How do you measure "Velocity of Innovation"​ in your organization?


In my last post, I covered the new form of consulting and moving from IT to a Product way of thinking. That's a fundamental mindset shift but what happens after (and if) you agree and want to start on the path?

The next important step is to begin understanding how to measure innovation and gauge your organization on where you stand on the scale.

Revisiting WHY this change to a product mindset is needed:

If you’ve been in corporate environments I’m sure you’re used to hearing about and discussing the relationship between business and IT, and more recently business and product and IT. This is how things were built for the last 50 years and will likely continue for the majority of organizations for a long time.

Question is "does this method work in today's hyper-competitive, fast paced world?"

Common conversations in corporate hallways:

"Let's run this by Product to see how it lines up with their goals and plans" 

"Let's see how the IT team can work this into their plan"

"Business keeps pushing more and more features down our way.."

All valid points, but things are not changing. It's the same conversations over and over, year after year. Why do we keep doing the same thing and expect different results?

Even good organizational processes like OKRs seem to operate above the core problem level. They definitely make the existing process better but the root of the problem is the org structure.

Wait but we're Agile and Service Oriented!

You most likely hear this a lot, and perhaps repeat it yourself.  Buzzwords like agile and service oriented, scrum and pizza teams are common in organizations BUT rarely are they practices correctly, or even understood.

As a good friend mentions "Agile for many people mean no planning", which is totally incorrect if people look at it this way.

How can we improve anything if we can't measure it?

Problem is, we don't have a good, agreed to way to measure productivity. We're well into the next evolution of software so we should be thinking and testing measurement techniques and metrics and gaining a common ground where there is data behind assumptions and goals and PR announcements.

Some good ways to measure productivity are:

    1. Time between an idea to approval for a test

    2. Time from approval to MVP and limited launch

    3. Experiment creation time, measurement and decision.

    4. Team size is going thru this process

    5. Number of new product launches in org divided by product managers. (with product/project size taken into account)

    6. Number of review meetings needed to approve/reject a proposed ides or product.

There are many more metrics which can tell you about your organizations "velocity of innovation" but you have to be intentionally thinking about this and have executive buy-in and enforcement to start on the path to identify the metrics, implement systems to measure and start looking at how to improve.

The Velocity of Innovation with actual metrics should be a slide (or page) in every review and top of mind for the entire organization, and every team member should know how they contribute (positively or negatively)

Other key actions which can help organizations along this path:

   • Do not separate your Product team from Business, this will only break down the flow of information, add complexity to the process of building products and ultimately hurt the organization.

   • In a product-led organization IT should be a part of the product org not separate from it.

   • Product org should own the delivery, launch and all other aspects of running the Product it is responsible for. This does not mean the teams are not fully collaborating and working together, just that there is a clear understanding of roles and ownership.

   • Seriously try the “containerized team”, aka the Pizza-size team and how it can integrate into the horizontal knowledge bank of the company. 

How do you measure the Velocity of Innovation in your organization? What metrics do you use?

I run a Startup Studio and Venture Lab in Orange County called InfiniVentures where we practice and make all the mistakes in finding our way to building products and companies using software and hardware.