Measuring innovation

Posted by: Helen Walters on June 27, 2007

I went to lunch with IBM, Innosight and APQC and a whole host of innovation types yesterday. The topic of conversation: why do innovation efforts so often fail, how can companies innovate more effectively, and what data might be of use in assessing innovation strategies? All three companies are involved in some fairly detailed research and analysis, involving a whole host of other companies, but it quickly become clear that even among the Innovation bigwigs sitting at the table, there’s much confusion and disagreement over what innovation means and how it can or should be measured. It’s early days for this particular research project; I’m looking forward to digging in to see what comes of it.

Reader Comments

Richard Traxler (Boston Scientific)

July 9, 2007 5:01 PM

One measurement that may be helpful would be on one of the inputs to innovation: Investment


Innovation investment ratios:

i.e. the ratios of investment for incremental improvements to existing product & services to that of novel (new product & services). Agreeing on what is new vs. novel is not impossible.

By having a conversation on this simple ratio, One can hope that innovation gets attention.

Katherine von Jan

July 10, 2007 1:58 PM

It's a paradox isn't it? As soon as you agree on strategies and metrics you have created the box; the recipe for innovation. Which essentially means you are not doing anything different from your competitors and other players in the industry. Copying is a form of flattery, even respect, but is this innovation?

The thing that enables innovative companies to innovate is prioritizing innovation, risk-taking, spontaneity, flexibility, mistakes and failure for the sake of getting different, better results in the long run. Perhaps if we need such guard rails to give us permission to innovate, we are just playing it to safe to really get the outcomes we aspire to.

On the other hand, we are all looking to make sense of the world, and having seen some of the initial results, I commend the 3 sponsors of this work. The real challenge will be for companies to use this as a platform from which to reflect, inspire and build their future, and not try to implement it as prescribed.

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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