The Importance of Metrics in Innovation Awards

metricsWith the opening of submissions for the 2015 Innovation Awards, now is as good a time as any to think about metrics and how we measure success and progress in organizational innovation. And what better way to do so than to take a look at the 2014 Innovation Award winners for examples?

Last year, our three winners included the Department of Energy, Scentsy, and the Department of Labor. While there are some measurement methods that are shared among two or three of the winners, they understandably also had metrics that were unique to their organizations and IdeaScale communities.

For example, The Department of Labor, which won for Best Engagement Strategy, enacted a campaign that was interested in the inclusion of people with disabilities in STEM fields, and specifically considered the availability and opportunities of social media tools and applications for those people. They measured their campaign by looking at response to their targeted outreach and engagement; in some cases, this meant more focus and celebration on the quality of engagement and new relationships formed.

One of the metrics that was a common thread for all three of our winners was numbers. Quantitative data is used to make points and emphasize growth in general daily life, but is especially poignant when measuring innovation. All three of the 2014 winners related the incredible number of new ideas, votes, comments, and community members. Scentsy, an Idaho-based candle warmer company which won for Best Innovation, shared, “We have had over 9,000 ideas shared to date, with more than 600,000 votes, and 17,000 comments from among 153,000 users.” For the Department of Energy—which won the Innovation Award for Best Moderation Strategy—a facet of innovation was the cost reduction as a result of their IdeaScale community. Michael Contreras, Managing Director of the DOE’s SunShot Catalyst program said, “The program was conceived, approved, and launched in less than six months. By using the IdeaScale platform, we have been able to achieve this velocity without increasing management cost. Costs for manging the community and campaigns have been reduced by ~90%.” Everybody can appreciate such a strong impact on the financial bottom line.

Ultimately, though, metrics are important because how can you determine growth and innovation if there is no yardstick for comparison?

To find out more about the Innovation Awards, see rules and eligibility, and to submit your organization to the competition, visit

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