In most cases innovation does not come easy. Ideas about ways to innovate may be easily thought of, however, the right way of executing these ideas can be a more complicated matter. Along with budget issues and/or the inability to stimulate critical development, the biggest obstacles for innovative success consist of politics, cultural issues and lack of strategy or vision(Innovation Leader, 2019). Although it can be challenging to create more budget or reallocate a firm’s funds for the sake of innovation, this obstacle cannot be considered as a deeply rooted problem. On the other hand, in times of when innovation is desperately needed; it will be harder to successfully innovate when there is an inability to act on developments that are taking place in, for example, the industry. Especially when these deem critical for the future of a business (Innovation Leader, 2019). However, also this obstacle can be more easily overcome in comparison to the biggest struggles to the successful implementation of innovative practices.
As mentioned before, these are related to business politics, culture issues and a lack of strategy or vision. These obstacles will therefore be dissected one by one in this article and recommendations will be made to overcome these obstacles to innovation.
It is important to be aware of the biggest obstacles to innovation success in order to be able to overcome them.
The biggest obstacles to innovation:
- Business politics
- Culture issues
- Lack of strategy or vision
1. Business politics
For an innovation to be successful it needs to be acceptable and sustainable. The sustainability of the innovation has to be anticipated in a rightful manner and, thereby, innovation has to be considered as a political concern (Widiyahseno, 2018). The impact of politics, which can manifest in i.e. a turf-war or no-alignment, on the enablement of successful innovation practices is big and should not be overlooked. Politics are involved in the innovation process since power needs to be exercised to mobilize enough support for innovation (Widiyahseno, 2018). The appropriate power relations between the innovator and other parties are therefore a necessity to generate support and reduce potential resistance for the needed innovations. When it comes to introducing innovations, the innovator can either limit alternative actions or expand alternative choices. Innovation is in reality not merely an administrative technical phenomenon (Widiyahseno, 2018), since it frequently concerns the people in a company and/or the company’s clients. Innovation can therefore not happen without politics. For innovations to be acceptable and sustainable, the innovators within a company should build appropriate relationships with all the parties that are concerned (Widiyahseno, 2018).
2. Culture issues
The second obstacle that needs to be discussed has to do with cultural issues, even though it has been commonly accepted that culture can foster innovation. Organizational culture can even be seen as the most important aspect to innovation success (Büschgens et al., 2013). An innovation strategy can namely be underpinned by organizational cultural issues (Mortara et al., 2010), which can manifest in a multitude of ways. A strong organizational culture can form an obstacle for innovation, since a culture provides a stable system within the organization of values and beliefs. If a company wants to use novel knowledge to develop a new product or service, for example, the attempted innovation may fail due to the organization’s preference for stability (Büschgens et al., 2013). It is therefore advised that if a firm wants to have a main focus on innovation it has to create a developmental organizational culture first. This is a culture in which flexibility is valued and the orientation of the company is mostly external (Büschgens et al., 2013). However, other organizational cultures are advised to be established when innovation makes up just a minor aspect in the firm’s objectives; a rational culture that is oriented on efficiency or a group culture should then be considered. In a group culture teamwork and a common morale is valued, while in a rational culture productivity and efficiency are valued most (Büschgens et al., 2013).
Even with the best innovation process, without supportive organizational culture and context not many innovations will come out.
3. Lack of strategy or vision
Thirdly, a lack of strategy or vision can form an obstacle for innovation in a company. It is no secret that innovation is difficult and that initiatives either frequently fail or turn out to be hard to sustain (Pisano, 2015). In a lot of cases, this is due to a lack of an innovation strategy in the company. A strategy, in general, promotes alignment between the people working in an organization, it helps to focus the company’s efforts and clarifies the objectives. A company needs an innovation strategy to make the appropriate trade-offs and choose the correct elements for their innovation system that matches the company’s competitive objectives (Pisano, 2015). A business’s possibility to innovate can therefore be related back to an innovation system, which is for the most part unique to each company. Although firms can learn from other companies’ innovation systems, a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not applicable since companies e.g. operate under different circumstances and/or in different environments. Imitating others or adopting a popular system is therefore frequently the downfall of a company’s innovation pursuits (Pisano, 2015)
Having a good innovation strategy means having capacity to innovate on a continuous basis, learning from previous attempts and constantly improving.
To overcome the obstacle of lack of strategy, companies should design a separate that matches its general business strategy (Pisano, 2015). Then to make innovation a successful pursuit, this innovation strategy should have a clear design and support the firm’s general business strategy. In addition, in order to create a sustainable innovation strategy of quality, there should be a clear understanding of the company’s objectives and how sustainable competitive advantage can be created(Pisano, 2015).
Innovation strategies are thus complex and should therefore be carefully designed. Consequently, it needs to be realized that innovation strategies need to be adjusted over time. They need to evolve so the company can stay competitively relevant (Pisano, 2015). To conclude, besides a lack of strategy or vision a firm thus has to overcome certain obstacles to ensure the success and sustainability of (future) innovation initiatives.
