Is your organization struggling to deliver on the innovation expectations you have for it?

From our experience at The Brainzooming Group and ongoing research, there are ten common innovation barriers blocking new idea and implementation across organizations. Only a couple of these barriers existing in a culture can block even modest expectations for implementing new ideas.

There is good news, however: none of the innovation barriers is insurmountable.

Understanding which challenges you’re facing is vital. That insight drives the smart change management steps needed to navigate each innovation challenge.

10 Innovation Barriers Lurking in Your Organization

We group innovation barriers based on their ties to strategy, process, and people issues.


Strategy Barriers

  • Lacking an overarching direction
  • Loving the status quo too much
  • Managing with an exclusively short-term focus
  • Using ineffective metrics

Process Barriers

  • Ignoring the need for a structured process
  • Struggling with core capabilities
  • Lacking sufficient resources
  • Operating with a history of unsuccessful innovation implementation

People Barriers

  • Failing to recognize innovative talent
  • Not motivating the team to take risks and innovate

Tackling Innovation Barriers

We use a diagnostic with senior leadership teams that ties to the ten innovation barriers.


The first step in the brief strategic thinking exercise has individual leaders assess the presence of the organization’s roadblocks. After leadership team members complete individual assessments,  we collect and analyze the responses as input for a strategic conversation among senior leaders. In that conversation, we:

  • Acknowledge areas of agreement on the presence or absence of specific barriers
  • Discuss reasons where there are different perceptions on innovation barriers
  • Identify, based on the overall scores, whether significant barriers are tied to strategy, process, or people issues

Is Your Organization Struggling with Innovation?

Are you trying to push for new ideas and innovation in your organization, but not finding success?

You need to download our free eBook, “The Ten Big Nos to InNOvating.” It highlights each of the ten innovation barriers and includes the diagnostic we use.

If you want to go deeper in jump starting an innovation strategy, contact us. Let’s talk about the best options to engage your employees for input and innovation!

Are you ready to boost innovation in a high-impact way?

New-10Barriers-Cover-BurstDo you need a quick evaluation to understand your organization’s innovation challenges so you can create a strategy to boost new ideas and successful implementation?

Download “The Ten Big Nos to InNOvating – Identifying the Barriers to Successful Business Innovation.”

This free Brainzooming eBook highlights ten common organizational innovation barriers. A one-page evaluation sets the stage to quickly self-diagnose where to focus your organization’s efforts in customizing a successful innovation initiative.

Download Your FREE eBook! 10 Big NOs to Innovating in Organizations

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We were on a call with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting.

7 Important Creative Thinking Skills


Infographic by and courtesy of Diane Bleck – DoodleInstitute.com

These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:

1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another person’s concept.

It’s helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another person’s idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well.

2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else.

When it comes to your own ideas, it’s easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: don’t become somebody known for doing this!

3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea.

Often (maybe “almost always”) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have.

4. Letting someone else take “ownership” of your idea in order to build support for it.

This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea you’re willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it.

5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree.

It’s tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective – and can do it more appropriately than you can.

6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense.

There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea you’re advocating is on the mark strategically.

7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you.

Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, it’s in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didn’t see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.

How are you doing on these 7 creative thinking skills? How about your team?  – Mike Brown

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Find New Resources to Innovate!

NEW FREE Download: 16 Keys for Finding Resources to Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy

Accelerate-CoverYou know it’s important for your organization to innovate. One challenge, however, is finding and dedicating the resources necessary to develop an innovation strategy and begin innovating.

This Brainzooming eBook will help identify additional possibilities for people, funding, and resources to jump start your innovation strategy. You can employ the strategic thinking exercises in Accelerate to:

  • Facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying innovation resources
  • Identify alternative internal strategies to secure support
  • Reach out to external partners with shared interests in innovation

Download your FREE copy of Accelerate Your Innovation Strategy today! 

Download Your FREE Brainzooming eBook! Accelerate - 16 Keys to Finding Innovation Resources

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When it comes to whether an organization demonstrates ample creativity and new ideas, you have to place a load of responsibility on the leadership. How the leaders encourage and cultivate new ideas (or don’t) will affect the volume and richness of creativity throughout the organization.


If you want to go deeper into our thinking on the topic, here are a variety of articles on how leaders both support and stand in the way of creativity and new ideas.

