Rethinking the measuring of innovation

Measuring Innovation 1I’m a little tired of the lack of original thinking that goes into measuring innovation. Most trot out the same old chestnuts, including ‘return on investment’ as always, as near or at the top.

Leaders want to hear this, the sad truth is getting a ‘decent ROI’ for innovation constructed (note constructed) is really hard. If the innovation is new to the world, how can it have a clear financial return on investment until much later, much becomes an ‘educated’ guess?

We need to appreciate new innovation balance sheet thinking

Why a balance sheet thinking? There are hard and soft measures to measuring or judging our innovation. It goes way outside financial numbers. Would we have seen the emergence of Facebook, Apple Watches, Uber etc etc if those that were determining success from their investments had actually insisted on guaranteeing the ROI before launch or within short time frames, that many of our established organizations insist upon? No it was the belief and ‘seeing’ the potential that encouraged those investing to make the initial investment and then continue on ‘future’ returns.

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Living in a globally connected world of Innovation

Innovation is a globally connected worldAs we think through innovation, do we every consider the broader global effects and what is helping us to accelerate or seemingly holding us back in our innovating impact?

For policy makers around the global all working to design the most optimum innovation conditions, they might not be considering enough about the true effects their individual policy-decisions mean, they might actually be undermining the very thing they are attempting to achieve for themselves

One report I have attempted to absorb is the one released in January 2016 by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF).  “Contributors and Detractors: Ranking Countries’ Impact on Global Innovation”.

This report offers a number of alternatives to give fresh perspective, a new slant to thinking through innovation and sometimes the “knock-on effect” of isolated thinking can have about innovation in a globally connected world. The search for an “altruistic effect” in our global world offers some interesting fresh perspective for appreciating innovation policy design.

This report assesses 56 countries on how their economic and trade policies contribute to and detract from innovation globally. It can alter thinking in my opinion in a globally connected world where innovation can have such impact if coordinated well.

The report is found here: Continue reading

Opening Ourselves Up to the Innovation Mashup

Mash Up VisualSometimes some things come slower than others, and then they suddenly rear up and hit you. We don’t make all the connections we should; we are too caught up in our little world, beating our existing drum, drowned out by its own noise, to step back and appreciate something new is really happening.

Recently I was investigating one strand of thought and then bingo! Something else, leads to something else and the rest, so to speak, becomes history.

I’ve been reflecting on the new era of innovation and opening myself up to exploring alternatives, different thoughts, discussions and viewpoints. Underlying this is a growing sense of my convictions, still partly forming, malleable but trying to drive certain ‘stakes’ into the ground to keep testing and improving on a hypothesis or two; that innovation and its management definitely has to change, and fast!

Of course the cloud figures in this as a whole new different way to orchestrate innovation. More on that at another time as I need to get into some more robust discussions with one or two others on this and expand on my own position a lot more.

My recent ‘bingo’ moment was as I was listening to a round-table discussion within GE and its lighting division with a panel of outside thinkers. Beth Comstock, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer was chairing the discussion, so it will always stay lively and stimulating and it did not disappoint on that. Her throwaway line at the end of the panel session was “Perhaps the headline here is the Big Data Mash Up”.

Mash-up?  So am I missing a certain beat here? Or does it fit into my thinking

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Measuring and motivating the innovation elephant

Elephant and the blind men 1I often think of the parable of “The Elephant and the Blind Men” when I get into discussions about measuring innovation. What are truths, what are the fallacies?  The parable implies that one’s often subjective experience can be true on your need, but not necessarily the other persons view of their understanding of value.

You get, as the end result, a failure to account for other ‘beliefs’ or capture the real value and miss providing broader motivations to encourage the innovation elephant along.

Establishing the right metrics that motivate and yield the result you are looking for is sometimes a tough challenge. You should always start with the bigger picture, organizational needs and then design the metrics and cascade these throughout the organization.

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Visualizing the innovating future through narrative reporting

The push for narrative reporting

How do we capture all the activities that have the potential to generate wealth within organizations?  Most remain hidden as they lie within out knowledge-based capital. This the second part of two posts (part one here) discussing our need to capture and report on ALL our assets, both the tangible and intangibles.

Knowledge-based capital today is more important to understand in its make up than often the reported financial numbers. One generates the other and investors need to see what goes into an organizations knowledge capital to provide them with continued confidence or not.

Recently the OECD provided an extensive report on “Supporting Investment in Knowledge Capital, Growth and Innovation

I spent a fair amount of my time this last Saturday working through this document from the OECD. No, it was not because I had nothing better to do, it was simply because it ‘points’ towards one area I totally believe needs resolving, capturing knowledge and where it resides and how it works. Then we can begin to place increased focus upon improving the capabilities and capacities we all need for innovation to do its necessary work, that of regaining our growth and vitality in many markets. The problem is we often do not know which are the most valuable or critical to focus upon. Continue reading

Pushing towards a new frontier – visualizing the future.

We all know that innovation is hard to measure. Assessing innovation capabilities can be particularly hard as they are made up of so many intangibles. We need to frame these capabilities in much better ways, as they mostly remain shrouded in mysteries to render it difficult to know what each business actually needs to  invest in, to achieve their goals. Knowing what and where they need to improve their innovation capabilities becomes a critical need to know point for gaining unique competitive advantages.

So much of innovation activity is left to chance and it leaves all involved as vulnerable, open to being beaten to the next ‘big’ innovation breakthrough. I would strongly argue that organizations should build their innovation capabilities in systematic ways, yet few do, let alone understand what this truly means. We simply need too.

Understanding the ‘beating heart’ of organizations

One of the biggest gaps is trying to put a finger on the pulse of what makes up innovation. So much of the capabilities are intangible, locked up in those intellectual capitals of the organizations. Those that center on  people, their networks and relationships, the make-up of the structures that support their activities or restrict them, the ability of applying good or bad practices, the every day routines of each of the individuals that work within the organization.

These touch the very nerve center of organizations; you are striking at the very core of organizations, those intellectual combinations they make up so much that determines organizational performance. They expose or they enhance organization performance. Continue reading

Making the appropriate impact

How do we set about and measure the impact of something or somebody? Impressions do matter, snap judgements can shape and influence so much that you can actually spend your precious time at simply defending and justifying something or someone.

This applies to a new product as much as it applies to ourselves and how we engage across society, organizations or in our teams. We actually have a set of daily impact points and we need to think about these, it can be positive and impressive, or it can be inappropriate and judged as weak. They can be proactive or just ‘set’ constantly in reactive mode.

Having a clear understanding of the different impact points can help you and those around you have a better meaning in helping to shape events and the future contributions that can make a positive difference and give you a greater sense of satisfaction.

How do we shift from that often subjective view to a more balanced one? Continue reading