The word “innovation” has been on the lips and tongues of almost every organization for more than a century. Despite having a rather negative connotation when first used (see Henry Burton circa 1620, a Church of England minister who’s “innovation” cost him both of his ears), it has grown into the cultural lexicon as a modern-day buzz word. Every organization claims to be continually looking for new, novel ways of satisfying customer needs in an “innovative” fashion, but all too often, companies are unable to reap the true benefits of innovation, despite their best intentions.
Why is this? Why are companies unable to succeed in inspiring customers with new solutions when it seems to be at the core of what they do?
Innovation is a tricky animal to master within any organization. By its nature, it is difficult to plan, manage, and deliver innovative products and services, as it is not entirely predictable. When asked, most people can name a few companies they view as innovative (Apple, Google, Tesla, etc.). But why do these organizations succeed where many others fail? By understanding some of the common failures in innovation, we can provide some suggestions as to better improve innovation within an organization.