Don't dismiss innovation as a fluffy, overused term that businesspeople, politicians and academics throw around. You can define it. You can classify it. And you can even try to quantify it.
The federal government has decided that the United States should try to quantify innovation. Why? "The United States today is more than 75 percent wealthier in terms of real GDP per capita than it was 30 years ago, which is largely attributable to productivity gains driven, in large part, by innovation," according to the US Commerce Department.
One idea from that agency is to integrate the meaure of GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis with productivity measurements from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Commerce Department believes this "will allow for a comprehensive accounting of the effect of high-tech goods and services on growth and productivity."
The Freakonomics blog at The New York Times Web site had a meaty post on measuring innovation recently. The blog authors, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, asked several influential and prominent people how companies can measure innovation, and their answers are fascinating.
For instance, John Seely Brown -- Co-Chairman of the Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation, former Chief Scientist at Xerox and Director of its Palo Alto Research Center -- described three types of innovation: Incremental, Architectural and Disruptive. Incremental innovation is about making things better: faster, cheaper, etc. Architectural innovation is about changing the structure of an industry or infrastructure, Brown says. Disruptive innovation is the most glamorous because it changes the way people live their lives, for example, mobile phones and the Web. The entire, extensive post incorporating all of the contributors' ideas is worthy of your time and eyeballs.
JMP is doing its part to further the discussion on innovation. Our Innovators' Summit, to be held in September in San Francisco, brings together some of the smartest people around to talk about the role of analytics in innovation. The lineup of speakers includes the folks below -- and many of them write great blogs or columns, or have substantive Web sites worth exploring:
Mike Cramer (Director of Operations Research for Worldwide Restaurant Innovation at McDonald's)