The biggest barrier to innovation might not be a lack of resources or a stale corporate culture. It may not be that your people don't think outside the box or even that they don't feel free to experiment and fail. You may actually be doing all of these things and still not get any traction on your innovative efforts because you haven't tackled the biggest barrier to innovation.
I recently interviewed Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, an innovation consultant and author of Innovation as Usual. In the interview, he asserts that for many companies, the biggest barrier to igniting innovative ideas is the deluge of day-to-day tasks that demand everyone's time.
"We kind of saw these things that people, they had exciting innovation events and then they came back to the Monday morning reality and they just died," Wedell-Wedellsborg says. Not for no other reason than they were almost thinking too big. They were trying to figure out where that idea would go in year one when the question they really should be asking themselves is, 'Within the next 14 days, how do I make sure to take the first step?'" When you're thinking too big, and not focused on the next step, it can become too easy to see the idea as a lost cause and get back to their every day tasks.
He labelled this the Monday Morning Problem. You might have a great idea over the weekend and be mulling it over, expanding, and revising it. But if you don't make a plan for Monday, then you're never going to start. And if you don't start, you're never going to find the path from idea to innovation. "Until you start thinking that technically, you are doomed to see your ideas get stuck on 'Brainstorm Island' and never really move into your reality as well," Wedell-Wedellsborg says.
To overcome this obstacle, he recommends a very simple exercise. Before you finishing thinking about your idea, make a simple plan of action. Identify the one person who can help you refine the idea and keep you accountable for innovation and reach out to schedule a meeting with them. Do it right away. Don't wait until you get settled in the office; that will be too late. Get the meeting on the calendar as soon as possible.
Take action now. Otherwise, your idea might never see Tuesday.