One of the most important things to understand about business innovation is that growth and development projects can’t simply be set up and left to their own devices. They must be monitored to ensure your innovation strategy is heading in the right direction.
It’s a bit like a chef cooking a meal. They don’t just throw a load of ingredients into a pan and dish it up at the end; they continually taste the food, adding in different seasonings along the way, to make sure that the finished product is mouth-watering.
Innovators need to take the same sort of approach, no matter the types of innovation undertaken.
There are so many good ideas - so much potential for innovation - that you can’t just pick one and run with it. Even a cursory glance at diversity and innovation statistics confirm that it’s essential that you determine what the greatest opportunities are in terms of short and long term value, and pursue the best options.
Making the wrong investment decisions now can have dire consequences in the future.
And so it’s really important to know how to measure innovation in a company; how to correctly identify the need for change, how to implement innovation in the workforce and how to track the outcome of your efforts, to drive the absolute best results.
When businesses look at how to measure innovation in a company, they often come up with all sorts of complicated estimations and predictive analyses. But measuring innovation is actually a lot simpler than all that. It's just about testing out your ideas, seeing if they align with your business targets and if they’re worth paying attention to.
Testing ideas means looking at your potential innovations, looking at your metrics, and determining how well the two correlate to help you achieve your ultimate goals.
The metrics that you use to measure your ideas against will obviously be shaped by what you want to achieve from your innovations. However, there are a few common key performance indicators that many organisations are using to track potential:
When ideas are measured against these KPIs, it becomes easier to see how initial concepts can be translated into strategic business plans and valuable innovations.
You can’t get stuck testing out an innovation for too long. Not every innovation is going to be successful, so investing lots of resources into testing out initial ideas will likely create a pretty big drain on your budget. Testing needs to be quick; businesses need to ensure they’re able to move rapidly, testing out ideas at speed to conserve resources.
So… how can you test and investigate your ideas quickly?
Agile project management is a technique often associated with software development, but it is gradually expanding into many other sectors and industries. It’s an approach to project development that breaks large milestones into smaller, bitesize chunks, and encourages everyone to get involved for comprehensive oversight of each section. With eyes on all pieces of the puzzle, it’s easier to anticipate issues early on, and to more clearly see the potential - or lack of it - for each proposed innovation.
As you’ll already know, your team is already busy enough as it is without having the extra responsibility of testing out new ideas. So to test ideas quickly and measure innovation, it can help to create dedicated departments - separate little ‘companies’ - whose sole job it is to investigate ideas, without being delayed by day-to-day tasks. How you develop this department is up to you. Some businesses use internal ‘intrapreneurs’, while others bring in innovation support from external problem solvers.
If you allocate tasks to those who don’t have the right skills to carry out the job efficiently, you’re naturally going to lose valuable testing time as these people get familiar with the task, get up to speed with the idea, gather data, draw conclusions, and create the deliverable you need to measure innovation in the company. However, when you allocate the right tasks to the right people based on their skill and expertise, you can test ideas faster, get results quicker, and move forward more rapidly.
One of your most important roles within your company is to set up a ‘lean and mean’ organisation, right? One that fulfills the customers needs quickly, and at the lowest cost. And to do this, you can’t be wasting money on non-viable ideas, or wasting time on concepts that aren’t going anywhere. To be ‘lean and mean’, you’ve got to be able to quickly determine what’s important, and what has the biggest chance of success.
That’s exactly why knowing how to measure innovation in a company is so important. It allows you to make changes during the project, instead of discovering problems at the end and finding out you should have handled things differently. Don’t leave it until it’s too late: measure innovation continually, adapt, adjust, and deliver great results.