3 Common Obstacles Innovation Leaders Face When Acting on Employee Knowledge

unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project

Obstacles aren't the end of your innovation journey. Here's how Ideawake directly solves the challenges innovation leaders commonly face.                            

Carter Liebscher|
July 28, 2020

Your employees are engaging with your idea management platform. How do you take their ideas from concept to pilot?

Your employees are more plugged in—and productive—than they were at the office. While this may cause risk-aware organization leaders to pause and question the long-term effects of remote work on employee productivity and engagement, we believe leaders should use our current circumstances as an opportunity to capture current employee engagement levels for innovative good.

Corporate innovation leaders already face a number of internal hurdles when trying to kickstart an innovation program, from change-resistant departments to friction in communication. However, as seen in the graph below, the number-one challenge innovation leaders face is resistance to fostering a Culture of Innovation—a challenge your organization overcomes from the get-go by investing in an idea management platform and corporate accelerator team.

After making the decision to buy versus build an idea management platform, organization leaders might next question how they can put employee ideas into action while overcoming the other obstacles listed above, namely:

• Losing steam for idea based on existing decision-making processes,

• Conflicting projects, and

• Fear of failure.

We’ll examine some of these obstacles closer and show how Ideawake can help overcome them in order to achieve a stellar ROI on your employees’ ideas.

Obstacle #1: No employee insight after inception

From busy individuals and departments to lack of in-person interaction, some innovation leaders might fear that an employee’s great idea will get lost in the shuffle of in-progress projects. More than that, leaders also might fear that engagement will go down in the future if employees have no real ownership over their suggestion.

Here’s the simple answer: Assign idea management to the idea originator. Research shows that employees with psychological ownership over their work feel more engaged and empowered than when their leaders take control. Not only does the responsibility of seeing their idea through engage them, but the fact that it’s their idea inspired them to prove its success.

Solution: Empower your employees with the materials they need to manage their idea, as provided by Ideawake’s Ideabox program.

Read how Ideawake can keep your virtual teams productive and innovative.

Obstacle #2: Prioritizing surfaced ideas

Another common obstacle we see is prioritization—namely, how to prioritize new, promising projects based on employee ideas alongside current projects in the pipeline.

We’ve seen that organizations that take the first step to invest in idea management software often include risk costs in their decision-making process. (Although solely low-risk ventures actually erode your organization’s market position.)

An idea management platform that automatically measures which ideas are worth pursing saves your company time on researching any and all employee-generated ideas. You might even find that the projects currently in your pipeline have a lower ROI than the one projected for an employee-submitted idea.

Prioritizing ideas is a job in and of itself. A platform that does the work for you will help your bottom line faster than before.

Solution: Ideawake automatically surfaces the top 5% ideas that will produce 95% of business results based on criteria leaders set.

Obstacle #3: Fear of failure

The most obvious obstacle leaders face before actioning an employee idea is the fear of failure.

Innovation, however, is not solely defined by creating entire products or services, carving out a new market space that previously didn’t exist.

With Ideawake, administrators can post challenges based on smaller, more incremental goals. Not only will your org get immediate actionable insight, helping your bottom line in the process, you will encourage future innovative thinking that may lead to more radical change down the line.

As touched on by Red Hat’s Enterprises Project, leaders that cultivate a sense of experimentation among employees without instilling a fear of failure are successful leaders.

“Rewarding success is important, but equally important is creating an environment where people are not penalized for trying intelligently and failing.” — Rahul Singh, Managing Director of IT and Business Services at Pace Harmon

“Digital transformation: 8 ways to spot your organization’s rising leaders,” Stephanie Overby, The Enterprisers Project

Solution: Cultivate a Culture of Innovation based on present needs in order to encourage future radical innovation.


At large, organization leaders value innovation, even in times of crisis. Seventy-five percent of executives believe that COVID-19 will create new growth opportunities, but only 21% of them feel that they have the expertise and commitment to pursue those new growth areas effectively.

Leaders that invest in innovation tools are risk-aware but not risk-averse, in turn producing more quality outcomes rather than none at all.

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