Innovation is an Outcome Not a Process

Innovation is an Outcome Not a Process

A business school colleague recently said that academics, frustratingly, are more about process than outcomes, and, that, occasionally, the process results in favorable outcomes. When processes are designed and portrayed as efforts to create innovative outcomes with out results, it's called innovation theater. Some cynics call it strategic planning.

He was referring to organizational culture— the set of values, beliefs, and behaviors that determine “how things get done” in an organization. It is the job of leaderpreneurs to create, scale and sustain a organizational culture of innovation. That means you have to lead innovators, not just manage innovation systems.

But organizational innovation only happens when intrapreneurs i.e. employees with an entrepreneurial mindset trying to act like entrepreneurs, are able to work in and engage with a culture of innovation with the goal or creating stakeholder defined value through the deployment of innovation. There needs to be structure, process, culture, engagement and leaderpreneurs driving favorable outcomes. Here are some examples from NASA, Gore and DARPA

Most of us know toxic, anti-entrepreneurial work cultures when we work in them, or, maybe, contribute to them or even lead them. But, how do we know we are getting the results we want? Like the saying goes, you get what you measure . HINT: R and D spending is not a measure of innovation.

Try measuring:

1. Program/rollout engagement KPIs.

2. Storytelling that celebrates champions and teams.

3. Behaviors that reflect change.

4. Financial, operational, sales and marketing metrics.

5. Economic development and technology transfer metrics.

6. Stakeholder conversion rates.

7. Employee engagement rates.

8. ROII (return on innovation investment).

9. Multiples of user defined value compared to competitive offerings or the status quo.

10. Burnout and turnover rates.

11. How do you define innovation and where are your results on the novelty-value matrix?

12. Are you following the 70-20-10 rule?

13. How much is your outcome contributing to the common good? Inequalities in income, wealth and power are kept to a minimum. Consumption of natural resources remains within the regenerative capacity of natural ecosystems and planetary boundaries. Current and future generations enjoy equal opportunities.

Or, just ask yourself one simple question. Would you recommend where you work as a place to innovate to a family member, friend or colleague? This cultural innovation net promoter score should tell the tale.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD and Co-Editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship.

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  • Jordan Cowell

    Good article

  • Danny Walker

    I agree with you Dr Meyers

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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