Leaders Supporting Creativity and New Ideas

Creative Thinking – 7 Keys to How “Idea Magnets” Boost Creativity

Career Challenges – 8 Ways to Let Talented People Help You

The Process of Strategy Planning: 5 Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating

New Employee Success – 5 Ways to Create Success for New Ideas

Be a Business Fan for Your Work Team Members

Creative Thinking Skills: 6 Tips for Sharing and Receiving Creative Ideas

Unleash Creative Possibilities with Bob Thacker

Extreme Creativity – When Do You Trust a Creative Genius?

Leaders Getting in the Way of Creativity

5 Ideas When an Uber-Positive Boss Crushes Creative Thinking

Protecting Your Creativity in a Culture that Doesn’t Value It

New Business Ideas and a Creative Block in Your Organization

Mike Brown


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ebook-cover-redoBoost Your Extreme Creativity with “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation”

Download our FREE “Taking the No Out of InNOvation eBook to help generate extreme creativity and ideas! For organizational innovation success, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative growth strategies. Contact us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Download Your Free

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Reviewing the innovation strategy challenges business executives identified when downloading Brainzooming eBooks, they frequently mention gaining “buy-in” for significant change initiatives. That’s no surprise. There are so many ways to botch involving employees (and community members, if that’s your audience) in developing and successfully implementing an innovation strategy.

Here are five keys we’ve found for successfully engaging employees in innovation strategy. Consider it “The Brainzooming Buy-In Manifesto,” written in the voice of your employee or community member.

The Brainzooming Buy-In Manifesto – 5 Keys to Engaging Employees in Innovation Strategy


Ask me to participate

Ask about my aspirations and hope for our organization. Help to me to productively contribute to identifying what we need to do and what it might mean for us. Let me share ideas for how we might be able to accomplish the changes we need to make.

Listen to my ideas

Let me share what I’ve been thinking about or maybe just imagined. Listen as I struggle to put words or images to big ideas that aren’t fully formed. Listen to the ideas you hoped to hear, and keep listening when I share challenging perspectives and ideas that aren’t nearly as comfortable to accept.

Incorporate my ideas in our collective direction

If I’ve shared ideas, I expect to be able to recognize how they shaped what we’re going to do. We may not do everything that I suggested, but I want to be able to see how my participation influenced or shaped the overall view of what we’re going to try to accomplish, and how we’ll make it happen.

Let me know what’s going on

I’ve shared my ideas. I don’t want them to simply go into a big black box and then have to comb through a document or internal announcement later to see what happened after I was involved. Even if I need to return to what I do every day, don’t forget I was part of the team in its earlier stages. We have a legitimate expectation to keep hearing about what’s happening even if my participation is reduced.

Talk in real words

When sharing ideas and information, use familiar language we use within our organization. Don’t hide questionable ideas or intentions in vague or jargon-filled language that obscures meaning and understanding.

That’s the Brainzooming Buy-In Manifesto

If you want engagement and ongoing participation for developing and implementing an innovation strategy, start with these five keys. – Mike Brown


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Looking for a Successful Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value compared to what’s currently available.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE eBook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!

Download Your Free  Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Fake Book

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We love many things in the United States that are failing us.


We Love Lines

We love drawing lines. We seem so fascinated with celebrating differences that single ourselves out, we wind up drawing lines everywhere. The intent is to show why we are different from everyone else and our needs must be separately recognized, acknowledged, and accommodated.

The problem is that with every line we draw, someone else is on the other side of the line. And when we face people across lines, we accentuate what’s different. And we seem hell bent on attacking those that are different than we are.

We need fewer lines, and more standing together.

We Love Guns

We love fire power. Maybe it’s a fascination with the Old West and the strong guy (or the bad guy) shooting themselves out of problem situations. Maybe it is real fear and thinking we never want to be in a position where we don’t have as much ability to harm others as they have to harm us.

The problem is when we both have guns, we have shoot outs. Why else do we need guns in situations having nothing to do with anything other than harming someone else? We go right past all the ways we should have to interact with each other in the interests of being able to threaten each other more effectively.

We need fewer guns and more readiness to meet each other with listening, understanding, and kindness.

We Love Killing

Even more than loving guns, we generally love killing. Our laws and courts have spent the last forty-plus years making it easier to kill others and ourselves on both ends of life. We’ve established killing as an integral right as citizens. And since we can’t get enough real life killing, we also love killing spread throughout all types of entertainment.

