How can you measure innovation management?

Innovation has left the secluded islands and frosted glass towers of research and development (R&D) departments, reaching all corners of organisations – even going beyond innovation management’s traditional frontiers. As it grows in both potential and intensity, how can we efficiently measure this complex process to gather all its benefits?

Where to start? What to measure? How can we make the improvements needed to progress? How can we prove an innovation programme’s success, or even that it’s successful at all? With many questions and too much at stake, innovation is no longer a whim, but simply the way business is done. We need to make it work.

A clash between more traditional models – the isolated innovation islands – and new, more comprehensive models marked the last decade of the twentieth century:

  • On the one side, innovation was seen, more specifically, as R&D, science and technology (S&T) and the creation of comparative advantages.
  • On the other side, consultancy firms such as Strategos and its founder, management guru Gary Hamel, advocated that the concept should evolve and expand. The process became more inclusive and multifaceted, engaging larger numbers of people to address key business challenges.

We thus cannot discuss the evolution of innovation metrics without understanding the evolution of innovation in the corporate world.

This is why we will first take a brief but insightful look as far back as the 50s, to track the evolution of innovation management and its main indicators. I next focus on a handful of interesting organisations’ feats – from Intel’s research labs to Uber and then Renova, with its black toilet paper – to grasp what innovation means today, the shapes it takes and a common trait all these cases share.

Then, I will highlight the ‘human factor’ as the ‘fundamental driver of innovation’ and its implications for measuring innovation practices. I also identify the main metrics companies use to gauge the process. To conclude, I will lay out a framework and simple steps we believe can help you define your own metrics set.

How innovation has become everyone’s job
How can you put innovation to work? Take these examples
Incremental innovation, the ongoing evolution
Social innovation, a world of challenges and opportunities
Measuring innovation: the human factor
Are you using these innovation metrics?
How to avoid the innovation management analysis-paralysis
If no magic formula exists for innovation, how could one exist for measuring it?

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder

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