How to overcome barriers to innovation

January 10, 2024

Innovation is the lifeblood of our industry. It keeps us ahead of the curve, setting the pace for others to follow. But innovating and being first isn’t always a smooth ride. In the quest to push boundaries, we encounter hurdles that can slow us down. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of overcoming these barriers and keeping that innovation engine running.

External barriers – Breaking down the walls

First things first, there are the external barriers. You know the ones: funding, costs and regulations. Innovation takes a back seat when new ideas or processes cost money that you don’t have, or legal red tape keeps you from trying new things. But these obstacles can’t hold you back. Yes, you need to be cautious, but you must also not be afraid of something new. It’s a delicate dance of finding the sweet spot between innovation and compliance.

Location, location, location – Navigating corporate environments

One of the biggest topics in the corporate world following COVID-19 has been remote work versus back-to-office policies. Not many employees want to return to the office five days a week, and leaders aren’t happy having everyone working from home every day. While being in an office breeds camaraderie and fosters communication, remote work leads to happier employees who are more productive with more freedom. Embrace the quirks of each working environment, learn from them and watch how they spark new ideas.

Leadership and culture – Lighting the innovation fire

Let’s talk about the power players: leadership and organizational culture. They hold the keys to the kingdom when it comes to innovation. It starts with painting a vivid picture of the future, one where the status quo is constantly questioned. Leaders at every level need to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in evaluating technology and collaboration tools. And don’t forget about bringing in fresh voices and ideas. Bring in talent from big tech and startups. Infuse fresh perspectives. Watch the magic happen. Remember, innovation is more than a department; it’s a mindset.

Risk management – Walking the tightrope

Balancing risk and innovation isn’t an easy feat. We’ve all been there, pouring resources into a project only to realize we could’ve taken a different approach. It could be a major setback, depending on how much you’re invested. When innovating, it’s important to set smaller goals and to test and learn from your experiences. Be nimble and adaptable. It’s alright to pivot when needed. Trust the process and you’ll find the sweet spot between managing risk and fostering innovation.

Emerging trends – Riding the wave

A major part of innovation is embracing emerging trends. Placing your bets on the right trends could pay off big time for your company. To start, low-code or no-code solutions are leveling the playing field, enabling quicker iterations and testing. Of course, there’s also artificial intelligence (AI), the latest go-to answer to everything. We all have jokes about AI, and it feels like it’s the trendiest trend of all trends, but AI is truly revolutionizing how we work. With more training and content guardrails put in place, AI will bring innovative ideas, processes and change to companies big and small.

The bottom line – Innovate or stagnate

Should innovation always be the first card we play? The short answer is yes. Look at Kodak and Blockbuster. They didn’t innovate, and well, we know how those stories ended. Some companies can get away without innovating by acquiring the latest technology (or not, like Blockbuster declining an opportunity to buy Netflix. Sorry, Blockbuster), but that’s a risky game to play. To stay ahead and thrive, we must innovate.

Let’s keep our eyes on the horizon, break down barriers and keep the innovation fire burning bright. Here’s to a future filled with breakthroughs and boundless possibilities.

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