Talk about innovation in the building industry is rampant, like this article recently from John McManus in BUILDER, which is good news. Yet, there is so much to still understand. Read on to take a close and clarifying look at how to start measuring innovation in a realistic and definable way.

The most innovative organizations carefully consider what goes into the innovation process, but also consider what should come out of it. They focus on different types of measurements, and include both the quant side of the business (hard numbers) and the qualitative side (say, leadership behavior).

In short, you need to disrupt the business-as-usual mindset. From a quantitative perspective, here's what you can innovate around.

  • Percentage of revenue or profit coming from international versus domestic markets
  • Revenues from new products or services introduced in the past X year(s)
  • Revenues from products or services sold to new customer segments
  • Percentage of existing customers that trade up to next-generation products or services
  • Percentage of revenue coming from services versus products (or vice-versa)
  • Royalty or licensing revenue from intellectual property

One reason why that innovation metric gap exists is because there’s no set formula for what fuels innovation. What works for one company might be too fuzzy for the next. That said, there are a few things you can measure in order to figure out how innovative your company's culture is—it's the first step in figuring out how to reshape that environment and start promoting new behaviors.


  • Percent of new innovations that come from external sources like crowdsourcing or open innovation
  • Percent of funding for game changers versus small tweaks to existing products or services
  • Percent of senior executive time focused on the future versus on daily operations


  • Number of ideas turned into patents by employees
  • Number of ideas turned into innovation experiments by employees
  • Number of teams that submit projects for innovation awards
  • Percentage of employees trained in the innovation process


  • Number of ideas submitted by customers through "open innovation" programs
  • Number of new product or service ideas that come from mining social networks
  • Number of customers that help test and refine new ideas

Pick a few to create your own metrics mash-up. The optimal mash-up promotes very specific actions and behaviors, not generalized ones.

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