What’s blocking innovation in 2021?

by Charlie Widdows, on 3 Aug 2021 3 min read

Innovation Blockers Report 2021 featured image

Our 2021 Innovation Blockers Report reveals the 10 key barriers to innovation and explains how we can overcome them.

In the last 18 months, innovation has played an enormous part in keeping businesses alive during COVID-19. In businesses across all sectors and of all sizes, innovation has been vital in a changing landscape, be it shifting to different sales channels, creating new product or service offerings, or partnering with other businesses. 

For some businesses, this has been a relatively unproblematic shift. For others, the idea of any change – let alone changes of this magnitude – can be daunting. 

But what exactly is it that makes it so daunting? 

To find out, we spoke to a number of innovation experts, resulting in a list of 10 key blockers to innovation that businesses commonly face. Our brand new 2021 Innovation Blockers Report outlines each of these blockers in more detail, as well as providing valuable insight from 10 innovation specialists into what can be done to overcome these obstacles. 

The 10 biggest blockers covered in our report are:

  • Proving the value of innovation
  • Getting senior management to support new initiatives
  • Getting employees to embrace innovation
  • Lack of structure throughout the idea generation and implementation process
  • Changing the organisational culture and status quo to support innovation
  • Fear of failure
  • Conflicting goals within the organisation
  • Lack of innovation skills
  • No clear definition of innovation
  • Disagreement over who owns innovation

For each blocker, our report covers an outline of the issue, plenty of expert insight into the things that can be done to get around it, and our own input into how things can be turned around. 

Our aim is to provide you with genuine insight that can make a real difference. To get your copy of the full report, click on the banner below. 

Innovation Blockers Report 2021 free download

What does the report contain?

For each of the 10 blockers, the report lays out details of why and how it is a problem, followed by verbatim insight from a number of our innovation experts. You’ll find a small taste of the type of thing to expect below. 

Blocker: Lack of innovation skills

Solutions from our experts:

  • Create the right environment for innovation
  • Source ideas from outside of your organisation
  • Bring other people into the innovation process
  • ‘Innovating’ and ‘being innovative’ are different things
  • Building skills takes time - hiring the right people can speed this up
  • Problem definition is a key requirement

As Tim Stiven, energy and infrastructure leadership expert, says of the last point: 

"This is a hard and soft skills issue. Some of the most important are soft. Collaboration, creativity, encouraging diverse thinking and the ability to manage complexity and uncertainty... 

"On the hard skills side, one stands out in particular: problem definition. Today’s problems are complex, dynamic, uncertain and often span company boundaries. Strong problem analysis allows you to understand which part of the problem to address first, which best suits your ability to act, who to partner with, and what else needs to happen in the problem space (done by others) for your innovation to succeed."


Blocker: Getting senior management to support new initiatives

Solutions from our experts:

  • Show how innovation supports long-term viability
  • Clearly define innovation and reward support
  • Facilitate the ‘optioneering’ of alternative plans
  • Start small and build

On the last point, Jane Ginnever, founder of Shift Consultancy, says:

"Keep initiatives small and use prototypes to prove the concept in the first instance... Seek evidence from a variety of sources that the initiative could deliver, including the results of your trial. Then request support to develop the initiatives that achieved the outcomes you were looking for. We can learn a lot from innovating in this way – from what doesn’t work as well as what does."


Blocker: Conflicting goals within the organisation

Solutions from our experts:

  • Business as usual and innovation goals should be linked
  • Introducing new management systems will change behaviour
  • Establish an ‘innovation board’
  • It is important to understand the purpose of innovation
  • More effective metrics will improve goal setting
  • Goals should be aligned with customer needs

When it comes to goal alignment, Johannah Randall, Director of Start Up Rail, says: 

"Something I see is a lot of focus on profit, revenue and growth and not enough on customer needs and adding value... Perhaps now is a good time to restore the balance? Maybe companies can use this crisis to focus more on what is important and align their goals with the rest of society."


This is just a tiny sample of the full report. Download the full 2021 Innovation Blockers report today by dropping your email address in the box below.

Topics:Innovation Blockers