I follow the Freakonomics blog in the New York Times online – one of the few that i do follow anymore. (Blogs have become so abundant worldwide that any opinion or commentary is cheap and available. In such an infoloaded ecology, only the relevant, compelling, and well-written rise above the noise. Relevancy and context rule.)
So I’m fascinated by the shifting trends in economics leading to ecological thinkers such as Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner opening up the discourse into areas that would be risk the “credibility” of more mainstream economists. Freakonomics recently held a Quorum of several collaborating authors (Ashish Arora, John Seely Brown, Seth Godin, Bill Hildebolt, Daphne Kwon, and Mark Turrell) to dialogue on Measuring Innovation. Several of these are truly worth the read, but you’ll have to scroll – a lot. Freakonomics does not break out sections into new posts. (An innovation I would propose is arbitrary links you can add to perma-link to a section in a public medium. ) So, go to Kwon and Hildebolt:
While we track traditional industry metrics such as number of reviews, breadth of catalog, and quality of information, we’ve added new metrics that help define the goals of consumer word-of-mouth. Defining these new benchmarks helps us select new risk-taking projects that can speed us along our path to success.
How can our experience measuring innovation in the moment (rather than just looking backwards) be generalized for other entrepreneurs and managers?
We’re going to go on record and say that it is all about looking for and then celebrating the unique “failure metrics” in your business:
They list 3 measures of organizational failure, which correspond to an innovative culture. These are all small-scale failures, not the cover-up, highly-leveraged kind that bring down the product line. Consider:
1) The rate of failure. More small failures are better.
2) Failing along the right path. Embracing failure, however, brings you dangerously close to failure’s more deadly cousin, flailing.
3) The source of failures. Another measure we use to determine if our company is embracing failures is whether new strategic ideas are coming from all levels of the company.
And of course, the comments are always telling, worth a final scroll down for a scan.