40 Barriers to Innovation

In large corporations, there are numerous barriers to innovation. Here is a list of some of the more common ones.

The reason why I created this list is to aid innovation teams when discussing barriers to innovation with senior and middle management and how to remove or mitigate them.

If you prefer infographics to text please see the end of the list.



1  Innovation strategy not aligned with business strategy

2  Lack of shared values, purpose and vision

3  No innovation strategy



4  Focus on financial returns & ‘making the next quarter’

5  No diversified & balanced portfolio of bets

6  Constantly shifting priorities



7  Innovation not part of the performance review process

8  Lack of incentives to inspire and reward innovation

9  Lack of time



10  Middle-management resistance to change

11  Frontline employees lacking autonomy

12  Internal process focus

13 Inadequate funding

14  Micromanagement



15  Focus on product innovation instead of business models

16  Afraid or uninterested to talk to customers

17  Afraid to fail with focus on risk avoidance

18  Still believing in innovation myths

19  Tweaking ‘business as usual’

20  Waterfall instead of agile

21  Not invented here



22  Don’t know how to vet ideas and bring them to market

23  Don’t know how to map customers jobs-to-be-done

24  General lack of tools, processes, and methods

25  Don’t know how to learn from failures

26  Don’t know how to talk to customers



27  No innovation academy or coaching program

28  No train-the-trainer or intrapreneurship program



29  Confusing financial metrics with innovation accounting

30  Inappropriate measures for managing innovation

31  Don’t know how to measure success

32  No ‘north star’ metric



33  No common language for discussing innovation

34  Not distinguishing between assumptions and facts

35  Unaware of ‘Babel's Tower’ inside of the organization



36  No cross-functional teams running high-tempo testing

37  Innovation delegated to individual mavericks

38  Teams expected to ‘search’ & ‘execute’ simultaneously

39  Teams falling in love with the solution, not the problem

40  Teams trying to scale before reaching product – market fit


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