Articles & Case Studies by Topic

Innovation Metrics

Topic Overview: Metrics

Innovation programs have a very short lifespan if they don’t develop a metrics regime that indicates they are making progress on things that matter to the company — but also isn’t so onerous that too much of the team’s time is spent collecting data and compiling it into reports or presenting it on dashboards.

We put metrics into two categories: activity metrics, which show things like how many training sessions you’ve conducted or startups you’ve met with, and impact metrics, which show tangible outcomes. The latter tends to be more important to senior leadership: metrics that can show market share growth, lower costs, improved customer retention, etc.

A good starting place in this section is our 2015 report, "Untangling Innovation Metrics: What every innovation leader needs to know."

Editor's Picks: Recommended articles on metrics and reporting
Innovation Leader Live

Our live conference calls that have focused on metrics:

Downloadable resources shared by our members

Relevant documents from our Resource Center, shared by members:

All Innovation Leader articles & case studies on metrics:

How ESPN is using data to call the plays

George Leimer, VP of Fantasy Sports and Premium Products at ESPN, discusses how the sports network is working to build a data and metrics-oriented culture, enabling analysis to replace hunches when it comes to developing and refining new products and services.

Book excerpt: At Intuit and Amazon, addressing the customer’s “job to be done”

The authors of the new book “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” argue that the most successful companies innovate by focusing on why people “hire” a product or service. In other words, What’s the job they are trying to get done? In this exclusive excerpt, the explain how Intuit and Amazon determine whether they’re on the right track…

Early data: Innovation budgets, CEO support, metrics, and risk tolerance

In February, we posted a survey designed to serve as a quick assessment of the maturity of corporate innovation programs — and how well they are being accepted by the culture. We’re sharing some early results from it — on topics like training, CEO support, co-creation, and business unit relationships.

Achieving impact in a large organization: Advice from your peers

We recently brought together a group of twenty senior innovation, product, and strategy executives in Manhattan, in collaboration with our partner Mindjet. The goal: to discuss how to create sustainable innovation programs that deliver big results. Here are twenty pieces of advice from the group…

Corporate innovation assessment

Developed by Innovation Leader’s Editorial team, with input from corporate innovation executives, this assessment will help you evaluate the current maturity of your organization’s innovation strategy.

Swisher: Incrementalism is not a way station on the road to disruptive innovation

Ten observations about the politics and realities of innovating in an established organization, from Phil Swisher, the former VP of innovation at the biggest private bank in the U.S. “It’s important to realize that there may be many people in the organization who are waiting you out,” Swisher says.

General Mills VP on getting to the first dollar fast, failure, key metrics

Few companies have as strong a track record when it comes to open innovation and pilot testing as General Mills. In a recent Innovation Leader Live call, Jim Kirkwood, Chief Science and Technology Development Officer, explained how the company “gets to the first dollar fast” with pilot tests. Includes 30 minutes of audio. (Not a subscriber? Get an excerpt here »)

How appliance-maker Jarden is testing new business models

Our October Innovation Leader Live call guest was Asoka Veeravagu, VP of Business Development for Transformational Innovation at Jarden Consumer Solutions. The Boca Raton, Fla. company owns brands like Mr. Coffee, Aerobed, and Sunbeam.

Corporate innovation needs a simpler approach

Mark Nitkey has been an executive at companies like Apple, Gap Inc., Victoria’s Secret, and Ahold, the Dutch grocer. He writes, “Complexity is Public Enemy #1 when it comes to innovation. You may have the budget. You may have the CEO’s explicit support. But when things are too complex, innovation initiatives die.” Here’s his advice on a simpler approach…

Allstate exec on strategic alignment, metrics, innovation team survival

In our latest Innovation Leader Live call, we talked with Allstate’s Moises Norena about how the $34 billion insurer is measuring innovation impact; why innovation can sometimes be a tough sell in a services business; and how innovation teams can survive corporate shake-ups and management changes. Includes 30-minutes of audio…

Peer advice: Creating the right conditions for disruptive innovation

Innovation Leader convened a conference call earlier this month: nine senior leaders from large public and private companies, discussing how they’ve set up groups to focus on truly disruptive innovation — not line extensions or products sold in new-and-improved packages.

