Innovation fails until it succeeds and, if you are running a corporate innovation team, you have to let that process happen.
While there is a huge desire to measure *everything* these days, I don’t think that corporate innovation programs can be judged based on short-term metrics. Their ideas and the progress of those ideas should be judged, but not the program itself.
Instead, they should be judged based on the rigor of their process, i.e. rigorous at the micro-level, but with air-cover and a patient runway at the macro-level.
You must measure progress, but innovation is not linear, as much as we would like it to be. Progress can lead to dead-ends, which require backtracking, re-starting, or flat-out killing a concept. Senior executive support must buy into this concept at the start.
It is hard to talk about validation and progress instead of shiny visions and cool products. It is easier for an executive to fund a concrete output, like a spec for an iphone app, rather than a vision with malleable features, experiments, and a hunt for product-market fit.
Increasing the odds of success in an corporate innovation program means accepting this hunt, even while enforcing a lean, reality-checking rigor. Unfortunately, I keep on seeing corporate innovation programs that either don’t have the air cover they need, or they are stuck building inside the ivory tower, iterating based on executive whim rather than market and customer realities.