In Part Two, we outlined the Innovation Process part of the System, which describes the “necessary but not sufficient” things that you need to do in order to innovate. Below is the Innovation Progress part of the system, which includes the areas of innovation that yield an intrinsic benefit.

Innovation Measurement System: How to Track Innovation Progress

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

B. Innovation Progress

  1. Tempo
  2. Quality
  3. Revenues
  4. Profits
  5. Reputation
  6. Morale
  7. Strategy

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 Progress

This category is the “innovation impact” category — and it’s one that is rarely considered by companies trying to innovate; this is the “did we innovate or not” and “how well did we innovate?” category.

1. Tempo (1-10)
  • How often do we actually innovate, i.e., establish something that is different or new that has a significant impact out in the real world?
  • Have we determined what our Innovation Tempo should be, and how close are we to reaching that goal?
  • How well does our innovation process support our reaching/maintaining our optimal innovation tempo?
  • Are we monitoring changes in the world, as well as competitors’ innovation tempos, and are we able to adapt as necessary?
2. Quality (1-10)
  • How good/exciting/bold are the innovations that we’ve established out in the world?
  • Do we sometimes launch things just to launch things, or are we taking honest “shots on goal,” each of which we think could become a genuine innovation?
  • Is the quality of our innovations equal to or better than those of our competitors?
  • Are we being stringent about launching things that we think could really give a “Wow!’ feeling to our customers, and an “Uh-oh…” feeling to our competitors?
3. Revenues (1-10)
  • This one is pretty simple: how much money are we making from our innovations, both in terms of our projections (however loose) and per quarter/year?
  • Caveat: This is a good metric, but it is foolish to over-focus on revenues, per se, because you can make money on an innovation, but if it’s deficient in the other metrics listed here, it can actually be a net-negative for the company.
4. Profits (1-10)
  • Also simple: how are we doing re: profits from our innovations?
  • Caveat: This is a good metric, but it is foolish to over-focus on revenues, per se, because you can make money on an innovation, but if it’s deficient in the other metrics listed here, it can actually be a net-negative for the company.
5. Reputation (1-10)
  • Are we perceived — by customers, competitors, the media, the world, etc. — as an innovative company?
  • Does our innovation reputation help us in other areas, like brand value, NPS, market cap, etc.?
  • Does our innovation reputation help us to attract/retain/develop the best and brightest in terms of talent?
  • Is “innovative” one of the top three brand attributes that come to mind when people think of us?
6. Morale (1-10)
  • Do our successful innovations generate excitement/pride/inspiration among our leadership and our staff in general?
  • Are enough people involved in the innovation process, or do we need to increase the number/diversity of the people involved?
  • Do our employees consider innovation to be a central motivating factor for why they work at our company?
  • Do our successful innovations make it more enjoyable to work at our company day-to-day?
7. Strategy (1-10)
  • Do our successful innovations generally position us strategically to succeed in the future — or are many of them just “new for the sake of new, or new for the sake of revenues/profits?”
  • Would we still launch many of the innovations that have turned out to be successful even if their revenues/profits were lower/much lower? In other words, do they give us strategic value (semi-) independent of the financial upside?
  • Do our competitors consider our innovations to be aligned in such a way as to consistently move us towards a superior, and ever-evolving, strategic position?
  • Do we successfully establish a sufficient amount of “platform innovations,” i.e., innovations that could, in turn, provide a platform for subsequent, related innovations?
So that’s Moneyball for innovation — you’re welcome…
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.