Avoiding the trap of innovation fatigue in a constantly changing marketplace


Mar 19 2020

As we move into the new decade, businesses across all sectors are faced with the near-constant pressure to continually innovate and disrupt their respective industries. We are in the midst of a technological revolution. Developments in AI, AR and VR technologies are becoming increasingly advanced and business application of these technologies is becoming more widespread, changing how businesses and consumers interact. The term ‘innovation’ has become synonymous with ‘disruption’.

As this shift happens, businesses are faced with an ‘adapt or die’ conundrum, under pressure from internal and external stakeholders to come up with the next big idea – and then start thinking ahead to the next one. More and more, businesses and employees are suffering from innovation fatigue – with so much change happening under the guise of innovation, individuals have grown tired of it all and have mentally checked out, unable to muster the energy or creativity demanded by the constant innovation cycle. In a study published by Deloitte, over 25% of businesses surveyed faced ‘significant obstacles’ towards innovation, including cultural resistance to change, lack of time for developing new ideas and lack of technical skills.

Innovation is certainly critical for driving growth, and businesses who innovate well are unquestionably benefitting, however organizations must carefully manage the innovation process to avoid innovation fatigue. Here are 4 key steps for facilitating successful innovation processes in your business.

Assess longevity and demand

With the constant cycle of development in today’s market, frequency often outweighs quality when it comes to innovation. As a result, leaders may adopt a short-term mentality, focusing on innovations that can be implemented frequently, failing to accurately account for both demand for the idea and longevity of the output. While this may enable fast innovation, stepping back to fully assess the business impact of your idea and whether it will improve the company’s outlook in the long-term may be more beneficial for long-term business performance rather than implementing many new ideas over a short time.

Take your time

Many businesses get caught up in the hype of innovation, as demonstrated by Gartner’s ‘Hype Cycle’, gathering momentum quickly at the start and then petering out as the process goes on. Leaders may face pressure to be the first-to-market with a particular innovation, positioning their business ahead of competitors. Slowing down the innovation process may seem counterintuitive, yet it may improve the overall process, allowing more time to ‘stress-test’ your idea and get feedback from key stakeholders. Taking the time to thoughtfully plan and execute an idea will likely result in a more positive result for your business.

Follow through

When it comes to executing a product, bumps in the road are often the norm rather than the exception, particularly when new technologies or a significant business process change is involved. When implementing a new innovation, there will likely be a number of setbacks that threaten to derail your process. Additionally, newer and shinier projects may crop up while you’re still working on an innovation, particularly one that takes a relatively long time to execute, but if you have confidence in an idea, it’s usually worth seeing it through. While it’s important to have an impartial view and to be able to let go of an idea that is simply not working, a little patience and perseverance will go a long way in the innovation process.

Acknowledge the difficulty of change

When innovation is introduced with the aim to transform a business, it will also affect either the employee or customer experience. Humans by nature are resistant to change – even positive change – so it’s important to acknowledge that you may need to transition your customers or employees through any significant change that is being introduced to the business. Open communication and clear channels for feedback are necessary when introducing any major changes, not only so that your employees or customers feel heard and supported during a period of change, but also to allow you to hear what is working or not working, enabling the business to react to feedback to end up at the optimal outcome for everyone involved.

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