Just like the age of exploration from the early 15th century, we need to develop accurate tools to help us navigate our way - understanding where we are, what that means, and how we course correct to reach our desired destination.

We've summarized how three of our speakers from Innov8rs Paris shared what their innovation GPS looks like. From sets of pressure-tested parameters and objectively measured learnings, to techniques for letting executives know about progress, we hope this helps you work out the best way to measure your impact.

A Case of Space: Delivering Pipeline Whilst Shifting Paradigms

Cedric Balty is Director of Innovation at Thales Alenia Space. As purveyors of space products, they’re in the business of risk. This joint venture moves between discovering solutions for satellites, earth observation, navigation and stratospheric balloon flying - and as a decentralized organization with 8,000 employees across 17 sites, there’s no better context for building an agile innovation cluster.

“We started by validating our own assumptions, and working with a sociologist to ask a simple question of our employees… why are you innovating? Or why not?”

The small innovation team discovered that the primary setbacks were structural. They didn’t even know who to ask in order to move an idea forward: if it didn’t have a direct impact on what they were doing as a business, it didn’t interest management.

The second issue was change, and the resistance to it. Just as elephants don’t easily dance, organizations are slow to move forward - and for good reason. By the time you reach the inflection point of a good idea, you are in danger of disrupting yourself.

“At some point we had a huge revolution. We needed to reshuffle the paradigm of our industry - e.g. finding a way to get to Mars, whilst addressing the adjacencies we needed to get there. We needed to stop fearing great ideas, and become ambidextrous by following two tracks… the long-term - culture, and the short-term - pipeline.”

And a big component in setting clear innovation goals and measures for Cedric’s team was in defining innovation itself:

“We found that innovation was often confused with invention or R&D. On our side, it was about generating value for the company. In this cluster, we tackled disruptive or adjacent innovation, i.e. something which was not within the current strategic landscape of the company, but added value.”

How did they use their initial research to steer and measure their cluster?

Cedric’s team employed a network of 30 points of contact completely disconnected from the day-to-day business hierarchy, whose roles would be to animate the network of innovators. They used these sponsors to help leverage existing culture locally, and contribute to their goal of finding the 20% of program participants (fellows) who would go on to become fully-fledged intrapreneurs.

They then identified 3 levers for intrapreneurship, with different objectives and metrics:

1. The FabLab for makers: By creating an area where people felt free to explore using very little budget, the company could disseminate the culture of innovation and the novelties of technology locally. The only condition was that participants had to share with others. Measuring levels of participation meant that the FabLab was busy stoking the boilers of innovation by shaping mindsets.

Having been running for 1.5 years, there are more and more makers involved in the FabLab week on week.

2. Filling the pipeline: Then, a handful of makers and others with big ideas were allocated a sponsor, a small budget and a short timeframe to explore business opportunities. If the ideas were interesting on the basis of their uniqueness and projected value, sponsors would nominate them for the next track.

Out of 250 submissions, 140 were relevant.

3. Venturing into the future: this is the long-term track but which still seeks to connect successful business models back to the company. After 4.5 years, Thales Anelia Space’s intrapreneurs have both generated business value and proposed new business lines.

Through small teams which are attached to strategy, 3 ventures are running today, 4 have been initiated and the program is in its 3rd generation.

More is More: Learning by Doing in Shaping The World’s Biggest Intrapreneur Program

When it comes to measuring success, Thomas Chappuis of bank Société Générale says that quantity can lead to quality.

“Our internal start-up call launched 60 start-ups in less than a year. Being the biggest was not our goal, but we have started to succeed. We ended up here a little by chance, but by prioritizing 16 innovation themes which fitted with our business strategy, our program had 15,000 participants. We asked them each to submit a startup canvas about their concept, and sent this to 60 top executives. Without giving them a set quota to fulfil for the next round, they decided to shortlist 154 for pitch day.

Then, at pitch day, 70 of these were sponsored.”

