The 4 Most Common Innovation Killers.

This is the third of a series of three articles about Innovation.

  1. Are You An Innovative Leader?
  2. How To Foster Innovation Structurally.
  3. The 4 Most Common Innovation Killers.

Innovation has become a trending topic. The Big Ideas and Innovation channel on Linkedin has more than eight million followers, and twitters with the hashtag #innovation get sometimes viral in a question of seconds.

Since Steve Jobs transformed our world thru his innovative vision of the future use of computers, converting Apple in one of the most innovative and admired companies in the world, most organizations have realized the need to increase their focus on innovation as a key strategic driver.

Business leaders are talking about innovation more than ever before, and most organizations claim that they are innovative indeed, but the key questions become:

Is your company ready for the innovation challenge? What is your innovation formula and most importantly, does it work?

In my recent post “Are You An Innovative Leader”, I tried to shed light on the true meaning of the word innovation, and what are the two key variables involved. Creativity and sense of urgency.

A couple of days later I posted “What Is The Best Way To Foster Innovation Structurally”, in response to a very good question I got from a reader.

The question was: How can we foster innovation structurally?

Today´s article is the third and final of this series. How to identify and prevent the most common innovation pitfalls.

In this article I will review some questions regarding what makes innovation strategies fail, and what we can do to anticipate and prevent failure, so we can close the innovation circle: Understand, Embrace and Execute Innovation.

The 4 Most Common Innovation Killers

# 1. Weak leadership commitment and sponsorship:

Is the leadership team showing evident support to creativity and a real sense of urgency?


  • Low levels of attention from top leadership team to creative ideas
  • Absence of a real sense of urgency – change does not seem to be a priority
  • Risk-averse executive team

How to prevent it:

  • Evident, active, and public commitment and support from the leadership team to the research and development of new ideas
  • Visible leadership willingness to take personal initiative and challenge the status quo
  • High levels of attention to new ideas through the time, passion and focus given to them by leaders at all levels

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful — that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs

# 2. Misaligned Culture:

Does everybody understand the value and importance of creativity and sense of urgency in the same way?


  • Poor understanding of why creativity and speed of action are critical for innovation
  • Lack of impetus needed to get new ideas launched quickly
  • Poor engagement level due to misaligned values and beliefs between company and staff

How to prevent it:

  • Clear and concise innovation Culture and norms, instilled top to bottom, highlighting the importance of creativity + sense of urgency
  • Alignment between HR hiring and selection criteria and company culture. Strong fit between company Culture and candidate´s values and beliefs.
  • Instill a continuous improvement mindset, where status quo is not an option
  • Foster two-way communication. Allow people to speak up and share their thoughts.
  • Self-judgement and errors are encouraged and permitted. Mistakes are part of the innovation process.

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve jobs

# 3. Poor idea selection and reward programs:

Is the innovation well integrated into the strategy and incorporated into the common goals and objectives of the group?


  • Every new idea competes for time, resource, and attention and all ideas are considered good in principle – unclear selection criteria and poor evaluation process
  • Executives spend most available time reviewing too many new ideas rather than supporting the prompt execution of the best ideas
  • Lack of joint and individual rewards incentivizing creativity and execution promptness.

How to prevent it:

  • Limit the scope for new ideas and force the presenter to summarize the idea in a maximum of 3 pages.
  • Focus on quick wins. Sometimes the best ideas are the less feasible ideas.
  • Design and implement a compelling incentive program, based on:
    • Timeliness
    • Creativity
    • Feasibility
    • Ease of implementation

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs

# 4. Lack of business capability to execute new ideas:

Do we have the resource, systems and process capabilities required to secure the quick and effective implementation of new ideas?


  • Overwhelmed resources
  • Recurrent contingencies during periods of vacation, sickness leave, staff rotation, promotion, etc.
  • Too much manual intervention – poor process automation

How to prevent it:

  • Full alignment between staffing plans and strategic goals.
  • Rationalized job descriptions and improved resource allocation criteria, focused on collaboration
  • Continuous reinvestment plan focused on systems enhancement and upgrade

Vision without execution is hallucination – Thomas Edison

I hope you enjoyed the reading. If so, don´t forget to click on “Like” and share it with others who may find it useful.

You may also like to read my recent posts on Linkedin.

Jordi is the Managing Principal Consultant at Key Strategic Chain Solutions, a management consulting firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Organizational Strategy and Portfolio Management.

Best regards,

Jordi Alemany


About Jordi Alemany

I am a multi-cultural and multi-lingual (English, Spanish, Catalan and Italian) executive coach and management consultant, specializing in Humanistic Leadership, Organizational Strategy, and Portfolio Management disciplines. I am an energetic, creative and resourceful, with an innate passion for helping others reach their full potential.
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One Response to The 4 Most Common Innovation Killers.

  1. Reblogged this on innovationscreativity and commented:

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