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Innovation Debt

Innovation Debt is the cost incurred by organizations that consistently defer or decline opportunities to integrate new methods, ideas, products, etc., into their operations.

"I will do that later." Innovation debt. "I am too busy right now." Innovation debt. "It is not my problem to fix that." Innovation debt.

Like monetary debt, a reasonable level can be healthy and facilitate the achievement of short-term objectives. However, growing amounts can create opportunity cost/loss and competitive disadvantages.

Signs that Innovation Debt has advanced beyond reasonable levels.

"The team’s not motivated."

"I don’t know how to get others on board."

"We’ve been trying to do that for several quarters."

As innovation debt becomes increasingly expensive to service, it can burden future growth and handcuff an organization’s culture.

Signs that Innovation Debt has gotten out of control.

The customer cancelled because our services were outdated. The best employee left because they were tired that things here never change. The prospect signed with a competitor because our service offering wasn’t competitive.

A crisis exposes our vulnerabilities, and no one is immune. But within every crisis is an opportunity. An opportunity to stretch ourselves, to grow, a chance to challenge the status quo. It can be a catalyst for a new perspective or new leadership, a time for teams to adjust their processes, leverage new methods, ideas, and product offerings.

How much Innovation Debt is on your company's balance sheet? What changes are you making to manage your Innovation Debt? What changes are you making to pay it down?

This article was originally posted here on April 30, 2020, by Dave Mundy.

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