Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had a significant innovation for your company?  You know the one where you are pumped to get things up and running.  But before too long, you are stuck in a myriad of dysfunctional patterns, conflicting priorities and business politics that prevent effective collaboration and real progress.  The project stalls, then eventually falls over. 

What are some of the common pitfalls that every leader has fallen into?

Starting Big

This is the number one reason why projects get stuck. 

Companies have a big vision, then start big, trying to implement all the elements simultaneously.  This is when projects become unmanageable, and the fear is that it is too big to fail…..becoming a burden. 

Your new mantra needs to be ‘Think Big, Start Small and Learn Fast’.

Siloed Teams

When you implement a project across siloed teams, you are asking for the project to run off the rails.  Needless to say, there is minimal horizontal communication or co-ordination and competing priorities across the groups.    

No Shared Understanding of Success

Without the big vision and precise definition of success to draw people together, they think small, and focus on their own priorities, neglecting to communicate with the rest of the team. 

When teams or people fail to collaborate on the vision, things start to stagnate, and the finger-pointing begins.  It’s a predictable by-product of conflicting goals and lack of clarity with the shared outcome for success.

Focusing on Outputs rather than Outcomes

Focusing on outputs is an approach that ends up with each participant essentially optimising for task completion.  They cut themselves off from the sense of purpose behind why the project is being done.

Having a defined set of outcomes provides a sense of ‘why‘ for the team.

It gives the members a way to assess and communicate whether their outputs are moving them in the right direction.  The traditional output measures have zero impact on the success of a new innovation or big project.

Competing Priorities

Working on multiple initiatives and regularly switching contexts leads to burnout and low quality work.  This results in a failure to reach your ambitions for meaningful change. 

The more work in progress, the more competing priorities and dependencies you create.  Impacting on getting results and using that information to inform your next priorities. 

Personal Bonuses Tied to Initiatives

Bonuses are often attached to the rewards and recognition on the delivery of initiatives, rather than the executive’s impact on overall business results.  As a result, when an initiative is stalled or failing, they fight to make it work to save face and protect their reputation and compensation. 

This causes people to fear speaking up, reporting only positive news and progress rather than failures or challenges.  Then a flow-on effect occurs with leaders acting on invalid ideas and information leading to decisions being made based on poor quality information or data. 

Many companies and organisations continue to follow these outdated approaches to innovation.  Doing so leads to high levels of frustration and dissatisfaction.

We all want to scale innovation and build amazing products that will have a massive impact on the world and your business.  The answer is not to think big, start big and have a ‘big bang’ launch. 

Adapt the approach of thinking big, starting small and learning fast what works and what doesn’t work.  Then you will succeed in your innovations.

Categories: Business


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