Operational Barriers to Success

Operational Barriers to Success

Every organization aspires to be successful and engages in innovative practices to remain competitive in terms of position and performance. However, achieving organization success requires more than just innovative ideas as a firm should be able to implement the changes successfully. Successful change requires an organization to have a thorough understanding of what it wants to achieve, what is keeping the firm from being successful and the potential for organizational resistance. However, organizations still face numerous barriers and obstacles that affect their ability to attain operational excellence and success. 

This essay discusses the tools that organizations might use to identify barriers to success and barriers that prevent a firm from implementing innovative practices. Also discussed in the paper is an organization that has faced operational barriers, the approach it used to address these barriers and suggestions on what should have been done differently to overcome these barriers.

Tools to help identify barriers

Organizations can use various tools to identify the forces that prevent a firm from achieving organizational success. One such tool is a SWOT analysis; this involves an evaluation of an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. The SWOT analysis process starts with first identifying the purpose or objective of an organization and analyzing the internal and external factors that help in achieving this purpose (Chen & Hove, 2011). A SWOT matrix can then be developed whereby an organization lists its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. An organization can further prioritize these factors to define high risk and high impact threats and opportunities against an organization’s internal strengths. This tool can be effective in identifying factors that limit the ability of an organization to effectively achieve its objectives.

Another tool that could be used to identify organizational barriers is communication and collaboration. An organization can use this tool to identify barriers by having a culture that encourages communication and collaboration between employees and managers as well as amongst teams. Employees and managers can share information, suggestions and ideas on why an organization is not able to achieve objectives. In addition, the collaboration process could help identify problems in the internal structures and systems that prevent an organization from achieving operational success. Organization-wide collaboration also leads to fully engaged workers who embrace change and are willing to share ideas and knowledge for the good of an organization. To identify barriers to success, communication and collaboration can help in sharing information on what an organization is lacking.

Organizations could also hire external consultants to review and analyze their business processes. The external consultants could come in to review the whole business system with the objective of identifying the forces that prevent successful innovation to take place (Chen & Hove, 2011). The consultants could analyze the key business components such as leadership and organization, people and assets, culture and values, as well as process and tools, as these could help in identifying potential barriers to success. The advantage of using external consultants is that they can provide objective and unbiased view of an organization’s business system and processes. 

Barriers impeding the ability to adopt innovative practices

Several barriers can potentially limit the ability of organizations to adopt innovative processes and practices. These include:

  1. Internal resistance – According to Crabtree (2014), people simply do not like change and the bigger the change, the more difficult it is for employee to accept new processes and practices. In most cases, it is common to find employees a bad situation rather than adopting new processes that promise a better experience. Management also tends to resist new practices because they fear uncertainty and possible difficulties in assessing the performance of an organization in terms of return on investment. The impact of resistance to change is that an organization sticks to old habits and beliefs that ultimately limit to development and implementation of new and innovative initiatives. Ultimately, the organization maintains the status quo but lags behind when it comes to operational success and excellence.
  2. Fear of failure – This is another barrier to operational success as most organizations do not believe in failure when it comes to implementing new processes. Worse still is when an organization fails to consider organizational culture while adopting innovative processes and practices. The fear of failure often leads to the stigmatization of unsuccessful ideas or risk takers. As a result, many employees and managers fear coming up with new innovative practices or ideas because of the fear of failure. According to Chen and Hove, real and successful innovative practices are encouraged by a culture of innovation and an organization that encourages employees to always develop and implement innovative practices. For instance, Google allows its employees to spend about 20% of their time to develop their own innovative ideas. This approach has enabled the company to successfully develop new products and services.
  3. Poor communication across departments – This is another barrier to innovative practices as without effective communication, it is easy to be misunderstood. Some employees or departments can come up with very innovative ideas or suggestions but they can be understood or resisted by other departments. This is mainly due to poor communication and lack of collaboration across departments. Sometimes, some departments might not have the knowledge on how to develop new ideas or sometimes, they might fail to see the benefits of a new suggestion by another department. The impact of poor communication is that there could be an inaccurate impression of an innovative idea and its potential benefits leading to resistance and unpleasant working environment. This could in turn hinder productivity and employees will shy away from being creative or innovative. 

An organization that has faced these barriers

One organization that has encountered these barriers and forces that has limited its ability to adopt innovative practices and processes is Kodak. Kodak was once a leading film photography company that was built on a culture of innovation and change. When the digital revolution started in 1980, Kodak was unable to keep up with new technology and failed to embrace new and innovative ideas (Shih, 2016). At that time, Kodak’s main competitor, Fuji was transitioning to digital technology in the wake of declining film sales. 

One factor that acted as a barrier to the adoption of innovative practices and processes by Kodak is internal resistance. While some managers and employees within the organization had innovative ideas and solutions to the digital revolution, the ideas made no progress because of internal resistance. Another barrier that Kodak faced is fear of failure; whereas other film companies such as Fuji were shifting to digital imaging, a platform that had its own unique learning curves, Kodak shied away from the shift because the management felt like the company lacked the required technical knowhow and organizational capabilities. 

This is amidst the fact that the company was investing a lot of money in basic research of semiconductor technology, a key feature of digital imaging. Still, Kodak feared venturing into the business of supplying image sensor components, an innovative idea that would have enabled the company to remain competitive. By the time the company realized the mistake it made, it was too late and Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

What I would have done differently to overcome these barriers

Kodak would have definitely achieved a better outcome had it taken several measures. First, the company should have done a SWOT analysis to identify its internal strengths and prioritize some of the opportunities to take advantage of. Since the world was shifting from analogue to digital technology, Kodak should have considered maximizing available opportunities including digital imaging and semi-conductor technology, a move that would have increased the film company’s competitive advantage. Another thing that Kodak should have done is follow its culture of innovation and technology. At the time of the digital shift, Kodak had managers and executives who turned away every innovative idea despite the company’s culture of innovation and technology (Kotter, 2012). Had the company listened to and implemented innovative ideas, it would have been able to adopt innovative practices to enable it to remain successful. 

In summary, there are several barriers to success the main ones including internal resistance, fear of failure and communication problems. To help identify these barriers, organizations could use several tools including SWOT analysis, communication and collaboration, and external consultants. A company that faced these barriers to change is Kodak that failed to embrace innovative practices and processes as a result of internal resistance and fear of failure. 


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