Tag: idea management

Lessons About Culture and Creativity

One of our customers recently had the good fortune to hear Adam Grant speak at an event. Adam Grant “has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years. He is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers” and in this presentation, he shared some insights that resonated with both our customers and with us. Take a look:

4 out of 5 people do not share their great ideas with anyone. This can happen for a number of reasons: they don’t know with whom or how to share their idea, they don’t believe that their idea is a good one, they’re shy – there are many barriers to overcome. With all of those great ideas out there, how do we help them overcome those barriers? One way is by making the place and process for sharing ideas obvious to anyone – no matter who they are in a company. Where do all the ideas go (good and bad)?

Avoid cultures where leaders say “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” – You WANT people to let you know when there are problems. This is something that we recommend to our customers all the time (especially as a launch campaign) – start by asking for problems and bring all the power of crowdsourcing to bare on it – let others bring new perspective to it, let the crowd vote and prioritize the problems they think are most pressing, and go from there. And even then, you want to be really clear on the problem, its limits and capabilities before you start asking for solutions. You can hear more about this in our “developing problem statements” webinar.

It takes 10-20 exposures to an idea before the listener (often the leader) ‘hears it.’ This rule of thumb applies to almost anything. Marketers are told that someone has to see a message at least seven times, before they’ll interact with it. I’d guess that 10-20 impressions is even more accurate, because all of us are exposed to so many messages every day, that we’ve become filters more than funnels for information. That’s why good ideas need a place to live and a communication plan to go with them and advocates who will support them.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to download our infographic detailing meaningful innovation lessons from Adam Grant’s Originals, you can find it here. 

Avoiding Groupthink and Empowering Introverts

Avoiding GroupthinkThere was this great infocomic a few years ago that talked about the virtues of online brainstorming. Although there are lots of benefits that we’ve discussed in our blog before (transparent processes, lower program costs, etc), this comic highlighted two of my favorite benefits that results from online brainstorming: avoiding groupthink and empowering introverts. Let’s dig into why each of these is possible.

Avoiding Groupthink. When brainstorming and collaborative ideation happens in a physical location, it trends towards polite agreement or staying with the ideas that occur in that small frame of time and receive the most group consensus. When you invite everyone to do their homework ahead of time and share ideas on their own, you sidestep the problem of ideas that gain the most immediate traction by the loudest voices. All ideas are able to exist simultaneously, independent of one another and then later can receive honest feedback, meaningful connections and equitable opinions. Ideas come first, consensus can come later.

Empowering Introverts. There are lots of studies and articles and books about the virtues of introverts – they’re excellent listeners, observers, happily independent. But many introverts find it difficult to speak up in a room (particularly when a louder, extroverted personality feels so comfortable working the room). For that reason, introverts find online ideation freeing: they can take the time to thoughtfully craft and share their idea and it arrives at the same volume and speed as the ideas of extroverts. It’s far more likely that an introvert’s voice will be shared (and heard) when it is in this online context.

This is something that NYU noticed when they started engaging the voices of their 4,000 administrators in order to inform their representatives to the University Senate about the strategic initiatives that mattered to them. Not only did the AMC note nearly 100% participation from their staff in their online portal, but they also noted a marked increase to in person meetings as well and perhaps most importantly:

“The best thing about IdeaScale is that we’re hearing from individuals that we had never heard from previously and we’re able to advocate for ideas by clearly articulating the support they have”

-Mike McCaw, Chairperson of the NYU Administrative Management Council

To learn more about NYU’s AMC crowdsourcing initiative, download the case study here!

The Impact of Stress on Innovation

Impact of Stress on InnovationStress is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives. Although some amount of stress is unavoidable, businesses need to recognize the importance of creating as stress-free a working environment as possible in order to support innovation. After all, a stressed workforce can greatly impact innovation; causing employees to miss work and lack motivation when it comes to devising and implementing new ideas. You need to be able to create a workspace that boosts employee morale and combats signs of stress all of which will actively foster innovation.

How does stress affect employees?

Stress is a normal physical response that we have to events which make us feel threatened, upset or anxious. When our bodies sense any type of real or perceived danger then our ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered and the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are sent surging through our bodies. The end result is a pounding heart, tense muscles, elevated blood pressure and shortness of breath. Can you imagine trying to come up with innovative ideas whilst experiencing all of these symptoms?

