The Biggest Innovation Killer: Inertia

The Biggest Innovation Killer: Inertia

By Susana Gonzalez Ruiz

To change things, to innovate, we need to do one thing: stop.

Stop to fix what isn’t working, improve what has ceased to be efficient and create something new. However, many companies are unable to perform this simple step.

Let me explain a real case, using fictitious names, to illustrate the inability to improve even the simplest aspects of the daily work:

After two years working on the first floor of the office building belonging to INC, Steve was transferred to the second floor.

The space was occupied mainly by cubicle desks. At the back of the room, there were three offices which were often empty because the Chiefs who worked there used to be on a visit or a meeting. When this happened and the phone of one of the offices rang, the call could be picked up by any of the employees.

But there was a problem. It was not possible to distinguish which of the three phones was ringing. That situation was confusing for the employees, causing that sometimes nobody was able to answer the call in time.

This is what Steve found after a couple of days on the second floor. On the third day, he decided to get up and, as the three offices were empty, he changed the ringer tone of each phone in order to distinguish them.

How is it possible that no one ever had thought of that solution? It wasn’t a matter of intelligence. Just of breaking the inertia.

A similar and well known case is that of the origin of Geox shoes. The founder of the company, Mario Polegato, participated in a wine industry conference in Reno. While out jogging in Reno’s hot desert climate, his feet got hot and he had the idea to cut holes in the soles of his shoes with a Swiss Army knife.

Faced to the many daily challenges, most people just complain and continue doing the same things they do every day. Innovative people, however, say: “There’s a problem here. Let’s fix it “.

This is the source of most of the innovations. This is the secret of the best companies.

Often keep running with our burning shoes or continue complaining about the phone seems easier than stopping the machinery and devoting some time to something unproductive in the short term: think of a way to improve things.

Often, companies don’t have time to fix what doesn’t work. They are too busy working to offer the same products and services, to do things as they have always done.

Of course they know that those products and services have design flaws. Of course they know that their business models and processes are inefficient. But there’s no time for such things.

And that’s how companies stop driving their own future to be driven by inertia. And we all know where that road leads.

So my challenge to you is to look around and see what is not working. Is there something you can do right now to create an innovative,  positive change?

At PreScouter, we help companies find the most innovative solutions to any challenge. Contact us today and challenge us with yours!

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