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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 27-Apr-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ
Category: Innovation culture

Management as an obstacle to innovation - 6 tips on what you can do about it


The top management commitment, the ultimate success factor for innovations. If there is no support from the management and management, then there is no innovation support from the entire organization. Because other topics, the day-to-day business, have a higher priority.

The consequences for the lack of a culture of innovation and innovative strength are severe: ideas are not encouraged and released for processing, ongoing projects do not receive the necessary support and resources and are stuck in the pipeline. There are many friction losses, the quality of the results in the innovation projects is poor and there are delays or even project terminations. All in all, the company's money and the energy of its employees are burned. But not only that, the lack of innovation can also mean the end of the company. What can be done now against the obstacle to innovation management?


Do a lot of convincing work

The most effective measure is to succeed in inspiring the management to innovate. But that is also the most difficult task. It costs a lot of energy and also requires high competence. In order to succeed, a strong team is needed that is convincing, but also has good reasons for winning over the management for innovations.

Paper Establishment of an innovation culture
It is easier to convince the management of a single project. However, it is more effective in the long term to win over top management for innovation per se. This is the foundation for a positive innovation culture, where innovations are promoted as a matter of course throughout the company.

Furthermore, it also requires the formulation of an innovation strategy, where it is jointly defined exactly what one wants to achieve with innovations. This lays the foundation for an understanding of innovation. Therefore, the management's conviction that innovation is a strategic process should also be initiated in order to anchor innovation in the company.

Here you will find six possibilities to sensitize and activate the management for innovations:


1. Search for comrades-in-arms

Search for comrades-in-arms and multipliers in the company, if possible influential, committed or in the hierarchy above. They constantly push the topic of innovation, support initial projects and also try to inspire the management for innovation. This bundles the strengths of the innovation fighters and makes it easier to convince the management.

2. Set impulses from the outside

"The prophet in his own country is worth nothing" is a well-known saying. Therefore, get external experts on board who are committed to innovation. The success stories of startups are very effective. Or you can find a managing director of another innovative company who will give a lecture on the importance of innovations in the company. Such success stories arouse the desire for innovation and mobilise people and forces.

3. Harvest Low Hanging Fruits

As already mentioned, it is easier to convince the management of a single innovation project. That's why you start with a project. Ideally, it should be a project where a large innovation success can be achieved with relatively little effort. With such an initiative you can harvest low-hanging fruits and demonstrate the benefits and success of innovations to the management.

3. Compare with the competition

Which manager doesn't care what the competition does? Many of them orient themselves to the competition and want to be the first in everything. This dynamic can also be used in innovation management. They look for facts that represent the competition in an innovative way and present them to the management, of course immediately with possible concrete countermeasures. Many people will jump up if it is credible and conclusive, because nobody wants to lag behind when it comes to innovation. This kind of conviction is therefore very effective in many companies.

4. Start U-Boat Projects

If you don't have the support for a project from the management, but your team and supervisor is convinced of the potential of the innovation project, then start a submarine project. A submarine project is a project that does not appear in any portfolio, but receives a commitment from an executive in the company. This is important because the necessary resources must be available. The project will only be officially reported on when it can be demonstrated that it can bring benefits to the company, for example when the first prototype is available. This makes it easier to inspire management and gives them a commitment to the first innovation initiative.

5. Pull the cart up against the wall

You can impress with positive demonstrations, but of course you can also convince with negative representations. If you feel that innovation is always being prevented, stop any activity. Communicate it and argue that it is wasted resources because it doesn't work. This includes a description of the current situation and the reasons why innovation is not effective. This allows you to put the management to the test how important innovation really is to you. Demand clear decisions on what is expected in terms of innovation. At the same time, the necessary framework conditions and support can be demanded.

6. The final action: pull the rip cord

If you've spent the last decade convincing people to innovate, but you've never been able to achieve real success, then pull the rip cord. Because then a lot of energy was wasted. There are two measures to take: Either you change management, but not everyone will be able to do it that easily, so change jobs and get things done successfully elsewhere.


Conclusion: A lot of persuasive power is required against the innovation inhibitor management.

The commitment of the management is one of the most important success factors for innovation, so that innovation success stands or falls. If this support is lacking, a great deal of energy and resources are wasted without being able to achieve innovation success. Therefore, it is recommended to do a lot of persuasive work, there are many different ways to do this, such as searching for multipliers, involving external experts or starting submarine projects. Leave no stone unturned to increase the willingness to innovate in the organisation.

7 methods for idea generation

Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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