I saw a Little Caesars TV ad extolling the benefits of the brand’s pizza dough remaining unchanged over time. Perhaps the TV ad is a delayed reaction to a Domino’s TV ad several years earlier about innovating because it finally listened to customers saying how bad Domino’s was.
The Little Caesars TV ad shows one employee questioning another about making pizza dough from scratch every day for fifty years without ever changing. The veteran employee explains the instruction to make pizza dough by hand daily is laminated, and "lamination is forever."
It's a mildly humorous ad.
It's a significant point though when it comes to the barriers to innovation many organizations erect.
While you may not have your organization’s barriers to innovation laminated and on display everywhere, there are likely other phrases, labels, and activities suggesting particular practices are “forever.” Since they AREN’T laminated, they may be easy to miss.
30 Barriers to Innovation (other than Lamination)
What should you be looking out for with less obvious barriers to innovation? They could be hiding as things talked about or understood to be:
- Anything that has stood the test of time
- Anything with a proven track record
- Assets everyone is trying to leverage
- Assumptions about the marketplace that everyone understands
- Behaviors that are safe and comfortable within the organization
- Capabilities or products central to success
- CEO-endorsed initiatives
- Challenging discussions that are off the table
- Core capabilities or assets
- Corporate traditions
- Expectations everyone understands need to be met
- Foundational aspects of the brand that took hold without much forethought
- Ideas someone has struggled to sell-in so no one wants to change anything and re-sell them
- Known entities
- Long-standing policies
- Off-limits topics and conversations
- Priorities that go unexamined or unchanged
- Programs considered familiar and safe
- Programs that are routinely funded with few questions
- Programs where leadership is solidly on-board
- Questions that have been decided, and everyone is expected to "move on”
- Slam dunks
- Something that’s clearly considered out-of-bounds
- Something strongly aligned with senior management expectations
- Successful programs that nobody would dare tweak
- Sure things
- Things no one questions
- Things that are easy to accomplish
- Top-down directives
- Well-respected people and programs
You see, not all barriers to innovation involve lamination as the main way to say something is “forever.” There are all kinds of ways to make it clear that something in your organization is set aside, protected, or untouchable.
Maybe some of them DO need to be forever. A lot of them, however, are probably ripe for change. Be on the lookout and step up to be the one trying to push past all those barriers to innovation and do new and better things. – Mike Brown
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