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Top Ten Reasons Why Your Company Is Not Innovative

Organizations are always looking for ways to be innovative, but not all companies find them. Are you wondering why everyone else in your industry is passing you by? Below I present to you 10 reasons why your company may not have caught the innovation bug. Some of these ideas are tried and true, some are the work of innovative companies like 3M and Google, and some are just plain common sense.

1. Fear:

Companies are afraid of change. Change can be good, but it can also be bad, very bad. Why mess with a good thing? Why risk your job for the sake of change? Fear causes companies to pay lots of money for a quick fix only to have it backfire and reduce their ROI. You must resist fear and take risks to innovate. Base your innovations on sound principles, but don't hold back because of the fear of being different.

2. Money:

Great ideas and hard work cost money, but not as much as you would think. Spend your money in the right ways. Provide your workers with a meaningful, exciting environment and innovation will foster. Better yet, hire innovative people and give them the power and resources to make things happen.

3. Know-how:

Many companies want to innovate. They are ready for change, but they don't know where to begin. Hire employees that have been there before, or bring in a consultant to teach you the ways. Don't stop there. After you learn how to create innovative ideas, implement them. There is nothing worse than a company that talks a lot about being innovative but does nothing to live it. As IBM says, "Stop Talking, Start Doing".

4. Corporate Bureaucracy:

Too much red tape and nothing gets done. Meeting, talks, seminars, studies, reports, and other documentation for the sake of documentation slow people down. Even large organizations should have parts of their company act like a start-up. Then slowly refine processes to make them leaner and more efficient. Implement these processes throughout the organization and the gears of the innovation machine will start turning.

5. Poor Leadership:

Innovation starts at the top. A strong leader knows that a company must continually adapt to be ahead of the curve. Poor leadership worries too much about the stock price, and not enough about creating the future instead of just surviving it. Great leaders stick their neck out and get involved in the process. You can't just sit in the back of the room and watch things happen anymore.

6. No Sharing of Information:

In order to innovate, information must flow freely. Let everyone in the company know what everyone else is working on. Encourage collaboration. Schedule set times during the year when workers present their work to their coworkers. Be even more bold by looking towards other companies for information and idea sharing.

7. No Recognition:

Workers like to be recognized for their hard work. Award them, and make it visible to all of their peers. Let your employees write articles, contribute to publications, and make a name for themselves in their discipline.

8. Bottom Up Thinking:

To foster innovation, it is better to work with a top-down approach. Look at the big picture. Create a vision of what you would like your business to be, and then start implementing strategies to get you there.

9. Handcuffing Employees:

Let your employees have time to work on their own things. A perfect example is Google's 80/20 policy. Workers are allowed to work on their own projects 20% of their time. In a lot of instances, that 20% leads to new products for the company. Workers will usually be passionate about a project they chose to do, and passionate work produces extraordinary results.

10. No Customer Input:

You need to know what your customers are like. Yes, customers' tastes and likes are fickle, but it is better to know as much as you can about your users rather than nothing at all. Take time out of your schedule to do what your customers do, go where they go, and try and get a sense of how they would feel about your product.