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Removing Blockers to Innovation

Filed Under: Innovation | Podcast | Strategy
Date Published: March 10, 2020
By: Claire

Don’t you feel like it’s the moment of innovation but when it comes to take action we keep telling ourselves things like, I don’t have the time, or I don’t have ideas?

On today’s episode, Claire will help you identify, understand and remove the blockers to innovation to grow your businesses and delight your customers.

Listen to find out:

  • What are the most common blockers.
  • How to identify our blockers by looking at your routine and by applying other strategies.
  • Why some things just block us.
  • How to elaborate a plat to remove your blockers.

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Transcript of this episode:

What’s stopping you from innovating in your business today? We all face blockers along the path to greatness. How will you remove these blockers to help you keep going and delight your customers? 

On today’s episode, we will talk about how to identify and remove blockers to innovation with the plan. Never feel stuck and unable to take your next step in growing your business again. 

My name is Claire and over the last nine years I’ve worked in innovation teams across industries, including research, manufacturing, retail and technology. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly when it comes to innovating for customers. Now, I alongside my guests, I’m sharing these learnings with you, to help you avoid the mistakes and capitalize on the learnings for growing your business with innovation. 

This is the innovation and business podcast. So, are you ready to talk about removing some blockers from your innovation processes? Okay, great. Let’s jump in. 

What is blocking you from innovating? Is it lack of time, lack of ideas? Do you struggle to get alignment from your team when building an innovation roadmap? All of these things have been listed as reasons why different companies have not been able to innovate. And, I can see why. It’s difficult when you’re struggling to manage multiple projects, and multiple team members and all of their needs, and the needs of your existing clients. And still find time to innovate. It’s difficult when you run out of ideas and you’re not sure what to do next, or which opportunity is going to be the one that grows your business. And if you haven’t got alignment from your team, how are you ever going to push forward with a new and innovative idea? You need to be able to get the buying of everyone that’s going to be working on it. 

So, which of these means the most to you? Which of these three things have you come across the most often in your business? How are you identifying? What are the blockers to innovation? When it comes to my business and when it comes to my clients’ businesses, what I look at and what we work on, when we’re trying to identify new opportunities for innovation is looking at the routine. What are you doing every day? How is that working for you? How are your customers reacting to what you’re delivering on a day to day basis? Is there some consistent feedback you could use to learn more about how to solve their problems? What opportunities are there within these processes for innovation? 

Ask your team. Where do you get feedback from customers that something is not working? Who when you’re doing your job, what stops you from being able to do it better? or quicker? or with more impact? The simplest way to identify what are the blockers to innovation is to just ask. Ask your customers. Ask your team, ask the people you work with. Ask yourself, what is stopping me from growing and innovating within this business today?

Once you’ve been able to identify some of the blockers, before you could jump in and try to resolve them, I really encourage you to understand some of the things that are causing the blockers. Now, it’s easy to say that, oh, it’s just so and so because they’re not doing their job as efficiently as they should be. And that means that I have to pick it up for them and therefore I don’t have time. Or it’s easy to say that oh, we just can’t agree. So we’re not going to move forward with any of the ideas that we propose because we can’t gain alignment, but you need to be stricter with yourself You need to really ask yourself, why is this happening? What is the root cause of this issue? Why are you prioritizing other things above innovating in your business? 

When you’re going through this process of asking yourself, why, make sure that you’re looking at your data and understanding what it’s telling you. 

So, for example, if you have a load of feedback from customers, saying that they love your projects, but they found that when they’re trying to use it for looking at -and I’m doing this off the top of my head, so forgive me if it’s not the most smoothest example- but if they’re looking at using your product to purchase plants, when really you designed it for purchasing images and pictures to put up in your house, and they’re seeing that they’re running into different problems, such as the delivery window is too long so the plants are arriving dead. Is there a way that you can innovate in your product that will allow more flexibility and allow more customers to be delighted in the way that they want to be? by just looking at how you can change the delivery windows, and how you can add more shipping options for your customers, that’s going to help them really use your product better. 

This is just one very simple example of how you can use the feedback you get from your customers to understand what are the blocks and what options you have the innovating on them. But before you go into that, you need to really understand why you haven’t in the past updated shipping windows. Was it because your team couldn’t agree on which are the right shipping windows to have? Was it because you weren’t sure about how you would have enough time to manage multiple different shipping options, or is it something else? 

Until you understand the root cause of the thing that has stopped you from doing this in the past or is stopping you doing this now, you’re not going to be able to create a suitable solution that’s going to solve the problem for your customers. And you’re going to continue to be blocked when it comes to this innovation. 

Okay, so now you’ve identified some of the blockers that are stopping innovation within your business. It’s time to get a plan together to solve these blockers, remove them from your process, and then be able to innovate again. 

So what can you do to create a solid plan to remove blockers?

In this next section, I’m going to talk a little bit about removing blockers for each of the three main areas that we identified previously, that are causing blockers to companies from innovating. 

