Tag Archives: Barriers

The Four Secrets of Innovation Implementation

The Four Secrets of Innovation Implementation

GUEST POST from Shilpi Kumar

In today’s context, innovation is a different beast altogether! To stay in the competition, organizations must innovate continuously, which means moving robust ideas through the innovation pipeline faster and more effectively while never losing sight of the context and needs of the customer.

Over the last 15 years, the acquisition of design agencies has undoubtedly accelerated the effort to push in-house innovation capabilities and promote innovation at scale. Organizations have been streamlining their innovation processes for over a decade using Lean Startup, Agile, and Design thinking. While these methods work, we often see new problems cropping up, only to slow down the process. What are these problems? How do they appear? And what do they look like? Even though design talent can be exceptional at imagining ideas for the future, organizations often overlook investing in skills that can effectively help navigate the flow of ideas through the innovation pipeline.

To fully understand this, let’s explore what it means to realize “innovation effectiveness” for your organization.

Innovation effectiveness refers to benefits an organization receives from its implementation of a given innovation (e.g., improvements in profitability, productivity, customer service, and employee morale).

Now, let’s simplify the path to innovation effectiveness in four steps,

First, Go beyond ‘Idea generation’ to ensure effective implementation of ideas.

Innovation Implementation

For totally new ideas, it is natural for organizational workflows to be tricky to navigate. Despite having buy-in at the top leadership level, we find a lack of motivation from organizational managers to support the innovation. To top it off, multiple barriers in the implementation lead to “innovation bottlenecks — which turns out to be the most challenging part of innovation implementation.

“As designers, we are trained to think of the perfect design of the offering as the end of our journey; however, it is barely just the beginning of the journey.” — Tom Kelley, 2016

In 2015, IDEO’s Tim Brown and Roger Martin described this challenge and explained how the introduction of the solution and its integration into the status quo — is even more critical to its success than the solution itself and called it the design of the “intervention.”

Unfortunately, in 2022, organizations are still struggling in both aspects — incorporating a design-led approach to creating the artifact and orchestrating the design intervention that would ensure implementation effectiveness.

Second, Use implementation effectiveness to drive innovation effectiveness.

Drive Innovation Success

In a research paper published in 1996, “The challenge of innovation implementation, the author clearly defines innovation implementation as the process of getting targeted organizational members’ to understand, commit and adopt an innovation. Implementing assumes there is a buy-in from the organizational leaders and that employees within the organization will use the innovation consistently. And that is not the case.

Over the years, I have found that companies struggling to implement innovation face one of these issues. Either there is a misalignment between the innovation efforts and overall business strategy, causing a lack of buy-in, or the organization is missing an essential skill of building a convincing case and winning commitment from the people to maximize the potential benefits of the innovation to be realized.

This is where Implementation Effectiveness comes into play. For ideas to flow smoothly and consistently, we must create favorable conditions for innovation to thrive. This implies establishing policies and procedures to constantly inspire and influence the use of innovation by all employees.

To identify and resolve implementation barriers = paving the path for innovation effectiveness. Yet, these barriers are often ignored or temporarily put out.

Third, Identify implementation barriers that cause innovation bottlenecks.

Implementation Barriers

During our engagements with global clients across various industries, we often find issues like redundancy in processes, loss in knowledge transfer between functions, and lack of cooperation. These are what we refer to as “innovation bottlenecks.”

We commonly hear leaders say, “Why can’t we be more collaborative?”, “Why is there such a disconnect between our teams?” or “Why can’t we make quicker progress?”, “Is there something wrong with the way we work?”

If you constantly see yourself returning to these questions, you need to identify these barriers and leverage the right mix of people from your organization to deal with them.

So, ask the critical question:

“How does our organization identify & resolve innovation bottlenecks that hinder the flow of ideas and impede innovation effectiveness?”

Innovation Bottlenecks

Most organizations that I have worked with typically face these three types of bottlenecks-

1. Bumps slow things down due to a lack of proper communication or delayed decision-making. By slowing down, organizations may lose their competitive advantage.


2. Barricades are like walls through which ideas can’t get to the next level. Due to improper judgment, lack of resources, or interest in the organization, ideas are put on hold or prematurely killed eventually.


3. Blind spots are the most insidious — unexpected, unpredictable moments nobody catches on time and doesn’t understand why or what is causing them. One function’s blind spot could be another one’s barricade.

Blind Spots

Bottlenecks may vary based on an organization’s size and maturity level in the innovation adoption cycle. These barriers can form at any stage of the innovation pipeline and most commonly occur when the idea moves between functions.

Fourth, Deal with bottlenecks — Find the right talent to sustain implementation effectiveness from within your organization.

When dealing with innovation and all the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with it — you’ll often find yourself trying different things until something works (brute force). If you plan to scale these innovation processes, you will soon run out of energy and resources this way! Scaling innovation requires us to systematize innovation within the organization. We need the talent for both, to develop innovative ideas and to ensure the implementation is effective. We like to call these people ‘innovation catalysts’ (Watch a short video that describes innovation bottlenecks www.khojlab.com/narratives).

Back in 2011, Roger Martin introduced the concept of innovation catalysts as design-thinking coaches. However, to solve today’s problems, organizations need “innovation catalysts” to expand their role to achieve implementation effectiveness by identifying and eliminating barriers within organizational workflows.

Innovation catalysts can be anyone who has been in the organization for a while — engineers, technologists, scientists, designers, researchers, or leaders, as long as they have the qualities that enables them to identify the bottlenecks and proactively deal with them strategically.

We should not use old methods and frameworks to solve brand new problems of today. New mindset lenses and tools are needed to resolve bottlenecks for innovation through implementation effectiveness. Organizations have gotten better at creating a capability to support their creative invention phase of design, sidelining the disciplined implementation phase in a way that can restrict the growth and scaling of innovation.

