Archive for July, 2010

Your innovation initiative – What’s the ROI?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

                                                                                                  © Roger La Salle 2010


Business is about profits

 I define business as “Creating Wealth through Profitable Transactions”.

 Like it or not, that’s what business is about!

 Indeed it’s the first duty of a CEO and board to work to the best interest of shareholders in providing a return on their investments. This is one of their fundamental responsibilities and by and large guides their decision making.

 Do you measure it?

 In many businesses precise metrics are employed to ensure workers are providing an adequate return on their costs, wages and all the attendant overheads. In fact the total cost of many workers these days is 50% or more of their direct salary.

In production we measure process efficiency, defined as output per unit time divided by costs. We then work to maximise the process efficiency, but we measure it.

In accounting, law, consulting and even contracted medical professionals, earned income compared with cost is measured. If you are not paying your way and in fact returning a profit, then unfortunately your time will be short lived. This is how it is in business and this is the way it will remain.

 There are some escapees

Strangely, senior managers, except perhaps the CEO, escape this direct measurement of performance (more will be said on this in future articles). In fact some complete departments deemed as essential also escape. accounts, payroll, and ITC may fall into this category as essential overheads whose costs must be amortised across other profit centres.

In the case of innovation initiatives and indeed complete innovation departments, the rationale behind the establishment of these is that “it’s the done thing”. If we are not being innovative we will not be able to retain our position and will soon be overtaken by smarter competitors. This is a great story and so true, but unfortunately the reality is that if the innovation initiative is not delivering quantifiable value then clearly it should simply not exist.

How does your innovation initiative measure up?

In the past many companies have embraced then later discarded their innovation initiatives once it became obvious that the costs were not being in any way justified by the outcomes.

The common defence for such departments when challenged is that “innovation takes time, but we will get the big one and all will be well.” Sure thing, how many times have we heard that one from would be innovators?

There is an old axiom in business and engineering: “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it”. This is so true.

Unlike perhaps the IT, accounts or payroll departments that are simply indispensable, an innovation department that is not delivering value does not qualify as one of these “escapee” and thus should not exist. Such departments are simply an unjustified business overhead.

The bottom line is do you have Innovation Metrics in place?

What is your planned innovation payback period and are the costs exceeding any expected returns.

Where to Start?

 The starting point, too often overlooked is embodied in the following four questions.

 What are you trying to achieve?

  • Where are you now?
  • How will you measure progress?
  • What outcome defines success?

If you intend to either embrace or continue with an innovation initiative then answer each of these questions, ideally with a single sentence. If you cannot do that, you are not yet on the first rung of the innovation ladder.

Finally, my next article will look at the time scale for implementation, and you may be quite surprised at just how short that can be in providing a positive ROI.

 **** END ****

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of three books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries.



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“La Salle Matrix Thinking – An update

Monday, July 5th, 2010

A Matrix Thinking updates  – big things continue to happen!


Stop Press:    1.       In late July Roger will again be visiting Colombia on a government sponsored trip to bring Matrix Thinking to more universities as well as speaking at several key industry events in three major cities. This is a 10 day tour and now also includes the provision of Roger’s books translated into Spanish for more easy assimilation by the Colombian student and business community.

2.         A few weeks ago Roger delivered a keynote to members of the People and Culture team at the National Australia Bank. The response was fantastic with an endorsement below coming from one of the banks very senior managers:

“Wow! Roger held an audience of NAB People & Culture team members spellbound with his insightful, action oriented approach to innovation. Applying lateral thinking, he sees opportunities everywhere and turns complexity and the threat of the unknown into exciting business opportunities. Without doubt Roger La Salle is one of the most inspirational speakers and writers of our time.”


Mr Jim Young,

Executive General Manager

National Australia Bank

People and Culture, Group Business Services


Following this Roger has now been engaged to deliver a series or workshops to this group, comprising in total some 5,000 people. This is a great endorsement for Matrix Thinking.

3.         Last year Roger delivered Matrix Thinking in India to some 140 MBA students in two streams over six days with an assessment at the conclusion. This year Roger has been engaged again but this time for 180 students in three streams of 60. This will include a formal assessment with marks being credited to the formal MBA course being delivered.

4.         Matrix Thinking is now available on the Deloitte Innovation Academy (DIA) web site. Soon and interactive matrix thinking portal will also be available. This is presently being developed by Deloitte Digital and will be a huge value add for DIA users.

5.         Finally after almost 12 months in gestation Roger’s new book, his fourth entitled “Innovate or Perish” is in printing and will be available within a week. Orders for this book that address innovation and metrics for the services sector are already in hand.

News Continues:

1.         In Europe Matrix Thinking was trialled in two companies with a formal independent assessment by a consulting group at the conclusion. The results were outstanding and matrix thinking is now being rolled out across a wide number of jurisdictions under funding from the Government. This is again a huge endorsement.

2.         Last week Roger delivered a keynote followed by a workshop for members of the Rotational Moulders Association.  This event was held in beautiful Queenstown in New Zealand. The whole conference and event was a huge success, no doubt due to the fantastic organising skills of the Association Executive.

3. Malaysian Television Evening news highlighted Rogers’s conference event in KL. This event was attended by some 350 CEO’s.

See the link:

4.         Roger has now formed a strategic alliance with “The Market Intelligence Company” in Sydney. This company has been in business for many years and is extremely well respected in gathering market research across a wide range of industry sectors. See the link on the “Links” page of this site.

5.         Due to increased demand Roger has now commenced formally assisting companies with the commercialisation and strategy development for new products and initiatives. This has been added to this site as an offering by popular demand.

6.         Finally the “La Salle Matrix Thinking Course Notes and Workshop Session Manual” has now been revised, refined and updated yet again. The new edition includes further information on KPI’s, Management Reporting, Value Chain players, Embedding Innovation and Innovation Circles. The manual now also has extensive content on innovating service industries, a must for most western economies that are now heavily service based.

                                                **** ENDS ****

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