In Part One, we recently talked about the need for an Innovation Measurement system and how it might be developed. Part Two outlines the Innovation Process part of the system, which describes the “necessary but not sufficient” things that you need to do in order to innovate.

Innovation Measurement System: How to Track Innovation Process

Here are the seven key metrics that need to be tracked in the Innovation Process realms:

A. Innovation Process

  1. Leadership
  2. Culture
  3. Methodology
  4. Technology
  5. Projects
  6. Launches
  7. Evolution

For each of these individual metrics, I recommend that you rate your company, division, team, etc. on a simple 1-10 scale; then, for both categories, you take the average score, multiply it by ten, and you have a simple — but revealing and valuable — 1-100 score that you can analyze, work with, and ideally improve over time.

And if you’re really brave, I recommend that you ask everyone in your organization, or at least a meaningful subset, to rate the company using these metrics; that kind of crowdsourcing feedback is usually the only way a senior leader can get an accurate picture of innovation in her/his own innovation.

Good luck! And send me your thoughts and even your scores!

Innovation Process

This category is about all of the ways in which we try to innovate; this is the “means not the end” category, i.e., all of the things we need to do well to enable innovation.

 

1. Leadership (1-10)
  • How good a job is our leadership at inspiring, empowering, and expecting innovation?
  • Is our CEO really committed to innovation, or is there a lot of eloquent lip-service going on?
  • And how are other executives/senior leaders doing re: innovation? Do they politely nod when the CEO speaks, and then go back to their “day job,” either actively or at least passively squashing innovation?
  • Do our senior leaders not only expect innovation from others but take part in trying to innovate, themselves?
2. Culture (1-10)
  • What’s the general feeling/vibe like in our company around innovation?
  • Do our people, in general, feel inspired, empowered, and hopefully even expected to do real innovation?
  • Do we have the right innovation mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets to do real innovation?
  • Beyond positive rhetoric about innovation, is our rewards structure set up to reward innovators, with things like promotions, raises, bonuses, resources, and time spent on favorite projects?
3. Methodology (1-10)
  • How good are our actual systems, processes, and tools for innovation?
  • Do we have a coherent definition of what innovation is and widely shared ways to do essential things like create common mental models, develop innovation targets, and generate and prioritize ideas?
  • Do we have digital/virtual workspaces, as well as real/physical ones, where work can be created, shared, developed, and moved toward an actual market launch?
  • If you asked a mid-level employee to “describe how we do innovation,” would they know how to answer?
4. Technology (1-10)
  • How would you rate our exploration/integration of disruptive emerging technologies vis a vis our innovation efforts?
  • Are we committing sufficient resources — money, people, time, attention, political cover — to technologies such as AI, IoT, AR/VR, robotics/automation, and blockchain?
  • On the other hand, are we making sure that our innovation efforts are not overly (or even entirely) focused on technology, which is a big temptation and a huge mistake for corporations.
  • Do we combine an awareness of what’s happening/will happen in technology with a practical approach that focuses on giving value to customers and strategic advantage to the company?
5. Projects (1-10)
  • Now, to the actual work itself: how are we doing in terms of the number of innovation projects that have been created inside the company?
  • Do we have a large (appropriate) number of wide-ranging projects, that combine the “let a thousand flowers bloom” approach with an equally powerful “but let’s also be on the lookout for that one big idea” ethos?
  • Are the right people working on these projects, and have we involved a sufficient number/range of people in our innovation efforts?
  • Are these projects (or at least enough of them) exciting, compelling, provocative, and potentially game-changing?
6. Launches (1-10)
  • How are we doing in terms of actually launching things out into the market that we consider to be innovative?
  • Are we launching enough of these kinds of offerings, and are these projects good enough for us to consider them to be bona fide attempts at innovation?
  • Do we put sufficient resources behind these projects even after they launch, and on the other hand, are we being smart about when to kill launches that haven’t worked?
  • Do we have a reputation — among the market, competitors, the media, and the world — as an innovative company that is constantly launching things in an attempt to innovate?
7. Evolution (1-10)
  • How are we at evolving our overall innovation process over time?
  • Do we benchmark best/next practices, and aggressively work to apply them to our process, and even to surpass them with things we come up with on our own?
  • Do we have smart people spending time thinking about our innovation as a critical capability of the company? And have we given them sufficient power/resources to make changes as needed?
  • Do we consider our innovation process to be relatively fluid, and always ready to adapt to the changing world outside our walls?

Go to part three to learn more about Innovation Progress

Read more by Bill O'Connor

Bill O’Connor is the Founder of the Autodesk Innovation Genome Project — a 10-year research project studying the entire history of human innovation with the aim of identifying the essential techniques of innovation – as well as the Nobel Laureate Innovation Project, currently being developed at The Vault. Over the past seven years, Bill has delivered more than 500 presentations, workshops, and consulting engagements to hundreds of companies and organizations from 40 countries around the world, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Facebook, GE, Tesla, Airbnb, Renault, Google, Twitter, Starbucks, Nike, IKEA, Bechtel, Boeing, the US Naval Academy, the U.S. DoD, and the World Bank.