Choosing the Numbers
Once you’ve implemented innovation and gained support, it’s important to keep measuring to see what’s working and what’s not. Here are some of the many measurements that can help you collect concrete data for your innovation strategy. Use these regularly to establish a consistent innovation performance system:
- Number of challenges defined
- Target users/customers/stakeholders
- Number of observations conducted per challenge
- Number of areas of framed opportunity
- Number of ideas generated per opportunity
- Volume of experiments conducted
- Volume of prototypes developed
- Volume of trials conducted
- Number of pilot projects established
- Number of full-time employees involved
- Operating expenses
- Capital expenses
- Time to market
- Time to key checkpoints
- Planned full-time hours
- Planned volume produced (number of sales)
- Planned capability (number trained to deliver)
- Planned first-year sales (by practice, by region)
- Planned distribution of sales
- Planned timing of marketing campaigns
- Cannibalization of existing applications/programs
- Marketing and promotional activities (yearly)
- Pricing actions (yearly)
- Key staff devoted to the project
- Maintenance and service costs
Which numbers you choose to collect and study will be dependent on your industry and specific needs, but there are a lot of measurable aspects of innovation that often go unnoticed.
The lack of a consensus on how to measure innovation leads many business leaders to think it’s either a low priority or an unrealistic strategy. After all, there are inherent risks that come with new ideas. And the greater the anticipated rewards, the higher the likelihood of risks.
If you strongly approach innovation and build a culture that supports it, you can treat innovation like any other business strategy. The difference is that while other tactics can improve your current operations, your competition is often looking at the same blueprint. However, an innovation-centered growth strategy looks ahead and has the potential to completely revolutionize what you see before you.
About the Author: Andrew (Drew) C. Marshall is the Principal of Primed Associates, an innovation consultancy. He is a co-host of a weekly innovation-focused Twitter chat, #innochat; the founder, host, and producer of Ignite Princeton; and a contributor to the Innovation Excellence blog.