creativity and innovation barriers

How to overcome barriers to Creativity and Innovation

“Think disruptive!”

“Be creative!”

“Just leave the existing behind you!”

These are the classic pieces of advice for successful innovation management: Simply think outside the box. Forget all barriers to creativity and innovation. And be completely free in your mind. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But is it working?

Imagine that you are working in the marketing department of a pharmaceutical company. Do you quickly forget all the restrictions imposed on advertising in the industry? Or you’re a chartered accountant. Why don’t you just throw everything you have learned about the existing laws overboard? It’s gonna be hard.

We all have mental barriers to creativity and innovation in our heads. They work – no matter whether you are developing a new innovation strategy, building an innovation culture or looking for new suggestions for the continuous improvement process.

In our free e-book “Create Outstanding Organizations” you will learn how to win and successfully implement high-value employee ideas.


Creativity and Innovation Barrier 1: Your habits

Imagine you see something unusual: a new idea, an unusual solution. Instead of cheering, you first feel a sense of rejection. “That looks weird,” you think. Maybe you also tend to say, “wierdo.” Why is that? Quite simple: Our brain automatically prefers known solutions to unknown ones. This works faster than constantly searching for new solutions.

You can test this mental barrier to creativity and innovation on yourself. After you have invested a long learning all functionalities of your new e-mail program, after you finally know where to find which menu items and after you have finally figured out how to categorize mails, the following message suddenly appears: “Download version 3.1. now. New user interface.” How do you react?

  • “Yes, great, I got bored with the old user interface!”

  • “I didn’t have anything to do on holiday anyway, so I can go to further education and retrain.”

  • “For God’s sake, how can I prevent this download?”

I bet you have a tendency to c). That’s the first barrier to creativity and innovation. The habit barrier is one reason why innovative solutions are often more difficult to establish on the market than one might initially think. Consumers, too, have innovation barriers in their minds that form a solid wall against the new.


How to overcome this barrier to creativity and innovation

Like always, work out the solution that spits out your brain. But instead of implementing it right away, put it up for discussion. Ask colleagues to discuss your idea critically. The Innolytics® idea management software and innovation management software offer the technological prerequisites for this: Discussion forums in which the existing can be critically questioned.


Creativity and Innovation Barrier 2: The Feasibility Barrier

“Impossible!” Once you have an idea that somehow sounds strange or seems out of reach, your head spits out a thousand objections as to why it can’t work. This barrier to creativity and innovation is constantly in the way of idea generation and idea development. “Much too expensive.” “We don’t have the right staff.” “This is practically impossible.” The objections are often not unjustified: The path from the first idea to successful innovation is really expensive, the necessary competencies do not exist in the company and the idea cannot be implemented within existing structures. But what now? If you want to successfully implement business innovation, you must overcome this barrier.


How to overcome this barrier to creativity and innovation

Write down any objections to your idea. For each objection, formulate so-called “What is” questions: “What is the best way to overcome the obstacle?” Develop your action plan for the coming weeks. With the help of Innolytics® Innovation Software you can overcome feasibility barriers: Formulate “What is” questions and let employees think together about overcoming this barrier to creativity and innovation!


Creativity and Innovation Barrier 3: The Knowledge barrier

A few years ago we interviewed engineers from a mechanical engineering company. They had to develop ideas for a significantly cheaper version of a system. But no matter which ideas came up, the engineers kept saying: “Technically not feasible.” For three years they tried, then they gave up. The management of the company finally assigned the task to an external company. Three months later, the device was ready to be launched on the market.

How did this happen? The management had underestimated the extent of the knowledge barrier. The engineers involved thought that they knew everything that was necessary to develop the device. Unfortunately, they missed one thing: They didn’t know what they didn’t know. And because they didn’t notice it, they didn’t know what they needed to know to drive innovation forward. The knowledge barrier is one of the main barriers to creativity and innovation. It exists because your creative potential is largely influenced by your personal experience and knowledge, your character traits and your creative abilities.


How to overcome this barrier to creativity and innovation

Starting today, assume there’s a solution for everything. You just don’t know where to find her. Through methods and concepts such as Open Innovation, Crowdsourcing and Swarm Intelligence, you incorporate the experiences of customers and experts from outside. The Innolytics® Software offers you the possibility to quickly and easily integrate external know-how and overcome this barrier to creativity and innovation.


Creativity and Innovation Barrier 4: The Regulatory Barrier

This barrier to creativity and innovation becomes active at an early stage. Before you even start thinking in a new direction, it suggests, “You can’t do that.” The main reason for this is our upbringing: “You mustn’t do that.” That’s not what we do.” In professional life, we are perfect rule chameleons: we quickly adapt to the rules of our environment. Unfortunately, too perfect: By constantly wanting to do everything right, we unconsciously develop barriers to creativity and innovation. By constantly making predictions about what might not be allowed, we shut ourselves off from the possibilities that a deliberate breach of the rules would entail.

The regulatory barrier is also active in invisible laws, such as market laws. “The market works this way and that.” This statement can be made until someone redefines the rules of the market.

Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines is such a rule-breaker. For him it is almost a hobby to study the rules of a market, to break them and to penetrate the market. The regulatory barrier also becomes active if you make the innovation process too rigid in your innovation management. Innovation teams are more concerned about following the rules of the next step than about the innovation itself.


How to overcome this barrier to creativity and innovation

Ask yourself two simple questions: “Why shouldn’t that be allowed?” “What’s the worst that could happen?” And make your innovation process more flexible. The Innolytics® software gives you numerous possibilities to do this: You can define different processes for different types of innovation (incremental innovation, radical innovation, digital innovation, etc.).


Creativity and Innovation Barrier 5: The Contradiction Barrier

This barrier to creativity and innovation is the downside of what is often admired as “clear leadership”. In the beginning, managers are admired for their determined line and their commitment. Things change at some point. But they stubbornly hold on to what has been tried and tested. Why is that?

As soon as a discrepancy is imminent, the contradiction barrier in your head signals: “Stop!” Because we tend to always present a logical and comprehensible picture to the outside world. Everything that seems contradictory is tremendous to us: Yesterday we were against it – today we are in favour of it, we feel uncomfortable with that.


How to overcome this barrier to creativity and innovation

Seeking alternatives and not committing too early to an option is a quality feature in creative thinking, not a disgrace. In times of change, who really knows which strategies and ideas will work in the end? The Innolytics® Software allows you to develop, discuss and evaluate different ideas on specific topics. Different strategies and ways of thinking are developed transparently and comprehensibly. They then no longer appear to be contradictory, but remain logically comprehensible.

Overcome innovation barriers through innovation!

The US scientists Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen and Clayton Christensen, professors at colleges in Utah, Fontainebleu and Boston: Develop and strengthen innovative thinking in practice! “We can’t emphasize the importance of practicing innovative behavior over and over again enough,” they write.

Innolytics supports you in this. Through innovation software that gives your employees and managers room to develop creative concepts. Through innovation challenges in the company. And by advising on the establishment of an innovation culture in the company. Innolytics® helps you to overcome innovation barriers.



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