U.S. companies’ innovation pursuits are stifled by an aversion to risk, missed market opportunities and an inability to learn from past mistakes, reports professional services company Accenture in its “2015 Accenture U.S. Innovation Survey: Clear Vision, Cloudy Execution.” The survey polled executives and managers within 500 U.S. companies in 12 industries, including communications, electronics and high-tech, consumer products and retail.

Accenture’s research found that 60 percent say their companies do not learn from past mistakes, nearly double the 36 percent who admitted to this three years ago when Accenture last conducted a similar survey. It also revealed that nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of respondents indicate that their firms often miss opportunities to exploit underdeveloped areas or markets versus 53 percent three years ago. And 67 percent believe their companies are risk averse, an increase from 46 percent in the previous survey.

The survey also revealed that 82 percent of executives and managers do not distinguish their innovation approaches between incremental versus large-scale transformational change—in effect, a one-size-fits-all approach. Most respondents said they have big innovation ideas but are missing an organizational “home” with the company, so ideas often go nowhere.

“A significant gap exists between what U.S. companies want to achieve in the innovation arena versus what they are able to do,” says Adi Alon, managing director, Accenture Strategy. “They want to innovate yet they need to take different and bolder actions to achieve transformational, major revenue-generating innovation. True innovation requires aggressive changes in technologies, operating models and talent.”

Despite the obstacles, respondents show a growing acceptance of the value of disruptive innovation. The most recent survey found that 84 percent said they believe innovation is key for their long-term success compared with 67 percent three years ago. Creating new products is a priority for almost half (47 percent) of respondents, an increase of 20 percentage points from three years ago.

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