When the issues causing these reactions aren’t resolved chronic stress occurs. An increasing epidemic in our modern world, chronic stress has rocked the productivity of workforces over the past few years. In fact, one Natural Green Secrets article revealed that 75-90% of all doctor’s visits are related to conditions caused by stress. Moreover, a separate Health and Safety Executive article highlighted how 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/2017. In order for companies to continue developing innovative ideas, this stress epidemic should not be underestimated.

Solutions for reducing stress within your business

Supporting innovation requires businesses to implement proactive measures that prevent their employees from becoming so stressed in the first place. By doing so you can ensure your workforce feel valued and remain motivated to produce innovative ideas for your organization.

Stress can arise as the result of one major event or the culmination of a series of seemingly insignificant incidents. External causes of stress among employees can include feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, whilst internal causes of stress can include chronic worry, a feeling of inflexibility in thought processes as well as a repressed anger or resentment towards certain aspects of their work.

Businesses need to recognise the how these underlying feelings can stifle creativity; leaving employees feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. Innovation can never flourish in this environment. One of the main sources stress among a workforce is a seemingly insurmountable workload. When your employees feel that their list of daily tasks is steadily increasing without having access to any additional support it is only inevitable that they will become stressed.

Fortunately there is a solution to these stress triggers. Providing your employees with easy access to helpful resources which improve their work experiences will help them to remain engaged with their company and create innovative ideas. For instance, at IdeaScale we have created a unique idea management platform that utilises crowdsourcing. Through this system your employees can efficiently pose ideas to an engaged community of prospective consumers who vote and comment upon the effectiveness of their ideas. Not only does this platform reduce employee workload but it also grants them the satisfaction of receiving direct feedback on their ideas. This collaborative processes enables your employees to evaluate, improve and hone in on specific ideas which will be best suited for your company.

The end result of idea management platforms on employee stress is impressive. Having access to this centrally managed system permits employees to manage multiple campaigns, measure the impact and outcome of innovation activities, and receive one-to-one training support from experts. This technology enables employees to collaborate on ideas easily; communicating with other departments in a hassle-free manner. Employees can also gather any essential data they need without stress, receive helpful support on areas of interest, and contribute their own ideas via a multimedia platform that is open, receptive and adaptive to their needs.

Seeing your ideas at work can be an incredibly rewarding process, so much so that  studies have shown that actively engaged employees outperform their counterparts by 202%. Equipping your company with such software enables you to foster innovation among your workforce without the stress of miscommunication. As well as reducing the onset of stress, these initiatives actively boost employee morale by giving them a chance to contribute ideas and receive feedback which makes them feel valued as an individual. As a matter of fact, 93% of employees surveyed in a Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study  stated they want to work for a company that cares about them as an individual.

Ultimately, by equipping your employees with helpful resources and additional support, you can help to combat the causes of stress and nurture a working environment that actively encourages and rewards innovation. Recognizing the impact of stress on innovation and tackling it directly enables companies to forge ahead of their competitors and solidify their brand reputation as an organization which cares about the wellbeing of each and every member of its team. If you would like to learn more about the ways in which our idea management platforms can help reduce stress and support innovation then please feel free to contact our IdeaScale team today and to subscribe to our IdeaScale mailing list.


This is a guest post authored by Amber Tanya, a writer from Kent, England. Miss Tanya has worked as a ghost writer servicing multiple international news and automotive publications. Miss Tanya also holds a First Class Honours degree in English Literature from an esteemed British University. She primarily writes technological, travel and scientific articles but is versatile and enjoys writing across a broad range of other topics. You can contact Miss Tanya at [email protected] Miss Tanya can produce outstanding content upon request and can adapt her writing style to suit the tone of your brand.

3 Reasons Healthcare Needs Idea Management

Healthcare Needs Idea ManagementIt’s hard enough to keep up in a complex industry like healthcare. But just wait till healthcare is disrupted as dramatically as retail or music has been over the past decade.

Clearly the healthcare industry has long been a competitive vertical (on numerous fronts: from patient services to technology and edge disciplines), and its complexity makes it harder to disrupt than others, but there is no denying that the challenges have accelerated. Unity Stoakes, in his What’s Now conversation earlier this Spring painted a persuasive picture of the accelerating forces driving what he sees as an exponential growth curve in the industry.

Much of this impending disruption has the potential to deliver wonderful benefits to individuals, organizations and society at large. In fact, an argument could be made that the more radical the change, the greater the potential benefits…. However, when it comes to managing change at your healthcare organization, how can we all stay on our toes and make the most of these accelerating changes?

