Close this search box.
Close this search box.

How CEOs Can Defy Innovation Inertia

CEOs play a pivotal role in leading their organizations to continuously innovate and generate a steady stream of new value. As part of this, one major challenge they face is balancing the many opposing forces, which can inadvertently result in a mysterious inertia that stalls these efforts.

Questions to Ask

To increase the power of your own organization’s innovation engine, here are some questions to ask:

    • How consistently do we communicate a compelling vision and commitment to enterprise-­wide innovation as the principal driver of customer and stakeholder value?
    • Which formal and informal cultural practices (including reward systems, policies and procedures) reinforce the “everyday behaviors” that are most important for transforming innovative ideas into focused action? Conversely, which of our formal and informal cultural practices could inadvertently reinforce inertia and inhibit innovative thinking and action?
    • To what extent does the frequency and quality of communication and collaboration enable us to quickly pick up on emerging opportunities and challenges in the business environment?
    • How can we better engage external stakeholders including customers, strategic alliance partners, outsource providers and suppliers so that they are jointly developing and executing innovative ideas with us?
    • When innovation stalls, what assumptions could we be making about the source of the inertia? Areas to explore include conflicting priorities, unresolved misunderstandings and clashes, lack of resources, and critical knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  • While going through this assessment by yourself can provide you with new insights, discussing these questions with other stakeholders can yield surprising and valuable perspectives. For example, when we interviewed groups of employees across a company, the CEO learned that they weren’t inclined to act on ideas from innovation sessions because it would interfere with objectives on their performance reviews.

    Congruence is Critical

    Taking an active role in shaping and reinforcing enterprise-­wide innovation is more than ever a critical ingredient for how CEOs can consistently enable their companies to create new value, and gain and maintain competitive leadership in their markets.

    The key is to recognize how many ways top leadership commitment to innovation is conveyed and perceived, and to actively shape these forces so that all of the messages are congruent. Monitoring and adjusting messages and actions on a frequent basis is especially critical as business conditions rapidly change.

    When your organization and its stakeholders perceive that innovation is more than a program, defying innovation inertia is no longer an impossible dream and your company can soar to new heights of success.

    Pamela S. Harper is founding partner and CEO of Business Advancement Inc (BAI) (, a consultancy established in 1991 to help companies accelerate innovation. D. Scott Harper is a senior partner with BAI, and is experienced in moving products to market from concept generation through development and release.




  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.