Overcoming the 7 most common objections to innovation
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Overcoming the 7 most common objections to innovation by Ideas with Legs

1. Can innovation really be learnt? And can it create commercial opportunities and results?

Innovation is a set of skills, just like any other business skill. Be it writing a proposal, organising a team meeting, creating a workflow procedure, or creating a sales program. Just as all these business skills can be learnt by doing it on the job and through experience, they can also be taught to learn it faster.

The same can be said for innovation. The only difference is too few of us innovate on the job, and therefore, we're less likely to learn it on the job.

An organisation's potential for growth is dependent on the opportunities we create. Be it in looking for new markets, developing new products or services to meet a market need, or simply improving processes that allow us to increase value and output.

2. Innovation skills can't be taught.  You're either innovative or not.

Many people will tell me you're either born creative or not, and in some cases, some natural freaks seem to come up with creative ideas without trying.

By revisiting, researching, and investigating successful innovative ideas from the past, we can reverse engineer the steps and attributes that will enable us to replicate a similarly successful result. The only difference between naturally creative talent and learned skills is that some individuals unconsciously carry out innovative steps. In contrast, others consciously go through a process. With practice and time, we can become as fast as those who create innovative leaps. What's even better is we know how to replicate the process so that we can do it on demand, rather than hoping for the idea to pop up in our head.

Everyone is capable of learning to innovate. The research shows that anyone at any age we can learn to develop a more flexible mind and become innovative.

Innovation skills come from a variety of combined thinking styles, behaviors, and mindsets. Being proficient as an innovator is often about knowing which skills appeal to you. For example, just as a knowledge worker might prefer how they set up their desktop and the software tools they use, the same goes for innovation skills. The wider the variety of skills we can share, the higher the chance to find the perfect set of tools for each individual's personal preferences.

3. Only product-based organisations with an R&D Department need innovation.

Innovation should never be limited to a product research capability. The bottom line is if you have the same service that your competitor does, but your competitor has an internal process that saves time and money in the back of house activities, then your competition has an advantage over you. Innovation is the obvious solution to create a better process in motion.

Service too is an area that depends on innovation. One organisation has a unique follow-up system to keep in contact with its customers; the other doesn't. The more innovative customer service follow-up program creates more referrals and happier customers and outperforms the competition. Innovation wins once again.

4. Innovation is too challenging to learn and apply.

The biggest challenge with learning many Innovation skills is that they are usually counterintuitive. The process steps can often challenge our rational, logical mind because the mind cannot yet see how doing the tasks will create great results. Doing things that challenge us this way is uncomfortable to start with and, therefore, can be intimidating and scary. However, the more accustomed we become to the steps, the mind sees the value of the technique, lowers the resistance, and eventually embraces the process more readily.

5. A service business cannot innovate.

Well over 50% of our clientele are service-based businesses. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't still be hiring me If I'm not helping them innovate, but let's look at debunking this objection. We can use an accounting example here to explain how.
An accounting company realise that they have a world-class succession system that they use with their clients. They start to innovate around this by thinking of "what ways can we leverage what we do?" They realise they can license and sell part of their succession process to smaller accounting firms. They also decide to apply their innovative thinking to revamp the succession process every year to sell updated licenses. Innovation in action!

6. How can you effectively measure innovation?

Here are some simple ways to measure innovation:

  • No. of ideas generated
  • No. of processes improved.
  • No. of new products and service offerings
  • No. of value adds combined to service
  • No. of sales/ increase in sales, retention of customers, number of conversations
  • Metrics on anything that have a direct impact on profit
  • Measuring how easily your innovation metrics can impact profit
  • Determining how easily you can measure the innovation metrics and how often
  • Assessing how one can motivate people around the innovation metric/s

7. Ideas don't necessarily mean dollars. How do you ensure the execution of ideas into commercial Dollars? 

Before we execute, we validate. Validation is the way to eliminate risk and validation can be done much sooner than you think. Saving you money and time. Our validation method addresses how to validate that the problem you’re trying to solve really exists, that a market is willing to pay for your solution and that your solution can effectively solve the problem.

Too many big ideas get lost because people are afraid of the unknown, yet it's really the reluctance to innovate because people haven’t learnt the processes that enable them to minimise risk through validation.


PS: If you’re looking to reinvent your business I have a FREE Business Reinvention Checklist for you to get started.
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About Nils Vesk

He's the founder of Ideas With Legs.

His  clients call him a Reinvention Renegade. Nils Vesk is an international authority on innovation and the inventor of the ‘Innovation Archetypes Process’.

Around the globe, leading companies such as Nestle, HP & Pfizer turn to Nils to share his proven innovation techniques for formulating commercial insights, ideas, extraordinary customer experiences and irresistible products.

Nils unpacks the million-dollar innovation principles used to create rapid growth for the future.

Nils is the author of a number of books including "Ideas With Legs - How to Create Brilliant Ideas and Bring Them to Life", and "Innovation Archetypes - Principles for World Class Innovation".

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