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Research Identifies Barriers to Innovation in UK organisations

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Working efficiently seen as key to innovation

21st May 2008. Research commissioned by Adobe, and released today, highlights clear barriers on a day-to-day basis, preventing employees from bringing innovative ideas to life. This is in spite of an organisation-wide understanding of, and commitment to, the importance of innovation.

The report, “Unleashing Innovation”, found employees generally saw themselves as being innovative but they were less impressed by their peers, managers and organisations overall. For example, 43 per cent of line manages rated themselves positively as innovators, but only 22 per cent rated their teams, and only 18 per cent their Board directors innovative - essentially creating silos of innovation within the workplace.

Out of director, senior management and line management, the latter were consistently the least positive about innovation in the workplace, despite the fact that a majority see themselves as personally innovative. Focused on getting work done, enforcing procedure and process, and driven by targets, the line of business manager has little time, scope or reward for innovation, nor the time or resources to respond to calls for new ways of doing things from those higher in the hierarchy.

Also clear from the research was a very strong link between efficiency and innovation: 86 per cent of respondents see the former as important or very important to being innovative. Being able to get the day-to-day work done, allowing time to develop and nurture innovative ideas was found to be one of the major barriers.

Employees understand the value of innovation: 71 per cent agreed that innovation is important to their company and 65 per cent saw it as an important part of their own role. However, a staggering 68 per cent claimed that their organisations had no incentives or reward programmes for innovation and less than half report that their organisations have any specific policies to encourage it.  This highlights the lack of appropriate business and cultural practices, stifling innovation.

Craig Tegel, Adobe’s managing director of Northern Europe, commenting on the research said: “Finding new ways of solving problems is at the core of innovation; after all the difference between invention and innovation lies in the practical application of new products, processes and approaches to deliver real benefit. To overcome the technological, cultural and business barriers that are creating silos of innovation within UK businesses, we need to break out of ‘traditional’ structures and use people, information and resources in new ways, and create cultures that embrace and reward change. For UK businesses this is crucial for the continued competitiveness in a global economy.”

The research was conducted by Loudhouse, an independent research company, and surveyed 500 line managers, senior managers and directors in organisations across the UK. The research was designed to try to understand their views of innovation and how it influences and is influenced by current working practices and structures.

For more information please contact: adobe@harvard.co.uk, or call Ben Maynard at Harvard PR on 020 8564 6324