Innovation may be the obvious business mandate, but\n plenty of companies are guilty of creating a culture where a\n good idea has as much opportunity to take root as most of us\n have of winning the lottery. What gives?For starters, the creative process can be fragile and\n requires support and nurturing. That can be tough in\n today\u2019s fear-inducing environment of rapid technological\n change and marketplace competition\u2014but it also makes\n innovation essential. So take a journey through our list of\n innovation killers, and find out if your company is crushing\n good ideas or allowing growth and change to flourish.\n MORE ON CIO.COM\n \n 5 Steps to Foster Innovation\n \n\n \n Innovation killer #1: Believe that innovation will\n \u201cjust happen.\u201d\n Trusting that innovation will take care of itself is like\n believing a vegetable garden will just happen to appear in your\n yard one day. Innovation requires the investment of time and\n money, and it requires a process to support it, according to\n Thomas Koulopoulos, founder of the innovation consultancy\n Delphi Group. Like a garden\u2014a fragile and time-consuming\n endeavor\u2014the innovation process requires a place for\n seeds (or ideas) to root. It also requires weeding, protection\n against predators, and consistent nurturing and care.Attention to innovation is a requirement in today\u2019s\n world, says Koulopoulos. Even in industries where the margins\n are slim\u2014such as manufacturing and\n sourcing\u2014innovation is a must. \u201cHere\u2019s the\n irony,\u201d he says. \u201cEven though I might find that I\n cannot afford to take a big risk, that doesn\u2019t mean that\n somewhere on the globe I won\u2019t be challenged.\u201d As\n an example of how vulnerable standing still makes you, he\n points to the American auto industry, now failing in its battle\n against foreign carmakers; the competitors did think it was\n important to innovate.\n Innovation tip: Lobby for the importance of innovation, and\n the dollars and owners to support it.\n Next: Should you think \u201coutside the\n box\u201d? \n Innovation killer #2: Tell everyone to \u201cthink\n outside of the box,\u201d hold a brainstorming session, then\n call it a day.\n Great ideas are the seeds of innovation; they are not\n innovation itself. \u201cEveryone [for example] has the idea\n for a book in their head,\u201d says Koulopoulos, \u201cbut\n there\u2019s a huge gap between \u2018book in the head\u2019\n and the laborious process of writing the thing.\u201dInvention and innovation are mistakenly synonymous in so\n many people\u2019s minds; but they are different and you need\n both. Koulopoulos points out that companies that get innovation\n right have a holistic view of innovation and create a culture\n to ensure that it flourishes. This means a process to support\n innovation is created, implemented and communicated so that\n everyone knows how it works and is able to participate.\n Innovation tip: Create a formalized process for ensuring\n that ideas are nurtured.\n Next: Who should control the innovation process? \n \n Innovation killer #3: Lay the success of innovation\n solely on IT\u2019s shoulders.\n Technology should support the role of innovation, not lead it,\n says Koulopoulos. This is because innovation is first an issue\n of corporate culture, concerning things like rewards,\n inspiration and motivation.In any situation, you get two activities\u2014the invention\n and the innovation, or the actual process of innovating.\n Koulopoulos draws a hard line between the two and says\n technology\u2019s role falls after invention. IT should be\n involved with implementing the technology that best supports\n the innovation process. For example, many companies are turning\n to vendors that offer idea management technology, such as iBank\n and Brightidea.com.\n Innovation tip: Realize\u2014and convey\u2014IT\u2019s\n role in the innovation process.\n Next: Should you keep some of the idea process\n secret? \n Innovation killer #4: Create an obstacle course for\n ideas.\n Guaranteed way to kill the innovative spirit? Model your\n processes on Kafka\u2019s The Trial or your typical\n parking clerk\u2019s office.Bureaucracy and Byzantine processes discourage enthusiasm\n and participation. In a teambuilding game conducted by the\n Improv Asylum, participants quickly find out that saying yes\n or at least a positive version of no creates a more\n participative, stronger team. Conversely, when\n employees\u2019 ideas are treated with derision or\n disrespect or the process is confusing and difficult to\n navigate, enthusiasm will likely deflate. That\u2019s just\n what Koulopoulos found when he surveyed 374 senior IT execs;\n 22 percent of respondents reported losing interest in\n championing their idea due to internal process and\n bureaucracy.