Saturday, August 26, 2006

Key Innovation Indicators

When you make any changes to your business you will automatically be looking at certain indicators to make sure that any changes have had a beneficial effect (won’t you?). The trouble is that there may very well be a time lag between making the changes and noticing the (hopefully beneficial) effect.

If you have been trying to make your organisation more innovative then you might consider some sort of before and after measurements in the areas described below. Whilst not a definitive list of things to look for, they will help you decide what, if anything, is working.

Team Working – are people working as individuals or as single/multifunction teams? How much autonomy do these teams have and are their opinions and feedback listened to?

Management Style – how much interference is there by managers in every-day working and how prescriptive are they? What actions are taken when problems occur? Do managers take immediate control or do they trust the people working for them to resolve problems?

Desire To Win – is there evidence of this throughout the organisation? Even when there are insufficient resources to carry out a project or implement a plan, is there a 'yes and ..' culture rather than 'yes but...'. Good ideas should be kept for future use, not dismissed out of hand for lack of finances, time etc. Organisations with a desire to win will also appear to be less risk averse.

Knowing How To Win – a desire is one thing but do you know how to win? Organisations that know how to win are likely to have a thorough understanding of their marketplace and all of the factors that affect it such as the economy, legislation and technological breakthroughs. They are willing to exploit such factors and be first movers or early adopters.

Environmental Scanning - to be successful, organisations must be able to scan their environments and be aware of new competition, changes and spot trends and patterns. This information should then be used to determine key success factors within the marketplace and drive the building of strategic capabilities.

External Relationships - in order to maximise potential, it is necessary to nurture external relationships with both customers and suppliers. Is this being carried out regularly and effectively? Do organisations rely on single points of contact or do they interact at multiple levels, cementing ties? How well is information disseminated and vision, branding etc communicated to stakeholders?

Growing The Right Culture - a truly innovative culture relies heavily on intrinsic motivation. Employees need a clear idea of what they are expected to achieve and of the amount of support that they have. Transparency on the part of senior management and 'leading by example' will build trust and encourage buy-in to strategic objectives.

The Right Framework - when stretching individuals we must ensure that the right culture exists (see above). Such a culture includes, but is not necessarily restricted to such things as opportunities to develop skills, freedom to act on own initiative, work environment, acknowledgement of input, learning environment.

Getting The Best From People - when maximising potential it is often necessary to take employees out of their 'comfort zone'. To do this successfully there must be an effective framework for delivering the necessary training and development. Individuals should be encouraged to use their own initiative (subject to any safety or legal constraints), be responsible for their actions and learn from their mistakes. There must also be appropriate reward systems

All of these factors can be measured. Creative Business Solutions achieve this using their Innovation Toolkit. Click on the link or visit for more information.

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