Leaders and information workers unsure how to address innovation

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Survey findings from Miro® show there is near unanimous agreement among organization leaders and information workers that innovation is urgent and critical to business success. But because of economic uncertainty, fear, and outdated business practices, few are able to capitalize on the opportunity innovation offers.

Globally, nearly all leaders (98%) and information workers (90%) agreed that innovation – defined as the design, development, and launch of new products and services – is urgent. This was consistent across company size and industry, and the reason is clear: 79% of leaders and 76% of information workers said innovation is necessary to win against the competition. Without it, 82% of leaders said companies risk survival in the next five years.

Despite wide agreement that innovation should be a priority, most (62%) said it falls by the wayside. Why is this?

  • Economic uncertainty: Over half (57%) of leaders said that innovation feels like a luxury and not a necessity in the current climate, and nearly half (47%) of information workers agreed.
    What’s more, over half (54%) of global leaders agreed that their companies should pause innovation until the economy is more stable, and over half (52%) said they aren’t willing to risk prioritizing breakthrough innovations. Nevertheless, leaders point to competitors’ breakthrough innovations as the biggest threat to their business.
  • Fear: A majority (62%) of leaders agreed fear gets in the way of pushing harder to innovate, and 58% said that their company is afraid to prioritize innovation.
    Fear is also deeply personal: Nearly one-third of leaders worry about derailing their careers or damaging their reputations if innovation projects go awry, while 52% of information workers said they worry their jobs are at risk if their companies fail to innovate.
  • Outdated technology and lack of cross-functional collaboration: Both leaders and information workers agreed that the biggest roadblocks on the path to innovation are technological challenges (like legacy tools) and organizational challenges, especially those related to cross-functional collaboration.
    Thirty-one percent of leaders cite technological hurdles, and 25% cite organizational hurdles. Similarly, 31% percent of information workers cite technological hurdles, and 30% cite organizational hurdles.

“Innovation is an existential crisis for companies today – those that fail to meet the moment will soon be extinct,” said Paul D’Arcy, Miro’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Fortunately, in uncovering the obstacles that organizations encounter on their path to bringing new products and services to market, the data also offers insight into how to face these challenges. By prioritizing these solutions, companies can chart a course not just to survival, but to generational success.”

How can companies overcome the innovation crisis? 
Survey findings show that organizations are not managing innovation at scale or on a breakthrough level. Miro believes that in order to overcome the innovation crisis, companies need to:

  • Be clear on strategy and communicate it throughout the organization
  • Develop a diverse portfolio, including pursuing breakthrough bets with confidence
  • Streamline cross-functional product development processes, optimizing for velocity and customer-centricity
  • Address the core drivers of fear, and work to normalize failure and failing fast

“Work is becoming a multiplayer game. The more successful organizations are leaning into collaboration – within the organization and outside the organization – as a principal means of achieving more efficient and faster outcomes. This also applies to driving innovation,” said Wayne Kurtzman Research VP, Social, Communities and Collaboration at IDC.

“When teams are organized to be creative, to take risks, and to push boundaries, we see more [teams] move from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving.’ They create the opportunity to leapfrog ahead of their competitors and establish leadership in a space. Innovation fails when teams don’t have the right tools, processes or mindsets to collaborate.

“The companies who succeed will ultimately need to figure out how to instrument their business – from technology to culture – so that the balance tips in favor of reward versus risk.”