Best Practices for Measuring Innovation Efforts

What is your innovation program missing? Is it "numbers?" Calculating innovation return can be tough, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it!
Trae Tessmann|
October 30, 2018
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Start putting numbers behind the changes you’re making.

 

Measuring innovation or how “innovative” your organization has been in the last month, quarter, or year can be difficult. While improvements to your bottom-line stand as the most obvious numbers to track, there are other metrics to check out too.

 

Depending on your goals, some or all of the metrics listed below can give you a strong look at how your organization is improving. With those that are applicable, set goals that coincide with these metrics, and work to hit them. Some will relate to employee engagement and morale, while others your customers or project ROI, but improvements from all will be beneficial to your organization.

 

Number of new ideas you’re receiving

This is the raw number of ideas that have been received or come up for review through your suggestion box, group meetings, idea management software, and more. An increase in total ideas might not show an immediate return on your efforts, but more often than not, more ideas = higher-quality ideas coming in too, and a more engaged employee base sharing them.

 

Engagement rates among employees

While less tied to quantitative metrics, improvements to engagement rates among your employees is a common benefit of an increased number of employee-driven innovation efforts. These improvements will shine through on employee surveys, lower turnover rates, and increased productivity. Or if you’re using an idea management system, you’ll see improvements to the activity on your platform through idea posting, comments, votes, and overall participation.

 

Number of ideas implemented

Tracking the raw number of new initiatives, projects, products, etc. that have been implemented can give you a good idea of how many changes you’re really making vs. the numbers of ideas and projects you have in the pipeline. While you won’t see exact returns on these ideas, overall numbers will give you a great comparative look at how innovation you’re “trying” to be!

 

Customer relations

Using customer metrics and feedback while measuring innovation can provide you with an external view of your changes too. Things like churn, online reviews, comments during meetings, and even up-sells can help you draw a line between the changes you’re making and the effect they are having on your clients.

 

Improvements to your bottom-line

Improving your revenue streams or cutting costs are both goals of innovation. If you’re seeing these benefits alongside the changes you’re making, you can bet they are connected. These metrics would benefit from a longer sample-size to accurately compensate for seasonality and fluctuations in the macro-environment.

 

ROI per idea or project

Tracking the return on investment for the individual ideas and projects you’ve implemented is the best method for measuring innovation. But it can also stand to be the most difficult, especially if you’re implementing many ideas across the same departments or business units. It can also be difficult to calculate or assign specific numbers (like costs saved or additional revenue) to previously untracked processes.

 

How are you measuring innovation at your organization?

What constitutes success for YOUR innovation program?

About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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