Creative people must be stopped

Creative people must be stopped

Creating growth through innovation has become an increasingly important challenge to many companies. To develop a new product however means a constant compromise. A compromise between customer needs, concept, design, available technology, rules and regulations, cost of development and production, competitive positioning, potential distribution channels, resources to create awareness and ultimately what the customer and consumer is willing to pay.

After all these compromises, it may not be so strange that up to 80% of all new product launches fail. On the other side, many companies still don’t put in enough energy into truly understanding their customers’ needs and aspirations before the product is launched. Often the product development process ends up being more about proving the business case or adopting the prototype for production rather than about truly and competitively satisfying relevant customer needs. Even more so, out of all of the ideas coming up in the process, only a few survive. What really happens on the way?

David Owens, professor at Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management, has shared a few thoughts about innovation and frustration during his career. He specializes in management, innovation and design and has been featured in New York Times and Wall Street Journal. In his book (from 2012, but still very relevant) ”Creative People Must be Stopped – 6 ways we kill innovation” he identified six domains of constraints to innovation – each one with a ’fix it’ component.

Here is a short video from YouTube that summarizes it nicely…

As a summary, the six domains of constraints to innovation, are:

1. The Individual
Individuals not generating enough good ideas, which is the raw material of innovation. How to fix? Improve the cognitive ability of the relevant individuals to recognize and generate new ideas.

2. The Group
Groups allow negative emotions to derail the process of evaluating and implementing new ideas. How to fix? Design the groups processes and culture to support collaboration, open communication and risk-taking.

3. The Organization
Organizations are designed for routine and consistent outputs, and innovation as such threatens that. How to fix? Strategy and structure to be changed in ways that support risk-taking and development of new initiatives.

4. The Industry
Whole industries are oriented towards the needs and wants of today’s markets and customers can be resistant to ideas that alter the economic status quo. How to fix? Clearly demonstrate the market/customer the value and utility of the new idea.

5. The Society
Society can reject or regulate new ideas inconsistent with norms, ethics and member’s sense of identity. How to fix? Show relevant parts of society that the new ideas are legitimate and show it  in terms that are already accepted.

6. The Technology
New technologies takes time, resources and expertise to develop and commercialize. How to fix? Create and support new technologies supported by significant investments in research, development and commercialization.

As easy as that? Maybe not, but still interesting and relevant to think about.

Source: Creative People Must Be Stopped. 6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Even Without Trying), by David Owens (from 2012, but still very valid).



About the author

Elisabet Lagerstedt

Elisabet Lagerstedt

Elisabet Lagerstedt is the founder and director of Future Navigators. As a trusted advisor, consultant, and Executive Coach, she helps business leaders navigate beyond business as usual to build Better Business and co-create a better future - through insight, strategy, innovation, and transformation. Elisabet is also the author of Better Business, Better Future (2022) and Navigera in i Framtiden (2018).