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Why bother measuring innovation?

I recently spoke at an innovation conference about this very topic. As part of my presentation I surveyed attendees in real-time (using their smart phones –www.polleverywhere.com) by asking them whether their organisation was measuring their innovative initiatives.

As a baseline group, 79% of the respondents knew of at least one innovative initiative within their organisation. However somewhat surprising only 15% of this group had tried to measure the innovative things they were doing. And this was from a conference dedicated to finding innovative solutionshttp://www.switchfest.org/. Most of the attendees hailed from organisations that would be considered innovatively ahead of their industry peers.

It begs the question, that if many of us are not measuring innovation, then how do we know we are spending our money well? In today’s competitive business climate where every single operational dollar is being scrutinised, why do organisations treat the art of performing innovation differently?

Companies that don’t take measuring seriously will not be too serious about their innovative initiatives either. Think about it. If a company set aside some investment for seeking innovative ideas and solutions, then those ideas must be fairly profitable to do so. Where’s the business pain or impetus to treat innovation as a trigger for change within the organisation?

The fact so many businesses isolate their innovative initiatives away from their operational side is accomplishing nothing more than creating just another business silo. If the innovation doesn’t pay big dividends, at some stage executives will simply shut down the innovation shop and write off the failed investment. In the end the investment provided no meaningful benefits to the organisation other than dreaming, hoping, or perhaps gambling, their number would come up big with good intentions.

This strategy might have worked in the past but today’s competitive landscape has truly turned upside down. Innovation has become the single biggest driver to a business’s success. The word may indeed be overused of late but one thing is certain; the word is far more than a fancy buzzword to demonstrate the company is trying to become innovative.

Being innovative today is the difference between fuelling new growth and becoming competitively banished. Digital disruption has put everything up for grabs. It’s not just customers who may leave you, but also under threat is your organisation’s operating model, its culture, the way it manages its existing partnering relationships, everything.

So why would you not consider measuring innovation with so much at stake? What are your thoughts?

And is your organisation measuring its innovative initiatives? Take the aforementioned survey here.

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