Whats your IQ

May 23, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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A survey of the “IQ” — innovation quotient — at businesses in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio will establish a benchmark all companies can use to evaluate their own IQs.

The survey, a joint project of the Plante & Moran accounting/business consulting firm and the NewNorth Center in Holland, began in mid-May and will be concluded in mid-June, with the results on each company being provided to that company. The general findings also will form the basis of a white paper to be released in mid- to late-summer.

Also joining with Plante & Moran and the NewNorth Center are chambers of commerce and regional economic development agencies in the three states.

“When we talk with our clients, listen to business leaders, or tune into the media, it is increasingly clear that innovation is key to the long-term growth and success of businesses,” said Gordon Krater, Plante & Moran managing partner, who is based at the firm’s Southfield headquarters.

“But what do we mean when we talk about innovation?” said Krater, “and how can an organization develop a framework and processes that will support innovation? These are two of the key questions that we plan to explore in the Innovation Quotient survey.”

Sponsors for the first Innovation Quotient survey include the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Cornerstone Chamber, Detroit Regional Chamber, European American Chamber, Grand Rapids Area Chamber, Holland Chamber, Lansing Regional Chamber, Lakeshore Advantage, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, The Right Place, PolymerOhio Inc., Southwest Michigan First, TechSolve and the Traverse City Chamber.

The NewNorth Center is a nonprofit education and business-support institution that specializes in immersive skills training, research, executive education, workshops, seminars and an annual Design in Business Summit.

“We think we are going to have a very large population that weighs in on this topic,” said Krater, adding that he hopes the number of companies completing the survey will be in the thousands.

The 35-question survey is designed to take less than 15 minutes to complete, and will measure:

*Attitudes toward innovation.

*Business value of innovation.

*Drivers and catalysts for innovation.

*Variables of process, budget and culture, and how they impact the innovation quotient for an organization.

All survey participants will receive a customized report benchmarking their organizations’ IQ against the overall best-in-class practices.

Krater said participants also will learn how they stack up against others in their industry, if enough reply in that specific type of industry.

The best practices will be promoted in the white paper Plante & Moran and NewNorth will publish later.

“We appreciate the support from all of our sponsors that will allow us to conduct the first large-scale analysis of innovation in the Midwest,” said Nate Young, president of NewNorth Center.

He said the survey will help demystify the process of innovation and show organizations how to reach their full innovation potential.

Each question has three to eight responses from which to choose. The first question, for example, asks, “To what extent is your company focusing on innovation?” The three possible responses are “significant corporate initiative,” “some time is spent on innovation” and “very little or no time is spent on innovation.”

The innovation quotient being measured by the survey is not just in regard to products but also to services and new methods of doing things. One question asks, “Is your product and service portfolio reactionary or proactive?” Another asks how many innovation initiatives (product and process) have made it into commercialization in the last three years.

Krater said revenue is a key issue in regard to measuring innovation, and the survey includes questions on bestselling products, percent of revenue from goods or services less than three years old, total value of innovation-related capabilities and other similar questions.

He said there is a difference between invention and innovation. A lot of scientists and engineers come up with inventions, he noted. “The key is, do they ever go anywhere? We really are focusing on innovation: when it has actually gone to the marketplace and has worked and resulted in increased revenue for these companies.”

He said Plante & Moran came up with the idea for a survey on innovation after it partnered last October with Warner Norcross & Judd on a business seminar in Grand Rapids for corporate executives called “Innovation: Solutions 2 Drive Profitability.”

“We got very positive response and it caused us to say we were going to take this further and develop this innovation quotient,” said Krater.

Every company’s specific responses to the survey questions will be kept confidential, according to Krater. The cumulative responses, however, will yield useful data on the process of innovation and attitudes, drivers and catalysts that support it.

“Obviously, our new governor has talked a lot about innovation and we’re hopeful that maybe some of what comes out will be of interest to him and could be helpful,” said Krater.

For more information about the survey or to participate in it, visit innovationquotientsurvey.com.

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