Removing Barriers to Innovation

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The last thing you want to do is stand in the way of innovation, but you may unwittingly be doing some things that stifle your employees’ entrepreneurial spirit.

In their book, “The Innovative CIO: How IT Leaders Can Drive Business Transformation,” authors Andi Mann, George Watt and Peter Matthews of CA Technologies discuss a number of “innovation killers” that could be holding back your small business or startup.

For starters, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Never put down an idea or dismiss it too quickly, or people may become hesitant to speak up. And don’t penalize failure. Good ideas sometimes don’t work out. Instead, praise the effort and initiative.

Give people time to think. A constant stream of emails, meetings and conference calls – many of them unnecessary – keeps employees preoccupied with the mundane and routine instead of something fresh and new.

Unveil new ideas early. Don’t hide work until it’s 100% ready. Innovation thrives on collaboration and dialogue while work is in progress.

Keep a strategic focus. Teams must keep concrete, business-benefiting goals in mind during collaboration.

Do what you can to foster a healthy working environment. Avoid unhealthy internal competition between employees. Set standards for performance awards and stick to them; you want to be consistent and predictable.

And don’t fear change. It’s easy to become wedded to routine and organizational structure, so don’t be afraid to shake things up.

Adapted from Ten Ways to Kill Innovation by Dennis McCafferty at CIO Insight.


One of the biggest barriers to innovation is lack of a defined channel for valuable ideas to reach the proper ears, charged with delivery.

I've found it easy (as CIO) to deliver innovation internally and to my company's customers.

Far more difficult is presenting good ideas to companies that provide me with service (such as banks, post office, utilities...). Channels do not exist. Invariably the idea is lost at "Customer Service Centre" level (how ironic).

I find it disturbing that companies do not put any effort into creating channels to allow their customers to recommend the type of service they desire - and how this could be improved ! How I long to be put into a position of authority in one of these low-performers!