Special Report on Innovation Metrics

Since we started Innovation Leader, the subject of measuring innovation progress has come up in virtually every interview, off-the-record conversation, and Field Study gathering we’ve had. This report, including new survey data, captures what we’ve learned so far.

United exec shares idea scoring system, innovation challenges

Jason Flores of United Airlines shares his RAMP scoring system for employee ideas, and talks about some of the challenges of leveraging technology to make significant changes inside an established organization.

Coke’s David Butler on building a program for ‘exponential growth’

VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship David Butler talks about his work to combine entrepreneurial ideas and speed with Coca-Cola’s scale and brand power. Includes a half-hour of downloadable audio.

Hershey’s exec on metrics, learning, and focusing innovation

Deborah Arcoleo, Director of the Advanced Innovation Center of Excellence, talks about how Hershey’s thinks about innovating beyond its product portfolio; how they measure innovation impact; training and capability development; and ensuring continued management buy-in for the innovation team. Includes audio and slides…

Kennametal exec on innovation governance and ‘fast fail’ testing

Colin Tilzey, head of the Innovation Ventures Group at the $3 billion tool-maker, talks about the evolution of the innovation governance committee; looking for the cheapest way to test new ideas; and a new position he has created on his team.

Owens Corning shares slides on metrics, market intelligence

Owens Corning Director of Innovation Anne Bethereau shares several slides on how the company measures return-on-innovation, rewards high-performing teams, and brainstorms about new market opportunities using a new online tool.

Marriott Exec: How we Prototype, Crowdsource, Measure

Marriott executive Brian King talks to Innovation Leader members about rapid prototyping, collecting ideas from employees and customers, and why naivete is crucial to innovation. Includes highlights and audio from our latest Innovation Leader Live call…

Xerox CTO on connecting research to customer pain points

Corporate research groups can get obsessed with “solving a problem in a perfect way,” says Xerox exec Sophie Vandebroek. She’s trying to get the company better-connected to emerging customer needs, and focused on solving the problems customers want solved, fast. Includes 30 minutes of audio.

Advice: Should innovation teams strive to impact revenue/costs?

A new innovation leader in the utility industry asks for your help: “Should our team aim to quantify the impact we have on revenues, or reducing costs, at our company?” Post a comment or send us your thoughts anonymously…

Kelly Services innovation chief on creating meaningful revenue

Rolf Kleiner took on the Chief Innovation Officer role at $5.4 billion Kelly Services at the start of 2012, after twenty years at the temporary staffing and consulting firm. Here’s what he’s been doing since then.

Puma exec Louis Joseph: How we keep score on innovation

“If someone on the team is not a little uncomfortable,” says Global Director of Innovation and Strategy Louis Joseph, “then it’s probably a little too safe.” Inside, Joseph talks with Innovation Leader about how the $4 billion footwear and apparel company gauges innovation success.

Who should ‘own’ innovation? Examining eight models

The co-author of the new book “Innovation Governance” shares descriptions of eight major ways to structure a large organization’s innovation leadership — along with survey data about what executives think works best.

Lessons from Reliant on setting goals, tracking progress

Director of Innovation Scott Burns takes us inside the annual goal-setting process at Reliant Energy, part of the $8.4 billion electricity giant NRG Energy Inc. According to Burns, setting goals is only half the equation: tracking progress is actually more critical. “Innovation teams often get a reputation for being ‘free thinkers’ that are in a lab trying to invent things in a vacuum and will bring these products to market eventually,” he says. Details inside.

