The innovation process is by nature a continuum of trial and failure, idea iteration and testing, with an average success rate rather discouraging in many cases. However, a lot can be learnt out from previous failures and mistakes in other innovation experiences. These are some of the most common mistakes in the innovation processes:

Not knowing entirely what we want or need. As explained before, defining precisely the problem in order to solve or the desired outcome is essential to achieve both efficiency and effectiveness in the innovation process. An accurate formulation of the challenge or goal is therefore the first step towards successful innovation.

Same people, same ideas. When trying to innovate it is essential to integrate new people with different backgrounds, who can bring in truly innovative approaches. The usual contributors are likely to come up with the same ideas that are running the business. This is a key point in Open Innovation: opening the process to a wide range of contributors.

Excessive focus on competitors. Benchmarking with industry competitors is a common practice, and it is convenient. But this is not innovation. True innovation is about developing something new in your industry, and so you cannot get such innovative ideas from industry incumbents, but rather from other industries´ leaders.

Brainstorming leaders overshadow innovative introverts. Brainstorming sessions are usually dominated by bosses or informal leaders with outstanding communicative skills, but without innovative thinking skills, hence overshadowing innovative peers with lesser communication skills. Blogging and online forums may be the solution for them.

Creativity killers neutralize innovative initiatives. In brainstorming sessions, new ideas are usually welcome with many sorts of negative comments such as “That’s not our business”, “They won’t let us do that”, etc. that discourage innovators from going on in the iteration process up to a viable idea. Negative and narrow-minded individuals should not be invited.

What happens after brainstorming? Even after productive brainstorming sessions with plenty of ideas being put forward, there is no idea about how to proceed. This is actually an opportunity to craft or modify a business plan (for a new product) or a marketing plan, if many products and other issues are to be reviewed.

Innovative ideas get stuck in further development stages. Beyond the brainstorming session, there are many stages that the innovative idea has to overcome. Involving innovative-minded champions from each of the development stages could be the solution to foresee and prepare solutions for all the obstacles to be overcome.

Massive group discussion kills innovation. It has been proved that massive innovation forums kill many ideas, whereas short-listed groups with selected participants in combination with individual work is far more productive and allows innovative ideas develop up to a more advanced stage. In small groups people feel more free to share ideas and solicit feedback.

This article is from the White Paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in Destinations”, available for download in

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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