This is a continued response to my infrastructure audit: What activities does an innovation infrastructure for open innovation need to support? My prior short answer was that "innovation infrastructure must keep the project’s top goals… top of mind..." Here I provide the promised longer answer and point to both team and organizational activities. For the organizational activities, I focus on the new book, Robert's Rules of Innovation.

Team Activities: Gibson and Gibbs give us a summary of the innovation activities needed by innovation teams. They note:

The ability of teams to innovate depends on how well they generate, import, share, interpret, and apply technological and market knowledge, particularly of local markets, economies, and customers. That knowledge is a combination of information, experience, context, interpretation, and reflection (Davenport, De Long, and Beers, 1998). It must be openly shared across contexts through relationships and networks, and there must be confidence in the value of that knowledge for achieving the objectives of the collaboration (Kanter, 1988). Once these requirements have been met, innovation involves dissemination and application of the knowledge, including combining and integrating it to develop novel insights, solutions, processes, or products (Obstfeld, 2005).

Applying the above to an innovation infrastructure suggests that we need to apply systems savvy and weave together the technology, organizational practice, and human motivations. We need systems that allow for the wide part of the innovation funnel: a wide and diverse set of information ideas. At the same time, we need systems that then allow the innovation project to be effectively and efficiently managed. I suspect that a project dashboard (next post) that shows both current project status and has a variety of news and discussion streams is one way to both keep project goals in mind and support the wider ideation activities.

Organizational Activities: Robert Brands (with Martin Kleinman) recently released Robert's Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival. I've been following Robert (here and here) for a while. Now I have a one-stop opportunity for his insights. Speaking at the organization level (with specifics also related to teams), he notes the following as "the imperatives to deliver profitable growth through innovation":Robert's Rules of Innovation

Robert's Rules of Innovation helps you develop both energy and structure around organizational innovation activities. The presentation provides a broad set of examples: from how to create an innovation culture to a clear discussion of intellectual property issues. I was especially happy to see a discussion around the evidenced based management of innovation:

Observation, measurement, and tracking of NPD results are essential to optimal ROI. Create your baselines first, with initial observations and measurements. Then capture the time to each gate, the time spent inside each gate, and so on. (p. 36)

Building on the idea of a dashboard within our innovation infrastructure, we need ways to track our experiments. Brands asks, "Do you have a set of metrics to serve as an innovation dashboard and track your innovation activities?" (p. 43). These metrics may be general (applicable to all innovation efforts -- participate in the Innovation Coach survey here), or they may be specific to the particular effort. We also have to be aware that how we expect an innovation to play out may not be what happens in the wild -- thus our observations need to be openended.

Have you had success, or even surprise, in tracking an innovation? What did you do that put you in a position for effective tracking? Do you know of any summaries of surprising innovation outcomes? Comments and links appreciated below.