Measuring Innovation. Are you measuring the right things?

Here's the scenario: a General in the army was called onto the mat in front of the War Ministry.

The casualties in his Division were unacceptably high, and if he continued to sustain such casualties it wasn't good for morale, it didn't look good in the media, and certainly his career prospects for promotion to higher rungs was in grave doubt.

Putting himself first, the General hatched an ingenious (though self-serving) plan. He started conducting operations where Intelligence showed there to be little or no enemy troops nor resistance.

Immediately his casualty rate and body count went down. His bosses were delighted. But they lost that war in a crushing and humiliating defeat. True story, sadly.

It reminded me of Corporate KPIs.

Are they aligned to the real problems you're trying to solve?

In many cases I've consulted on, the company says they're all about Innovation and shaking up their industry. Yet nowhere is "Demonstrate Engagement in Innovation-Related Activities" specifically mentioned in their KPIs.

So, guess what? It won't get done. Because -- of all things -- Innovation is a risky minefield anyway, so there's another really good reason to keep your head down in the trenches and not go anywhere it.

But to make meaningful progress, you need to throw your body on the line.

(Image: Jakob Owens/ Unsplash)