Can innovation measure up?

Can innovation measure up?

To justify time and money spent, it’s essential to quantify the products of collaboration.

Here are some important points to consider when trying to get an understanding of the success of your marketing innovation projects – whether these are linkups with agencies, joint actions taken with suppliers to boost mutual business, or another form of collaboration

Though a successful collaboration can be a major benefit to your organisation, it’s also true that the results are often difficult to measure.

Improved innovation and better processes are, in a sense, intangible, and numbers-focused executives may demand a set of concrete demonstrations that a project has been worthwhile.

Furthermore, since a collaboration project can take a lot longer than an internal project, it might be vitally important for you to come up with such demonstrations – sometimes this is the only way to ensure buy-in from colleagues for the entire duration.

And it’s not just about convincing people – it’s important to work out whether the project was worth carrying out, in case you are thinking about repeating it.

Here are a few things to think about when it comes to measuring the success – or lack of success – of collaborative innovation:

  • If your collaboration is external, establish shared measurement methods to track progress upfront with your partner whenever possible. The benefits of this are clear: it will help you to define goals for the project; make collecting the right data on the project easier through collaboration; and will do much to guarantee that both of you share the same opinion about the success or failure of the collaboration when it concludes.
  • The ideal approach is to measure where your company stands following collaboration, against its hypothetical position if you had never collaborated. This sounds impossible, but business simulation software (e.g. Simul8 or StratX) can put it within reach. 
  • Don’t try to measure everything – stick to the metrics that really matter to you and your partner, whether that’s the amount of buzz generated when a new idea is thrown to the group (as measured in emails and messages) or self-reported engagement levels among participants.
  • Input for your measurement process can be obtained from a number of sources. These include observing the collaborative innovation process first-hand, tracking emails between partners, and providing participants with short questionnaires, These might, for example, ask people who they go to when they have a new idea – allowing you to map networks and demonstrate that a process is being built for discovering valuable concepts that arise among the team, rather than letting them pass unnoticed.
  • Deep network analysis has inherent value. Measuring the economic value of individual collaboration activities – for example, quantifying the sales generated by a piece of content that was co-created with an agency – then adding these up to give a general figure for the value of the entire collaboration, is a good idea both for demonstrating value and for informing decisions around which activities to pursue in future. The actions to be measured can be those of individuals and those of entire teams. These can then be compared with the cost to the business in terms of time spent and employee compensation.
  • Though increased revenue is particularly convincing, don’t forget to record other metrics that can indicate success in a collaboration. If the project resulted in faster service, for example, it is worth looking for customer satisfaction and retention. If you were trying to increase collaboration between individuals within the organisation, it would be wise to analyse employee retention and satisfaction.
Rob Coston Reporter CPL
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