I have really enjoyed helping people work through the process of innovation.  Even though key principles of innovation always apply, each situation is unique and different.  Lately, I’ve noticed several roadblocks to innovation.  Hopefully, we can help you stay on the path and avoid these roadblocks.

1. Not knowing what you don’t know.  Innovators are typically experts in their fields.  They are smart, creative and work hard.  But nobody is an expert in every field.  If someone assumes that their intelligence and hard work will get them through every situation,  they will be very disappointed.  Finding an expert with different skills and background can help avoid this roadblock.

2. Not knowing the difference between an invention and innovation.  I have seen a lot of really neat inventions.  When I look at them, I think here is something that’s very creative and will solve a problem.  Unfortunately, some inventors think this is all there is to innovation:  find a problem and solve it.    They fail to recognize that innovation is not just in creation, but also in taking their product to market.  As simple as it seems, the keys to avoiding this roadblock are making sure the invention will really help the user and then creating a clear path to get it to market.  If an innovator will follow this path, the chances for success will be greatly enhanced. 

3. Not recognizing the many resources available for innovation.  Often innovators try and reinvent the wheel when what is really needed is an innovative improvement.  Edison said that he started where others left off.  With the internet and other technologies, innovators can see what others have done, move past their mistakes and/or build on their successes.  Also, other qualified people can be used as resources to increase the probability of success.

As you work your way along the road to innovation, watch out for the roadblocks.  Most can be avoided if you look up and see all the people and other resources around you.