You can’t live without innovation. It’s why you’re in business. But as you grow, innovation also becomes a threat. It threatens to disrupt your existing business model, products, and services. It threatens to upset your customers, who have become accustomed to a certain way of doing things. It threatens your partners and employees, who have developed expertise in the way things currently work. That’s the real reason innovation is so hard. While we espouse its values, we also build defenses against it.
I call these the innovation killers. The innovation killers are almost always neatly disguised as protectors of the organization. Few people use these behaviors to try to kill innovation outright. Their intentions are always good ones: to minimize risk, to deliver predictability and operational excellence, and to satisfy market, customer, and analysts’ expectations. The innovation killers are staffed with armies of well-intentioned corporate citizens, ready to defend their turf and keep innovation at bay, lest it disrupt the certainty of the status quo.
“The innovation killers are almost always neatly disguised as protectors of the organization.”
Guess what? If you’re looking for certainty, you’ve picked the wrong century. Get used to it, and get familiar with this list of seven innovation killers. These are the weeds that threaten to choke your garden; when you see them, pull them out by their roots.