How to Assess Your Innovation Capability

How do you know how good you are at innovation? One of the tools that we have found very useful for assessing innovation within organisations is the Innovation Value Chain. The tool was developed by Morten Hansen and Julien Birkinshaw and published in an article called The Innovation Value Chain in Harvard Business Review in 2007.

I’ve talked about this before – There are two key points with this model. The first is that there are three stages in the process of innovation: idea generation, selecting & developing ideas, and diffusing ideas. The key part, however, is that all three parts of that process have to be working well in order to innovate.

The three step aspect of the innovation process is important. Measuring idea generation, selection and diffusion helps organisations get around the problem of simply equating innovation with ideation. Organisations that do this often find that they have plenty of ideas, but they’re still not being very innovative. This is because innovation actually doesn’t occur until you execute new ideas. To do that, you have to be good at having ideas, but more importantly you also have to be good at selecting ideas and getting them to spread.

This leads to the second key point of the Innovation Value Chain – your innovation process is only as good as your weakest link. This is not simply a linear model of how things happen, it is a description of a complex system. For example, if you are bad at selecting ideas, people will become less willing to give you their new ideas. This means that there are feedback loops between the three parts of the process. If you are going to improve your innovation, the whole system has to get better. You can use the IVC to identify your weak point and take steps to improve it. Then you can move on to whichever step is your weakest point now. If you keep doing this, you will build excellent innovation capability within your organisation.

Here is a Special Deal!

Our research has shown that while organisations usually first try to improve their idea generation, 95% of the time, this is not their weakest area. I’m curious to see how broadly this is true – so I would like you to please

Fill out this Survey!

In exchange for your time, I’ll give you some feedback on your results. If you’d like some information about what your organisation’s innovation strengths and weaknesses are relative to others who have taken the survey, just leave an email address when you take the survey. If you would like several people from your organisation to take the survey, I can compile the results – just have everyone indicate the name of the organisation when they fill out the survey. All results are, of course, confidential. To get the most meaningful results, please tell everyone you know that might be interested about this survey. Thanks for your help!

Innovation is about more than just coming up with new ideas. If we’re going to be innovative, we have to be able to execute new ideas. The Innovation Value Chain is one tool that can help us get better at this.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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