Below are the results from the survey conducted by Tuck Executive Education on “Barriers to Innovation”, with responses from nearly 200 executives. Also included are some observations of the data from Tuck faculty Vijay ("VG") Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, authors of the new book, The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge.
Most commonly cited barriers to innovation, ranked from 1-10, then the Mean.
1=Most Commonly Cited Barrier, with number of responses in each column.
Performance metrics are aligned to core business
Conflicts with priorities in existing business
Bureaucratic red tape
Lack of "breakthrough" ideas
Lack of free cash to invest
Can't hire the right people
Quarterly earnings targets too unforgiving
Compensation packages too rigid
Rising executives see innovation as career risk
Lack of any ideas
Respondents were asked to rate how important innovation initiatives are at their institution, on a scale of 1-100, and this chart shows the average value among all respondents:
Observations of Data from VG and Chris:
The results of this survey below were not surprising to us; they indicated that the top three barriers to innovation are:
- Performance metrics are aligned to the core business, not innovation
- Conflicts with priorities in the core business
- Bureaucratic red tape
Notably not in the top three was “lack of ideas,” which scored the lowest of all possible responses. (Though lack of breakthrough ideas did score near the middle.)
Also noteworthy is the fact that lack of funding also finished only in the middle, even in this very difficult innovation period.
Most everyone said that innovation has high strategic importance at their organization. This data shows that companies don’t lack for great ideas, they struggle to execute them. They don’t struggle to start, they struggle to finish.
The reason? Innovation and ongoing operations are always and inevitably in conflict.
All of the top three responses show different forms of this same phenomenon: what seems good for innovation is bad for the core business, and vice versa.