The Innovation Blockers at your Company

November 21, 2023

The Innovation Blockers at your Company

Without the right people driving innovation, there is a high likelihood that your innovation efforts will come to a standstill. A study by Mckinsey, surveying 600 executives and managers, found that 94% of participants identified people and corporate culture as the most important drivers of innovation.

Why are “people” in an organisation such an important driver of innovation? To best answer this question, let’s have a look at the people that are blocking innovation efforts.

Here are five personas blocking innovation at your company.

Person #1: The “that’s impossible” person

The longer an employee has been around, the more likely their thinking will be influenced by the past. Budget constraints, legacy systems and traditional financial metrics all impact the way this person thinks and behaves. Rather than embracing ambiguity, this person shuts down any ideas from colleagues that challenge the status quo.

How to influence this person

Encourage this person to respond more positively to the ideas of colleagues – when they hear an idea from a team member, they should think “and…” rather than “but…” in order to build on ideas rather than completely shut them down. Through this method, this person can leverage their experience and knowledge to support and progress ideas.

Person #2: The “I’m flat out” person

This person delays progress because they are “too busy” to spare as little as 15 minutes to provide input. ***Newsflash*** if this is you….you are not the only person that’s busy.

Moving quickly is fundamental to learning quickly and innovation and progress can’t be made if key people ‘don’t have the time’.

How to influence for this person

Advise this person to manage their time more effectively through the use of a Virtual Assistant. A Virtual Assistant can help this person outsource more repetitive tasks, while allowing time to create more impact and engage in more fulfilling work. Encourage this person to automate what they can, batch repetitive tasks into a specific window of time and apply 80/20 thinking – not all tasks are created equal.

Person #3: The “get back to me in 6-12 months” person

Similar to person #2, this person does not move with any urgency. They are comfortable in their role and would prefer to drag out their role as long as possible, watching the clock for as much of that time as possible too. This person is all about the short-term and it is not interested in future-proofing the organisation. Sometimes this person reflects the way leadership behaves and consequently blocks any form of organisational experimentation.

How to influence for this person

Provide some examples of how other companies have been able to demonstrate innovation in a short amount of time. If this doesn’t spur on some action, then look to implement some success metrics linking to innovation – this will help keep this person accountable.

Person #4: The “2 hour meeting” person

This person not only likes to schedule long two hour meetings, but also likes to invite ‘everyone’ in the organisation to each and every meeting that they organise. This ends up wasting other people’s time, as they are spending hours in meetings where they can not add any value (through no fault of their own).  

How to influence for this person

Start declining invites to attend their two hour meetings! Unless it is a workshop or a brainstorming session – there is no need to schedule such a long meeting. Suggest that they book 15 minute meetings where possible and only invite colleagues that will actually add value (if they just need to know the outcome this can be shared via email after the session).

Person #5: The “I know what the customer wants” person

This person believes they represent every type of customer that the organisation has – their opinions are reflected strongly in meetings potentially impacting direction of projects. This person is focused more on the solution rather than the customer.

How to influence for this person

Encourage this person to apply the following logic from Scott Cook, Founder of Intuit, “Empathy is not about walking in another’s shoes. First, you must remove your own.” In other words, let the customer be heard and move away from assumption based logic. Suggest the use of engagement, observation and immersion to better understand customers.

Final Thoughts

it is imperative to get the ‘right’ people in the ‘right’ positions to drive your innovation efforts. The ‘wrong’ person in a vital innovation role can substantially derail the innovation journey of any organisation. If you’re one of these five people, do your best to move away from the behaviour that is stopping innovation at your company.

Innovate or die.

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Shay Namdarian

Shay is the General Manager of Customer Strategy at Collective Campus. He has over 8 years of experience working across a wide range of projects focusing on customer experience, design thinking, innovation and digital transformation. He has gained his experience across several consulting firms including Ernst & Young, Capgemini and Accenture.

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