Over 20 years ago, when I began an intense focus on researching what defined “innovation success,” I came up with my list of the ‘innovation killers’ – the excuses that people and organizations make on their way to the future. Hence, failing at innovation.

It’s a pretty comprehensive list, and became a key focus in many of my keynote presentations. You can find a full page all about them: phrases such as “it won’t work” “it’s a dumb idea” “it’s too risky.” Preview the list here.

A key observation?

Many organizations have failure embedded into their DNA.

They build up a culture of aggressive indecision, which guarantees a slow culture that provides them a boat-anchor in the era of acceleration.

Jim Carroll identifies, on stage, both the cultural killers and the practical strategies that must be pursued to break through!

And now, in 2020, we have a new list of innovation killers! I’m witnessing countless organizations worldwide, stuck in a state of aggressive indecision, unwilling to act until they see some sort of clarity with respect to Covid-19 and the global pandemic. They’re waiting for some sort of certain path forward – when there is none!

The result? They’re stuck! The impact? They’ll miss out on obvious opportunities. Watch this clip which I filmed in the home broadcast studio yesterday.

Think about it – how many people do you see actively deferring decisions on innovation? Or not pursuing obvious trends, or not moving forward with initiatives, because they are using excuses like this?

  • we’ll wait until this ends! (It won’t any time soon)
  • we don’t think we will be affected! (You are)
  • we’re not quite certain what we should be doing! (You should)
  • we’re not prepared to invest right now (if not now, when?)
  • we’re just going to take some small stepsI
  • we’re not really prepared to commit with all the uncertainty (but that’s your new reality)
  • the science isn’t real! (It is)
  • it will soon be over! (It won’t be)
  • it’s impacting other people but not me! (It is)
  • it’s way overblown! (It isn’t)
  • I’ll just wait till things get back to normal! (It won’t)
  • we can just come up with a plan so we can easily manage our way through it! (You can’t)
  • we’ll inspire ourselves through some type of #strong hashtag! (Nice, but that won’t fix things)
  • we don’t think it will take a lot of work once we get back to normal! (It will)
  • we think it will be pretty easy to manage things once we get back to normal! (It won’t be)
  • things are really not that bad! (They are)
  • we haven’t really been impacted and the stock market is strong! (The market is not the economy or your industry)
  • we have a young workforce so our employees won’t be affected that much! (They are)
  • it hasn’t changed our industry too much! (It has)
  • the emotional toll is not that big (It is – the mental health implications are astounding)
  • our supply chain / business model / business structure isn’t impacted (it has been)
  • our product or service hasn’t really been impacted (yes it has)
  • we’ll set a date in stone for a return to normal – and things will become normal (the date you pick will continue to change)

You need to share this list: so here’s a shorter version of the video which gets to the heart of the matter:

In my own industry, this rush to uncertainty is playing out in a fascinating way: at first, people were planning ‘live’, face-to-face events, pushing them back to June 2020. Then, it became the fall. Now, they’re working towards the early winter of 2021. And yet, the virus is not under control, the pandemic rages, and the dates keep getting pushed back. I highly doubt 2021 will see many live events at all.

Fact: there is no clarity on ‘how’ we come out of this new state of affairs. There is no certain path forward – we are in uncharted territory.

That’s why I’m doubling down on my investment in virtual events – staging, production, content, sophistication of delivery. I figure my basement is my stage for quite some time to come, so I might as well become one of the world’s best at it. Check the video and you can see a bit of the results from my effort.

With that in mind, I even filmed this blog post!

The innovation killers referenced in this video? Here’s a playlist!


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.