Innovation has become a business mantra and a word that threatens to lose all meaning every time it’s uttered at another conference or thrown into another book title. But in spite of its omnipresence it continues to be essential – a growing field – and one of the only practices that might save businesses from extinction.

In a PwC survey, they found that almost all respondents “say innovation is important to their business. And for around three-fifths, it’s a competitive necessity for future success.” But in spite of its accepted necessity, innovation continues to be one of the most nebulous concepts in the business world. Many companies still don’t have dedicated innovation units or well-crafted innovation strategies. Their tactics amount to “keeping an ear to the ground” or reading the latest technology news.

Well, the fact of the matter is that the sustained discipline of innovation has some key challenges that make it very easy for innovation efforts to disintegrate. Here are the two most common ones that we hear from customers:

Budgetary Constraints:

Innovation requires a pledge of resources and sometimes extra funds are hard to come by. IdeaScale suggests running some cost savings innovation campaigns to start and then dedicating a portion of that savings into net new projects in the following year. Still, one shouldn’t forget all the resources of team members’ time, as well. If you don’t have a team that’s going to be able to dedicate some man hours to seeing projects through, as well, it’s not likely that the new initiatives will see the light of day either.

No Defined Strategy:

Many companies come to IdeaScale with a change imperative. Their company leadership has agreed that they need to start charting trends and leverage the collective wisdom of their employees. The only problem is… they don’t know what to do with that information when they get it. 66% of business leaders say that they don’t have well-defined innovation strategies and that lack of strategy translates to lack of success in the rest of the program. Working at the beginning to define objectives, processes, and metrics for success makes it far more likely that your change initiative will actually create change.

IdeaScale created an infographic that lists that top five barriers to successful innovation programs, which you can download here.

What challenges do you face when trying to create change at your organization?

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.