Out of these 70 ideas, 32 are still alive as startups, and they’re very different types of projects:

“One works on crypto assets, another a credit card for differently-abled people, then another going beyond finance to distribute energy more efficiently via banking branches.”

Thomas admits that this first program cycle involved a lot of learn-as-you-go, which they could take to their next cycle as measures to build on. Their main yard-stick for success was that the company could move much faster in their product development as a result of applying new methodologies, decreasing their time-to-market.

Looking back, Thomas shares their learnings around metrics:

- Measuring A Productive Experimentation Culture: Involving corporate sponsors in the mix meant that even if a startup failed, participants learned a lot in the way they managed teams and products - which had a broader benefit on culture and market relevance

- Looking At Long-Term People Benefits: This offered a measurably enriching experience for intrapreneurs, captured through qualitative feedback. It meant they could become ambassadors of new approaches and methodologies and apply them within the core business.

- Managing Priorities In The Right Measure: It was difficult for sponsors to arbitrate between long-term projects for ROI, and short-term budget optimization - and communicate the different benefits of both tracks.

- Custom-Creating Metrics Per Business Unit: Projects which didn’t fit naturally within the existing perimeters of business units were stopped, because the end-value was unclear - something which would need to be addressed for the next cycle. Could different departments be treated as heterogeneous entities in measuring overall innovation impact?

How A Startup Launchpad Measured Market Fit, Through Efficient Experimentation

Michael Jacobi and Christopher Waldner of Osram’s Digital Launchpad program talk measurement from the perspective of experimentation.

As they’re focused primarily on the ideation, discovery and prototyping part of the innovation cycle, the early stages of validating - or invalidating ideas for Osram based on market need, their primary KPIs are to increase the number of experiments they run, whilst decreasing the cost of doing so.

There are three measurable risks that the launchpad seeks to mitigate through rapid experimentation:

  1. ‘We don’t have the right people.’ They don’t expect to find a ready-made product owner with all the skills honed from the get-go, but they do seek to develop this in people who are willing to learn.
  2. ‘There’s no market need or customer demand.’ Digital Launchpad runs interviews across different industries to understand and validate the market pain points
  3. ‘We don’t have enough capital.’ The team receives an overall budget, and each project gets a fixed funding for coaching, developing prototypes, and professional pitch decks for investors

Where does it start?

“Everything begins with a simple one-pager. If we find a person with a great idea, we send them a business canvas, and confirm that they have 2 days per week from their manager to spend working on their idea. The objective is less to judge their idea, and more to understand whether they will go the extra mile to explore it and think it through.”

Then comes the bootcamp, a two-day event where the budding intrapreneurs work on their ideas with coaches.

With a thumb’s up from the head of strategy and jury, they begin a three-month process, consisting of three phases. The subgoal of the process go benchmark its success is to maximize the number of people in the DLP community:

- Exploration: conduct a lot of interviews to work out what the problem is. What should they do next? What is their focus group?
- Prototyping: go to the customer, get feedback on the solution draft
- Concepting: what does the revenue model look like?

A steering board then decide which teams stay on for another three months, and which stop. Michael and Christopher highlight the importance of measuring meaningful decisions, not marketable ideas:

“CEOs are always really impressed when we advise them to pull the plug on a project, because normally that just doesn’t happen. One idea was to build an app for sound-queuing targeted at lighting designers, strategically an important stakeholder… We really thought this idea had legs, but when we analyzed how many of the target group struggled with sound-queuing, the answer was zero.”

By measuring the cost-per-decision from the steering board, one of the Digital Launchpad’s most successful projects was something unexpected which would otherwise never have seen the light of day. 

“We launched a light solution for tattoo studios. We realized in the bootcamp that effective lighting was all about skin-type, something which hadn’t been addressed before. On conducting interviews with the target group, they told us they would be willing to pay up to 1500 dollars for a solution like this - and we have 10 million people with tattoos in Germany.”

Over to you. How are you measuring your innovation efforts? If you are open to sharing your lessons learned, send us a note- keen to hear your story!