Blog Change & innovation Innovation barriers Processes

Innovation needs to remove barriers

Innovation needs to remove barriers because I’m convinced that organizations and companies behave and evolve as open systems. I mean that to survive and develop they must adapt continuously.

Human history is the story of all our innovations, from the smallest to the few that are fundamental milestones and that have drastically changed our way of living. For this reason, organizations, such as open systems formed by people, are adaptive and innovative in nature.

Then, if for some organisations and companies, it’s so difficult to innovate or does it cost a lot more in some ones than others, and in certain areas, countries or social environments, innovation is scarce, rare and difficult, is because over time, barriers have been erected and that these barriers become a real inhibitor to the natural tendency to innovate.

In addition, innovation implies a change and changes generate reactions. Despite the normality of adaptation and change, it has detractors and some strategies of resistance. Therefore, some people and organizations generate resistance to change and therefore to innovation.

Barriers accumulate slowly and create a culture in the company or organization that makes innovation more and more difficult.

There is another reason: innovation is oriented to the future, and therefore carries more risk than the immediate. In companies, the processes are usually geared towards performance and this is usually measured in the short term, so that their ‘operational’ processes are focused on immediate performance.

In the allocation of resources, always limited, innovation in some way competes with the operational processes, therefore creating a tension of priorities. Do we prioritize immediate or future performance? This dialectic is observed to a greater or lesser extent in all organizations, and becomes easy to distinguish clearly where is a marked orientation in one or another direction.

As a consequence, where innovation is rare, complicated or expensive and even non-existent, it is because there are barriers. In these organizations, focus is concentrated on immediate performance, rather than in future.

In a broader circle, organizations and companies, as open systems, and living in a social system or environment, are influenced by this environment. If this is not conducive to innovation, with many barriers to change, the difficulties increase because they are not only internal, but also externally.

Since these barriers probably cannot be eliminated, we probably should try to, without isolating ourselves, create our own culture and differentiation, to prevent people from contamination.  It is quite difficult, reason why many companies decide to settle their resources, and innovation teams in countries or social environments more open.

To do that, I believe that the first effort is to eliminate internal barriers. And at least to diminish the external ones as much as possible.

See also:

Barriers to innovation

Spain increased barriers to innovation

Incorporating the change for innovation


Francesc Guell is the owner of this site. He was CEO and director of international companies in specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The last 12 years was associated with international consulting groups, providing advice and support to businesses on topics such as innovation and agile innovation processes, operational excellence, knowledge management, change management, strategy and integrated business management. Currently creates and presents courses and workshops on these topics. He graduated as a chemical engineer, postgraduate from ESADE Business School in Business Administration and Master in Knowledge Management. He participated in numerous programs, seminars and ESADE, IESE, EADA, APD and MCE (Management Centre Europe). He is author of articles, presentations and courses on innovation in strategic management, integrated business models, knowledge management, performance measurement, change management and excellence in business processes. See more in: Professional Profile