Barriers to creativity and innovation can prevent us from unlocking the creative potential that we are all capable of. Being aware of the barriers should prepare us for recognising when they occur and arm us with the potential to break past them. From my perspective, there are some barriers to creativity and innovation and these barriers are affecting my business under existing environment: * Individual * Teams * Organization These are some barriers to creativity and innovation: * Functional fixedness: this is a term used by psychologists and means to only see the obvious ways of looking at a problem.
It’s where the individual does not leave their comfort zone when thinking about solutions to a problem domain. * Self-censorship: is that inner voice that holds us back and tries to prevent us from making a fool of ourselves or looking stupid. It’s the negative thoughts that come into our mind, such as “that will never work”. * Micro-management: stifles a person’s ability to be creative as micro managers provide too much detail related to how a particular task or problem should be tackled. This reduces the ability for the person to think for themselves and add their own creative flair. Over-thinking: about a problem or task uses the logical conscious side of our mind. Often creativity comes from the subconscious mind so rather than over thinking it might be wise to go for a walk or simply start daydreaming. * Creativity myths: act as barriers through their power to shape everyday behaviour. * Image risks: Is where people worry about the impression that people will have of them after suggesting an idea. If an individual’s role does not specifically call for creativity or innovation then they believe that co-workers will think negatively of them if they try and come up with better ways to do things.
It’s the thought of making someone angry by initiating change that upsets the status quo. * Lack of time: and / or opportunity. People often feel that they are too busy with their day-to-day efforts to have time to focus on being creative. Resolve this by setting some planned time a side each and every day for creative efforts. * Lack of sleep: lack of sleep not only forms barriers to creativity but to most other things too! Try and lead a healthy well balanced life with lots of exercise and water and healthy nutrition.
We’re more likely to generate ideas if we are well rested and feel great about ourselves. * Criticism: by others can off put us from proceeding any further with our ideas. Try and dismiss negative thinkers or win them over by demonstrating the validity of our idea with a prototype. * Rules, policies and procedures: If the organization that we work in has lots of rules, policies and procedures then these can sometimes stifle creativity due to the bureaucracy that they create. If we can’t advance our project forward without five signatures then we will find it difficult to maintain momentum.
There are a number of factors that prevent innovation from occurring. Being able to recognise and work through these factors will help you to create an innovative culture in your organisation and help you to make your business successful. The most common barrier to innovation in organisations is a leader or manager that is not open to new ideas. This negatively impacts the team by discouraging creative thoughts. Employees won’t be motivated to come up with new ideas if nobody is going to bother listening to them.
There are also managers who listen to ideas but are reluctant to take them any further, resulting in lost opportunities. Managers are also guilty of shooting down ideas before they are given a chance. If employees come up with new ideas, they should at least be given a chance to explain and justify them, rather than have a manger who immediately says ‘no’ based on past experiences or because an idea isn’t directly in line with the business’ regular operations. Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t necessarily make it a bad idea.
Time and resources are also significant barriers to innovation. Employees are often so busy with just doing their regular work that there is insufficient time and incentive to generate new ideas. When ideas are generated, they are not taken any further due to the potential risks associated with developing the idea. Generally, innovation is also seen to be too expensive for small businesses to get involved in. However, there are cost effective ways to generate new ideas and managers need to look at the potential benefits that come as a result of investing in innovation.
Often, organisations lack direction in terms of innovation. Whilst people require freedom to be creative, some boundaries or guidelines can help focus their efforts and motivate them to achieve outcomes. Without structures in place, the wrong ideas are be prioritised and time and resources can be wasted. Organisations with the inability to implement and commercialise new ideas are the biggest barrier to innovation. After spending the time, resources and effort to develop an idea, they fail at the final step and the product is never successful in the market.
It takes careful management and planning, as well as commitment from an organisation, to generate profitable returns from good, innovative ideas. In many organisations there can be tension between those promoting creativity, design and user centred approaches to Innovation and those who are bound entirely by procedures, plans and spread sheets. I have often remarked that many people think of Innovation as a machine where you turn a handle after feeding in your ingredients, and a nice new Innovation will pop out. This is not the case!
We should be focusing on the process of innovating (the people) rather than the end product. But what could be going wrong? Well here is a short list of things to beware of: * Being unrealistic Innovation takes time, often more than we allocate for it. The results can also not be what we are expecting. Unrealistic (or irrelevant) objectives and timescales will kill . Try to think of the impact of your Innovation project rather than listing the results in a table. You should be explicit though! * Protecting ego If you’re scared to be wrong, you won’t be able to lead innovation or lead the innovation process.
Since Innovation is all about discussing new ideas you have to be prepared to be wrong or immerse yourself in completely alien concepts. If you are not doing this you are just reworking old stuff, not innovating. * Believing process will save you Innovation processes are not what Innovation is about. They provide a framework within which leaders and facilitators work their magic. They also provide a sort of ‘incubator’ within which anything can happen and which is allowed to flourish when it does. Beware of allowing everything to happen though! You are in business to make money. Varied backgrounds and experience are not the same as cross functional teams In a bid to be innovative, many companies have put together cross functional teams. Such teams are a good idea since your project teams are liberated from the silos (departments) that may make up your business. However, what you are really looking for are different perspectives and experiences. It’s the people you must mix, not the functions. * Believing that we know everything We often do know most things about our markets and customers BUT what we do not seem to be able to do is get started.
We believe that we have all of the motivation and inspiration that we need. We sit at our desks and pore over emails but very few answers arrive that way. Go outside for inspiration, take your camera (or mobile phone) and see what is going on in the world. Drop in on an old lady for a cup of tea and ask her opinion. Do anything but sit on your chair all day! * Talking rather than doing We often like to rubbish the ideas of others and try to make sure we have a complete solution before trying anything.
Get prototyping (or playing) early on and get feedback and gather more ideas. We cannot learn by doing nothing, and hence we cannot innovate either. * Converging (executing) rather than diverging (exploring) ‘Cycle often and close late’ is one of the main precepts of creativity in business. Too often we wish to nail everything down. The CEO wishes to know who is doing what and what the timescales are before we have finished exploring all of the possibilities. Senior managers must learn to live with a little ambiguity.