Ten Organizational Barriers that Limit Innovation

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Why Organizations Can’t Innovate
Organizational Barriers that Hinder Innovation

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Why Organizations Can’t Innovate

With all of its technological advances, the Information Age has fundamentally changed the world of work. From this revolution, businesses of all sizes now must innovate and then innovate again if they want to ride the waves of constant change—instead of being flattened by them.

As I’ve worked with organizational leaders on innovative change efforts, I often found that they paid too much attention to activities like aggressive sponsorship, active communication, and personnel changes and less attention on how their organizations actually operated. While their areas of focus are important to leading innovation in an organization, they should not be their sole areas of focus. It’s also important for leaders to address the barriers to innovation that exist in their organizations.

In general, organizational innovation does not thrive in businesses that have a structure that is highly complex, formalized, and centralized (mechanistic structure).

Instead, organizational innovation spreads more easily in a business structure that is more decentralized and low in complexity and formality (organic structure).

One way for leaders to promote innovation is to actively remove mechanistic barriers that exist. When leaders do this, they help promote an environment of innovation in the workplace.

Sometimes the biggest obstacle to innovation is the way an organization operates — the way it communicates, leads, and makes decisions. Share on X

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Organizational Barriers that Hinder Innovation

So, what are some of these mechanistic barriers that hinder innovation?

Ten organizational barriers that hinder innovation are the following:

  1. Highly specialized jobs;
  2. Centralized decision making;
  3. Top down communication;
  4. Rigid hierarchical relationships;
  5. Extensive written communication, limited verbal communication;
  6. Highly formalized processes;
  7. Limited employee involvement in decision making;
  8. Extensive use of policies, procedures, rules, and manuals;
  9. Limited information sharing; and
  10. Fixed job duties that rarely change over time.

In addition to active sponsorship, communication, and making needed staff realignments, organizational  leaders must also assess and change business operations. One practical way to assess and change business operations is to learn from past failures. This lesson is not for punitive purposes; rather it’s to find innovations that can improve operations.

It’s easy for organizations to become committed to a certain way of doing things particularly when an approach is used to solve specific problems. Leaders can promote a more innovative culture by adopting certain practices in their everyday operations such as the following: As leaders work to remove these outdated, mechanistic barriers from a business age that no longer exists, they will  positively affect innovation in their organizations. With perseverance, they can help their organizations to ride the waves of change.

Too many policies, procedures, and rules are a sure way to kill innovation. They suppress employee creativity and innovation. Share on X
Written by Robert Tanner | Copyrighted Material | All Rights Reserved Worldwide

This article is accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge.
Content is for informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional advice in business, management, legal, or human resource matters.

Robert Tanner, MBA

Welcome to my leadership blog. I'm the Founder & Principal Consultant of Business Consulting Solutions LLC, a certified practitioner of psychometric assessments, and a former Adjunct Professor of Management. As a leadership professional, I bring 20+ years of real world experience at all levels of management.

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