“We are going to start measuring innovation,” Samuel announced.
I gave him a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, we believe our competitive advantage is our ability to innovate and bring new products and variations of products to the market, so we think it is important to measure it,” Samuel added.
“When you were working on your efficiency program, you developed metrics to determine improvement,” I said. “Why do you think your metrics worked well in those circumstances?”
It didn’t take Samuel long to ponder. “We had a system, and we worked to make that system predictable. When we determined what we wanted to control, the metrics just fell into place. Any variation was quickly identified and eliminated.”
“Pay close attention to your words,” I replied. “You were working in a system with predictability, control, seeking to eliminate variation. You now want to create a system of metrics to do just the opposite. Innovation is hard pressed to be systematic, certainly unpredictable, sometimes outside the bounds of control and designed to encourage variation. Just exactly how do you intend to measure that?”