Thursday, February 12, 2009

Metrics for Innovation

One of the major challenges any company faces in driving innovation is finding the right metrics to gauge performance and progress. What gets measured is often what's easiest: aggregate, bulk measures of output or input, such as number of patents filed, number of patents filed, research dollars spent, number of people in innovation. However, measures of what's happening inside the innovation community may be more meaningful. How well aligned are your innovators with the strategy of your corporation? How well connected are they to marketing, sales, and consumer insights? What is the nature of the innovation ecosystem? Do incentives for individuals and teams align with overall objectives? Do employees have a robust "will to share" that motivates them to share their best thinking and ideas with you, or is the faucet closed and they are just going through the motions? Metrics are needed that assess innovation health and vitality in ways beyond patents and dollars.

Innovation metrics was a vital topic at the last CoDev workshop. In fact, I had the pleasure of being part of a workshop on open innovation metrics, where I revealed the psuedo-etymology of "metrics" as "me" (for individual accountability) + "trics." The "trics" can refer to deception, as often happens with misleading metrics, or it can refer to best practices and tricks of the trade based on learnings and experiences of others, which was a big part of what we shared.

If you're interested in learning more about what we shared and discussed on open innovation metrics, let us know, A white paper is in the works. It's also an important part of the new book due in July, Conquering Innovation Fatigue: Overcoming the Barriers to Personal and Corporate Success by Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins, and Mukund Karanjikar (John Wiley & Sons, July 2009).

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