\n Innovation tip: Make the innovation process transparent and\n clear-cut, and create ways to support the entire\n company\u2019s involvement.\n Next: Should tradition be your guide? \n \n Innovation killer #5: View \u201cdifferent\u201d and\n \u201cnew\u201d as bad.\n Ever watched a new idea shot down at time-warp speed with a\n derisive \u201cthat won\u2019t work\u201d? Chances are the\n naysayer was one of the more entrenched execs. \u201cThis is\n the single greatest trap companies fall into,\u201d says\n Koulopoulos, \u201cand it\u2019s a people issue: When\n you\u2019ve invested yourself [in how things are], the last\n thing you want is for them to change.\u201dBut not being open to change is a big mistake, he says. Take\n the newspaper industry\u2019s initial refusal to acknowledge (and take advantage of) the\n disruption by the Internet. As a consequence, ad sales,\n newspapers\u2019 primary source of revenue, flatlined in\n 2006, according to the 2007 \u201cState of the News Media\u201d report by Project for Excellence in\n Journalism.\u201cI hear [a] lot of people talk about how media has\n less integrity\u2014we\u2019re not editing, etcetera,\u201d\n says Koulopoulos. But, he points out news and media are being\n consumed differently, and the gap between the pre-Web model of\n media and the increasingly interactive version of it\n will only widen. So are you going to stick to your\n \u201cvalues\u201d about the way things should be? Or do\n you respond to change and the need for\n innovation? Certainly the internal resistance can be\n difficult to overcome, but few companies can afford to cling\n to the past, he says.Today\u2019s world requires companies to become more like a\n Gillette, which is \u201cnot afraid to eat its young,\u201d\n says Koulopoulos. He says that the company will invest enormous\n amounts of money in developing products that will compete with\n existing ones, for one simple reason: If Gillette doesn\u2019t\n innovate on its products, someone else will.\n Innovation tips: Study stories of people and companies that\n took risks. Also: Learn why fear of change is hardwired\n into our bodies.\n Next: Does appointing innovation administrators\n guarantee idea safekeeping? \n Innovation killer # 6: Hand over the good ideas to the\n Legal and Accounting departments.\n Ideas are fragile, easily broken or squashed. On the surface,\n giving the care of those ideas to Legal or Accounting may make\n sense, since one of the greatest issues with inventions are\n legal ones. And there are financial considerations as well.But those with the most influence over the idea process must\n be the innovation champions, and that emphasis must come from\n the top, says Koulopoulos. CIO magazine\u2019s own\n research bears this out. At 61 percent, the highest-scoring\n critical ingredient of an innovative culture was\n innovation-focused leadership, according to\n CIO\u2019s survey of 2007 CIO 100 winners. (Winners are\n chosen for innovations in IT that have transformed the\n company.)\n Innovation tip: Create support and ownership for innovation\n at management\u2019s uppermost tiers.\n Next: What risks are acceptable? \n \n Innovation killer #7: Be very, very afraid of\n failure.\n Failure-tolerant management was the third most important\n ingredient in creating an innovative culture, according to\n CIO\u2019s survey; it came in at 25 percent.\n There\u2019s a reason why this factor is so important.No doubt you can build an iterative process and lessen the\n cost of a failure, says Koulopoulos, but the bottom line is the\n market is fickle and you can\u2019t predict what will\n happen.Here\u2019s the scary truth: You will fail sometimes. Like\n a child learning to ride a bike, you simply cannot move ahead\n without taking a few knocks. The question is: Are you the kind\n of organization that can embrace innovation in spite of\n that?\n Innovation tip: What doesn\u2019t work out is merely a\n learning experience and therefore fodder for the innovation\n cycle. Use case studies, research and other support to show\n naysayers why learning experiences are a must in\n today\u2019s corporate environment.