At IdeaScale we’re working with a diversity of healthcare organizations from hospital systems to research and development institutions and medical technology companies. While some are working to increase knowledge sharing between traditionally siloed departments, others are focused on saving millions of dollars a year and still others are focused on accelerating product development.

At the core of what they’re all doing is building an idea management processes to ensure they get all hands on deck to stay competitive as the pace of change accelerates, and disruption increases. Here are a few key reasons your health organization wants to do the same:

Attract and retain top talentIf Unity is right about the current tide of talent transforming the healthcare sector (and he makes good arguments about how much increasing VC capital is attracting, then now is the time to make sure your employees are engaged and feel positive about workplace well-being. Attract talent in the next 5 years, don’t lose it.

Transform and deliver faster. Be more agile. The faster you can process new ideas, the more able your organization will be to identify and take advantage of new opportunities. This means you’ll have to be both ruthless towards ideas but generous about failure because testing is the best way to learn.

A well oiled-machine weathers the storm better. Deliver consistent process improvement throughout your organization and that will keep the engine purring no matter what influencing factors are creating change. When engineers design airplanes they take turbulence into account by focusing on the structural integrity of the airplane. If the next decade is bound to be a turbulent one for healthcare, leveraging your whole company to help optimize your processes will help improve operations, reduce errors and improve organizational integrity in a more predictable fashion. 

Learn more about the state of innovation in the healthcare industry in our white paper.

How to Refine an Idea

Ideas are easy. But how do you execute them?

OK, you’ve got a great idea, but do you know how to refine an idea? It quickly becomes clear with innovation management that coming up with the idea is just the beginning of the process. How do you turn the ore of a great idea into the gold of a finished concept, product, or service?

Where Are You Starting from?

First, take a look at the gap between the idea and where you are currently. Some ideas are ambitious and may take a lot of effort for you to reach. Other ideas can be as simple as tweaking a few lines of code or putting an extra polish on a part. So, look at where you are, and then ask yourself where you have to be to pull off this idea.

What Are the Challenges?

Another factor is that even a modest idea can have challenges. Some of these will be obvious; if you’re adding a new page to your website, for example, you know you’ll have to fit it to your style guide, program the feature in JavaScript or HTML 5, and do quality assurance on it until you’re absolutely sure it’s not going to break, at least most of the time and in any reasonable test case. Sit down with the stakeholders who the idea touches, and ask them what challenges they see and ways to overcome those challenges. And don’t forget to leave room for unexpected challenges; sometimes a test of your innovation will be overcoming those, and you can’t anticipate every single problem with even simple ideas.

How do you get from concept to execution?

Who Is Your Team?

No brilliant idea goes from concept to execution without an entire team behind it. Tens or even hundreds of minds contributed their own brilliant ideas to everything from the phone in your pocket to the lunch on your plate. Your team should have the tools it needs while being nimble enough to roll with the challenges it may be faced with and should draw from those most affected by the execution of the idea.

What Are the Steps?

Another question worth asking is how many steps you see yourself taking. Bold ideas, in particular, might require a long set of milestones to reach. Say, for example, you want to turn your factory into a completely green, zero-waste facility. That’s not a matter of slapping a bunch of solar panels on the roof, planting a few bushes, and signing a few new waste contracts. You might start by examining your power needs and determining what green power you can generate on site, versus what you might want to buy with contracts. Doing away with your waste will involve looking at how you dispose of waste now, what kind of waste you need to dispose of, and which technologies make the most sense for your needs. You can absolutely reach the goal, but any task is easier broken down into a set of simple steps.

As you can see, refining ideas can be far more intensive than coming up with them. But ideas are just the beginning of innovation. It’s the execution of your ideas that separates the leaders from the imitators. When you’re ready to turn ideas to reality, contact us.

5 Signs You Need an Idea Management Solution

Signs You Need an Idea Management SolutionNot everyone knows the opportunities associated with idea management software, so sometimes it’s hard to make a case to adopt it at your company. But here are a few of the signs that you’re ready for an idea management solution:

