21 Situations When You Should Not Innovate

21 Situations When You Should Not InnovateInnovation is doing things drastically different or doing drastically different things. It is the main theme of popular management books and blogs, like this one. A lot is going on at the moment in innovation, like ‘Sustainable Innovation’, ‘Business Model Innovation’, ‘Service innovation’, ‘Collaborative Innovation’, ‘Participatory Innovation’, ‘Social Innovation’, ‘Employee Driven Innovation’, ‘Brand Driven Innovation’, ‘Agile Innovation’ and ‘Frugal Innovation’.

You might get the impression that innovation is the right management instrument for every market, for every organisation at any moment. Well in my opinion innovation is not. That’s why I have made a list of 21 situations when you should not innovate. It is provoking. I am aware of that. But isn’t that where innovation starts: having an open mind for people challenging present opinions, habits and practices?

21 Situations when you should not innovate:

  1. When you are sure your market is not changing the coming five years.
  2. When your clients are even more conservative than you are.
  3. When your old formulas are still giving great results the coming years at no risk.
  4. When brand – and line extensions bring you a lot of extra turnover and profits.
  5. When the urgency to innovate is completely absent.
  6. When you do not get money and manpower to do it.
  7. When your company is in a short-term crisis.
  8. When your organisation is working at full capacity to meet the huge demand of today.
  9. When everybody says we have to innovate and no one wants to be responsible.
  10. When you don’t have a clue what you are looking for.
  11. When there is no real business need and it’s only nice to have.
  12. When you don’t have a clue what’s going on at customers.
  13. When there is no support at the top.
  14. When people in your organisation are not prepared (yet) to break their habits.
  15. When people in your company are lazy, just copying others work.
  16. When there is no vision where you want to go in the future.
  17. When long term planning means looking three months ahead.
  18. When everybody fears failure.
  19. When everybody will attack and ridicules the newness of it.
  20. When important stakeholders will block it at any time.
  21. When you’re latest innovations are so successful you should exploit them first.

So what’s the moment you should innovate? Well that’s when you don’t recognise the circumstances above. Beware though. The wise lesson I learned as a young manager is that in an organisation you cannot innovate alone. You need an awful lot of colleagues and bosses to make innovation happen. You have to wait for the right moment, because you can only start innovation once for the 1st time. So look for moments when there’s a sense of urgency at the middle – and top management that we need to do something different. And you have to let them discover themselves, which different innovation opportunities are attractive, can be developed and are realistic to be chosen. This practical wisdom I used as one of the fundamentals of the FORTH innovation method, which you can use to ideate innovative products, services and business models.

Ps. If you have any other arguments when you should not innovate please share them!

imagecredit:dontdoitarmy.com

Clearworks - Customers, Connections, Clarity

Don’t miss an article (4,000+) - Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group!


Gijs van WulfenGijs van Wulfen leads ideation processes and is the founder of the FORTH innovation method. He is the author of Creating Innovative Products & Services, published by Gower.

This entry was posted in Creativity, Headlines, Innovation, Management, Open Innovation, Strategy, collaboration, marketing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to 21 Situations When You Should Not Innovate

  1. Antonio Basauri says:

    dear Gijs, hy, I’m Antonio Basauri from Chile.
    Thank you for article, very innovation, and very practice to work innovations walls mind not trespassing …
    I teaching creativity and innovations, marketing, communications, entrepreneurship, and creativity education.
    Your light mind innovations skill are very sucsesfully.
    A creative hug,
    Antonio

  2. Thank you Antonio for the compliments on my blog. Wishing you a lot of creative inspiration for innovating Chili.

  3. I disagree with many of these situations. With the exception of the most backwards, corrosive, hostile companies, that will likely be failing soon, individuals and organizations should have innovation as an integral part of their operations.

    1. When you are sure your market is not changing the coming five years.
    I’m sure Kodak was sure about their market 10-15 years ago. What about innovating by applying your product or service to a completely new market? What about identifying future pipelines of revenue for after five years or if you’re five year confidence is suddenly hit by a new competitor or change in market dynamics?

    2. When your clients are even more conservative than you are.
    I think this confuses innovation with risk. If you could deliver innovative solutions to your clients, they’ll gladly welcome them no matter how conservative they are.

    3. When your old formulas are still giving great results the coming years at no risk.
    While you don’t want to kill your Cash Cows, there is plenty written on disruptive innovation, even to one’s own enterprise.

    5. When the urgency to innovate is completely absent.
    Sometimes companies and clients don’t realize they’re on a path for extinction. You should always be seeking innovations to deliver more value or reduce costs. A good manager should drive at least some urgency for innovation.

    6. When you do not get money and manpower to do it.
    Crowdsourcing and Web 2.0 have generated significant innovations at little to no costs. An wiki, discussion forum, or even an innovation brown bag meeting can generate ideas.

    8. When your organisation is working at full capacity to meet the huge demand of today.
    How many organizations spend all their energy putting out fires or repairing their aging infrastructure/product instead of designing a revolutionary product or service? If you are running at full capacity just to keep up, that’s a clear indicator you’ve not addressed the underlying issue.

    15. When people in your company are lazy, just copying others work.
    While that sounds like a corrosive corporate culture, if you’re known as an innovator, you should be able to shine above the rest.

    16. When there is no vision where you want to go in the future.
    While this is systemic of a larger issue, you can innovate to streamline current operations or inspire vision for new customers or markets.

  4. Thank you Pete for your wonderful comment. I am happy that you have so many innovative solutions!

  5. SHREEKANT says:

    Dear Gijs van Wulfen,’the 21 Situations when you should not innovate’ is the fact(well written by you) but it reflects the conservativeness.

    INNOVATION is not for good or better it is for BEST, sometime it is very difficult to explain ‘BEST’ to common people because they are happy in good or better.

    INNOVATION means overcoming the conservativeness because INNOVATORS are not MYOPIC, they start when others stop -As Mr. Pete Modigliani explained very categorically to some points

    Tnx & regards to both of you.

    shreekant

  6. Thank you for the compliment Shreekant. Yes my article reflects the conservatism. Of course I agree completely with your innovators drive, but sometimes you have to be practical too. And chose the right moment, which will make innovation less difficult to implement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Batterii - A premium Innovation Excellence sponsor

Keep Up to Date

  • FeedBurner
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Slideshare
  • Email
  • YouTube
  • IPhone
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Stumble Upon

Innovation Authors - Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson

Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies.

“Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.”