The IKEA brand epitomizes innovation. In the exploration and creation of its flat box packaging and self-assembly in the 1950s, the Swedish retailer reinvented the way consumers purchase and receive furniture. But IKEA and other innovators can't stop with their one lightening idea. They must continuously evolve.
Last week at Integrated Marketing Week in New York City, IKEA Media Director Alia Kemet, said, "You can't get to a space where you're not innovating anymore. In that vein, she hinted at IKEA's exploration of opening smaller showrooms where consumers could potentially experience a sampling of products and place their orders from their phones for delivery, eliminating the warehouse concept.
While IKEA's next big idea has merit, such innovative ideas like this start with a brand's people. "I don't think [innovation] requires someone who is just digitally savvy; it involves someone who's a game-changer," Kemet added.
In an effort to warn the audience about employees who block innovation, Kemet went on to offer her two "enemies of innovation."
The first enemy chases the shiny object and the second is governed by fear, shutting down any new idea in his path. "You have to have conviction. You can't let fear be the thing that stops you from moving forward," Kemet explained.
Inspired by Kemet's 'enemy' list, I added three more of my own:
3. The Gatekeeper: While gatekeepers maintain the controls of good governance, sometimes these people can establish too many permissions, controls, and processes that it hinders a company and prevents it from advancing at the necessary pace to stay competitive.
4. The Luddite: These technophobes possess an unusual fear of advanced technologies, opting out of using the new content management platform or CRM system in favor of their Excel spreadsheets or their rolodexes instead of LinkedIn. These employees prevent teams from collaborating, stop advancement, and create more silos within companies.
5. The Complacent: These people are seemingly happy with their positions and with the status quo. They think, 'why rock the boat?' They're pleased with their own merits, unaware of their missteps, or of the need to evolve. This attitude undermines the need for change and prevents long-term success.
Fostering continuous innovation within companies happens through the nurturing and developing of employees. The first step in enabling employee innovation is recognizing the enemies and establishing the necessary initiatives and steps to help motivate them to drive change.