What would you do if you had a working prototype of a revolutionary tablet computer that was receiving rave reviews well before Apple came out with its iPad? Cancel further funding for the project in favor of developing an updated version of an existing company product? In hindsight that seems crazy, but it’s exactly what Microsoft did with its prototype “Courier” tablet.
Similar fates often befall innovations within large companies. It is not enough to come up with next great idea. To turn that idea into a reality you have to influence people and gain their support. You must do that in the face of vast forces arrayed against innovation within an established organization, which include inertia, resistance to change, fear of failure, financial disincentives, and the tendency of people and organizations to favor what has worked in the past. Then there’s what might be the biggest hurdle of all, people’s inability to envision something that is truly different.
Leaders can, and often do, try to make corporate cultures more receptive to innovation.