To be a truly innovative organisation, innovation must become a core competence, valued and, as such, just the way things are done. Excellent innovation capability does not, unfortunately, come overnight, despite what some senior executives tell me or wish upon me! It takes much hard work, courage, swallowing of pride, risk taking and implementing counter-intuitive decisions.

I have personally experienced this, and at these times, you really want to know whether you are making headway or just frantically and rapidly heading down a one-way street. We want to understand how we are doing compared to others – whether we are winning or not – and let others in our organization know this. However, benchmarking an innovation programme is incredibly difficult to do with any accuracy or efficiency. You are not comparing the same aspects, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions. Additionally, any measurement you do do is immediately outdated as the world just moved on while you stopped to measure it!

Innovation is also not an exact science, as you are dealing with people and often their emotions too. It is hard to identify how actions directly impact results, especially when you are attempting to influence behaviours as part of a convert or not so covert culture change. As a result, it is far more useful to use indicators to identify current performance and the health of your innovation programme.

To measure the health of our innovation programme, we developed an analysis, unashamedly based upon a common engagement model (shown in Fig. 1). It is simple to use and works at numerous levels; team, department, division and even a whole organisation. It enables goals and targets to be set and gives specific measures to identify progress.

Fig. 1: Innovation Journey Steps

The model has five steps, with the ultimate goal of innovation being a behaviour rather than an activity. Innovation must add value to an organisation, otherwise it only adds distraction; it must enable and create a better business.

“Being innovative focuses innovation on key business drivers, rather than an outcome of just getting ideas.”

The five steps in the model have simple terms with an increasing involvement and buy-in to innovation. Introducing the aspirational language into the organisation helps build common understanding of your goals and direction of the innovation programme. This model starts at the beginning of the innovation journey, but you can join in at any stage of an innovation journey.

Indicators need to be set at each stage enabling the current performance to be measured and can be developed as the next steps become clearer and the organisation’s innovation capability grows. Indicators will differ by organization, industry sector and the maturity of innovation journey. With some consideration, these can be set, based upon current observations of the organisation and the industry that it is in.

In addition, although this is aimed at an organisation’s use, this measure can be used by a team, or even an individual. It helps you to understand where you are, and where you need to get to. I have found it incredibly helpful, both personally and with others.

If you would like guidance in using this model and to set relevant indicators for your organisation, then do get in contact with me. I would love to talk to you further on this!