Two paths to innovation at Stanley Black & Decker

John Cunningham, president of Black & Decker’s consumer products group, lays out the objectives of the two innovation initiatives he oversees. Includes slides and video.

Help us benchmark innovation

Our goal is your goal: What do you need to compare your performance to other programs? How do you measure your progress and success? Help us shape this investigation into what constitutes a winning innovation initiative.

General Mills shares learnings, pitfalls on open innovation

Mike Helser, head of the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network, shares what the $17.8 billion consumer packaged goods company has learned from its open innovation experiences. We’ve got slides, steps for porting his model, and details on his “X-Squad.”

How Trek Bicycle Corp. built its innovation scorecard

Trek exec Chad Manuell says the bike company’s leadership wasn’t happy with any of the innovation metrics or scorecards they’d seen. “Most placed too much focus on past performance, were too complex to maintain, or painted too fuzzy of a picture,” he says. So Trek created its own. Manuell explains how it works.

Learnings from an IT innovation program that didn’t last

IT executive Fabio Almeida shares his experiences in trying to get an innovation program off the ground at Infineum USA, a New Jersey-based maker of petroleum additives. “Don’t expect people to embrace innovation just because they are interested in the topic, or it is the new buzzword in the organization,” he writes.

Scoring ideas: How one financial services firm does it

The head of innovation at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., the oldest and biggest private bank in the U.S., shares their internal 0-21 point scale for scoring ideas that could have a big impact on BBH’s operations and its customers. Among the criteria they consider: How much would the idea rely on high-cost technology and infrastructure?

Monitoring internal innovation: Whirlpool’s dashboard of ideas

How does the appliance and home products maker keep track of new product ideas bubbling up in the organization— and their market potential? Global director of innovation Moisés Norena shares the dashboard executives use in their meetings, and explains how it works.

Does your organization undermine innovation?

We spoke to more than 20 innovation executives across a range of industries, along with entrepreneurs who have had their startups acquired by big companies. Our focus: What are the most common ways you see large organizations shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to innovation? Click through the presentation above to see what they said.

Ten tips: Corporate venture investors on doing it right

Corporate venture investing is on the rise. But if you’re considering jumping in, are you doing it for the right reasons? We talked to current and former investors at three of the most active corporate venture capital groups — Google, Intel, and Qualcomm — to understand how they set things up for success, and how corporate VC can go off the rails. We also spoke with Dave Balter, who runs a new investing team at Tesco’s dunnhumby division, about why the UK-based retailer began making investments this year.

Survey results: How does your organization stack up?

Innovation Leader recently asked innovation executives around the world about the innovation function within their organizations. Our results — covering topics like metrics, reporting to the board, and internal versus external focus — were surprising.

Naomi Fried: My 3 highest-impact programs

Three years into the job, Naomi Fried, the Chief Innovation Officer at one of the world’s top pediatric medical centers, reflects on the three initiatives that have moved the needle most. Fried also offers a look at her annual innovation progress report.

Mike Powell: Doing innovation as ‘just one guy’

The State of Maryland’s Chief Innovation Officer talks about catching criminals, reducing hospital admissions among “frequent fliers,” and hackathons to help the environment. And how he makes innovation happen in the state with limited resources and plenty of partners.

Pep talk: ‘Innovation is the ultimate act of humanity’

Futurist, educator, and anthropologist Thornton May likes to hurl thought bombs, like “Metrics are a lazy person’s reason for saying no.” Or, “Most people in organizations today are not allowed to dream.” In this three-minute video interview with Innovation Leader, he talks about what it takes to be a true corporate innovator.

Innovation metrics from the leading edge of lingerie

Chief Innovation Officer Nicolas Petitjean talks about DBApparel Group’s “extra light” structure for managing innovation, his budget, and the challenge of creating a true culture of innovation at a multi-national firm with 7,500 employees. “Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean an army of R&D engineers,” he says. “It comes from creativity throughout the company, and each organization is unique, so each company needs to figure out how best to access that creativity. “