  1. You’re Falling Behind the Competition. Other key players (or new kids on the block) are coming up with far superior, new products and services and they’re doing it faster than you are. An idea management solution not only give you new ideas, it allows you to help those ideas move along faster. Many of our customers are able to cut idea development time in half once they have an idea management solution in place.
  2. You Don’t Have Enough New Ideas. Actually, most organizations DO have enough great ideas, but they just don’t have a way to access, organize, and aggregate them. An idea management solution will show you just how healthy your organization is (or isn’t) when it comes to new ideas.
  3. You Don’t Have Time for New Ideas. Lots of our customers come to us, because they want to maximize resources. An idea management solution allows them to distribute responsibility for idea implementation- not only can anyone anywhere suggest an idea, they can take it and run with it. The only bottle neck then becomes decision making, so ensure that you have a smart, but rapid decision making strategy in place in order to meet this expectation.
  4. You Have a Difficult Time Making a Business Case for New Ideas. How many good ideas die, because leadership doesn’t see the value? A crowdsourced idea management solution gives you multiple ways to prove the value of an idea: its popularity, its value or costs, its market validation, and more. And it does it all with transparency. Hard to argue that.
  5. Your Employees Aren’t Engaged. What? I thought we were talking about ideas here. Well, getting your employees involved in positive change at your organization is one of the best ways to get them invested and re-invigorated. If people are leaving your company, if they’re not excited and using their problem solving skills, then it’s time to give them a way to share their ideas on how to make their workplace even better. Just remember that implementation is a key to success here. You have to be ready to make change (even if they’re just small changes to get started).

To see how idea management works in action, sign up for a demo of our software. 

The Importance of Decision

The Importance of DecisionIf you have had trouble implementing ideas, please know that you are not alone. Implementation is a challenge shared by all innovation managers. But with a clearly defined process, you will be well on your way to making ideas a reality.

In order to convert ideas into action and action into results, we need two things:

  1. A decision to take action
  2. And follow-through on the decision to deliver results

For the first item, our goal is to make decisions that are accepted by all the key stakeholders and are consistent with the goals of your crowdsourcing or innovation program or the goals of your organization overall.

To this end, we recommend the following best practices:

Involve key stakeholders early. First, map out your key stakeholders, subject-matter experts, and decision-makers.  Of those people who wish to engage in decisions, consider how you can engage them efficiently and then ask yourself “when is the appropriate time to engage each of them?” You might not include each of these people in the decision-making process in the exact same way or at the exact same time, but you can use software to develop an inclusive yet efficient system.

Separate discussion from decision-making. During discussion, we want to promote expansive thinking so that we can extract the most value, insight, and creativity from the crowd as possible. During decision-making, we will use our goals and success criteria to converge on a clear decision and plan of action. (For example, an ideation phase is a great time for discussion and a review phase is a great time for decision-maing). Make sure that everyone knows when it’s time for each of those things. 

By separating the discussion from decision-making, you clarify for the crowd the nature of their participation at any given moment. If people know when to go broad and when to focus, it is easier for them to contribute to the collaboration.

Clarify how the decision will be made ahead of time and communicate this to your participants.  By clarifying and communicating upfront, you avoid the common pitfall of violated expectations. 

By following the best practices of involving stakeholders early, separating discussion from decision-making, and clarifying how decisions will be made, you chart the course to a sound decision with maximum buy-in.

To learn more about how to implement ideas, watch this complimentary webinar!

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Whitney Bernstein, Innovation Strategist at IdeaScale

The 3 Most Common Questions about Idea Management Software

I’ve been with IdeaScale since 2011.  I’ve been on thousands of prospect calls.  Though much has changed on our tool and in the innovation space, these questions are just as prevalent as they were in 2011. In 2017 I’m talking through the same concerns as I was 6 years ago. Here are the three most common questions about idea management software that I encounter each day:

1. How many people do I need to dedicate to running the community?

This is a great question, and the answer varies greatly.  While a few of our clients have dedicated FTE running their community day-to-day, a far more common scenario is a small group of Moderators dedicating an hour a week or a few minutes per day.  

What we can tell you is that some of our most successful most thriving communities have very active moderation.  It may take some time to find the right balance of moderation for your community. For insights on successful moderation strategies check out Innovation Awards winners: the Department of Labor, Making All Voices Count, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

2. Do I need to involve our IT?

Yes, for an internal employee facing project you do. But we swear we make this painless. (No really).  The one area in which you will need assistance from your IT team: utilizing Single Sign-On.  Single Sign-On is a method of connecting your existing employee credentials into our system allowing your employees to seamless login without creating a new profile.  Why is Single Sign-On important?  Well for a number of reasons:

Security – We know that in 2017 cybersecurity is a top concern of CEO’s (and IT alike). So keeping your community secure and intruders out of your community is a top concern. So whether it’s your everyday Russian agent or 400 pound hackers, we’ve learned that keeping data secure is of utmost importance.   

Ease of Use – By allowing your employees to be automatically logged in (without creating yet another login and password combo), we are removing a big barrier to participation. As much as we all love to create a new login and password, we can skip that step altogether.

