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Why Corporate Innovation Fails – Survey Insights

by Stefan Lindegaard
November 8, 201211/8/12 10 Comments

I am currently looking into why corporate innovation fails and how corporate innvators deal with this failure. A key element of this research is a survey and I am very pleased to have received 103 responses so far.

You can check out the survey here: Corporate Innovation and Failure – A Short Survey. If you work with innovation in some capacity in a company with more than 250 employees, perhaps you would like to share your views.

I promised that I would share the results of the survey with the readers of my blog so here you can can download the summary: Survey Results – PDF Summary

The survey brings out some interesting insights and I will now look further into this and share my reflections in upcoming blog posts and in my e-book which is due March 2013.

It would be great to hear your views as well and as a discussion starter, you get some of the questions and replies here:

Question 4: To what level is failure acceptable in your innovation team

Less than 50% view failure as an inevitable part of the innovation process

Question 7: What levels are most often responsible for innovation-related failure in your organization?

Here internal factors such as the business unit, organization and team clearly take the lead here over external factors such as industry and macro issues.

Question 11: What are the most common causes of innovation failure in your organization?

• Too much focus on products and technologies rather than considering all aspects in bringing innovation to market (55%)

• Unrealistic expectations from top management regarding the resources and time required to achieve innovation (54%)

• In-adequate resources – budget, people, infrastructre: (51%)

Any thoughts? Download the summary,  Survey Results – PDF Summary, and let me know what you think!

Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. Linda says:

    Hi Stefan, I think this is an excellent initiative, thank you for sharing. I am interested in doing a similar survey in South Africa, as so many companies are going the open innovation route at the moment. From which countries were your participants?

    • Stefan Lindegaard says:

      Hi Linda, they are from all over the world. Keep me posted on the survey in SA. I might visit there in March.

  2. huvidea says:

    Stefan, this is interesting but not surprising.

    Did you notice that the 64% of respondents are from mid-senior management and they report favorably to questions like "is failure expected"

    The survey should be balanced by responses from not in management position who say that failure is infact accepted.

    What do you think?

    • WardOoms says:

      I completely agree to this. However, it is very interesting for once to see the picture from one point of view as it nicely illustrates how mid-senior management attitude could potentially have a significant impact on innovation processes. Whenever people perceive management doesn't allow for failure this can hugely affect people's propensity to experiment, explore, discover, step outside boundaries, and all the like. Similarly, when they perceive management thinks (big) failure is not accepted, this can put a pressure on innovation processes that has a detrimental effect.

    • Stefan Lindegaard says:

      Good observation! The good thing about the survey and the number of respondents is that I can cross-tabulate all the different questions/answers and thus get a more detailed understanding. I look forward to digging into this in the coming weeks.

  3. WardOoms says:

    The results on question 4 are surprising. Anyone with a solid understanding of innovation and what it entails in practice should know and, more importantly, appreciate that there is no innovation without failure. I wonder to what extent people realize that their very impression of innovation processes having no room for failure is a key cause of innovation processes being hindered, ending in failure, or rather, not happening at all.

  4. Stefan Lindegaard says:

    Fully agree, but unfortunately not everyone within a big organization have a solid understanding of innovation 🙂 It is getting better though.

  5. Henning says:

    Hi Stefan,
    while any field data is better than just building theory and while I clearly understand the constraints we all operate under, I have to say that I would clealy prefer a current ethnographic approach over a survey approach. This would take a couple of months for a mid-size R&D organization (and was and is done in a lot of places), so it is clear out of the question for you but I think it is important to bear in mind how progress in the field can be made with different means.

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