Innovation barriers take many forms. The main reason they exist is that organizations are geared towards efficiency in their core business (exploitation engine) and lack a second operating system for innovation (exploration engine). Once innovators try to experiment their way through the system logic of the exploitation engine, they will get measured and evaluated by its standards too. As these are not geared towards innovation and intrapreneurship they will stifle and destroy any attempt to push non-incremental or even breakthrough innovation through the organization. This is why we often hear: “Innovation? In our company that’s career suicide!”
Innovation barriers can be categorized into very general obstacles (which apply to all organizations and are a kind of hygiene factor you’ll have to meet to make any new thinking happen and into ones which are specific to certain methodologies like design thinking or Lean Startup . You can also find ‘good collections’ of innovation-related barriers in the form of visual card sets for workshops and strategy work here and here. If barriers are not removed in a top-down manner by leadership and through intentional innovation capability building, you’ll often find innovators working around them bottom-up by developing ‘cultural hacks’. Culture hacks are therefore good indicators of where your system stifles innovation.
Innovation programs and vehicles are often institutionalized answers to barriers specific to the organization. They are set up to remove or circumvent them, to make innovation processes run smoothly again, without the need for culture hacking.