In order to keep your IT team happy we’ve blueprinted our SSO methods here and here. These two documents save hours and hours of back and forth.  

We’ve overseen hundreds of Single Sign-On implementations. Representing IdeaScale  in many of those SSO engagements is our Senior Developer, Christoph Schebel.

“We set up calls with the client’s IT team to assuage any fears.  Frequently they’re off and running in just a few hours.” Schebel adds, “It can also be as fast as 15 minutes.”

After SSO is configured the rest of the configuration can be administered solely by a layperson and your IT dept can go back to their day job.

3. How long does it take to set up?

A typical enterprise on board takes four weeks (although the community itself can be up and running in just a few clicks). But what goes into that four weeks? Configuration of the community, set up and moderator training.  

I asked Innovation Architect, Kerry Seed, himself a veteran of hundreds of client launches, whether the four week timeframe was realistic?  

“We have broken down the configuration and on-boarding tasks into a four week schedule. Committed clients are able to launch in a month with ease.”

So what are the barriers to a quick launch? Seed reports, “Some people struggle to coordinate with marketing to get branding and communications plans set up. Once they have those assets in place though, it is usually smooth sailing.”

Also included the 4 week configuration period, is a training of the client’s Moderators and Administrators. Of the training regiment Seed adds “Our goal is to prepare clients for a successful launch. We encourage them to project into the future to consider their plan for executing on ideas. This all begins in the on-boarding process. Our four week plan covers not only software configuration, but strategic planning for creating a culture of innovation.”


This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Erik Siebert, Innovation Strategist at IdeaScale

Expert Interview Series: B.J. Shannon of TINYpulse About the Role Employee Feedback Plays in Idea Management

Role Employee Feedback Plays in Idea Management

B.J. Shannon joined TINYpulse in June of 2013 as Employee # 1 and now heads up the global Customer Success Team. We caught up with B.J. to discuss the value of employee feedback and how best to obtain and leverage this information in order to help a company succeed.

What does TINYPulse offer that can improve employees’ morale and/or corporate culture?
TINYpulse enables employees to contribute and receive feedback throughout the year by offering yearly or semi-annual survey check-ins for both culture and performance. We turned traditional engagement surveys and performance reviews on their heads and made them TINYer and more regular.

How important is it to engage the entire organization?
Providing an avenue for all teams to feel empowered to submit suggestions on how an organization can improve culturally or as a business is an incredibly easy and affordable investment that has an almost guaranteed ROI. Simply showing all employees that their opinions are valued and wanted has beneficial impacts on morale and engagement.

If a business owner or manager were to say to you, “I don’t need a software program to spot a burned-out employee,” how would you respond?
I’d ask how they knew this, and would likely hear the response, “I have an open-door policy, and I am a very approachable boss.” We find that so many “bosses” underestimate the power dynamic that exists between employees and their supervisors or employers. Not all employees feel comfortable providing honest feedback and can successfully hide being burned out or being on the hunt for another job.

We talk with so many managers and business owners, and almost invariably they say that the most terrifying words they can hear from an employee are, “Here’s my two weeks’ notice.” If they were able to spot this in advance, they’d likely do something beforehand to intervene. Software programs that collect anonymous employee feedback on a regular basis can do just that.

What guidelines do you recommend to companies or organizations regarding whether the completion of employee surveys should be voluntary or mandatory?
Well, I recommend that organizations survey their employees anonymously, so this is sort of moot by definition. It’s impossible to enforce a mandatory completion policy for anonymous surveys.

However, I do think that communicating with employees before deploying the surveys in order to explain the “why” behind what organizations are doing, and what the commitment from the employer is regarding what will be done with the data (sharing back, action planning, etc.), can be impactful on completion rates. Employees want to provide feedback, but they have to know that it’s going to result in positive change and not just disappear into a black hole. A mutual commitment between employers and employees regarding what is expected from both sides can be more successful than just saying that survey completion is compulsory.

What advice would you provide to a company or organization on how to proceed if stakeholder surveys revealed a significant problem?
First and foremost, remind yourself that this problem would have existed whether or not you were aware of it. Once you realize that you’re in a better position for discovering it, you’re in a much better place to say “OK, let’s acknowledge this to our employees and talk about how we can fix it – or that we won’t be able to fix it.” Not all issues can be immediately addressed, but employees need to know that an issue has been acknowledged – and they will be more understanding once that occurs.

