Are You Suffering from Innovation Fatigue?

By Ric Opal| June 12, 2017

Businesses of all sizes are facing change like never before. An expanding global marketplace, changing competitive landscape, increasing consumer expectations, and the acceleration of new technology has increased the pressure to innovate – and innovate fast!

To succeed in today’s competitive market, incremental improvements are no longer the safest bet when the “Ubers” of the world are undermining entire business models faster than you can adapt. And it’s not just the start-up tech companies who are making changes, nor is it only the large corporations with their bottomless budgets. Forward thinking mid-size organizations are also poised to capitalize amidst the digital gold rush.

Typically, business leaders would be eager to jump on a new opportunity to increase market share. Innovation workshops have historically been the most exciting and gratifying hours of the work week. Yet, today we’re seeing the word “innovation” elicit the opposite reaction. Innovation is no longer about coming up with the next cool thing – it’s about survival.  The urgency placed on the need to “innovate NOW or perish” has created a feeling of exhaustion and even dread around the subject.

There are many reasons why more businesses are experiencing what the media has dubbed “innovation fatigue,” but these four hidden barriers in particular come up over and over again.

Acceleration of Technology

In today’s fast-paced world, new technologies are being introduced hourly, each with a promise to “increase profitability,” “decrease time,” “eliminate legacy systems,” and the list goes on and on. Before you know it, your list of 5 priorities has grown to 50, with a new urgent initiative being added seemingly daily.

Beware of putting yourself in too many races or you’ll inevitably burn out, or worse, pick up an injury. When initiatives don’t deliver the hoped-for results due to a lack of preparation, poor participation, or over-demanding expectations, the team will feel defeated and less willing to move forward, innovation fatigue will set in, and the business will suffer.

Increasingly More Complex

The sheer breadth of options coupled with the complex and potentially confusing steps to implement them can ground your innovative thinking before it even takes flight. Business leaders are understandably reluctant to take on radical change. The complexity and scale of important digital transformations can make it seem as though just one wrong move could cost the company millions of dollars. This fear of failure turns our passion for innovation into paralysis and prevents businesses from taking the necessary risks.

Lack of Specialized Skills

The complexity of technology has led to a need for specialized skills. The CEO tends to rise from the business side and therefore doesn’t tend to oversee technology-based initiatives, yet the company’s IT generalist hasn’t historically not had a seat at the table for strategic business decisions and couldn’t (and shouldn’t) possibly be expected to know every potential risk and impact of cybersecurity, reengineering, data mining and all the other essential intricacies of complex digital transformations while simultaneously keeping the lights on full time. This lack of time and understanding chips away at the company’s appetite for tacking new ideas and they inevitably fall back into their comfort zone – which is a dangerous place to be in an age of great disruption.

Change Is Hard

Let’s face it – change is hard. The quickening pace of innovation has only made it harder. Most CEOs have risen from a time when the safest and most reliable way to build competitive advantage was through slow and gradual improvements to their tried-and-trusted business practices. Jump to today, and a new idea paired with the right technology and approach can disrupt markets in mere months. How does a business leader maintain their reasonable need to control governance and safeguard the business values while taking on radical change that can turn the entire business model on its head? It may sound impossible. Yet, it isn’t.

True innovation will require leaders who are both ruthlessly curious, as well as ruthlessly cost sensitive and pragmatic. Often, this means partnering with a group of experts who can provide a clear, often staged, approach to innovation initiatives by focusing on the real business challenge first, and then identifying which actions and technology investments will have the greatest impact on achieving rapid results and provide the biggest opportunities for sustaining long-term success. If you’re looking for a strategic partner who can help navigate your innovation strategy, contact BDO Digital to learn more.Transforming business for the digital age