Common problems along the innovation path

May, 2015
By Chris Lawer

In this blog, we summarise some common issues that plague the "opportunity discovery, selection and targeting" early phases of innovation.  

SCOPE - The scope of search for opportunities is not broad enough and may be limited to the firm’s core market, defined by what the firm already knows, to its closest competitors, to flawed voice of the customer inputs or to limited product definitions

FRAMEWORK - There is lack of a guiding analytical structure or framework to define search and interpretation of market and technological opportunities

INPUTS - Wrong inputs are captured or are captured in a variety of different formats meaning that opportunities cannot be calibrated effectively, particularly so with customer needs

PROCESS - Processes do not exist, are too unwieldy and do not surface key opportunities fast enough

FILTER - The organisation’s strategy does not provide the necessary filter to guide search and selection of opportunities

EVIDENCE - There is a lack of evidence available to quantify and prioritise needs and inputs

CUSTOMER-FOCUS - A lack of selectivity or consideration to know when or when not to rely on user- or customer-driven inputs

EXTERNAL INPUTS - Inability to find or draw on external technologies or ideas fast enough ahead of the competition

SPEED - Management is not informed quickly enough of new opportunities

LOSS OF NUANCE - Information is not combined and filtered appropriately to those who need to make sense of and act upon it so that the important nuances of opportunity are lost in repeated translation from one location, division or function to another

RISK-ORIENTATION - An imbalance in the relative influence of visionaries and champions of change on the one hand and detractors or conservative-minded individuals on the other

BOUNDARY-SETTING - Inappropriate setting of enterprise boundaries, whether and how to partner or go outside to source capabilities or technology inputs to execute opportunity, to seize its full profit potential (too narrow – too wide)

CREATIVE DEPENDENCY - Success is dependent on the creative traits of a few individuals or an outside agency

INTEGRATION - Lack of integration between functions that identify opportunities and those that execute against them, particularly when opportunities challenge status-quo thinking

SHORT-TERMISM - Entrenched attitudes amongst managers of existing product lines that starve investment in new lines. Limitations in capital budgeting focus on short-term discounted cash flows or net present value of future investments

DECISION-MAKING - Innovation investment decisions are made via committees, within too formal structures or are overly programmatic in nature, restricting the allocation of funds to pursue newer or more radical innovation opportunities, markets and technologies.

CONSENSUS AND VISIBILITY - Internal arguments and debate produce limited consensus leading to individual or inter-functional “Opportunity Propaganda” resulting in misaligned technology and requirements developments

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