Five ways to drive innovation through measurement

26 June 2012 -


Adi Gaskell explains how to use your data to drive innovation and create a culture of continuous improvement

Before I start, I should state for the record that I don’t believe innovation is the be all and end all. Indeed, I wholeheartedly endorse copying approaches that have proven to be successful for others. Furthermore, innovation tends to have an image that seems to demand seismic revolution, which isn’t always necessary.

However, creating a culture of continuous improvement is something we should all be aspiring to, both for ourselves and our organisations.

A fundamental part of the fabled DMAIC performance methodology is measurement (the M), so I’d like to share with you five important things to consider when using measurement to help you get better at what you do.

1. Focus on the big picture

To begin with you need to define your objectives.  Here it helps to start with some high-level goals.

2. Break this objective down

Once you have your overall goal, ask yourself what contributes to achieving that. Ask yourself what you have control over and what you can measure. You want to break each process down such that it can be measured with a single metric.

3. Grill your data

Like most organisations there’s a good chance that your data is far from perfect. If you’re going to underpin your changes with data you need to be able to trust that data, so make sure you understand how reliable it is, any limitations and so on.

4. Test, test and test some more

It’s easy to rely on assumptions when making changes, or succumbing to the HIPPO on your team (that’s the highest-paid person, by the way). The benefit of testing ideas and measuring their success is that you get real data from your customers on what’s working and what isn’t.  You don’t have to rely on assumptions and intuition.

5. Solidify the improvement

Once you’ve found a better way of doing things you want to make sure that this new way becomes the way things are always done. Until you can find a better way of course.  Make sure that everyone understands the process by which they were derived and the strengths of that process.

With Big Data providing managers with more information than ever before a measurement based approach to continuous improvement should be something we all make a part of our DNA. These tips should help you get off on the right foot.

Adi Gaskell is a social media expert and freelance blogger

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