Fostering Digital Innovation

Every company promotes innovation and progress within its marketing organization. Yet, culturally and structurally many organizations have hurdles in place that stifle the very process that yields innovative and effective new ideas.

So what’s holding your team back?

The answer is simple: fear.

Fear of Failure: If the corporate culture doesn’t support a little risk, exploration, trial and error, and failure, then it doesn’t support innovation and progress. If you’re stepping outside your comfort zone and developing creative approaches to reaching, influencing and engaging consumers, then you’re bound to have some flops. But these failures are necessary to hit the homeruns. Companies need to support the iterative process, as it leads to progress.

Fear of Sacrifice: Marketers, and in turn their agencies, are regularly forced to decide between sacrificing immediate day-to-day responsibilities for mid-to-longer term strategic planning. All too often the daily executional realities supersede strategic needs, and tasks like planning, collaborative ideation and even proper workflow become the collateral damage. Great ideas won’t emerge from hasty execution and skin-deep planning. Marketing managers and leaders must identify when strategic progress is being hampered by the culture itself. If your team doesn’t have the time to manage strategic tasks, it is your responsibility to secure the organizational support and resources to do so.



Fear Stifles Innovation

Often the result of the fear of failure and sacrifice is the fear and avoidance of complexity. Simple is easy to execute. Straightforward and routine ideas require little thought leadership. The risk of failure is low, as is the breakthrough potential.

Your goal is not innovation. Rather, innovation is the result of creative approaches to achieving marketing objectives. When all pistons are firing properly, innovation happens. But you can’t be afraid to fail.

How does your company eliminate fear to promote creative thinking and innovation? Share your stories in the comments or hit me on Twitter @jasonheller



2 comments about "Fostering Digital Innovation".
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  1. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, February 14, 2012 at 7:49 p.m.

    Hear, hear Jason. We all have to step out of our "comfort zones." If you want to stand out, get noticed, and be truly amazing at what you do and offer, you can’t do it easily or let fear hold you back. Innovation happens OUTSIDE your comfort zone!

    The new way of doing business pushes our comfort zones constantly, so why not just step right up and show that you’re willing to risk YOUR comfort to deliver value for your customers. Do not let fear rule the day.

  2. Rick Monihan from None, February 15, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.

    Great piece, Jason.

    How often do we hear "this is the way it's always been done" as a 'reason' to keep doing things a certain way? The only way that can be a 'reason' is if you fear doing things better.

    Sometimes "this is the way it's always been done" is a real reason. But you can't know that intrinsically. It has to be determined through some logical method of either audit and analysis, or trial and error.

    When I hear this line, I typically react poorly to it. Usually, it's a good reason to sit down and discuss exactly why it's always been done that way. Typically, it's fear of trying something new.

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