How Do You Measure Innovation?

November 4, 2010 at 2:06 PM 2 comments

A very interesting post on Blogging Innovation got me thinking today. We measure profits, lead generation, market share, and other vital aspects of growth. But how do we measure innovation?

Saul Kaplan is interested in outcomes as a measurement. He puts it in terms of social value:

… the obvious question is this, if Boston, NYC, and San Francisco are the top U.S. innovation cities why are their poverty rates so high … I thought innovation was about delivering value and solving real world problems.

There is, of course, a metric for invention: the patent. We talk about companies and universities that have x number of patents. But patents won’t do Yoyo patent, 1886as a measure of innovation for two reasons:

  • They’re a trailing indicator – patents take five years on average
  • Patents only address one of the three dimensions of innovation

Inventions – new products or methods that achieve their goal by original means – can be patented. But innovation – creating new value, new opportunities, new ways of solving problems – has 3 dimensions:

  • Product innovation (the aforementioned invention) – designing a better product.
  • Process innovation – improving the process by which value is created
  • Promise innovation – creating new business models that deliver value

It’s much harder to measure all of these dimensions. But it’s a worthwhile challenge, and I’m glad Kaplan has spurred some thinking on the issue.

Rather than go into detail about the three dimensions here, I’ll talk about them in my next post.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How Politicians Fail at Marketing The 3 Dimensions of Innovation

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The 3 Dimensions of Innovation «  |  November 9, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    […] 9, 2010 In my last post, I promised to delve into the 3 dimensions of […]

  • 2. When Innovation Sucks «  |  November 23, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    […] written before about the difference between invention and innovation. An invention is a new product. An innovation […]


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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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