With the awareness of these obstacles alone, it will be easier to navigate the innovation process and create an optimal environment within the company in which innovation initiatives can be born and facilitated.
Büschgens, T., Bausch, A., & Balkin, D. B. (2013). Organizational culture and innovation: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30(4). 763-781. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12021
Innovation Leader. (2019, November). Innovation Leader: 25 recent data points & rankings for innovations in large organizations [PowerPoint slides].
Mortara, L., Slacik, I., Napp, J. J., & Minshall, T. (2010). Implementing open innovation: Cultural issues. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 11(4). 369. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJEIM.2010.032264
Pisano, G. P. (2015). You need an innovation strategy. Harvard Business Review, 93(6). 44-54. Widiyahseno, B. (2018). Politics in innovation: Power relationships in the mobilization of support in developing an innovation policy. Jurnal Studi Pemerintah, 9(2). 161-186. doi.org/10.1819 6/jgp.2018.0160
The author of the text is Debora de Vries. Debora was intern at Vinco in 2021.
If you need support in your innovation process, in developing and implementing of innovation strategy or innovation culture in your company, don’t hesitate to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be happy to help you grow your ideas and business!
You may be interested
5 Elementer i innovasjonsprosessen
Innovasjon. Innovasjon har blitt et buzz-ord i dagens næringsliv. Googles søkeresultater sier at ordet “innovasjon” har blitt brukt mer enn en halv milliard ganger på […]
What is the sustainability problem and why should your company care? no
In this article we look closer at: What the sustainability problem is, How does it impact your company, Two approaches to embrace the problem, 4 […]
How can an established company innovate as a startup? no
It is easy to think that start-ups are only a small version of established companies, and the organizational structure is roughly the same only smaller. […]
How to align sustainability and profitability? no
In this article we look closer at: What does research say about sustainability and profitability? 3 easy steps to help you integrate sustainability efforts into […]
How to overcome 3 Biggest Obstacles to Innovation Success?
In most cases innovation does not come easy. Ideas about ways to innovate may be easily thought of, however, the right way of executing these […]
Home Office and Innovation, is it possible? no
In this article we discuss: Does working from home damage innovation? How management needs to adapt? Possible solution: The actor-oriented structure Additional tips to succeeding […]
CO2 Utslippene har ingen grenser! no
For at vi skal lykkes å nå målene om nullutslipp, må Norge dele kunnskapene internasjonalt.
Søke på EEA & Norway Grants? Her er våre 5 tips!
EEA and Norway Grants? Ser du etter en norsk partner? Her er noen tips og triks fra vår erfaring i VINCO!
How do organizations digitally transform? no
Digitalization is not the same as innovation, but digitalization can be an important factor that will inflame innovation. Many innovations resulted from digitalization through enabling […]
What have Design thinking and Culture in common when it comes to innovation? no
Design thinking and culture
6 områder som har opplevd innovasjon fra fintech – en kort oversikt
Å fremme innovasjon er nøkkelen til å utvide virksomheten din og nødvendig for å holde deg foran konkurransen. De to sektorene som brukte mest på […]
Vet du forskjellen på radikal og disruptiv innovasjon?
Did Apple disrupt the market? Did the launch of iPhone make Apple a market disruptor?
To excel in innovation endeavors: 3 things to learn from the Covid crisis! no
3 important tips you can learn from the Covid-19 crisis to excel in your innovation endeavors!
Tjener alle innovasjonsløsningene dine penger? Her er 3 trinn for hvordan du oppretter en bærekraftig innovasjonsportefølje!
Vil du ha en portefølje av innovative løsninger som ikke tjener penger?
Persistent innovators and how to act now (ref. Covid-19) no
In this post we cover: What is in common among persistent innovators during and after the 2008 crisis? How will the Covid-19 crisis affect […]
Øker kriser innovasjonsgraden, eller er dette en myte?
How can we expect that the (coronavirus) crisis will affect innovation output?
Definisjon og typer av innovasjon
Innovation is a very frequently used term. Everyone talks about innovation. We hear phrases like disruptive innovation, incremental innovation, architectural innovation, radical innovation… But how […]
Reacting to the Crisis: 5 steps to Success
In less than three months, the spreading of the coronavirus has proven to be catastrophic for hundreds of thousands of people. At the time of […]
Our times of high uncertainty…. no
Coronavirus (or Covid-19) has caused the world to turn upside down in a very short time. As of last week, the picture in Norway has […]
Våger Norge egentlig å gå ut av komfort sone? no
SSB sin statistikk viser at i Norge var det ca. 65% av norske foretak som hadde noen type av innovasjonsaktivitet i perioden 2014-2016. Dette er […]
Bergen kommune og Digital Kultur Plattform
BT har skrevet et innlegg om Bergen Kommune (BK) sitt initiativ «Digital Kultur Plattform». Jeg har ledet forprosjektet (gjennom engasjement i Capgemini) i vår og […]
Music Tech Fest – an event full of inspiration and innovation no
The city of Bergen invited Michela Magas for visit in May as a part of the Festspillene[i] and launching of the Bergen Nå(Now) project. I […]