A special thanks to the people who inspired us to create this content in this article: Palak Shah, Jim Long, Anijo Mathew, Surabhi Gokhale, Nyurka Fernandes, Ashwin Chikerur, and Trisha Saxena.

Image credits: Khoji Lab, Pixabay

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Overcoming Barriers to Collaboration in Innovation Projects

Overcoming Barriers to Collaboration in Innovation Projects

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced world, collaboration is key to driving innovation and staying ahead of the competition. However, despite the numerous benefits of working together, many organizations still face challenges when it comes to fostering collaboration in their innovation projects. These barriers can hinder progress and impede the success of even the most promising initiatives. In this thought leadership article, we will explore some common barriers to collaboration in innovation projects and provide strategies for overcoming them.

One of the main barriers to collaboration in innovation projects is a lack of communication and trust among team members. Without open and transparent communication, team members may not feel comfortable voicing their ideas or concerns, leading to missed opportunities for creativity and problem-solving. To address this issue, organizations should focus on building strong relationships among team members and creating a culture of trust and openness. One effective strategy is to hold regular team meetings and brainstorming sessions where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and feedback.

Another common barrier to collaboration in innovation projects is a lack of clearly defined goals and roles. When team members are unsure of their responsibilities or the overall objectives of the project, confusion and frustration can arise, leading to delays and inefficiencies. To overcome this barrier, organizations must establish clear and measurable goals for their innovation projects, as well as define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. By ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal, collaboration can flourish, and innovation can thrive.

To illustrate these strategies in action, let’s consider two case studies of organizations that have successfully overcome barriers to collaboration in their innovation projects:

Case Study 1: Company A is a tech startup with a diverse team of engineers, designers, and marketers working on a new product launch. Facing challenges with communication and trust among team members, the company implemented regular team-building activities and training sessions focused on improving collaboration skills. By fostering stronger relationships and creating a culture of openness, Company A was able to overcome communication barriers and drive successful innovation projects.

Case Study 2: Company B is a multinational corporation with multiple departments collaborating on a new sustainability initiative. To address issues with unclear goals and roles, the company created a detailed project plan outlining specific objectives, timelines, and responsibilities for each team member. By providing clear guidance and direction, Company B was able to align its teams and drive successful collaboration in their innovation projects.


Overcoming barriers to collaboration in innovation projects requires a combination of strong communication, trust, goal-setting, and role definition. By implementing these strategies and learning from successful case studies, organizations can break down barriers and create a culture of collaboration that fosters innovation and drives success. By prioritizing collaboration and fostering a culture of openness and trust, organizations can unlock their full potential and achieve groundbreaking results in their innovation projects.

Bottom line: Futurists are not fortune tellers. They use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Understanding and Overcoming Innovation Barriers

Understanding and Overcoming Innovation Barriers

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato


Innovation is the process of introducing new ideas, products, or processes to the marketplace. It’s a key driver of growth and progress in any organization. Unfortunately, there are often barriers to innovation. These barriers can be both internal and external, and can range from a lack of resources to cultural resistance to change. It’s important to understand these barriers in order to develop strategies for overcoming them. Here, we’ll discuss some of the most common innovation barriers and provide some case study examples to illustrate the types of approaches organizations can take to overcome them.

Common Innovation Barriers

1. Lack of Resources: One of the most common barriers to innovation is a lack of resources. Organizations often lack the financial resources, personnel, and other resources needed to bring an innovative idea to fruition. This is especially true for small businesses and startups.

2. Risk Aversion: Another common barrier to innovation is risk aversion. Organizations are often hesitant to invest in innovative ideas, for fear of wasting resources or losing money. This can be a major obstacle to successful innovation.

3. Cultural Resistance to Change: Change can be difficult for any organization, and some organizations are resistant to change due to cultural norms or values. This can be a major obstacle to successful innovation.

4. Lack of Leadership Support: Innovation often requires the support and commitment of senior leaders. Without this support, it can be difficult to move forward with an innovative idea.

Case Studies

1. Google: Google is an example of a company that has overcome its innovation barriers. The company has a culture of experimentation and embraces failure as part of the innovation process. It has established processes for testing and iterating on ideas, and has created a culture where employees feel empowered to take risks.

2. Apple: Apple is another example of a company that has overcome its innovation barriers. The company has a culture of creativity and collaboration, which encourages employees to think outside the box. Apple also invests heavily in research and development, and has created a culture where employees feel empowered to take risks and experiment with new ideas.


Innovation can be a major driver of growth and progress for any organization. However, there are often barriers to innovation. It’s important to understand these barriers in order to develop strategies for overcoming them. The case studies discussed here illustrate the types of approaches organizations can take to overcome these innovation barriers. By understanding the barriers and developing strategies to overcome them, organizations can unlock their potential for success.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Braden Kelley’s great book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire is all about identifying and removing barriers to innovation. I encourage you to check it out!

Image credit: Pixabay

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Innovation Quotes of the Day – May 17, 2012

“Indeed parents of some of the most innovative young people whom I interviewed for this book carefully monitor and limit ‘screen time’…the Innovation Generation, have extraordinary latent talent for – and interest in – innovation and entrepreneurship, likely more than any generation in history.”

– Tony Wagner

“The faster you get at learning from unforeseen circumstances and outcomes, the faster you can turn an invention into an innovation by landing smack on what the customer finds truly valuable (and communicating the value in a compelling way).”

– Braden Kelley

“It’s a lot easier to name the things that stifle innovation like rigid bureaucratic structures, isolation, and a high-stress work environment.”

– Senior IBM Executive

What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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