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Top innovation challenges

Here are, in my view, the top innovation issues that are keeping innovation VPs awake at night.

I/ Turning innovation into a competitive advantage

  • How to identify new markets where there’s strong value to capture? In particular, I’ve noticed that many product and device companies, such as Medical Devices and Diagnostics companies and Energy companies, are creating devices which create health-care and energy data. How do pharma companies and energy companies capture the value that comes from the data that their devices are producing, rather than see IT companies (such as Google, Microsoft and Accenture) capture the value?
  • How to penetrate new markets and disrupt established companies?
  • How to fend off the threat of disruption in the company’s core markets?
  • How to improve the Return On Innovation Investment (ROII)? In other words, how to make sure that every dollar spent in innovation delivers the highest value?
  • How to  create a new business model? How to develop business models that work in emerging economies?


II/ Improving the product offering

  • How to improve my existing product offering? According to what dimension? How to know for sure that improvements will indeed create customer value?
  • How to create new products that new customer segment will be ready to buy?
  • How to lower costs on a given product offering without loosing market share?


Innovation issues
Innovation issues – courtesey of

III/ Innovation culture and process

  • How to create a corporate culture that’s more conducive to innovation? How get more people involved in the innovation process? How to source ideas internally and make sure that selected ideas are implemented?
  • How to sell innovation to one’s boss? How to position innovation as the key profitability lever for the company? In addition, how to get General Management to dedicate more resources to innovation, whether it’s in term of budget or in terms of Full-Time Employees (FTEs)?
  • How to improve the innovation process, as whole? How to reduce variability and error rates all along the innovation process?
  • How to prioritize one innovation project over another and on what basis? How to be sure that the criteria used most reflects value, as defined by customers?

As indicated above, please feel free to add to this list in the comment section. I’ll be more than happy to incorporate your ideas into the post.

In the near future, as this list builds up, I’ll suggest another call to action.


Further Readings:

  • For a presentation of the pattern of disruptive innovation, please refer to Clayton Christensen’s, The Innovator’s Dilemma. Chapter 1 talks about disruptive innovation in the hard disk drive; chapter 3 talks about disruptive innovation in the excavator industry
  • For a discussion on opportunities of innovation, please refer to Anthony Ulwick’s, What Customer’s Want, chapter 5
  • For a discussion of what cognitive habits may lead to greater individual creativity, please refer to Michael Michalko, Cracking Creativity

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