3 ways to assess your organization’s innovation health

For innovation to thrive in an organization, three conditions must be present. If any one of them is suffering, then innovation will likewise suffer. Here is what to look for to assess your own organization's level of innovation health.

I often talk with people who want to know if innovation within their business is working. There are plenty of useful metrics you can use, and you can make a real science out of it if you want to. But I think it is much easier to keep three concepts in mind:

Pervasive

How involved is the entire business in creating new ideas? You know you have a problem if:

  • People are afraid to contribute ideas which are outside their areas of expertise.
  • The business creates great improvements and products in one area, but suffers in other areas.

Prolific

Does the business produce numerous ideas, even if all aren’t fully developed? You know you have a problem in this area if:

  • One person in the company is responsible for 75% of new ideas.
  • The business is living off the one product it developed ten years ago.
  • There is no employee ideas scheme.
  • People aren’t given time to think about and develop new ideas.

Productive

Do ideas become useful products or produce cost savings and efficiencies? You know you have a problem in this area if:

  • Brainstorming sessions never achieve anything concrete.
  • Goals for developing new ideas are not agreed upon, with responsible people being assigned to the task.
  • You have pages of possible ideas sitting in your drawer, but never have time to do anything about them.

When people wonder why their business isn’t developing new ideas, and they see other companies take the lead, it is often the case that at least one of the above is missing. Each is a sign of healthy innovation that can be used not only to benchmark how things are done, but as a quick diagnostic tool when things aren’t going to plan.

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