Innovation Blockers: Aligning company goals to help you innovate better
by Aaron Slater, on 6 Jan 2021 4 min read
Hear from innovation specialists about how to combat one of the biggest blockers to innovation within organisation – the issue of conflicting goals.
In our second Innovation Blockers Report, we identified and analysed five different obstacles that organisations face when trying to innovate. We’ve been delving deeper into each of these blockers. Next up is conflicting goals within an organisation.
Why do conflicting goals block innovation?
Ninety Days CEO Arend Welmers believes that “the problem stems from the way in which we’ve learned to work in organisations. Most (not all) organisations are structured hierarchically and arranged in functional silos.”
The problem with this, he says, is that individual teams are interested in their team alone, and teams are forced to compete for scarce resources.
The alternative, he says, is to change the organisation’s management system, meaning that the leadership team has to work together, avoiding what he describes as “functional thinking” and reducing the likelihood of conflict between different departmental goals.
The issue of conflicting goals is also backed up by plenty of innovation research studies over the last few years. Gartner’s Innovation Survey 2019 reveals that the top barrier that marketers say they face when it comes to innovating is an organisational resistance to risk. Newness takes people out of their comfort zones, and with innovation always disruptive to some extent, senior executives are often reluctant to embrace innovation when it may take time and resources away from existing work.
Meanwhile, KPMG’s Benchmarking Innovation Impact 2020 Report cited “politics, turf-wars or lack of alignment” as the biggest obstacle to innovation success - as was the case in the previous year’s report.
An Ivalua report from 2019 also demonstrated that innovation may lose out to other organisational goals. In their research, 55% of UK businesses saw cost savings as more important than driving innovation, while 67% stated that innovation is being blocked as a result of a focus on cost reduction.
With all of these statistics emerging over the last few years, it is unsurprising that so many organisations see conflicting goals as a barrier to innovation. The key is for business leadership teams to ensure that innovation is fully embedded into their actions and attitudes alike, so that it is seen as a key part of the business, and not something that has to compete for attention with other business goals.
How to align company goals to boost innovation
In our full Innovation Blockers report, you’ll find a whole host of tips from our innovation specialists that will help you to align your organisational goals to boost successful innovation. Here, we share a few teasers from a few of these specialists…
Katherine Allan begins by stressing that treating innovation and business as usual as two entirely separate entities is the wrong approach. By doing so, she says, leadership teams will be sending the message out to the business that change is not involved in business as usual, and that innovation is something on top of the day-to-day role.
Instead, she says, it’s vital to interweave innovation into business as usual throughout the organisation - and in our report, she suggests how this can be done.
Bastiaan Saris, on the other hand, believes that embedding innovation into the leadership of an organisation can be achieved through the creation of an “innovation board”. Comprising the executive team and the CEO, among others, the “innovation board” should be tasked with setting goals, presenting project progress and sharing barriers and conflicts, ensuring that all teams are aligned and projects are successfully pushed through.
Finally, Johannah Randal thinks that part of the problem is a loss of the balance between focusing on the bottom line, and focusing on customer needs and adding value. For Johannah, a true focus on what is important to the end user can help to remove this conflict of goals, aligning objectives with the rest of society.
You’ll find plenty more expert insights into overcoming the blocker of conflicting goals in our second Innovation Blockers report, here. And if you’re looking for an all-in-one platform for enterprise innovation, click here to sign up for early access to Solverboard’s solution.