So the first issue that prevents companies from innovating in their businesses is a lack of time. So if this is a problem for you, some of the things that you can look at to help you get more time and streamline your business, so it’s ready for innovation are things like you’re not to do list. So what are you doing right now that you don’t need to be doing? What are you doing that’s not directly impacting your sales or adding something positive to your customer experience? And how can you stop doing that? Can you automate it? Can you delegate it to someone else within the team or within your business? Or do you just stop doing it all together, if it’s not adding value, why you doing in the first place? 

I think we need to be better at being more critical of the things that we do within our businesses so that we can make them more lean and prioritize better to help us do more overall for our customers. 

So, another opportunity for streamline is looking at the processes that you have in your business, and seeing how you can remove waste from them, how you can make it easier for people to get through the processes that they need to do in their day to day life without having to face blockers or face time sucks within them?

One really simple example that I remember from my lean training was that one of the examples was someone who needed to write down orders manually every day. And this took a long time for many reasons, but some of the things that allows them to go faster in their job was to make sure that they always had working pens. Previously, they’d spent time just trying to find a pen that works, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to start doing their work. So just having working pens and making sure that they were always fresh pens available, allow them to be way more efficient and save more time. Time that can be spent on innovation and thinking of new solutions for customers. 

Another way in this example is, why are we manually writing down all the orders? Why are we not using a system to automate this? Why are we not delegating this process to technology? I am 100% sure there are processes that you can delegate to technology within your business right now. And once you do that, you will find that the time blocker that is stopping you from working on these new exciting projects that you know will going to have a big impact for your customers, is now gone. Another way that you can look at removing blockers specifically if your blocker is lack of ideas, is putting in place systems and processes that allow you to collect more data. The more data you have on your customers, your customer behavior, the more likely you are to be able to spot those opportunities within your business and within your products to delight them. If you really understand your customer journey, you really understand the metrics of your product and how it’s working for customers, then you can get a good handle on how improving it will really help them to engage more and will help to grow your revenue. 

So for example, if you’re seeing that there’s one part of your app where customers are abandoning and not completing, and then they’re taking a long time to come back or you don’t have a process in place to remind them to keep up to date with their plan, if your app has a daily aspect to it that you’re expecting people to engage with on a daily basis. How can you add notifications? How can you improve the experience that’s causing them to drop off, that will make your experience more interesting and engaging for them? 

If you have the data available on what customers are liking and disliking about your product, then you have a much stronger foundation to be able to build an innovation strategy from.

The third and final topic that I’m going to cover is actually the one that most people say, is the biggest blocker for them in their businesses to drive innovation. 

And that is getting alignment. 

So, alignment is an interesting one, because, and definitely something I took from my time at Amazon is you don’t have to all agree initially on a project, but you do have to kind of create a space where people can disagree, but can also commit. So if you’re trying to build a culture that supports innovation and allows for innovative ideas to come up through the business, a test and learn, fail fast, all these kind of tacky buzzwords within your business, what you need to do is create a safe space where people feel like you can have an open discussion about a project or a proposal. And you can voice your concerns or if you don’t think it’s the right decision or the team can say why they think something is the right decision without the kind of fear that something’s going to reflect badly on them or that it really matters if you disagree. And once you create that safe space and allow for kind of healthy conflict within that, engaging your team in the process, and allowing everyone to kind of have their say, you can create this disagree and commit culture where people feel like even though they might not necessarily agree with every aspect of the process, or the project, they’ve had their opportunity to voice that they are disagreed. But now because they’ve done that, and the discussion has been had and the team has made the decision on the whole, they can now commit to that in the full confidence that they at least got to say their piece. Which I think is a large piece of gaining alignment, is making people feel heard, understood, and then coming to a conclusion. 

So those are my kind of three tips for removing blockers to innovation in your business. 

If you need more time, look at where you can streamline what you can stop doing to help you have more space to innovate. 

If you need more ideas, look at what data you can collect on your customers and how people are using your products to identify opportunities to improve or add something new that’s going to delight them. 

And then finally, if you need support gaining alignment, think about creating a safe place where people can voice their concerns, openly discuss a project and then disagree and commit, so you can move forward with a strong innovation strategy. 

The main thing when it comes to innovation is to be open to different ideas and to free up your mind space so that you can let those in.

The tips that I’ve shared today should help you to do that, and now you should have a good view of how to identify what is blocking you from innovating. You understand why these things are blockers not just on the foundational level, but a deep understanding of why these things are blocking you. And then finally, you have some strategies to help you to remove those blockers and ultimately create a lasting and impactful innovation strategy within your business. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode about removing blockers to innovation and have found some of the things we’ve discussed useful. 

Tune in each Tuesday for your top of inspiring innovation stories and techniques. 

Next week, we’ll be joined by Mike from Jellyfielder Studios to talk about video marketing, and how the team at Jellyfielder are innovating with their products to play a bigger game.

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on your podcast provider so you don’t miss an episode. If you have time, please leave a review as it helps others find the podcast and helps me get great guests for you.

That’s it for now. 

Have a great day and I look forward to catching up with you next week.