This article is part of THNK VIEWS. We bridge theory and practice on organizing imagination and innovation by extracting key implications and offering new insights to innovation practitioners from a rich database of research papers. his article builds on Exploring the Use of Innovation Performance Measurement to Build Innovation Capability in a Medical Device Company by Susanne Nilsson and Sofia Ritzén and shows how evaluation might be turned into a tool that stimulates innovation.
The words evaluation and innovation are not often put together in one sentence. Most companies believe that measurement has a negative effect on creativity and innovation —it is seen as a control tool that harms, rather than supports, reflection and learning. While data is seen as a valuable source of discovering new trends and user needs, it is rarely used to measure internal innovation progress and capability. Because we see measurement as stifling innovation and creativity, companies rarely track the information needed to determine creative ability and innovation success. In fact, many organizations end up ignoring the issue all together.
However, the study of Susanne Nilsson and Sofia Ritzén finds that measurement can very well spur a company’s innovation capability. On the basis of their research, they conclude that evaluation methods must:
- Provide clarity on company targets and goals.
- Nurture intrinsic employee motivation and create meaning by showing how a particular action fits within the broader scope of the organization.
- Stimulate not only the generation and implementation of creative ideas, but also motivate and inspire new behaviors.
We wholeheartedly agree: “what gets measured gets done- also in case of innovation”. Still, if the benefits are so clear, why do many organizations balk against it? This is because tracking innovation performance has several adverse implications that require enlightened leadership to mitigate properly.