The problem is we can’t immerse ourselves in a culture of real and imaginary killing and think we aren’t changed by it. Life seems casual. Life seems expendable. Life seems anything but sacred. In many cases, the lives of others are costs to society that we need to kill off to make sure we don’t have to sacrifice what we believe should rightfully be ours.

We need to remember all our lives originate and end in the same place. We can’t sit by as others are killed without opening doors to others killing us if we’re obstacles to their aspirations.

We Love Thinking We “Have” This

You see statistics showing fewer people believe in God. Fewer people practice organized religion. Yet, people are bowing down to idols of all types: money, fame, sex, self-determination, eternal youth, killing, sports. That’s just a start. We are better all the time at filling the place God would take in our lives with things we have created ourselves.

The problem is that we, as the human race, don’t have things covered. The more we’ve moved away from God to chart our own courses, the more we seem to be sinking into worsening cycles of failure and despair.

We need more belief and prayer in God, who can truly help us out of our mess. – Mike Brown

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This time of year, preparing for upcoming strategic planning exercises may seem like something far in the future.

Whether strategic planning is months away or close at hand, however, it’s always smart to get a head start tackling big strategic thinking questions that warrant in-depth consideration.

As we look ahead to clients’ strategic planning processes, we’re developing new strategic thinking questions to freshen our Brainzooming strategic planning exercises. Along the way, we try to share some of these strategic thinking questions with you to incorporate into your organization’s strategic planning exercises.

9 Big Strategic Thinking Questions to Start Addressing Now


9 strategic questions orange

Here are nine new strategic thinking questions were excited about in three planning areas:

Strategic Goals and Focus

  • How could we focus on only one aspect of what we do to create a major impact in a completely new area?
  • Where can we create at least two 0-percent or 100-percent goals for our organization?
  • If we don’t already have any projects with ten-year horizons underway, what are two of them we should launch now?

Branding and Customer Experience

  • What would make our tired old brand “hot” again?
  • How could we create a place where future prospects and customers want to spend time “hanging out” with our brand?
  • What will it take to turn every “ask permission” situation for customers into a “this is part of your solution” situation instead?

Innovation Strategy

  • How can we surgically remove a promising idea from our organization and plant it in a bigger host so it flourishes more quickly?
  • What are new ways to put our customers together with each other so they can identify and solve bigger challenges?
  • How many times a day are we saying “yes AND” to a new idea or situation, and how do we increase that number by a factor of 10?

Which ones of those might fit into your upcoming strategic planning exercises? Contact us to let us know what works, or if you’d like to put us to work for you to get you through strategic planning in a streamlined fashion this year!  Mike Brown


10 Keys to Engaging Employees to Improve Strategic Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Leaders need high-impact ways to develop employees that can provide input into strategic planning and then turn it into results. This Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons leaders can use to boost collaboration, meaningful strategic conversations, and results.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

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I’m frequently asked for free advice. You know the whole “can I pick your brain” routine. To which I typically answer, “If you pick my brain, it will never heal.”

In a number of other business and personal situations, I formulate pieces of advice that are either never requested or never volunteered.

7 Pieces of Advice – Only Some of Which I Passed Along


Thinking back over recent weeks, there was some decent pieces advice (both for others and for me) that I both passed along and kept to myself without saying anything. Here are seven that come to mind:

  1. Your health is more important than a job. If your job is making you sick, you have to get out as soon as you can.
  2. Don’t send an email when you’re dumping a load of crap in someone’s lap that did nothing to deserve it. Pick up the phone and be an adult about it. And maybe figure out several possible alternatives while you’re at it.
  3. Simple, great ideas might only be great ideas in a vacuum. Once you introduce them into an organization’s culture, that same simple, great idea can create lots of complexity and hassles.
  4. Print the whole report out, single-sided. Then start throwing out pages and rearranging it until it looks like the report you need.
  5. When you read an email that makes you mad or confused initially, close it. Come back to it fifteen minutes later, read it slowly and thoroughly, and see if you have the same sentiments about it.
  6. In many situations, it doesn’t matter who does it, but SOMEBODY has to be in charge.
  7. Today has hardly any impact relative to eternity. Get over it. Things will be fine no matter what it feels like right this minute.

If any of these apply to you, feel free to borrow them – for free. – Mike Brown

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Contact us to learn all about how Mike Brown’s Brainzooming workshops on social media and content marketing can boost your success!

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