Innovation Metrics seems like a paradox. Innovation is Thinking Outside the Box, it’s spontaneous, it’s dynamic. Metrics are measurements. Not only are metrics the box, they are the specific geometry of that box.
But Innovation Metrics are valid and useful, and implementing them can give you greater insight into the mysterious black box of creativity and spontaneity that many think innovation is.
There are three basic areas to measure when doing these metrics:
The Processes lie between the inputs and the outputs, but are often the mysterious black box where innovation happens. Inputs and Outputs are more obvious thing to measure.
Start with what you have and measure those things (e.g. new people, new strategies). Measure how the new strategies are communicated throughout the firm.
Start simple. Once you begin getting insights you can make your metrics more granular. An important start to innovation metrics is deciding what to measure. You should not try to take in all the data and measure everything. Keep it simple. Do a check after a few weeks. Are we measuring the right things?
Your company is already using metrics. One of the most important aspects of using innovation metrics is having a common language in the firm around innovative processes. Think about how you can use current methodologies and their lingo and apply them to your innovation strategy.
Do not merely measure for the sake of measuring. What are the metrics telling you? If they are not telling you anything useful, get rid of them. Applying an innovation methodology means not being afraid to scrap the methodology. It is not because of fear of change, but because it isn’t relaying valuable information.
This is what Stuart Hamilton has called “The Curse of the Methodology”.
The Curse of the Methodology: Instead of having the PM work out what needs to be done and then the PM taking care of it, (all behind the scenes), there emerged methodologies (PMP or otherwise) that try to ensure that the PM follows the menu of daily activities. Don’t get me wrong, a lean methodology to enforce good governance is a good thing, but on my last engagement, every project (big or small) had to lodge a minimum of 21 documents, and often as many as 40. These documents are lengthy, repetitive, and take weeks of the PM and other team members to fill out. Then they all go into the archive where they will never be read.
In the end, the most important thing is to have a common language in the firm in which to communicate about innovation and outcomes. It does not matter as much what methodology of metrics you use as much as it matters that everyone is using the same one, with the same language, conveying the same goal.