Want to see how IdeaScale’s ideation software can help you keep your employees engaged and generate new outcomes? Request a demo today!

Barrier Buster: Clearing the Way for Breakthrough Ideas

barrier-buster-clearing-the-way-for-breakthrough-ideasInnovation leaders must master a wide range of skills in order to enhance the innovation potential of their teams. Often, managers are required to play the role of a barrier buster to ensure the team’s creativity delivers bottom line results for the business. Some of the responsibilities they assume in this role include:

  • Providing the necessary time, space, tools, and data for your staff to innovate
  • Guiding projects along the path of least resistance and avoiding political pitfalls
  • Adjusting policies, procedures, and organization practices to facilitate new idea implementation
  • Talking your peers through the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that often comes with change

Common Obstacles to Plan For

Being a barrier buster requires you to be able to negotiate skillfully in tough situations with both internal and external groups. Innovation means change, and change can be quite disruptive and emotionally charged. Being able to gain concessions without damaging relationships is a valuable skill. Innovation leaders help new ideas mature and create paths of least resistance so projects can navigate the political, economic, and cultural obstacles. There are countless organizational barriers to innovation that cause it to be slow, inefficient, costly, risky, and frustrating. Being aware of some of the most typical impediments can be helpful:

  • The organization lacks the enterprise-wide methods (concepts, practices, tools, language, or skills) for innovation.
  • There is not enough funding to form and facilitate innovation projects.
  • The organization is overly consensus-oriented, and any dissenting vote can bring an innovation project to a halt. Champions and sponsors give up or leave the company because it is too hard to get everyone onboard with ideas.
  • The organization’s relentless commitment to operational excellence prevents anything new and disruptive from being tried and tested. This is a classic example of a strength becoming a weakness.
  • Past success has robbed the organization of its willingness to take risks. Leaders play it safe and settle for “me too” strategies just to keep up with the pack, rather than boldly investing in a better future.
  • The organization lacks proper incentives for innovation. Idea champions are rarely recognized and rewarded for their efforts.
  • People are overworked and simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on their innovative ideas.
  • Organization silos prevent cross-boundary collaboration and limit the scale, speed, and impact of innovation.

Barrier busters must be politically savvy to meet these kinds of challenges. They need sensitivity to know how the specific people and their organization are likely to react. Barrier busters help their idea champions or project teams maneuver through complex political situations effectively because they can anticipate the organizational “landmines” and how to avoid them.

Persistence in the Face of Obstacles

Barrier busters are also determined. They don’t stop at the first signs of resistance and refuse to accept “no” for an answer whenever there is hope for success. They are resourceful, looking for the support and resources wherever they can be found. Barrier busters know the difference between the market saying “no,” and an organizational obstacle saying, “no.”

A leader might have learned from the VC role to let go of struggling projects, where customers don’t respond as expected or where the market does not respond positively, in order to move the resources to fund innovation winners. However, as a barrier buster, this same leader knows that organizational protectiveness does not mean the project is struggling in the market. The barrier buster fights for the opportunity to let customers decide which product or service is the business of the future.

History is full of examples of innovators who were told their ideas would not work, but who ultimately found ways to gain the support and resources they needed. Consider what would have happened if these innovators had not persisted in the face of obstacles:

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”

—Dr. Lee De Forest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.”


“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

—Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.


“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

—Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.


“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”

—A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found FedEx.)


“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy!”

—Response from the drillers Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to drill for oil in 1859. (source)

Without successful execution there is no innovation, only the unfulfilled promise of a better future.  Leaders need to help their teams break down the mental barriers, financial barriers and organizational barriers so their ideas can become a reality. To learn more about the barrier buster role and what is needed to navigate the pitfalls and politics of corporate innovation, download the complete chapter of Leading Innovation Ten Essential Roles for Harnessing the Creative Talent of your Enterprise for the full text on mentorship. In our next installment of the Leading Innovation series, we’ll review the Networker role. If you’d rather not wait, download the entire chapter today.

This blog post is part of the Leading Innovation series authored by Laszlo Gyorffy, MS. Laszlo is president of the Enterprise Development Group, an international consulting firm specializing in business strategy and innovation. He also is an accomplished speaker, certified instructional designer and trainer, and co-author of Creating Value with CO-STAR: An Innovation Tool for Perfecting and Pitching your Brilliant Ideas and The Global Innovation Science Handbook. Laszlo recently developed the One Hour Innovator a cloud-based toolkit that teaches people how to successfully generate and champion bigger, bolder, and better ideas.