8 Ways to Measure Innovation Potential

8 Ways to Measure Innovation PotentialI’m always a bit skeptical when I read about any definitive list, whether it’s six things to improve my complexion or seven myths of innovation. So I enter with some trepidation a list for your perusal, a checklist of sorts to help you ascertain whether or not your idea can become a a successful innovation.

Note that the list below isn’t necessarily exclusive, and if you have factors or considerations you’d like to add I’d be glad to hear them (please enter them in the comments below, and please, no offers of Nigeria bank transfers or knock-off Nikes). Also note that even if your idea meets or exceeds your wildest expectations when you compare it to this list, you’ve accomplished about 1% of the work. After all, Edison said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. So start what is often the more difficult part of innovation, the execution.

Here’s my checklist to determine if your idea has innovation merit:

  1. Does it solve a problem that is relevant and important to a customer?
  2. Does it cut costs, remove a significant barrier or create a significantly different capability?
  3. Will the idea be easy to adopt for the target customer, with low switching costs?
  4. Is the offer and benefit easy to understand, and easy to communicate?
  5. Is your idea protectable or defensible? Is there any intellectual property?
  6. Do you have concepts beyond product innovation? Can you extend your idea to service innovation, business model innovation or customer experience?
  7. Can you offer your idea at a price point where you make money?
  8. Can you scale your concept quickly?

For any idea, in any industry or market, if an idea can pass all of these questions, it has a strong chance of success, but only if you can take the next steps to develop the idea, test it in the marketplace and then launch it.

What about you, dear readers? What other criteria would you add that isn’t on my list?

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Jeffrey PhillipsJeffrey Phillips is a senior leader at OVO Innovation. OVO works with large distributed organizations to build innovation teams, processes and capabilities. Jeffrey is the author of “Make us more Innovative”, and innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com.

Jeffrey Phillips




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  1. Kevin Molloy on March 21, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Does the idea instil passion in the originator?

    The reason I think this is so important is as you mentioned – innovations require 99% perspiration! To drive an idea forward you will need all the passion, enthusiasm and energy you can muster. You will need to convince others of the value of your idea. When you examine successful innovators one thing they have in common is an almost manic self belief and drive – summarised as a passion for innovation.

  2. Dariush Ghatan on March 21, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Interesting. Please take a minute to visit http://www.bookofmetrics.com. Help co-create next version.

  3. Christian Wig on March 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Here is a link to a more comprehensive idea evaluation checklist that I created a few years ago: https://christianwig.com/bizblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Product-idea-evaluation-checklist.pdf

    This checklist groups the key questions into six key criteria for selecting the best ideas:

    · Market potential – is there a market of appropriate size for a product like this?
    · Product fit – does the product fit with current strategy, product portfolio, competencies etc?
    · Value proposition – can we create and sustain competitive advantage for this product?
    · Profitability – will the product be (highly) profitable?
    · Product solution and timing – is the proposed product solution and timing the best one?
    · Additional business potential – what additional “synergies” may be achieved if this product is given priority?

    I released this checklist under a ‘creative commons’ license three months ago, as explained in this blog post: https://christianwig.com/bizblog/2010/12/open-source-innovation-methodology-%E2%80%93-a-next-natural-step/

    So it is open for everyone to use.

  4. Martin on March 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    For innovation ideas within an organization I agree with the product fit attribute put forward by Christian. An idea that does not fit in with the organizations core strategy can result in additional, unforeseen costs further down the road. Innovation ideas that don’t fit could either be started as new business ventures, sold or offered for free on the open market.

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