It’s been said often that the most successful innovations are due to the execution process rather than the idea. How then do we track our innovation progress and success rates?
In Part 2, we spoke to The Entheo Network’s Chief Innovation Officer and their consultant, Shoba Chandran and Monika Steimle to find out how to test and implement those brilliant ideas as well as how to create an environment that encourages ownership.
Now we move on to the final and most crucial part of innovation – that is to track and define success metrics. Sadly this stage is often overlooked.
How do we track our performance progress and define success? What are vanity metrics? Are we on the right track?
These are common thoughts that would echo in the boardroom today as everyone looks to quantify and report success.
But tracking success and output goes beyond the hard metrics like bottom-line revenue and overall profitability and net promoter scores.
Let us speak to the Entheo Network to discern what results really matter and what is next after you achieve your innovation goals.
Cogs: This will be our last session with you ladies. Let’s talk about the things that really matter, how do we know if we are successful? Is the success of innovation measured against company strategy, customer perception or both?
M: It has to be both and more… As we talked about in part 1, innovation must be leadership, BOD strategy otherwise it cannot get the traction it needs to make the impact expected. That’s why its success should also be measured against the strategic goals of an organization as well as its purpose. This, of course, should also include client and customer perception. What often is overlooked, is the employee fulfilment that can come with successful innovation. It’s thrilling and exciting for people to be part of a team that innovates successfully.
S: The quick answer to this, and to also echo Monika, is that it could be either. The more nuanced answer is – like many other measures of success, there is flexibility around this.
As an alternative option, a company could measure success around the type of value it wants to create. Commercial organisations tend to link measures to commercial value (i.e financial ROI), and community / governmental organisations link the measure to value that is generated for a beneficiary, or citizen (i.e. ‘customer’).
In reality, a company could also measure how much value it creates in other important areas: environmental value (how it benefits the environment), social value (how it benefits people and society), or to what degree innovation efforts meet the values of a company, and finally, how much employees have grown as a result of innovation efforts.
Cogs: Is there a guide on what are the metrics that really count success?
M: There is not really one set of metrics we refer to. It might look very different depending on your industry, your market and the purpose of innovation. I think one important part of successful innovation is to clarify the success and your vision at the time when you define the purpose of innovation.
Shoba can share with you some exciting innovation dashboard Entheo has developed to show progress with innovation.
S: Linked to my earlier response, there isn’t really a ‘set’ guide, because the measure of success is quite varied. If a company does want to measure commercial value, that would not be as challenging because it is linked to a concrete (financial) number. We do encourage companies to be more expansive in their measures of success and measure employee growth alongside commercial ROI.
One way to measure employee growth around innovation is to use the Six ‘I’s® profiling tool. This tool measures perceived strengths, which is something that can change over time if strengths and developmental areas are actively worked on. An individual can take a ‘pre-intervention’ assessment, work on a project (or some other developmental intervention) and take the assessment again after 6 – 9 months to see if any of the core markers have changed.
See Diagram 1 below for a sample of an individual’s innovation-related strengths assessment:
Perception of innovation strengths (darker coloured bars) and importance Levels (lighter bars)
Profile uncovers an individual’s perceived innovation strengths, and allows gap analysis between current and desired skill levels; enabling individual coaching to work on areas of improvement
As a matter of fact, in the recent past, Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore ran such a pre and post-intervention study on their students over the course of a semester. They worked on an innovation project, and the study results showed a positive correlation between the perception of innovation strengths and the intervention. We were very proud to partner with the Ngee Ann Polytechnic on this study, as it provided validation around measurable ROI on learning and development efforts.
Download and view their study here.
With reference to Monika’s response, we do have an innovation management system which allows organisations that are serious about managing and tracking innovation projects, and the ROI associated with them. This system is optimised for organisations that have a fairly mature culture that supports innovation efforts and is looking to take this to the next level.
Cogs: In closing our series with you both, what do you do next after one has achieved their innovation goals? The journey doesn’t stop there, right? Should we continue doing what we do or should we embark on something different and better?
M: It is my personal belief that in today’s day and age continued innovation will need to be table stakes for any successful company. With the speed of new developments in technology, science, human behaviours and the challenges we are experiencing on our planet, it will be the responsibility of this current generation to continually innovate.
We already entered a very exciting time where small and medium businesses bring innovation to a different level and were small incumbents can change markets in big ways. Innovation needs to be a mindset, the new normal. So, yes, innovation is a continuous part of our lives today.
Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to be an interview partner. I look forward to seeing how COGS is supporting its clients in innovation in the future and hope to be part of the journey.
S: Innovation works best when applied to a specific challenge or opportunity e.g. “we innovate to meet the evolving needs of our customers”. Framed this way, it is naturally linked to the value that needs to be created and to meet a need. These two components need to continue until there is no more value to be created and/or no more need to be met. How companies can ‘keep their finger on the pulse’ regarding evolving needs was touched on in our first interview, where we explored how organisations can develop the ability to be outward focused.
In closing, I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to share my perspective on innovation and look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with all of you at Cogs agency.
To our readers: Go forth and create value!
— END —
Thank you the Entheo Network for sharing with us the valuable insights and experience you have accumulated as a team. We hope the readers are inspired by your views and it will change their outlook on innovation and what truly matters as ‘success’.
This is the final part of the interview that is meant to take you through the whole innovation process.
We begin with discovering opportunities and strengths, how to implement innovation and sustain it to tracking progress and defining success. If you had missed the earlier parts,
For Part 1, click here
For Part 2, click here
If you’re seeking transformative talent to support your innovation ambitions, reach out to your local Cogs office here.
Monika Steimle is an Executive Coach and Purpose Guide for leaders who want to lead with purpose and foster innovative and agile business cultures. Monika is the first True Purpose® Coach in Germany. Prior to starting her own consulting practice, Monika was a human resource and organizational development leader in a leading global digital transformation agency, Publicis Sapient. Her work with Sapient span across three continents and partnered with business leaders to build high performing, values-led leadership teams. Between 2012 to 2016, Monika lived in Singapore where she was responsible for their APAC region.
Shoba is the Chief Innovation Officer of The Entheo Network, where her primary responsibility is to design and deliver solutions that meet the needs of Entheo’s clients, partners and networks. Before striking out on her own, she worked for several years as an in-house innovation consultant at the Ministry of Defence (Singapore) where she and her team introduced policies, systems and structures to enable the organisation to innovate. She is currently a Certified Competent Facilitator (CCF), Scrum Master and CTI trained coach, with almost two decades of experience in the field of innovation and transformation. She formed part of the team to create a book on facilitation called “Collaboration by Design” released late 2017.