Evaluation is more than just a means to measure impact; it reveals hidden value within the innovation process and destination.
Evaluation is often considered to be something that is done to or of something when it is completed. This is the innovation’s destination. For some, evaluation is about understanding the process — what happens along the way to developing a product. This is innovation’s journey.
But what if there were products (and outcomes) in the journey? This is where evaluation can provide deep insight into the true value of innovation.
The reasons to consider bringing evaluation more fulsomely into the entire innovation process from end-to-end are many.
- It increases your organization’s mindfulness about what it does, what it is doing, and what it seeks to achieve.
- Through paying attention to the process more systematically and with discipline (which is what evaluation is all about) it’s easier to spot patterns in the use, development, or understanding of your product by different audiences involved in the innovation process. This allows you to better see different perspectives.
- It documents the small accomplishments that are part of a larger whole by recognizing the work that is done in pursuit of innovation (and not just the final product). Doing this ‘shows the work’ of innovation, rather than leaving it to a final, finished product to do that.
- It engages your innovation team by showing progress measurably and keeping them engaged, particularly when the development cycle might take a long time and have periods of uncertainty associated with it.
Pulled together, evaluation can also tell the story of your innovation. When we consider that upwards of 80 percent of innovation efforts yield no viable product, it is easy to dismiss the work that goes into it as inefficient, wasteful or having low value. Evaluation captures the value that is in the innovation process, documents it, and provides insight to help drive the direction of innovation.
One final value point is that many solutions might exist within that ‘80%’ failure space, but haven’t been fully articulated or for which the value isn’t apparent until later. Often we see a design process yield many possible directions for action that get prototyped only to see that the best option is in one of the un-chosen options afterward.
This happens not by chance, but through designing an evaluation system to accompany and even integrate with your innovation development process. By adding evaluation into the process throughout, you’ll find much more value in all of the work that you’re doing.
It’s all hidden in plain sight (if you know how and where to look).
Interested in learning more? Contact us and we can show you how to develop the systems to get more value from your innovation efforts.
Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash