline staff to leadership—is willing to dive into an idea and take a risk. Many employees feel as if their professional reputation and chances for future promotions may be at risk if they attempt to pursue an idea that may not deliver the results desired or, even worse, end up being a waste of company resources.
3. Leadership Support
A recent study conducted with Tony Schwartz and the Harvard Business Review revealed that half of the twenty thousand employees surveyed from around the world felt as if their bosses did not respect them. Those that did feel respected, however, experienced 89 percent greater enjoyment and satisfaction in their work, had 92 percent greater focus, and were 55 percent most engaged.
Without proper support, respect, and transparency, employees do not feel driven to help the organization succeed and therefore, often will not take part in helping build the foundation necessary to create successful processes for innovation.
4. Hierarchy of Needs
Much like Abraham Maslow’s original Hierarchy of Needs, a similar employee engagement hierarchy has been developed to help organizations visualize what engagement (or lack thereof) looks like. This hierarchy stresses a few key points:
- The most basic “survival” needs (i.e. pay and job security), while not enough to keep employees engaged, must be met in order for an employee to progress to higher levels of engagement.
- A culture of “community” and feeling valued drives higher levels of engagement.
- An organization of highly engaged individuals who will freely share their knowledge and expertise has a cyclical effect and drives less engaged individuals upwards through the hierarchy.
Knowing the barriers should not intimidate organizations, but rather, inspire them to prepare well in advance for what they can expect when attempting to initiate an idea program.
Creating strategies and solutions now to tackle these all too common problems that you will likely face in the future is the first step to your organization enjoying a successful idea program.