Visualizing Obstacles to Innovation

We were pointed to a fascinating LinkedIn thread about the things that prevent people and companies from innovating. Respondents were asked to describe the biggest obstacle to innovation in a single word, and being who we are we couldn’t resist seeing what this looks like through the lens of our software.

We took the survey results, used our models to create a high-dimensional “map” of the responses we were getting and it looks like this (click to enlarge):

The system’s inherent understanding of language clustered the concepts and generated this tree. Each branch, going right, is part of the idea on the left, so you can see the breakdown of individual “bigger” problems into their smaller components — for instance, “ownership” as an obstacle is a component of the larger problem of “lack of belief.”

We’re looking forward to learning what other people think is interesting here, so please do let us know.

2 thoughts on “Visualizing Obstacles to Innovation

  1. NIH is NOT an obstacle to innovation. It is an obstacle to adopting/deploying innovation.
    What is perhaps ironic here, is that “obstacles to innovation” are not as important as
    obstacles to deploying innovation. This is because we have LOTS of innovations,
    often very good and useful ones. Our larger failure is to take advantage of those innovations.
    If we stopped innovating today and just adopted the best of the known innovations,
    we (as a civilization) would be way ahead. So your tool found one of the answers to a related, but even more important question, which, depending on how you look at it, is either wrong or
    out of the box fantastic. I like the latter.

    1. Why thanks!

      I think the modest thing to say here is that what we found is that NIH is the most central concept in the data set under study; that is, it was the single concept most related to the opinion of the group as a whole. In fact, I think the point about obstacles to deployment is very well-taken — many of the answers given were focused on this problem rather than the development of innovations per se, or at least the problem of finding the ability to innovate within a larger organization which is often very different from actually innovating. The data certainly shows that respondents are focused on the first kind of problem. Great catch, and thanks for posting it.

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