“Be careful what you
wish for measure … you just may get it.”
As my library of books on Innovation grows, I am seeing two somewhat conflicting themes emerging in regards to the role of metrics in Innovation. One sees up-front metrics as a key determinant of establishing efficient distribution of a firm’s resources across all identified opportunities, enabling a process by which those opportunities not projected to meet or exceed the established metric thresholds are filtered out of the product development funnel. On the other hand, there is also a growing awareness that too strong a focus on metrics and process can inhibit innovation:
“The complete dominance of process excellence as a strategic focus over the last 10 years has stripped many firms of their ability to take risks, look beyond a quarter or two, or even consider creating new ideas.” – Jeffrey Phillips
Very few breakthrough technologies, products, services or business models have been – or can be – accurately measured in advance. (I’m reminded of a cartoon from the New Yorker 15 years ago in which an executive laments “What we need is a totally revolutionary and breakthrough product that has been thoroughly market-tested!”)
Underscoring this is the fact that most innovation appears to be being driven out of smaller companies – very often startups – that have little to none of the formal innovation processes and metrics that larger firms have adopted. On the other hand, the average lifespan of such businesses is frighteningly short. Larger, publicly-held firms simply can’t take the risks that a smaller entrepreneurially-driven one can.
So what’s a “mother of invention” to do?… I’ll discuss in my next posting…..
Director, Marketing & Innovation Practice
Quantum Leaders, Inc