Innovation and the M Word

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Quotes on Twitter are popular for retweets, but I have found that these simple words written by Peter Drucker have generated much more than retweets. They also generate meaningful discussion about the "M Word," which is metrics.

Measuring innovation is tricky business, like nailing jello to the wall. There are objective inputs and outputs that can and should be measured. There are also subjective aspects, like mindset and culture, that are more difficult to quantify, but just as important.

David vs. Goliath Innovation Smackdown

“Small businesses are nimble and bold and can often teach much larger companies a thing or two about innovations that can change entire industries.” - Richard Branson

In an article for Entrepreneur magazine entitled “5 Ways Small Companies Can Out-Innovate Big Corporations,” Steve Sponseller demonstrates how innovation isn’t just for the big guys. In fact, smaller businesses may have the advantage when it comes to innovation.

According to Sponseller, the innovative advantages of small businesses include agility, responsiveness to opportunity, collaboration, alignment, and measurement.

A Quick and Dirty Innovation Check-Up

Some people dread check-ups because they think that they might hear some bad news. With innovation, as well as health, what you don’t know can hurt you.

Forbes Magazine recently listed some thought-provoking diagnostic questions in an article entitled “How To Encourage Innovation In Your Company.” They can serve as a quick innovation check-up.

First, here are four questions about success and failure:

  • “What are some examples of big wins for the team?”
  • “What are some examples of big failures for the team?”
  • “How did the team celebrate the win?”
  • “What happened to the people involved in the