a barrier with a sign showing a way to innovation

Psychological barriers in innovation for business

We often hear that innovation is a key to business success, but why is it so hard to be innovative? What are psychological barriers in innovation for business? Here are three main factors that may fuel or stifle innovation in your company.

Anxiety or networking?

Innovation grows usually on a collaborative network. Controlling, micromanaging leaders stifle innovation. If an organisation is led by a person who doesn’t manage anxiety well, it is very hard to implement change.

An anxious leader tells people what to do instead of listening. Such a company is full of controlling procedures and practices, which result in lack of trust. Such an environment stops people from expressing their thoughts or engaging in new initiatives.

While hiring managers, it is good to ask how they manage anxiety because without self- awareness it is likely anxiety manages them. We can mitigate risk through specific programmes and training. Identifying psychological challenges to innovation and implementing tools to manage them is crucial for success in business.

Diversity or bias?

The biggest threat to innovation is a solution that doesn’t address customers’ needs. Such solutions come from decisions based on gut feelings rather than research. Gut feelings are thus the second item on the list of psychological barriers in innovation for business.

Gut-feeling decisions limit leaders’ vision to their personal preferences and biases, while products may be designed for people different to them. Gut-feeling decision making also erects barriers to diversity in business as decision makers tend to support people of the same kind: people who offer familiar solutions.

Barsh, Capozzi and Davidson pointed out that one of the biggest problems with innovation management is lack of clear plans and strategies for innovation. It is hard to achieve any long-term goal without them. Innovative organisations need specific plans for innovation management in line with their core values. This includes reading research and discussing change before taking action.

Collaboration or competition?

There is an inevitable conflict between profit and collaboration. If someone shares their idea with others, they increase chances of turning this idea into a success. At the same time, they increase chances of someone else going behind their back and patenting an invention for profit.

Companies could invest more in research and development, but they spend this money on copyright trials and patent registrations. Apple and Google could create something beyond the iPhone and Gmail, but they spend resources on producing incompatible chargers and separate operating systems. So competition is also a psychological barrier in innovation for business.

The secret of human success lies within collaboration, but human psychology is shaped by competition. We should be aware of this contradiction, and try to sustain balance. While we must compete for profit to exist in the market now, we should not forget about collaboration that is our investment in the future.

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