No one likes going through an exam but we go through life taking all kinds of tests. One test we are accustomed to doing fairly regularly is the eye exam. You can probably see the first line but as you start going lower and covering one of your eyes then things may not seem all that clear….

Ever think of how your business would fair if it had to pass a future vision exam? In the context of testing your Agile Innovation Score, your organization should keep constructing new models and running different experiments. Do you have 20/20 vision or does your company need an innovation prescription?

In an eye exam your optometrist tries to see what may be ailing your vision. He or she looks for defects or impairments and once the diagnosis is complete you will obtain the right corrective lens or treatment.

Experimentation is where the agile approach and innovation work should converge.

Here are ten good questions your business should be asking to assess its Agile Innovation Score and then take the right actions to develop an increased innovation capability. Your agile innovation rank depends not only on your ability to answer these questions to get the right data points within your organization but also your actual performance for each individual metric. Cover one eye at a time and give it a try!

  1. How many new ideas were submitted in your ideation pipeline in the last month/quarter/year?
  2. How many of these ideas align with your corporate strategy?
  3. How many ideas per respective business challenge that you have defined to meet your corporate objectives?
  4. How many ideas have been explored, developed, and launched in the last month/quarter/year?
  5. What is your engagement level for Idea submission vs. total # of employees? How about collaboration on idea development?
  6. How many experimental projects have failed in the last month/quarter/year?
  7. How much time and money did you spend on average on failed experiments?
  8. What was the cost of your top 3 failed experiments?
  9. How does the value generated for projects you launched successfully compare to the original value the idea(s) had estimated?
  10. Are idea submissions, collaboration and development levels trending higher month after month?

Based on the data gathered over the last 16 years by answering such questions while working on hundreds of deployments we have developed an easy test that scores your innovation capability.

The hard work is of course the continuous improvement efforts to drive up your performance, engagement and value realization rate over time. This is why you also need to make sure you take time to trace success back to its idea roots so you can fine-tune your idea assessment and estimation metrics.

The common theme with these questions is your company’s tolerance and ability to take measured risks, experiment and develop ideas that lead to formal projects. But taking chances is a lot easier said than done. Experimentation is where agile work and innovation outcomes converge.

Your failure rate may actually be much more telling about which areas you should invest in or improve on.

The thing that many organizations forget to consider when it comes to an in-depth analysis of progress is that you need to measure failures as much as you need to track success. Your failure rate may actually be much more telling about which areas you should invest in or improve on.

The good news is that Agile Work is on the rise. Not many other markets can boast a 40% CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate). With agile, companies can take small chances that are relatively low cost and lead quickly to a measurable outcome. Test, learn, experiment and iterate is of utmost importance in innovation.

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with the experiment, it’s wrong.” – Richard P. Feynman

Is your organization asking the right questions to determine whether it has the ability to innovate consistently and effectively?