Why Managers Fear Innovation
Like it or not, innovation is essential to any business which lives in the free-ish market of today. I say free-ish because we haven’t had a truly free market for ages, if ever, but that’s a blog post for another time.
The biggest issue with innovation IMHO is the fear of it. The biggest fear is actually one of success – what if these new products and services are successful and end up cannabalizing existing products? Would you prefer that your competitors do that instead? Fear of failure is there too, but nowadays you don’t need to spend huge amounts to build a trial or a proof-of-concept to determine viability. You build it quick and cheap, throw it out to the market, and if it doesn’t fly, you haven’t lost much.
True disruptive innovation exists to build the next phase of your business, so its a threat to the status quo. True disruptive innovation could cause huge shifts in jobs, huge shifts in strategy, huge changes. And the fear of this kind of change keeps innovation groups from exploring their fullest potential.
If you can be one of those rare firms which can not only deal with but embrace the changes which emanate fro your innovation groups, you are truly ahead of the curve.
Innovation is a paradox for management. On the one hand you are well aware that you have to take new roads before you reach the end of the present dead end street. On the other hand it is risky. It takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of resources. Research shows that only one out of seven innovation projects is successful. So saying yes to innovation is a step into the unknown. It creates fear of failure, which causes fear to innovate. It’s like sailing to the South Pole like Shackleton, where the surrounding ice can stop you any moment.
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