Having worked with a variety of technology companies, most of them claim to be innovative but it is very difficult to be truly innovative.
In general, companies don't practice innovation more regularly because often times, they are bogged down with operational, revenue, or engineering issues. Technical debt built up by previous engineering practices can hamper innovation. Broken operational issues to keep business processes in place can destroy innovation by the "we have always done it this way approach." Companies often times are also focused on revenue issues and are trying to find that stability before they can truly practice innovation.
Long story short, a lot of companies need to be in a stable state of mind with an agile culture (not necessarily cash flow positive or profitable) to practice innovation. In my 7 years of experience speaking with hundreds of companies, only a handful have been truly innovative. Happy to jump on a call to talk through more detail with you.
Innovation in my experience is not something a company can practice as a whole it grows more in the culture and in the people that work for the company. The senior leaders of a business can encourage innovation by allowing for more "free" time to explore passions and by creating a safe space to challenge the norm. However, they need to hire people who are curious and creative thinkers to allow for innovation to occur. I have watched several documentaries and researched this. A lot of this stems from how we are raised and our education system where we are limited in any generation with how manny truly innovative thinkers exist. Although companies says that they want to be innovative, they need to hire the right people and build the right environment for people to be innovative towards the business.
In the book "Loonshots", author Safi Bahcall indicates that looming barriers to innovation include:
In his theory, organizations above a certain size threshold (roughly about 150 people, not very big) shift in a couple of key ways that tend to put the brakes on innovation.
First, they'll notice a change in motivation. Larger companies tend to have a more hierarchical structure, leading to more opportunities for promotion. As a result, employees' thinking shifts away from the "mission" of the job and company, and toward how to get promoted, get the bigger bonus, and so on. As a part of this, the influence of, and opportunity for, organizational politics increases as well.
Second, the hierarchical structure creates a few barriers in itself - more red tape, more silos, and more job specialization. Employees become more narrow in their focus and spend more productive time working on organizational requirements than on their jobs, much less on ways to innovate within their job, organization, or industry.
With smaller organizations, innovation is not guaranteed - it must become a part of the collective culture or focus of the organization, and time and latitude for innovative and creative thinking must be accommodated (but not mandated or fenced in, like the mythical 15% of the workweek allocated by certain tech companies). However, with less time spent focusing on politics, red tape, getting promoted, and more time "cross-pollinating" with others in the organization, there is far more opportunity and success in innovative thinking.
I'd love to discuss this further with you by phone - please don't hesitate to reach out.