Measuring Innovation

Measuring Innovation


Measuring innovation is a popular topic lately. Many product teams use Product Scorecards to keep their focus on outcomes rather than output. Eric Ries introduced the term “Innovation Accounting” for this purpose as well.

近来,测量创新成了一个流行的话题。许多产品团队用产品记分卡来保持他们关注结果而不是产出。Eric Ries为此目的引入了“Innovation Accounting”。

However, as much as I like and advocate for these techniques of measuring true improvement to your products rather than just adding features, if this is all you look at, over time you run the very real risk of falling into The Innovator’s Dilemma.


I am perhaps overly attracted to the concept of building enduring companies. I attribute this to having spent the first ten years of my career as a developer for Hewlett Packard, which back then was a company that prided itself on continuous innovation. But they had a tougher measure of innovation than many companies today. We were taught to measure the percentage of revenue that was coming from products and services introduced in the past few years.


My mentor during those years advocated that at least 50% of your revenue should be coming from products introduced in the past 3 years. He argued that even the best products have a natural cycle, and with good continuous improvement on those products you can stretch that cycle out, but still, every product has its day, and eventually competition and shifts in consumer behavior will take its toll, and sales and use will diminish.


Many large companies today use the “grow revenues through acquisition” strategy to building new sources of revenue. Certainly that’s one route, and occasionally the acquisition is one that is truly synergistic and could legitimately be viewed as a form of innovation.


But when people ask me for my favorite examples of truly strong product organizations, I cite the product teams that have proven their ability to not only improve their existing products, but even more importantly, to repeatedly deliver entirely new major streams of revenue for their companies. Examples include Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Zynga (in the case of the latter two examples, please don’t confuse recent questionable business decisions by the leadership with any fault of the product teams).

但是当人们为我最喜欢的真正强大的产品组织问我的时候,我想起产品团队已经证明了他们的能力,而不仅仅是改善现有的产品,而更重要的是, 不断地为他们的公司提供全新的主要的收益流。例如苹果公司、亚马逊、Netflix和Zynga(至于后两个例子,请不要混淆近来的因为领导层有问题的商业决策和产品团队的失误)。

When I meet a company that is still getting nearly all of its revenue off of products introduced more than 3-5 years ago, I feel a real sense of urgency to help them get serious about innovation.


If you’re in one of these companies that has gone many years without new sources of revenue, and are harvesting the innovations of the founders, and you’re wondering if it’s possible for your company to learn these skills, one of my favorite examples today is the team at Barnes and Noble.  They are now consistently producing highly rated new products and services, even while competing against two of the best product companies of our age. Their product team is giving their company a fighting chance to avoid the fate of the rest of their industry.

如果你是这些公司之一,已经有许多年没有新的收入来源,基于的是创立者的创新,并且你在琢磨对于你的公司而言学习这些技能是否可能,我今天就举一个我最喜欢的例子,是Barnes and Noble团队的。他们现在正不断生产高级别的产品和服务,即使同我们这个时代最好的两个公司的竞争。他们的产品团队给了他们公司一个经过努力奋斗就能获得成功的机会去避免成为他们这个行业中的失败者的可能。

I hope more teams will track this additional measure of innovation. Interestingly, when I find companies that are very aware of this measure, they are much more open to the possibility of a pivot. Pivots are often the best source of these new major streams of revenue. Yet when you only are looking at innovation within your specific product, pivots are all too often viewed as a distraction rather than an opportunity.


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