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Ten Ways You May Be Stifling Innovation

We all know how easy it is to stifle innovation. A simple way is to continue to say “Yes but” instead of “Yes and”. What you might not know is that it is all too easy to stifle innovation in ways that are not obvious. Forbes cites the following ways in which managers can stifle innovation:

  1. They hammer their employees on daily, weekly and monthly goals instead of asking “What’s the most important thing we could accomplish in our department if we set aside our goals for a while to do it?”
  2. They constrain employees who have big ideas by telling them “That’s not in your job description” or “I want you to do it the way we’ve always done it.”
  3. They reward uniformity and metrics instead of out-of-the-box brainstorming.
  4. They (knowingly or not) pit employees against one another so that each team member’s focus switches to beating out his or her teammates instead of a group win.
  5. They shut down independent thought. Really unequipped managers even say “I don’t pay you to think.”
  6. They reward the achievement of numeric goals, giving employees a big incentive to make another phone call or write another line of code instead of stopping and looking at their work from a higher altitude.
  7. They keep employees out of the high-level vision and strategy conversations. Who can come up with a brilliant solution to a problem you don’t fully understand?
  8. They are too afraid of their higher-up managers to propose any change in their team’s plan, schedule or budget. Innovation will always require a shift in at least one of those elements, if not all three!
  9. They punish employees who take risks when those risks don’t pan out. That’s a surefire way to stifle any thoughts of innovation their teammates might have had.
  10. Lastly, their own mindset tells them that a good day at work is a day when nothing breaks or goes wrong. You will never get innovation from your team with that worldview. You have to be willing for things to get messy and unclear for a while if you want to achieve big things.

Do you do any of these? No? Are you sure? Take another look. One of the most important ways to change a negative innovation culture into a positive one is to be aware of what happens currently in your organisation. Our Innovation Index tool allows you to do just that- to measure, quantitatively, the ability of your team to innovate, pinpointing with precise accuracy areas in your organisation that need improvement. Let us know if you would like more information on this powerful tool – email Jemma Parsons at

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