Five Top Challenges for Innovation Managers and How to Address Them

Every challenge can be overcome.

Innovation is the art of finding and overcoming challenges. Yet sometimes the challenges will find you as you work on your innovation strategy. Here are some of the key challenges for innovation programs across the business world in 2020.

Lack of Leadership

Any initiative needs to have the wholehearted support of the top tier of the company, or it’s not going to happen. Leaders across the company, from the C-suite to the office managers, need to sign on to push innovation and be involved. This both encourages employees to participate and helps managers think about innovation more often in their day-to-day work.

Lack of Resources

Ideation is fun, but people need the time to do it. Similarly, a great idea is a wonderful thing, but the history of innovation is littered with great ideas that went unfulfilled due to a lack of funding. Committing resources to your innovation process, such as set blocks of time or an innovation budget, will yield better results.

Lack of Process

It’s great to have a standing meeting to brainstorm every month, yet true innovation requires a clear process that allows ideas to be developed and turned into products, practices, and services. Look to develop clear, direct workflows that touch on all the necessary steps, from consulting with stakeholders to checking for patents and other legal requirements, as well as your internal needs.

This will also refine the overall process over time. As the steps become clearer, and you figure out what does and doesn’t work, you’ll be able to refine the workflow for faster turnaround.

Build bridges for everyone.

Lack of Research

What problem does your customer need to be solved? This may seem like a simple question, and yet it can be lost in the shuffle. If you’re building computers for kids, a $5,000 gaming rig with the latest processor may be cool, but it isn’t going to fit your customer’s needs. Nor is this strictly external. Internally, a lack of research can lead to unexpected issues; for example, your procurement department may not have the time or resources to secure the parts for your gaming rig nobody wants. Take the time to do the research needed to help drive your innovation efforts.

Lack of Feedback

Feedback is one of the most important aspects of any process, innovation or otherwise. Without feedback, people can feel like their ideas have been taken to a well and dropped down it, never to be seen again. Further, without feedback, your team may be afraid to bring ideas to you in the first place. Without any sort of interaction or reward, many people can feel they’re putting their jobs at risk for putting themselves out there.

Make a point that feedback should be key at every point in the process. If an idea ultimately doesn’t work out, it should be an opportunity to dissect why and apply that to future ideas. Drawing a lesson away from an idea that doesn’t pan out should be seen as a win.

Innovation is about not just finding the path forward, but taking the steps you need to move down that path. By ensuring those steps are taken, whether they lead to gold or simply an interesting place to rest and watch for a while, you help guarantee the success of your innovation strategy. To learn more about the challenges facing innovators today and how to solve them, join our newsletter! 

Comments are closed.